Is Initial D Anime Worth Watching? – Hey guys!. In this post, I’ll be discussing Is Initial D Anime Worth Watching? Have you ever performed a task you hate so frequently that you began to develop muscle memory which allowed you to finish much quicker? To others you may appear talented, but internally you just want to get it over with sooner so that you can go do something else.
This is the story of Takumi Fujiwara, tofu delivery driver since the age of 13. Every morning at around 4am Takumi wakes up to drive tofu up a mountain and back down before school or work. I appreciated Takumi’s humble origins in the same way I appreciated Ippo’s fisherman muscles and Hajime no Ippo. It teaches us that our skills and experiences are valuable and useful in more ways than we understand.
Ippo had us trainers and Takumi has his father Bunta, who’s actually my favorite character in Initial D. He used to do all of the deliveries himself and is a total badass behind the wheel. I appreciated his wu-wei like methods of parenting where he subtly guides Takumi with new challenges and hints but he never imposes himself upon him.
He has the confidence that Takumi will grow from his experiences regardless if he fails or succeeds. Takumi is the furthest thing from a gearhead while his racer friends from work seem to endlessly go on about car specs he’s totally uninterested. Nothing about cars excites him because mentally they’re associated with a job that he never asked for.
As the story unfolds, out-of-town racers threaten the reputation of Akina drivers causing the local team to hunt down rumors of a ghost who drives Akina at breakneck speeds. Much to their surprise, this ghost is none other than their friend Takumi Fujiwara, who’s been illegally driving for longer than all of the other racers.
Takumi gradually builds a reputation for himself as being the young dude who’s capable of dusting the most powerful cars behind the wheel of a 1983 Corolla, all while showcasing maneuvers only a reckless idiot would attempt, such as hooking his front wheel into the ditch in order to negate centrifugal force around corners.
While moves like this may appear to be reckless, Takumi has mastered every inch of Akina pass due to it being the main road that he’s driven on. One tofu delivery per day over five years means he’s driven the road at least 3650 times. Not only does that mean he’s incredibly efficient at getting from point a to point b, but he also finds it mind-numbingly boring.
Racing aside I appreciated the fact that Initial D just isn’t about cars or racing because I really don’t care about either. Thankfully, there’s a fair bit of screen time devoted to developing Takumi’s personal life as well as several side characters. Without going into detail their personal lives are filled with friendly bonding relationships and betrayal which keeps you interested as the story advances.
Additionally, the races and grudges are often tied to their personal lives. Street racers tend to know other street racers and some street racers tend to be chauvinistic assholes attempting to overcompensate. Naturally, when these rivalries spark, they can only be settled by racing. Of course, some racers are more mature than others which allows our major character circle of friends to expand.
In addition to their personal lives, characters are also developed by their racing experiences. Each race and driver teaches Takumi a new skill that he takes forward into the next event. Although this is technically a racing anime, the structure of Initial D may sound familiar to those who are familiar with longer-running shonen anime.
Character defeats rival, rival becomes friend, or just becomes more bitter and vanishes from the plot altogether. In order to preserve the experience for first-time viewers, let’s observe the flow of Initial D without spoiling specific events. In the beginning, the main and subplot primarily focuses on Takumi while expanding upon minor characters just enough to create depth.
The races were implemented well enough to feel natural and not an orchestrated series of events intended on artificially extending the life of the series..at least for the first half of the anime. I have to admit, that the races were choreographed in a way that always gave me goosebumps while on the edge of my seat.
Races were split between three perspectives focusing on the cars, the drivers, and the bystanders. When focusing on the cars, the dynamic camera angles aided the feeling of speed which would have been lacking if left static while looking at such outdated renders and cardboard cut-out trees and characters.
Inside the car, we’re given a front-row seat into the driver’s inner monologue which displayed the stress they were under while racing. Additionally, the characters were animated in a way that accurately articulates their emotions. Critics of this anime may disapprove of their character designs, but I feel that the character animation rises to the occasion when necessary.
Lastly, the bystander’s perspectives lends additional exposition as they discuss details about the event. Personally, I feel like these perspectives were balanced appropriately in the first half of the anime because we’re given enough information to understand what’s happening in the race and who has the advantage without taking too much time away from the action, which would consequently spoil the moment.
Knowing little about the inner workings of cars, I felt that things were explained in a way that weren’t over complicated but also didn’t feel patronizing. As we progress beyond the first stage of the anime, Takumi’s story continues to develop while the spotlight on side characters begins to expand.
Although you can stop watching the anime at the end of the first, stage stages 2 and 3 were a natural evolution of everything great about the first season. Again you could stop watching at the end of the third stage if you want, it’s a movie and chronologically speaking, the fourth stage wouldn’t have been created for another three years anyways.
Whereas the first three stages were created within three years. Moving forward into the second half of the anime, stage 4 begins to shift the focus away from Takumi in order to develop its numerous side characters the anime has picked up along the way.
I still consider stage 4 to be a good season but things are definitely starting to change. I still like the side characters and the races are enjoyable but by this point. I’m starting to notice patterns and shake my head at how many consecutive times people can get lucky.
Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciated their attempts at creating a much more strategic atmosphere around racing, but I felt like all of this strategic build-up was much more intense than the actual payoff and I was ultimately left feeling like luck was the primary winning factor.
In the second half of the anime, the races also begin to diverge from being tied to the character’s personal lives with the exception of one race in the second half as rivals become random racers who live in other parts of Japan. The fifth and sixth stages of Initial D is basically the story settling down and preparing to end.
It had a long run and I can imagine there were many eager fans awaiting the experience of this conclusion. Personally, my interest was also winding down as well. Although I admit that the length of the conclusion arc of any story should scale in proportion to the size of the entire, work 18 episodes is a bit too long to wrap things up.
For me, the final two stages featured two major flaws; the first being the lack of suspense in the first half of the anime the relationship between Takumi and Natsuki was complicated. Even I had mixed opinions about this. Personally, I couldn’t stand Natsuki due to some major red flags being foreshadowed, but sometimes I enjoyed seeing how wholesome and sweet she was with Takumi.
This would be acceptable if suspense was offered in other areas, considering this is 18 episodes we’re talking about. We’re going to need something to spice things up. However, the only form of suspense in the final two stages came from Ryosuke’s backstory arc which is a problem because for one, Ryosuke is a tertiary character, and two that whole arc just felt contrived.
You can’t wait until the end of a story to develop a character unless they’ve been mysterious the entire time. The other races offered little suspense as well due to their predictability. Although in many cases I considered predictability to be a highly subjective and less valid criticism, if the stock market performed comparably to Takumi’s win-loss ratio then i’d be a billionaire by now, that’s all I’m saying.
The second issue I had with the final two stages was that they didn’t focus enough on the actual races. The strategic approach to racing taken earlier in the series was expanded here as the story focuses on practice runs and pre or mid-race discussions. The perfect balance between the three aforementioned perspectives within the first half of the anime was skewed in favor of bystander discussion.
It happened too frequently and lasted for far too long, which further drained my excitement. The first half of the anime had me literally standing in awe watching these ugly CG cars perform amazing feats surpassing my expectations. Contrast this to the later two stages where even though the CG looked better, I still found myself checking my phone during racing scenes.
In my opinion, these two stages were poorly directed they should have been condensed down to about 10 or 12 episodes. The conclusion does not need to occupy 21% of the entire story. Overall, Initial D has a strong start due to having good source material and the first two stages being directed by the same person.
Although I can’t find out who directed the third stage movie, the fourth fifth and sixth stages have their own individual directors and were released several years apart which made it easy to feel that the second half was disconjointed. If you’re a fan of english dubs then the performance won’t disappoint until you get to the last two stages because they were never dubbed.
I give initial d a cumulative score of 7 out of 10 by averaging my scores for each season, though the first two stages both earned an 8 out of 10 for me. While it is possible that you will enjoy the entire anime, feel free to treat anything after the third stage to be complete fanservice.
Although it wasn’t perfect, during its best moments it was intense and dramatic so I have no doubts that Initial D is worth being added to your anime watch list.
That is it from today’s post on Is Initial D Anime Worth Watching? If you do not agree with the points in the post and have some of your own opinions, share them with us in the comments section down below. Keep visiting Animesoulking for more information about Anime and Manga.