Review: Plot, Soundtrack Make the Difference in “Initial D”

Front cover of the first edition. (Image from Wikipedia.)

Front cover of the first edition. (Image from Wikipedia.)

Cars have been a symbol of American freedom since the 1950s, and every teenager dreams of the day when they are handed a key to their own car. Cars are inherently dangerous, however, with car accidents being a leading cause of death for all ages. Some seek out the danger in driving, and activities like racing, drifting and rallying being popular motorsports. Street racing has been depicted many times in the media, with movie franchise “Fast and the Furious” and video game series “Need For Speed” being the most well-known. A lesser known television show that heavily focuses on street racing is the anime “Initial D,” of which the first two seasons are available on Hulu

The main character Takumi Fujiwara has been delivering tofu on Akina pass for the last five years in his dad’s Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86 even before he got his license. One early morning while he is doing his daily delivery, he comes across famed street racer Keisuke Takahashi, who was scoping out Akina pass. In an impromptu battle, Takumi and his 86 leave Keisuke in the dust. “The Ghost of Akina” was born. The show starts out with the action quickly; there are only a few episodes in between major races. The character arc of Takumi from a quiet, soft-spoken guy who sees driving as a job to a talented, prideful street racer is a great reason to watch the show. The soundtrack is my favorite part of the show, and complements the action perfectly. While “Initial D” is a great anime, it is not perfect.

Shows need a source of comic relief, and in “Initial D” this mainly comes in the form of Takumi’s best friend, Itsuki Takeuchi. To me, however, Itsuki is less funny and more just plain annoying. He constantly insults Takumi and claims that he is one of the best on the team, when he has never even been in a race before. The show quickly gets to the action, but it does not get through it with the same speed. Races are often drawn out between two episodes of twenty-five minutes each, which may be too slow for some.

While most of us will stick with following traffic laws, there is no doubt that racing is exciting. The fundamental aspect of racing that made “Fast and Furious” successful is present in “Initial D.” The annoying characters and paradoxically slow-paced racing are made up for in character development and the amazing soundtrack.