Initial D: Don’t Miss It

I recently took a six-hour Defensive Driving class to get a car insurance discount. The instructor spent the whole class telling me that driving would get me killed, falsely accused of statutory rape, and escheat my life savings to the nanny state. Those being my three greatest fears, I spent the next few days driving like an old bitch.

I got sick of it and decided the best way to regain my dignity would be to watch Initial D. I knew I made the right choice right from the opening lyrics.

uso sae safety

honto ga empty

Safety is empty. What a profound language.

Initial D is the manliest anime I’ve seen since You Are Umasou. It has fast cars, mountain training, practical haircuts, and, just for good measure, it fails the Bechdel test. It could only be manlier if one of the cars had a tendency to liberate women from their clothing, like the car from Daitarn 3.

Initial D is about an unbeatable driver named Takumi. You can tell he’s a winner just by fashion sense.

Jeans. Sneakers. Plain white t-shirt. No bullshit. Looks like I’ve been inadvertently cosplaying as Takumi for years. Nay, I am Takumi. He’s cheap, he’s apathetic, he frequently spaces out, he occasionally punches people in the face, and his default facial expression is one of not giving a fuck.

Speaking of punching people in the face, I just found out that one of my friends from high school punched Snooki. I had this guy on AIM back in the day! We were on the same football team! I sacked him in practice! We rode the same bus after school! I knew he’d make something of himself. I need to give this friendship thing another shot.

My one reservation about watching Initial D was the 3D graphics, which is parodied left and right. Considering how 3D can still be pretty cheesy in 2010, I assumed it would have to be cheesy back in 1998. Surprisingly, it was very easy to get accustomed to. The models were sufficiently detailed to look more like cars than simple polygons, the physics felt natural, and the blending of 2D and 3D rarely bothered me. However, keep in mind that animation quality isn’t as important to me as it seems to be for other anime fans. Also, I don’t give a shit about animation studios (post forthcoming), but if it means anything to you, Gainax did some work on the fourth season. Did you hear me? I said Gainax!


For those of us who aren’t mecha freaks, Gainax finally made something worth watching. There you have it. There’s no good reason not to watch Initial—wait, what’s this?

That’s usually a bad sign. Maybe you should avoid it after all—wait, what’s this?

Final Grade: ++

58 Replies to “Initial D: Don’t Miss It”

  1. I’ve wanted to go to a con and cosplay an Initial D character, but the show is so no-nonsense in that realm that I figured no one would recognize it.

    You’re in for a couple seasons of a great show. And it’s cool to see the CG go from slightly awkward to beautiful over time.

    Bloody violence: Check (First Stage, Third Stage, about to go down off-camera in Fourth Stage.)
    Swearing: Check. All seasons, in a way. It has the closest things to swearing that Japanese has.
    Nudity: Check. Extra Stage iirc. Also had it in volume 1 of the manga, I guess to rope in the readers who were hoping for more.

    • Believe me, I was content with and did not object to any of that objectionable content.

      Looks like Initial D cosplay can be done. You just need to think inside the box:

    • He doesn’t have hair in his eyes. It’s clearly off the side. Hair only got in his eyes once, and that was during a race he lost (in spirit). Hair is totally in his eyes, which means he’s beautiful and has feelings and cares about the well-being of others and stuff. You’ll love him.

      He doesn’t have sideburns, but according to his father, who’s a master racer, Takumi is still just a beginner. He’ll grow sideburns in due time.

  2. However, keep in mind that animation quality isn’t as important to me as it seems to be for other anime fans.

    Well if you ask me,animation is the most important aspect of animes (at least for me).
    What got me into animes was its awesome animation,very different from US toons.When I was a kid I used to see “cartoons” like Pokemon,Beyblade etc. and later got to know that they are Japanese animation!And then later one of my first anime series (excluding them) were Rurouni Kenshin and Inuyasha and that triggered my deep love for animes!Most of the recent animes have good animation.Also the stories in animes are so awesome that its way better than seeing anything else!

    Actually u consider plot to be an important factor in judging animes.I feel animation is equally important!
    I heard a lot about Initial D but I never seem to have got a liking for old animes.Other series include Slam Dunk,Ranma 1/2 etc. There are very few old animes which I liked a lot (like Yu Yu Hakusho).
    Well since you have reviewed about Initial D,I’ll put it in my to see list.There are lots left to see!
    Ah speaking of which Baka Raptor,I finished Detroit Metal City in one go and coudnt agree more with you in your Top 10 post 😛
    And I’m waiting for your forthcoming post about animation studios!

    • Welcome to the ranks of Lord Krauser’s minions.

      I’ll keep this comment short because I’ll go into further detail in the forthcoming post (and by forthcoming, I mean hopefully within 2 years). Animation quality matters, for sure, but these days, I rarely come across a show with animation quality that doesn’t meet my standards. When I started watching anime a decade ago, hard drives were a lot smaller, the internet was a lot slower, and the files I downloaded were tiny, grainy, and ultracompressed. Because of that, anything that doesn’t look like a blurry mess on a full screen looks good to me.

      • Pah. Legend of the Galactic Heroes managed 110 episodes without having two women talk to each other. Haven’t seen the OVA’s or movies, but I’d be shocked if they passed the Bechdel test.

        Then again, it’s hard to beat LOGH at anything, so I’ll give Initial D a distant second place for it’s efforts in manliness

  3. Initially i thought it was an 80’s anime, i think you failed me initial D…
    just kidding, i will watch it, eventually.

  4. Fuckin A. For the love of fuck I guess I have no choice but to watch it now. Maybe I’ll get around to it maybe not. I still have to finish Berserk. I’ve pretty much stopped doing anything related to anime. Next semester when I officially become a NEET I’ll have plenty of time to watch every anime ever made.

  5. Fast cars, ’90s, eurobeat, awesome characters, it has it all. Watched the 4 seasons back to back and the result is that I always carry a CD containing various songs from each seasons in my car. You never knows when it might be useful.

    It was also the only anime that made me want to buy a 17 years old car.

    • Last night I had a dream I was given a chance to drive a Trueno, but it was too small so I couldn’t fit inside. I have the shittiest dreams.

      I will be making an Initial D compilation CD of my own. I may have to start taking the scene route to work just so I can drive with a speed limit over 35 mph.

  6. That’s a very dramatic way to take off the clothes of a woman. Initially I don’t think I will ever watch this show though but obviously that changed after reading this post

  7. Initial D is very simple in terms of logic…

    If you don’t have fast cars, the chicks won’t dig into you!

    but Takumi doesn’t have sideburns… I guess he is one of the exception to the rules.

    • Actually, Takumi proves it’s not how fast you are, it’s all about technique.

      Takumi’s father, who is faster than him, has sideburns. The manga is still running. It’s only a matter of time before Takumi grows them too.

  8. The pictures from Daitarn 3 are strange; first the woman has a shoulder-free dress and then wears a bathing suit a la baywatch that has shoulder strings…

    • I was sort of introduced through the first episode of School Rumble. I’d seen a few pics of Initial D before, so I recognized the parody, but I hadn’t seen anything more.

  9. I get the feeling Initial D is a show that’s influenced a whole generation of street racers… if not the animated version, then the live action adaptation; at least among “ricers”. It pretty much is *the* street racing anime (which in general are a pretty rare breed anyhow).

    • But that’s how you know it’s good! Any show can have sexy character designs to cover up a shitty story. When you have ugly characters, you know everything has to rock.

  10. I want to watch this series at some point. So far I’d say the manliest series I’ve enjoyed so far is probably Berserk, I’ve been reading the manga but I’m hoping the anime re-make will be awesome. The opening chapters REALLY made me wonder if I was in over my head, and if there are actually series out there too manly for me to handle. But luckily the story gained a lot of epic momentum and I threw my femininity to the wind easily. GTO is another series I’d consider manly that I liked a lot.

  11. […] What makes Shana III’s fade-ins so impressive is the amount of fine-tuning that went into them. Whether a measure was added, two measures were taken out, lyrics were switched up, vocals were removed, or the entry point of the ending visuals was shifted, you rarely got the exact same fade-in twice. Nor did it hurt that the endings were done by Altima, a group featuring the vocal talents of Maon Kurosaki and Mototaka Segawa. In case you know even less about the Japanese music industry than I do, that means each episode of Shana III ended with a mix of High School of the Dead and Initial D. […]

  12. I applaud you good sir for making a page that supports what I consider my all time favorite anime. I have all 5 stages, and am in the process of getting what I don’t have, sadly not legally… Yet. Need the money to buy the anime first, plus I might wait for them to do a Collectors Edition once the show is finished, which I kinda hope they add more Stages, but at the same time I don’t want them to for fear of them dragging it too far. I’ve thought a few times of trying to find a stock Trueno and doing my own version of the great Panda Trueno.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *