Friday, December 19, 2014

Rewind: Initial D Second Stage

I wrote about the first season of Initial D almost exactly a year ago. I didn't plan this post accordingly, but since I recently rewatched the "second stage," it's fresh in my mind. Last year, I mentioned that I received Initial D Second Stage as a Christmas gift, since I didn't realize it would eventually show up on Hulu. I'm thankful for my mistake; DVDs work a lot better than Hulu when the internet goes out.

Takumi usually has a very placid expression, even when racing,
but as he races a scornful opponent in the third episode, his
intensity shows on his face.
For those of you who don't know: Initial D centers around Fujiwara Takumi, a teenage street racer who specializes in downhill racing. His skill developed when he drove back and forth over the mountain pass to deliver tofu for his father's business. He didn't realize it at the time, but his father, a former street racer himself, was grooming him to be a racer. In the first season, the local racing team convinces him to start racing with them. They use the pass as their course, so Takumi is on familiar ground. He becomes well known by racers in the general area.

Just like with the first season, I enjoy Second Stage primarily for the races. Still, there are a few notable differences between seasons. I'll start with the positives: Takumi, the main character, meets challenges he can't overcome with the current state of his car, an old Toyota AE 86 Trueno. (The car is mostly referred to as an 86, not "eighty-six" but "Eight Six.") Takumi is forced to learn more about automechanics, whereas he relied primarily on experience and talent for victory before. His father continues to guide his growth as a racer, and he helps make changes to the car.

Other differences, I'm not so happy with. There is a big change in animation between the first and second seasons. Granted, the art wasn't exactly pretty before, and the new look is... shinier, I guess. It's probably supposed to be better. But there are a few characters who almost look like different people. One of the Takumi's most respectable opponents, Ryosuke, even has a different hair color, and I don't think it's because he picked up a package of hair dye. His whole appearance is off.

And then there's the romance piece... In the first season, Takumi grew close with Mogi Natsuki, a girl he knew from school. In Second Stage, they still have feelings for each other. However, an anonymous busybody tells Takumi a secret about Natsuki. He deals with the news like the clumsy teenager he is. This part is executed decently, I admit, but I don't enjoy it.

Despite all my negative comments, I've watched Initial D: Second Stage three times now, and I continue to enjoy it. I can't bear to give the season less than four stars out of five. Takumi's development as a racer is fun to watch, and I've grown fond of a few of the secondary characters as well.


  1. I actually thought that romance was the best past of the whole set, even if all of it failed (with the exception of, Mika, of course - coincidentially not the subplot that I enjoyed tremendously).

    1. I am not familiar with Mika—the Fifth Stage isn't available on any of my favorite websites. In general, I agree that the romance elements are carried out fairly well. But I watch for the racing. Only a few of the non-racer side characters interest me. The romantic interests, including Mogi, don't make that short list. :P

    2. Racing was quite good. At some point I showed 4th 06 to a semi-pro racer friend, and he said that e.g. "kieru rainu" is a real thing, called "slobbing" in American racing. He even predicted how the events would develop by calling out "bump that bitch! bump him, what are you waiting for!"


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