Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"Initial D Fifth Stage" (Anime) Episode 1 Thoughts

Ahh after a very lengthy wait, Initial D is back hoping to keep its main protagonist Takumi moving on up in the drift racing world. I spent a lot of my very early anime watching days on all of the Initial D seasons because while it wasn't the best looking anime, it was by far one of the most enticing ones. Never have I been so glued to the screen so excited for the next race to start. With the limitations they had with animation during the late 90's they made this anime one of the best action/car racing shows in existence.

I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people have not heard of Initial D since it is a late 90's anime that didn't have overwhelming visuals and sound. The premise of Initial D follows Takumi Fujiwara as he strides to become the best drift racer in Japan. Along his way he runs into Keisuke and Ryousuke Takahashi who over the course of the various seasons from a racing team that takes on all challengers. If you truly want to enjoy this anime I strongly encourage you start from the beginning and work your way up to this current season because other than a very short and vague into, you will not be brought up to speed on what happened in the previous seasons. This show starts guns blazing right after the Battle Stages as a direct continuation of the main story.

What really set me back during this first episode was the animation style the show is continuing to sport. While it isn't horrible, the character models remain very similar to the previous works of the anime. They have been of course overhauled and look much better than say the first and second stages (seasons) but the overall look of the show stays intact. Usually when we see a show make its way back to tv after a lengthy break, the animation will look much different and more refined. What Initial D has shown is that you can have a show retain older characteristics while still making it appealing to the audience. Keep in mind though that this anime will not be the best animated work that you will see. Unlike today's anime that tries to make each male and female lead as attractive as possible to the opposite sex, the characters in this anime have a much more real look to them. No fancy smancy character models; just typical looking Japanese people. Not a whole lot of driving was showcased in this first episode but where it was present was pretty decent. It is by far a HUGE step forward compared to the previous seasons as the cars flow much nicer between frames.

This first episode seems like the typical, "Ok this is what the season's goals are and let’s introduce some new characters". Overall all that it ends up getting reveled in this episode is that Takumi is still on the racing team and he still only wants to further his skills. The team in general still has a mission statement of proving that they are the best downhill and uphill racing team in Japan. It is unclear if they (the animation studio) will introduce a new plot device as the whole “We are going to so and so region to kick some teams butts. Then we are going to so and so to do the same thing again.” is getting a little boring.

 I am very much looking forward to this season as I hope it continues to showcase some amazing car battles along the roads of Japan's most dangerous mountain passes.

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