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Initial D Battle 1: Akina's Downhill Specialist (1998)

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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Tokyopop
Genre: Anime, Action Anime
Running Time: 75 min.
Languages: English, Japanese
Subtitles: English
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Takumi "Tak" Fujiwara never stood out much - until a yellow RX-7 refused to let him pass one of this tofu delivery runs down Mount Akina. Little did Tak know that the driver was one of the hottest street racers around, and when Tak outmaneuvered the RX-7 in his old '86 Toyota, he set himself up as the new driver to beat. Welcome to INITIAL D, where street racing teams battle over glory, passion, pain and revenge - on the road and off!

Contains episodes 1-3:

  • The Ultimate Tofu Store Drift
  • Revenge! The Rumbling Turbo
  • The Downhill Specialist Appears
Special Features:
  • Watch It Your Way:
    - Classic Version (Japanese Audio with Original Video)
    - Tricked out Version (English Audio with Enhanced Video)

GreenCine Member Reviews

Too, too cool! by akeleven January 1, 2004 - 1:11 PM PST
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
I'm not a car freak. I met this story when I read the first graphic novel because it was sent to me by mistake. The hook was set. A reluctant hero is combined with heart pounding soundtrack (the original "untricked" version - too cool to be replaced!). The story is suspenseful (every race combines talent and circumstances to make the outcome unpredictable) and great animation shows how cars really move. (Even though most every race is dark because the races are at night - enhancing contrast between car and background.) The characters are real young adults with the usual issues (not doomed street punks ala 50's stereotypes) but in one place they can shine with skill and practice!

Read the next review - it says it all. New episodes (Stage 4) will be aired in Japan in 2004!

Addictive, exhilarating, action and romance! Gotta watch it!! by hneline1 September 17, 2003 - 3:54 AM PDT
10 out of 10 members found this review helpful
From the opening scene of a lone car screeching down a dark and windy mountain road, Initial D sweeps you into its world of youth on the verge of adulthood and a young man's introduction to a type of road racing called "drifting". You can feel the exhilaration of racing through the heart-thumping, CG -rendered "battles" between cars and the adrenaline-inducing Eurobeat music -- very fast-paced and beat-heavy, like techno on speed.

What makes Initial D unique is that it's not all about machismo, although there's plenty of alpha male behavior and enough about cars to make an import autofreak drool (Keiichi "The Drift King" Tsuchiya was the primary technical consultant for the anime, and the attention to detail is impressive, from the actual sound of an AE86 downshifting to the visual roll of the softer suspension in certain cars). Takumi, our tofu delivery boy hero, is a quiet, passive, slightly spaced-out, stubborn type who knows nothing about cars and doesn't understand why his friends want to be road racers. His journey into the nightlife becomes our journey into this strange world too, where with each episode we learn more and more about the very real world of Japanese drift racing: drift vs. grip driving, front wheel vs. rear wheel vs. 4 wheel drives, various makes and models, strategies and philosophies of competing in "battle". Along the way, Initial D is an addictive and funny soap opera of boys meeting girls, girls who know nothing about cars and girls who do, cars which are loved or ignored or cried over when crashed, poor boys who work and rich boys who are envied, father-figures with a stubborn streak, and a peanut gallery of minor characters who make appropriately enthusiastic yet subtly campy comments like, "Holy Sh*t, that's the famous Takahashi brothers' Parallel Drift!" (then goes on to explain parallel drift).

Honestly, Initial D is my current obsession in anime, and this is the series that I try to get all my friends to watch. I haven't been this excited about a series since Berserk and Rurouni Kenshin. Even if you're not a driving addict like I am, I highly recommend this anime because it's a great mix of action and issues. No wonder that when Initial D was playing on TV in Japan, it had a viewer rating of 47% (!!!).

On a sadder note, I must comment on what Tokyopop did to their U.S. DVD release. My high recommendation above is for the JAPANESE LANGUAGE track with English subtitling, or what Tokyopop calls its "Import Classic" version. For the English language dub, Tokyopop created a "Tricked Out" version for the audio and video.

For audio, this means that the English dub track has different music. It's not bad music, mostly hip hop and rap, but it doesn't create the same atmosphere as the Eurobeat. To me, the Eurobeat is part of the addictive, adrenaline rush experience because it's so fast. Tokyopop's music is too laid back and tries to create a "I'm bad, I'm cool" image which doesn't make sense when one driver is sweating bullets and Takumi does not have that "bad" attitude. Also, Tokyopop removed the RedSun's theme song and that is just not right (I love that theme). In addition, the English audio has "enhanced" sound effects, like a deeper rumble to the engine or extremely loud stick shifting. Sorry, if you know anything about cars, you KNOW that import cars don't sound like that. The dialog translation isn't bad, although some voice actors still can't act.

For video, "tricked out" means that during the CG battle sequences, Tokyopop edited the scenes with special effects like scene transition wipes, color contrast, and overlays. The transitions reminded me of a bad PowerPoint presentation, where the creator wanted to try every wipe type without a sense of design. The most horrible video "enhancement" is some mirror image scenes -- Tokyopop split the screen down the middle, so a car coming from right to left had a mirror image coming from left to right. That completely breaks the flow of movement. Also, one of these scenes is when Takumi is overtaking another car, so we never see the end of that movement because half the screen is blocked by the mirror. Duh!!!

So, in conclusion, stay away from the English language version, and watch the original Japanese "classic import" version. Become addicted. Join "Initial D Anonymous" with the rest of us. And restrain yourself if you suddenly find yourself driving your little Toyota on a windy mountain road and feel the urge to drift. :-)

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.91)
121 Votes
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