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Initial D: Second Stage + OAV Extra Stage (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

January 20, 2011 by  



The classic racing anime “Initial D” is back with its second season, “Initial D: Second Stage” featuring all episodes from the Second Stage plus the two “Initial D: Extra Stage” OAV’s for a great price.  Exciting, fun and all-out awesome!

Image courtesy of © FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Initial D: Second Stage + OAV Extra Stage

DURATION: Episode 27-39 (325 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: 13+

Release Date: February 1, 2011

Originally created by Shuuichi Shigeno

Directed by Shin’ichi Masaki

Background Art: Kohji Azuma

Anime Production by Pastel

Featuring the following voice talent:

Shinichiro Miki/Joel McDonald as Takumi Fujiwara

Ayako Kawasumi/Brina Palencia as Natsuki Mogi

Kazuki Yao/Eric Vale as Koichiro Iketani

Tohru Furusawa/Steven Jay Blum as Papa

Mitsuo Iwata/Josh Grelle as Itsuki Takeuchi

Takehito Koyasu/J. Michael Tatum as Ryosuke Takahashi

Tomokazu Seki/Todd Haberkorn as Keisuke Takahashi

Tomomichi Nishimura/Chuck Huber as Yuuichi Tachibana

Unshou Ishizuka/Kent Williams as Bunta Fujiwara

Masahiko Tanaka/Christopher R. Sabat as Kyouichi Sudou

Kazuya Kawahara/Grant George as Seiji Iwaki

Keiji Fujiwara/Quinton Flynn as Shingo Shouji

Kousuke Okano/David Rasner as Kenta Nakamura

Nobuyuki Hiyama/Chris Burnett as Takeshi Nakazato

Ryoka Yuzuki/Cherami Leigh as Kazumi Akiyama

Wataru Takagi/Jason Spisak as Kenji

Yasunori Matsumoto/Michael Lindsay as Wataru Akiyama

Michiko Neya/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Mako Sato

Yumi Kakazu/Monica Rial as Sayuki

Takumi’s rise to the top the street racing underground is the stuff of legend, but his status as the best is on the line once again. Team Emperor’s in town with a singular goal: to crush all opposition. The team’s drivers are as aggressive as their cars are advanced, and Akina’s Eight-Six might be outclassed. There’s a chance that Takumi’s skills have surpassed the abilities of his beloved machine, and if he wants to maintain his rep, severe modifications must be made.

Unfortunately, mechanical woes aren’t his only problem, thanks to some rumors going around about his girl. The distractions are definitely stacking up, and so are the challengers. That means it’s time for Takumi to do what he does best – keep his eyes on the road ahead and floor it.

Contains episodes 1-13 and OVAs Extra Stage 1 and Extra Stage 2.

For over 15 years, “Initial D” has been a favorite anime series for those interested in drag racing and drifting. Originally created by mangaka Shuichi Shigeno and serialized in Kodansha’s “Young Magazine” back in 1995 and still ongoing in Japan, the first season of “Initial D” was shown on television in 1998.

The manga and anime is about Japanese street racing and focuses on a teenager named Takumi Fujiwara, son of Bunta Fujiwara, who owns a tofu shop. Takumi works at a gas station but when he’s at home, he delivers tofu at 4:00 a.m. and is known to speed through the mountain slopes of Mt. Akitna at high speed driving his father’s AE86 Trueno. The purpose of this is that his father Bunta has wanted to develop his driving skills and sure enough, his skill is top notch.

But for Takumi, although he has been riding and delivery tofu for a long time and has sharp driving skills, driving fast and getting from point a to point b was merely doing it for his father and not for the sake of trying to race.

With “Initial D: Second Stage”, Takumi has now earned the reputation with his Eight-Six, having beaten the best of the best in the Gunma area, specifically Ryosuke Takahashi.  But now Takumi feels he is not having fun racing the same mountain over and over again, he wants the ability to start competing in different areas.

Life for Takumi starts off real good.  His relationship with Natsuki is doing better and Takumi finds himself starting to fall in love with her.  But for Takumi and friends, they now receive word that Team Emperor (a group that uses only Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions) have appeared in the Gunma area and are defeating everyone in their path.   And now, their #2 racer Seiji Iwaki wants to take on Takumi, after hearing how an AE86 has beaten everyone including the Takahashi brothers.

Meanwhile, Team Emperor’s #1 racer Kyouichi Sudo wants nothing but revenge against Ryosuke Takahashi.  And so, both Sudo and Iwaki have been defeating every race team in Gunma, getting their team sticker and cutting it in half and embarrassing them.  Will Takumi go against Team Emperor?

Meanwhile, Takumi’s father and his friend worry that all the racing that Takumi is doing is going to kill the engine of the AE86.  How much longer can he keep driving the car like this before the engine gives out?

“Initial D: Second Stage” features the main characters:

Takumi Fujiwara – The son of Bunta Fujiwara, a former racer now tofu shop owner. Takumi delivers tofu for the shop early in the morning and has developed his skill on the road and works with his friends at a local gas station. Not very driven to race, nor does he understand the concept of racing or why people want better and faster cars, because of his skill learned through years of driving, his friends hope he can race Keisuke Takashi of the Red Suns in a race and win for Mt. Akina.

Bunta Fujiwara – The father of Takumi who was the legendary downhill racer of Mt. Akina. He has his son Takumi delivering tofu to deliver his driving skill.

Ryosuke Takahashi – The leader of the Akagi RedSuns. A racing strategist who gives advice to his younger brother Keisuke.

Keisuke Takahashi – The #2 racer of the Akagi RedSuns. Unlike his brother, he has a hot temper and quickly develops a rivalry with Takumi.

Other Characters:

Itsuki Takeuchi – A member of Akina SpeedStars and Takumi’s best friend that works at the local gas station. The comic relief character who talks a big game but is not a great racer.

Kouichiro Iketani – Works with Takumi and Itsuki at the gas station. He is the leader of the Akina SpeedStars.

Kenji – A member of the Akina SpeedStars and Iketani’s best friend. Very hardcore in his interest when it comes to his friends racing.

Natsuki Mogi – The girl who has an interest in Takumi but at the same time, is carrying a major secret in regards to what she does after school.

“Initial D: Street Stage” comes with episodes 27-39 + the two Extra Stage OAV’s on thre DVD’s. Here is a spoilerless summary of each episode:

DISC 3:

  • EPISODE 27: A New Threat! – Team Emperor has come to Tochigi prefecture with their goal to crush every team in Gunma.  But quickly learn the fastest car is an AE86.
  • EPISODE 28: Takumi’s Fury – Team Emperor continues to defeat other race teams around Gunma with ease.  But when they come to challenge Takumi, Takumi is ready.
  • EPISODE 29: Premonition of Defeat – A race between Takumi’s AE86 vs. Seiji’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV.
  • EPISODE 30 : Hollow Victory – Takumi is not thrilled after beating Seiji but to make things worse, someone is sending him anonymous messages about Natsuki dating an older man.
  • EPISODE 31: Countdown to Destruction – Takumi filled with rage about the anonymous letters goes to find out for himself if its true.
  • EPISODE 32: Goodbye Eight-Six – An angry Takumi meets with Kyoichi of Team Emperor and both race but the AE86’s engine is no longer able to handle the stress.
  • EPISODE 33: Battle at Akagi! The Black and White Flash! – With Takumi’s 86 out of commission, it sets up a rematch between Kyochi and Ryosuke.

DISC 4:

  • EPISODE 34: Dangerous Car – Ryosuke of the Red Suns takes on Kyoichi of Team Emperor.
  • EPISODE 35: A New Eight-Six is Born – Bunta has changed the engine for the Eight-Six and Takumi takes out for a test drive.  Itsuki finds a new love.
  • EPISODE 36: The Eight-Six Turbo – When Wataru checks Takumi’s engine for the Eight-Six, he feels that Takumi is trying to insult him.
  • EPISODE 37: The Seal is Broken – Before Takumi accepts Wataru’s challenge, he wants Wataru to explain what kind of engine his father installed into the AE86.
  • EPISODE 38: Eight-Six vs. Eight-Six – Takumi vs. Wataru in a battle of Eight-six’s.
  • EPISODE 39: Changing Seasons – Conclusion of the race between Takumi and Wataru.

DISC 3

  • OAV 1: Initial D: Extra Stage – Beyond Impact Blue – A continuation of the story of Mako and Sayuki (from the first season, the two female racers of Impact Blue) and what happens when members of Team Emperor challenge them.
  • OAV 2: Initia D: Extra Stage – Sentimental White – Another Impact Blue storyline as Sayuki sets up a date between Mako and Shingo’s friend.

VIDEO:

It’s important to note that “Initial D: Second Stage” was aired on television back in October 1999 through January 2000. So, this is an old school anime TV series. Right off the bat, modern anime fans who have not watched older anime series will notice how the animation is not clearer, vibrant and sharper than today’s series are. But with that being said, this is a classic anime series that has its unique character designs, well-painted backgrounds and of course, CG graphics from 1998.

By no means is “Initial D” expected to look like a modern anime series but the fact is that the series is an anime TV series classic and it delivers in storyline and the animation was good for its time. With that being said, picture quality shows the age of the series, there is little artifacting, combing and edge enhancement as well. But if you are a fan of the series and want to know how it all began, the anime series is still very watchable and addictive.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, similar to the recent FUNimation Entertainment “Initial D: First Stage is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Digital and Japanese 2.0 Stereo. There is an obvious difference in terms of sound volume and more of a presence of the sound effects (such as the doors unlocking, cars revving and tires screeching) which come out much more clearer through the English dub track. But if you have a modern home theater receiver, for me, I chose to have my audio set on stereo for all channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Initial D: Second Stage” comes with the following special features:

  • Second Stage Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Clsoing Song
  • Extra Stage – Uncut Extra Stage 1 – Featuring the full uncut version of this episode showing the full frontal nudity.
  • Extra Stage – Uncut Extra Stage 2 – Featuring the full uncut version of this episode showing nudity.
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song

Another fantastic season of “Initial D”, the second stage features more racing but also shows more non-racing character development with Takumi’s relationship with his father and also the turmoil he feels when he finds out the truth about Natsuki.  Also, for Itsuki fans, we get to see the guy fall in love once again.

But the biggest focus of this second season is the fact that Takumi now wants to grow as a racer and challenge people in various areas, not just the same mountain.  Also, we get to see what happens with his AE86 when he pushes it over the limit and of course, seeing it’s rebirth.

This storyline pretty much establishes Takumi’s willingness to improve in racing which leads to the “Initial D: Third Stage” movie in which Ryosuke Takahashi reveals his plans to create a new racing team.

Part of the excitement of “Initial D” is watching Takumi progress.  This is a guy who delivered Tofu and had no interest in racing but somehow he got into it and now has caught the bug.  He wants to push himself more and he may not understand as much about racing like his other counterparts but he’s willing to learn.

The Second Stage is important in that the first season made him seem too unbeatable.  This second season shows Takumi having to deal with emotions that he never had to bother with.  With Natsuki, having to learn what happens if he lost his 86 and others encouraging him that he may be the best in his local area but until he goes out and competes in other areas, then he will learn the true feeling of racing.  And for Takumi, that feeling of getting better and doing something he has never done before is thrilling and exciting and of course, leads to his opponents for “Initial D: Fourth Stage”.

This latest release of “Initial D” also includes the two “Initial D: Extra Stage” OAV’s which focus on the two ladies of Impact Blue, Mako and Sayuki.  Because these are OAV’s, the product quality is slightly better, especially for the CG rendering of the vehicles.

It’s important to let people know that if you do “play all” or episode select, this is not the uncut version.  To view the uncut version, you need to click on “Extras”.  The difference is that in the uncut versions, there are full frontal nude scenes with Mako.  In the edited version, FUNimation Entertainment includes added digital effects of steam to cover her private areas.  Granted, you still see nudity on both episodes but FUNimation Entertainment did add the steam segments just in case.

So, unlike the “Initial D” TV episodes, there is nudity in the OAV’s which are included in this volume.

“Initial D” is an anime classic. I’ve watched this series when it first came out and I still don’t get bored by watching it. I love the humor, the underdog Takumi these over-confident racers and the characters are also fun to watch. And as a big fan of this series, I have to say that the FUNimation Entertainment release was well-done.

With that being said, there are obvious differences between this FUNimation Entertainment release and the Tokyo Pop version that came out back in 2002. For those not familiar with the release, there was a bit of controversy when that series came out on DVD because they wanted to make it accessible to a wider American audience and that included changing the names of the characters and giving it an American hip-hop soundtrack. Granted, Tokyo Pop did release an unedited/subtitled version for the purists courtesy of a box set released by Tokyo Pop but distributed by FUNimation Entertainment.

In 2009, FUNimation Entertainment acquired all home entertainment, broadcast, digital and merchandise rights to all “Initial D” titles from Kodansha and announced that they would be re-releasing “Initial D” but with a new English dub cast and release the series uncut and also utilizing the original music. Staying true to the original Japanese version.

Personally, I’m very happy to see “Initial D” being released again but with a new cast for the English dub and with FUNimation Entertainment in charge, I have to say that I am quite pleased with the English dub. It was well-done, well-acted and if anything, it was great to see FUNimation stay true to the series without having to change things up. I understand that Tokyo Pop was trying to make it accessible for the American Viewers (especially since they covered the racing scene, they had a responsibility to their demographic) but this time around, I am grateful that FUNimation kept things uncut and unchanged and we have the characters with their original names and of course, keeping the soundtrack with the Eurobeat and music by m.o.v.e intact.

Overall, “Initial D” is an exciting, addictive anime series and I can never grow tired of it. I know there are some people new to anime who probably can’t stand to watch older anime series and the fact is, this is an older anime series that was made 12-years ago, but despite it not looking as digital and vibrant as today’s anime series, at least give it a chance!

ut the fact that the series originally came out back in 1998 and many people probably own some incarnation of it, I will say that FUNimation Entertainment did a great job with the English dub and subtitles as well. If you haven’t owned “Initial D” or have never watched it but are curious… “Initial D: Second Stage” is highly recommended!






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