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I recently finished Initial D: Final Stage, which brings the story of teenager Fujiwara Takumi and his inhuman drifting skills to a satisfying conclusion. I had been keeping up with Initial D on and off for almost 15 years now, which is kind of crazy to think about, but what was even bigger shock for me was realizing (thanks to the show’s ever-present exposition) that all of Initial D, whether that’s over 700 manga chapters or its anime equivalent, takes place in the narrative over a span of two years.

It’s nothing to get worked up over, and there are series with even more drastic disparities between publication and in-story time frames (see Akagi and Megatokyo), but there’s something about Initial D which feels different. It’s almost as if there were indeed 15 years’ worth of racing action crammed into two.

Other facts I wasn’t even aware of are that the manga itself ran for about 18 years, and that the author Shigeno Shuuichi was born in 1958. Somehow he was able to maintain the racing manga for almost two decades, rendering his work about as timeless as the very Eight-Six Trueno that’s at the center of Initial D.

5) The

4) of the Enders

3) Death Egg

2) Fujiwara

1) Tezuka

They both have HUMAN ABS.

The Initial D character, not the VOTOMS director.

Takahashi Ryousuke, leader of the Akagi Red Suns, the White Comet, and the creator of Project D is one of the most prominent and important characters in Initial D and so inevitably he appears in every main Initial D anime. Now, each stage of Initial D has come out at different times, sometimes years apart, and even the art style of the original manga has evolved over the course of more than a decade. Character designs change according to the artist’s whim.

That still doesn’t explain how Ryousuke manages to look wildly different from one sequel to the next, while other prominent characters such as Takumi and Keisuke remain relatively intact.

Look at the guy. His face can’t stay the same size, his hair changes back and forth between blue and brown, his bone structure morphs as well. The only things that remain remotely consistent are his thick eyebrows and his full lips. Even his hair, which is roughly the same style until Fifth Stage, still undergoes some peculiar shifts. The closest he gets to looking similar is between Third Stage and Fourth Stage, and even that’s a bit of a stretch.

Anyway, I’m still trying to figure out why all of the anime have struggled to decide on a proper hair color for Ryousuke. Maybe it’s like how Raoh is blond in the manga but has brown hair in the anime?

…Yukari would be the death of street racing. (Also the death of people.)

…Everybody’s favorite toy would be the rollacorolla.

…Osaka would try to block her opponent on corners by sticking her arms out.

Okay, I know there’s definitely better/worse ones out there. So now it’s your turn.

Initial D has always been ridiculed for its poor character artwork, though for a series like Initial D it doesn’t matter too much as long as the races are sweet and intense and there’s Eurobeat playing, real or imaginary.

However, upon actually viewing some of the recent chapters, I’ve noticed that over the course of many years the character artwork in the manga has become much better, though only in specific moments. And I think you know exactly what moments those would be, i.e. those scenes which are considered most important to Initial D.

Here’s Takumi from an early chapter.

Now here’s one from a later chapter where he’s just standing around talking.

Not so bad, right? He’s pretty similar to the one from many, many chapters back, so why would there be anythi-

WHOOOAAAAA! Apparently now when Initial D characters get to a car, their entire designs become 10x more intense. And really, if you look at when they’re NOT in a car, they look like the previous image. It’s only when there’s a race on the line that the character artwork makes this dramatic jump to match the quality of the racing.

It’s the kind of thing that tells you exactly what the artist and the fans care about most.

There’s two new shows this season where the apparent premise is that the main characters do not strive to be the very best, like no one ever was. One of these is the moe-powered 25-minute mahjong commercial Saki, and the other is the latest Kyoto Animation cute girls fest about a high school band K-ON! While the titular Miyanaga Saki is simply a mahjong genius who has found a way to merely seem mediocre, and K-ON!‘s Hirasawa Yui is simply a no-talent clumsy girl who’s trying to find something she can sort-of kind-of do, both girls are clearly going for the same goal, which is to be okay.

While both shows are clearly aimed at otaku with their ensembles of adorable girls with relatively harmless personalities, I don’t think it’s necessarily a case of “otaku are afraid to succeed and that’s why these girls aren’t striving to be the very best!” How I personally feel about it is that it’s actually kind of refreshing to not have characters who are entirely about toppling their opposition in a given field. Even if the story turns out that way eventually (a likely scenario for Saki), the fact that it started out that way is pretty nice.

Also, Saki is basically Takumi from Initial D only with mahjong tiles instead of a AE-86 Sprinter Trueno.

Interested in Supporting Ogiue Maniax?



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