Initial D is a 1998 anime adaptation of the 1995 manga of the same name.
Set in the late 1990s in Japan's Gunma Prefecture, the series follows the adventures of Takumi Fujiwara, an eighteen year old who helps his father run a tofu store by making deliveries every morning to a hotel on Akina with his father's Toyota Sprinter Trueno GT-APEX (AE86). It is revealed that Takumi has been driving on Mt. Akina every morning to deliver Tofu to the summit five years before he even had his license. As a result his skills in mountain racing were honed, and is able to drive under adverse weather conditions.
Why It's a Run in the 90's
- It has some best character and racing animation in an anime, that manages to actually age pretty well.
- Great character designs for every character, which they look quite realistic.
- This show stays almost faithful to the manga, with a few changes and some anime-only scenes from the series.
- Some memorable characters, like Takumi Fujiwara, Bunta Fujiwara, Koichiro Iketani, Itsuki Takeuchi, Keisuke Takahashi, Ryosuke Takahashi, Takeshi Nakazato, Shingo Shoji, Mako Sato, etc.
- All of the cars the characters own are great, including the iconic Toyota AE86 Sprinter Trueno.
- Amazing voice acting in both Japanese and English (Funimation Dub), especially with Joel McDonald nailing his role as Takumi, Josh Grelle as Itsuki, J Michael Tatum as Ryosuke Takahashi, and Todd Haberkorn as Keisuke Takahashi.
- The finale of Final Stage was great, which shows the GT86 at the end, and then ends this show at a very high note.
- Catchy Eurobeat songs that were played in some racing scenes, including Deja Vu by Dave Rodgers and Running in the 90's.
- The Battle Stages was quite good, with some CGI improvement in contrast to the previous season's mediocre CGI.
- M.O.V.E is the best musician artist who made the openings and ending songs of that said anime.
- It actually helped to popularize the tuner racing genre internationally, and even inspired The Fast and the Furious franchise, which would gain cult following like this one and the Steven Universe episode, "Beach City Drift".
- "NANI? KANSEI DORIFTO?!"
- The CGI on the cars for First Stage was mediocre, with them looking like an old CGI opening that was taken right off a PS1 game, but improved in the Second-Fifth Stage.
- The character designs of Fifth Stage were slightly ugly and they lack the charm from the previous seasons.
- The infamous Tokyopop dub is poorly received as it overly westernizes the series, removing the scenes, replacing the iconic 4A-GE sound effects with a V8, and adding the special effects that ruined the racing scenes. Thankfully, Funimation had now owned the rights to Initial D, which not only they undid the mess that Tokyopop had done, but hired new voice actors until it ended on Fourth Stage.
- The anime can have some filler scenes.
- Itsuki Takeuchi or Koichiro Iketani can be butt-monkeys in some instances.
- Fifth Stage and Final Stage were never dubbed, even the Battle Stages and Extra Stage 2.
- Two of Keisuke's uphill battles (Keisuke vs. Atsuro and Keisuke vs. Sakai) didn't appear in the Fourth Stage anime, but only appears in the manga and Battle Stage 2, possibly due to limitations of an episode.
- Some animation errors are noticeable.
- Despite being almost faithful to the manga, most of the scenes were anime-only but never appeared in the manga, such as Itsuki vs. Shingo, Takumi vs. Ryosuke (Third Stage), and Keisuke vs. Seiji (quite canonical in the manga, but Battle Stage only).
- Some of the characters are quite unlikeable, such as Miki (who tried to kidnap Natsuki, which he thankfully got his karma afterward in Third Stage and was never seen again afterward), Natsuki Mogi (First and Second Stage, Takumi's ex-girlfriend, who cheated and lied to him about their relationship), Kazumi Akiyama (Fourth Stage, who is more unlikable than Natsuki and decides to dump Itsuki out of the blue right in front of her ex just because he wanted to get back to her which left Itsuki to a broken heart.) Shingo Shoji (second member of the Myogi NightKids, despite his obnoxious, unlikeable behavior, who had often bumped and rear-ended Iketani, and also Itsuki in anime only for no apparent reason), Aikawa & Ichijo (duo of Lancer Evo drivers, who made Keisuke crash his FD into a curb by an oil spill, and was never seen again in the remainder of Fourth Stage), Fake Project D (the one-dimensional duo of Takumi and Keisuke look-a-like imposters, who tried to impersonate both Takumi and Keisuke, who thankfully appear in only one episode of Fifth Stage and never seen again for the rest of the series), etc.
- Because of this, you could make a better female lead that is more likable than Natsuki.
- It's unknown who performed Eurobeat songs under the aliases SylverR, Maiko and Nutty.
- What's worse about the "Night Trip" song, it ended up not following the traditional formula, making the synth sabi part being followed by the chorus instead of the verse. Even worse, it was sung by an unknown male vocalist (SylverR), whose vocals are boring.
- If you want to make the Night Trip Eurobeat song in a right way, you could do a much better job at it by changing the formula and replacing the vocalist with a good one (e.g. Kenichiro Ohashi, better known by the stage name KENN, who is well known for voicing Jaden Yuki in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX).
Initial D, was very well received by many critics and fans, which had spawned many memes, such as, "Running in the 90's", "Deja Vu", "Nani? Kansei Dorifto!?", *EUROBEAT INTENSIFIES*, "EXTREME ULTRA SUPER LATE BRAKING", "Cool Vibrations", etc. and spawned the Initial D Arcade Stage series and merchandising. It also caused the AE86 to rise in popularity.
- Steven Universe has this one episode, "Beach City Drift" which references various aspects of the Initial D anime.
- "Deja Vu by Dave Rodgers", "Running in the 90's", "Nani? Kansei Dorifto!?", *EUROBEAT INTENSIFIES*, "EXTREME ULTRA SUPER LATE BRAKING", "Cool Vibrations", etc. had became internet memes.
- "Wings of Fire" is the only Eurobeat song in which the original English version isn't part of the soundtrack, but rather Japanese.