Initial D. I can’t explain what this really means but believably it is one of the most widely follow anime and manga series in the world. The anime series which tells the tales of street racing and how a average looking person emerged from an underdog into Japan’s best street racing driver, driving and drifting sideways on tight and twisty mountain pass roads with an old but nostaglic Japanese sports car of the 80st, the Toyota Sprinter Trueno, fondly known as the AE86 or Hatciroku.
The manga started back in 1995 by Shuichi Shigeno and still continuing it’s run as for now, although it is believed the manga has reached it’s final story arc and will end in the near future. The anime, Initial D First Stage, debut in 1998 and interestingly it is one of the earliest anime which integrates CGI and cell animation. The anime has evolved into a few OVA (original Video animation, aka straight to DVD), 2 movies, and 3 anime seasons. Soon the latest one, “Fifth Stage” will debut on the first week of November 2012 on per pay view in Japan. It is almost 20 years and it is pretty safe to say Initial D has aged quite well,and the impact towards the motoring world was still felt today. From touge races, drift competitions and a sudden spark of interest of the Hatciroku which turned the small coupe hatchback into a worldwide cult car.
Roll back 12 years ago, on a small coastal town in Malaysia, a 17 year old curious punk bought a boot leg VCD, labeled “Initial D Stage 2, ep 6-7” from a stall.Which contains 2 episodes of the 13 episodes series. Here I was introduced to the world of Japanese illegal street racing, but unfortunately the protagonist , Takumi Fujiwara, suffered his first defeat (**SPOILER ALERT and his only defeat in the whole series till date) after his old faithful’s engine decides to gave up during his battle with the Mitsubishi Evo 3. Not a good way to start an animation series but boy I was instantly hooked. Funny enough, the timing for me to get hooked with the animation series was quite “inappropriate” as I recalled I was shitting for my driver’s license test. Oh well, how time flies.
Come Nov 4 2012, after almost 17 years since the manga made it’s debut, the animation series came back on the fifth incarnation, to continue where it’s left off since the last animated series, Stage 4, ended it’s run in 2006. Looking back at my memories on how I was hooked with Initial D from owning a collection of VCD and DVD of the Initial D series, a series of badly translated manga books of Initial D in malay (no Internet to download manga online back then), drove madly on the roads while listen to a great number of Eurodance tunes from the Initial D OST, and done tons of hours researching the Initial D on badly made fansites on the Internet (no Wikipedia back then), there is no way I going to give this a miss. Scheduled for two episodes per month on per per view basis in Japan, but for the rest of us, you know where to get one right?