Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: A+
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: A+
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: A+
- Age Rating: All
- Region: 2 - Japan
- Released By: Avex
- MSRP: ¥10000
- Running time: 158
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Initial D
Initial D: The Movie Special Edition
Initial D: The Movie Special Edition
What They Say
INITIAL D: Third Stage' theatrical movie is now on DVD!! Initial pressing edition will carry a bonus disc with a deluxe booklet housed in a Box. Don't miss it if you're a fan!
First Press : Special disc, booklet The Review!
Initial D is a license that is immensely popular with its fans. So how do you improve on a winning formula? Simple - you just take everything you're doing right, and turn it up an notch. Or two. Or three...
Initial D: Third Stage The Movie is an exciting and enjoyable film that is sure to please fans of the series. Newcomers should be warned, however, that this film picks off shortly after the end of the Second Stage. Time to catch up on some old episodes...
The sound and music of Initial D are arguably the most important aspects in establishing the mood and feel of the show. Again, Avex mode have not disappointed with a rollicking 5.1 mix of sound effects and music alike. The race sounds are as visceral as ever, and the soundtrack continues to do justice in a field that the series is known to excel in. Unfortunately, the 5.1 mix does not seem as aggressive as in the recently reviewed R2 boxset of the first season, but this is a "fault" that is only readily apparent on side-by-side comparison. The audio track remains one of the best uses of 5.1 surround in anime features thus far, and will not disappoint.
The video, however, is slightly disappointing for such a recent theatrical release. On the bright side, the image is crisp with very nice colour definition that tells us without a doubt that this is a film print. There are no rainbows or cross-colouration associated with composite sources as is common in TV shows. Unfortunately, there are quite a few film defects that have made their way into the transfer. They are never frequent enough to actually hamper the visual quality of the film, but if you're keeping an eye out for them, you will see them. Also, there appears to have been some convergence error in reading the original source material, as there are colour edges that can be seen especially towards the edge of the screen. This was reproduced both on a CRT and an LCD monitor, so the playback device was not at fault.
The disc is presented in a nice anamorphic 16:9 ratio, which corresponds to the original film. Testing on a laptop PC with Force Weave elicited a few scenes that were interlaced, with the majority of the film (and most importantly, the car races), passing the test with no interleaving artefacts.
This two-disc set comes in a attractive white cardboard box that holds two Amarays. The minimalist design on the packaging is elegant, if a little less exciting than the aggresive packaging on the two-disc Hong Kong (legal) vcd set. As an added bonus, the set comes with a mobile phone strap with a miniature Hachi-Roku figurine attached. Kawaii!
The second disc is packed with numerous commercials and trailers for the movie and its soundtrack. Of more interest, however, is the 45-minute 'making of' documentary that explores the technical spects of making the movie as well as looking at the cast and crew. The TV cast reprise their roles in the film, and several shots of the ensemble studio voice recording are presented. Another highlight is the reappearance of "Drift King" Tsuchiya Keiichi who once again demonstrates high-speed driving in a real-life Hachi-Roku - this time with Itsuki's terrified VA in the passenger seat. Hilarious stuff.
Released theatrically in Japan in early 2001, the movie was a big hit with Initial D fans, especially in Asia. The film picks up shortly after the end of the Second Stage, with autum drawing to an end and winter approaching.
Takumi is still working at the service station, and has not made any plans for what he will do after graduating yet. Out of the lull, Takahashi Ryosuke of the RedSuns appears and offers that Takumi join his team to complete the "Fastest in Kanto Project". The Project was started a year ago with the intention of rewriting all the course records in the region, and to that end, Ryosuke has been recruiting the top drivers in the region. Long-time fans of the series will recall that it was the self-same project that had led to the RedSuns challenging the Speedstars waaay back in the first episode of the first season. Now that the year is drawing to a close, the deadline on the project is near, and Ryosuke only has the next spring to complete it. It is with this intention that he offers Takumi a place in the team.
After mulling over the proposal, Takumi decides that he has to clear up some past conflicts before he can move on. He therefore asks Ryosuke's help in finding Sudo Kyouichi, the team leader of Emperor, who had defeated Takumi in the Second Stage, in the fateful race which had destroyed the Hachi-Roku's engine. Takumi being who he is, he decides to challenge Sudo on his home turf in Irohaza, a narrow, twisting one-lane course on a mountainside.
After the harrowing race, Takumi becomes the next target of hotshot driver Koshigawa Kai, an Irohaza local who had been targeting Sudo. As fate would have it, Kai is the son of Kohigawa Ken, Bunta's old rival. After a long rivalry, Bunta had finally established superiority over Ken by beating him at his home ground in Irohaza 20 years ago.
This sets the scene for the most dramatic and exciting race of the film, and possibly the series, as Takumi races Kai on the treacherous slopes of Irohaza. We revisit the course that we first saw in the race with Sudo, but now the pace is intensified ten-fold, with mounting tension and sudden reversals. To give an idea of the importance of this race, even the normally complacent Takahashi Ryosuke comes out to Irohaza to witness the outcome. Of course, the trademark visuals and razor-sharp editing of the series is honed to perfection during the race. It will definitely leave you wondering who will win throughout the race.
However, after the race we are still only just after the halfway mark of the film. Aside from dealing with his past defeats, Takumi also has to deal with his fallout with Mogi as chronicled in the Second Stage. We get to learn more about Mogi and especially what was exactly behind the "Papa" business.
The resolution between the two is handled in a very tasteful and restrained manner, with a dramatic event or two drawing them closer together. I don't want to spoil anything, but suffice to say Takumi;s racing days aren't over yet.
The film ends after the graduation of Takumi's class. Itsuki decides to work full-time at the service station, while Mogi travels off to the big city to go to college. Takumi, having accepted Ryosuke's offer, is working part-time as a delivery boy, in between learning about cars and driving. The nostalgic farewell to the characters that we have been watching for the past three years is bittersweet, but tempered by the realisation that it is not really an ending, but rather, a beginning.
In conclusion, this is a great movie that bookends a great series. No fan of the series will want to miss it, and I am sure I am not the only person eagerly awaiting the rumoured Fourth Stage. Highly recommended.
Addendum: Timed scripts for the movie are available, as well as for the First and Second Stages. I have not personally examined them, so I can't vouch for their quality at this stage.
Loewe Xemixx5006D Player (RGB), Grundig Xentia 82cm Flatscreen 16:9 TV, Sony HTK-215 Surround System