Initial D Vol. #03 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: C
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Running time: 150
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Initial D

Initial D Vol. #03

By Chris Beveridge     December 25, 2003
Release Date: February 10, 2004


Initial D Vol. #03
© TOKYOPOP


What They Say
Tak's newly acquired status as a street racer leads to an unwanted challenge from Team Night Kids. Pitting his under-powered Eight-Six against the Night Kids' highly tuned GT-R seems ludicrous, but Tak's growing passion for racing leaves him no other choice but to accept!

The Review!
Please Note:
For review purposes, the technical and content section will cover only the “Classic” version of the release. All grades listed above cover only the Classic Version. For thoughts on the “tricked out” version, please see the first volume review.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese, which is also encoded in 5.1 from the original Japanese release. The audio is a huge part of this show and it comes across beautifully here. While there doesn’t seem to be a lot of sounds going to the rear speakers, they’re used quite well during the race scenes. The 5.1 track is also very well used in providing forward soundstage directionality with the car engines and movements. Dialogue throughout this is crisp and clear and we had no issues with it at all. Add in the music mix to this and you’ve got one fantastic sounding release.

Video:
Originally airing back in 1998, Initial D has a decent looking transfer that makes the best of the materials. The show is a mix of traditional animation and CG effects, with the CG mostly used for the cars. The main problem that will bother some people more than others is the frame jitter during scene transitions; this occurs more doing the anime -> anime transitions than an anime -> CG or vice versa. There’s a touch of cross coloration in a few scenes and a very light amount of aliasing. Colors look good if somewhat dull by design. The opening and ending sequences are left in their original form with the Japanese text and completely untranslated.

Packaging:
Though the artwork is different than the Japanese releases, the covers continue to feature different cars from the series with each volume. The front cover for this volume has a really nice angled shot of Nakazato’s GT-R32 whipping along with the apparently requisite yellow light trailing alongside it. Images from the manga are lined along the bottom and we get the usual bar along the left for the TOKYOPOP logo. The front cover and the spine both sport the volume number, a plus in my book, and the back lists the episode numbers and titles. There are a few animation shots on the back cover as well as a brief summary of the series premise. The discs features and technical aspects are clearly listed, though it’s impossible to really explain the two video versions included on the cover. I continue to think it’s very wrong however to list the running time as 150 minutes when, even though there’s two versions, it’s essentially the same thing. The insert provides another shot of the front cover and opens to provide a panel on various street racer terms, which are pretty version-neutral. The other panel provides a brief breakdown of four of the main characters. Also included in this volume is one of the CCG cards from the upcoming game release. I got the “Save the Tires” card.

Menu:
The menus here are a really neat piece and in full 5.1 at that, courtesy of the excellent designs by Nightjar. Splitting up the screen a bit, the top three quarters of the screen has several race scenes from the show playing done in a colored filter that looks great while playing the sound effects to it as opposed to music. The bottom have provides a nice shot of the Eight-Six and provides the selections. Submenus load quickly and access times are nice and fast. When the disc first loads, it lets you choose which version you want to play (through a nice license plate style) and you can readjust it later in the settings menu, including the video choice.

Extras:
This section is pretty minimal again with a minute worth of dub outtakes as well as the third vehicle showcase gallery that provides a look at more cars. There aren’t even any trailers available here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Initial D slowly churns out three more episodes after a four month hiatus between volumes. The series has a huge amount of energy to it but with the gaps and low episode count, it’s taking something of a toll on the overall enjoyment this way.

With the three episodes here, the series moves along in Takumi’s evolution into a driver as well as something of an adult. We see only a touch of the second part right at the start of the show when he hears some other students talking about Mogi and what kind of person she really is. This sets him off rather easily and lands him into a fight as well as reminiscing about their “date” to the beach. That’s about the extent of the character growth for him in this regard as more time is given over to his racing side, but that area does provide him with some changes to his character.

One of the biggest flaws that Takumi has to overcome in his growth of a racer is having Itsuki as a friend. Itsuki simply gets him into an immense amount of trouble. When both Takumi and Cole are off doing errands at the gas station for the boss, Nakazato of the Night Kids arrives looking for the Eight-Six driver with the intent of challenging him. Ituski is pretty surprised at his coming to the station at first but then ends up playing up his relationship with Takumi far more than he should. Before he realizes it, Itsuki has accepted a challenge for that Saturday to race at Mt. Akina against him and his GT-R32 in the downhill.

Itsuki keeps the challenge something of a secret but word of it spreads all over the area, with it eventually reaching back to Takumi and Cole that the Speed Stars accepted the challenge. Takumi continues to refuse the race though since he’s not really wanting to get into that lifestyle, but something underneath his skin continues to itch and he thinks more and more about the race as it gets closer. One of the more manipulative things that happens is when his boss at the gas station plays him like he apparently did Takumi’s father as well and manages to not so subtly convince him to race.

Of course, he manages this not long before the race itself and Takumi finds that his father has taken the car out for the night, keeping him from being able to go to Mt. Akina. It’s from here where we really start to see just how much racing is getting to him and how much of a driving factor it’s managed to become so quickly.

There’s not too much racing going on throughout these three episodes, but there are a few sequences of it here and there in flashbacks and in some general driving around the area to help move the plot along. A lot of the secondary cast in the form of the various drivers going against Takumi start getting involved once the Night Kids arrive on the scene since there’s a rivalry going on there; these are pretty good scenes though since it gives these characters more depth than just raging against Takumi and how he’s managed to best them by bringing past events into the current challenges.

The one thing I’ve noticed in watching this show is how quickly I’ve gotten used to the arse ugly character designs, particularly for the women. They’ve got their own look and feel about them and definitely don’t fall anywhere near the norm nor would you consider any of them attractive. But after just a few minutes in the show, all that falls away.

In Summary:
Watching the classic version of this, I still feel much of the excitement that I did in the earlier volumes and am enjoying the progression of the show. But as said above, this is a show that’s hard to really get into since it’s all based on adrenaline and fast storylines but has a bad release pattern. This is something that I can see a lot of people waiting for box sets on and marathoning the entire thing in a weekend instead of the couple of years it’s going to take with individual volumes.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Dub Outtakes,Showcase Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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