Initial D Vol. #05 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Initial D

Initial D Vol. #05

By Chris Beveridge     May 07, 2004
Release Date: May 11, 2004

Initial D Vol. #05

What They Say
Tak's "Tape Death Match" race with Shingo concludes in a flash as he furiously speeds by Shingo's underhanded tricks. Subsequently, Tak accepts a challenge from the Angels of Usui to race on their home turf. Eager to race on a new venue, Tak shows their Sil-Eighty why his Eight Six is the fastest in on Akina.

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.

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.

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.

Though the artwork is different than the Japanese releases, the covers continue to feature different cars from the series with each volume. This particular cover goes for a dual shot of both the EG-6 and the AE86 racing against each other with a lot of the lighting played with. 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. The insert provides another shot of the front cover and opens to provide a panel on various technical terms and specs on some of the cars.

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.

The extras are pretty similar to past volumes. There's the latest showroom piece that talks about the moves done during these episodes with some small explanations about them. The dub outtakes section brings a few more goofs and gaffes from the show. Following up from the previous volume, there's a seven-minute video piece of the folks continuing their trek through Gunma and heading up to Mt. Akagi and then doing part of the downhill run. It's interesting to see how they've modified the road to handle all the people who race down it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Getting into the teen episodes, Initial D continues to be a highly frustrating viewing experience. I love the show and I really get into the races and all the quirks with it, but these volumes are just way too short. Though this volume does finish up the Shingo arc and keeps it pretty much intact without much in the way of overflow into the next arc, this is just one of those shows where small doses just doesn't cut it.

One of the fun side stories during this part has Itsuki taking Saori out on a date. It's typical teenage kid stuff where he's spending all his time reading the helpful guides and magazines on dating and how to impress women as well as getting his car all buffed up and ready to show off. Itsuki's a good guy, but he's just continuing to do everything wrong, especially considering that Saori already does like him. Their date goes fairly well but he has a number of small screw-ups based on listening to those silly guides. He even goes so far as to try and kiss her during a potentially romantic moment on the lake, but they haven't really gone out anywhere near long enough for that to happen.

Besides, if someone like Itsuki with that character design was puckering up, I don't know anyone who wouldn't go "gah!" from it.

While the date doesn't seem to impact things overall, it does help get things rolling for the larger arc. During their ride back from the lake in his Levin, Itsuki tries to think of how to salvage the date since Saori hasn't said a word to him in some time. Unfortunately for him, Shingo in his EG-6 is prowling the mountain roads and comes across him going downhill. Shingo's not the swiftest one out there so he thinks the Levin is actually Takumi's Trueno and starts racing him down the mountain from behind, pushing him on and on. Itsuki actually manages it well for awhile, though Saori's pretty freaked at this point, but it all goes to hell when Shingo gives Itsuki a bump and sends them into a power spin. It's a minor accident but enough to send Itsuki to the hospital for a few days for tests, though Saori gets off without much more than some light bruises.

While Shingo has been pushing Takumi previously to take on his challenge with the downhill race so that he can reclaim the honor of the Night Kids (as well as its leadership), Takumi hasn't really felt the need since they want to do a Duct Tape Death Match, a match where each driver has their right hand taped to the wheel. But once he sees Itsuki in the hospital and what happened to the Levin, all bets are off and Takumi takes Shingo up on the challenge. Takumi almost seems to take on a different personality before the race and as he gets into it, trying to understand the new dynamic to the race with his one hand being restrained.

While the Shingo race was never one of my favorites (the next arc with the sisters is my favorite so far), this one comes across as a lot of fun and it's always good to see how Takumi tries to deal with each of these new situations. Unfortunately you know going into it that this isn't the kind of race that he can lose, not that it's one that counts for much either, but the tension doesn't come from wondering who will win but rather from how will he handle the tape and then dealing with Shingo himself. There's a lot of love given in these episodes and the bond between the guys and their cars shows in a strong way towards the end here. The changes in Takumi during all of this signal some great things coming up.

In Summary:
Just like previous volumes, this show is over far too quickly and the adrenaline that you feel watching the episodes ends up having nowhere to go when you hit that last episode and are all primed. This show continues to be very exciting and fun to watch, but at the same time it's disappointing knowing how many people are passing it over because the bad choices made to the dub. Just listening to that track while writing the review almost turns me off from the show. Watch it in Japanese 5.1 and enjoy the experience, this is a great show.

Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Outtakes,Showroom,Mount Akagi Footage

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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