Initial D Vol. #06 - 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: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Initial D

Initial D Vol. #06

By Chris Beveridge     September 30, 2004
Release Date: July 13, 2004


Initial D Vol. #06
© TOKYOPOP


What They Say
Episode 16 - The Angel of Usui
Maya and Simone are the fastest drivers in Usui, and are affectionately known as the 'Angels of Usui;' they drive a Sil-Eighty. Cole, not knowing who Maya is, asks her out for a date.

Episode 17 - Sudden-Death Death Match
Somewhat reluctantly, Cole accepts the race at Usui for Tak. This is the first time Tak will race on another team's home turf, and he's really looking forward to it.

Episode 18 - Hot Winds & Furious Driving!
In its debut at Usui the Eight Six keeps pace with the opponent, but at the final C-121 corner, Tak makes a miraculous drift out of the corner...

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. This particular cover goes for a shot of the Sil-Eighty being chased through a lighted tunnel by the AE-86 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 Saiyuki and Mako while the other panel has various technical terms and specs on the Sil-Eighty.

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:
The extras section goes minimal this time around with only a brief section of outtakes from the dub, some mildly amusing and some just regular gaffes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After his first meeting with the somewhat mysterious but very attractive Mako, Iketani finds himself falling quite hard and fast for her charms on their first date.

The secondary cast of characters continues to get a bit more growth with this volume but it's not as much as it could be since one full episode is given over to racing and parts of the others as well. But the character material here is good fun and helps move the plot along nicely. After Iketani fell for Mako just from their first meeting, their follow-up date goes even better, much to his surprise I'm sure. He's able to talk some of the car basics and racing stuff only to learn that she's interested in all of that herself and has some knowledge of cars. Mako doesn't lay it on thick and she's not being obtuse on purpose, she's just not thinking much about it while out with him. And though she does like him, she's really only thinking about being able to get him to do what she wants, and that's to get him to get Takumi to accept her challenge to a race on Mount Usui.

Though Iketani finds himself conflicted since it feels like he's using his friend, his mind is also working in thinking that this is the only change or way a guy like him could get a girl like her. And with her offering her virginity to him, well, how many guys at that age would even find themselves conflicted in this day and age? A lot of time is given over to Iketani's involvement with Mako, including an amusing couple of minutes where the other guys follow him on his date just to see what kind of girl he's got himself. Since the date was out in Usui region itself, they also hit the road a bit and check out the dangerous course they keep hearing about. Situated along the side of the mountain and having numerous very sharp curves, it's one that even Takumi doesn't look too fondly on since you either smash into the wall or go off the cliff if you make the wrong move.

With a few surprises here and there, it doesn't take long before Takumi gets the itch to race again and to really challenge himself and the way he's been racing. While he's not coming across as arrogant, his mind is starting to work in a way that he's believing the hype that's surrounding him lately and can do whatever needs to be done. The race that kicks off in this volume is definitely one of my favorites as it's a very high speed cat and mouse game down the mountain but one where Takumi's lack of familiarity really gives it a very different feel from the past races. Add in that the pair of Mako and Sayuki are pretty different in how they operate compared to just about any of the other racers that live to be loners, the excitement level just goes up a few more notches here. That Sil-Eighty is a gorgeous piece of work as are the women behind it.

In Summary:
This volume of Initial D contains half of one of my favorite arcs from the manga and it just came across great here. From the way the characters interact, Iketani misreading what Mako's saying and feeling, the way Bunta feels about Takumi and the entire episode-long race sequence. Watching this volume gets me juiced up for the show and just for getting out on the road and driving myself. As ugly as it looks at times, this is one of the most exciting shows out there when it gets into its groove and a series richly filled with some great music. It simply needs to come out faster and with more material.

Features
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Dub Outtakes

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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