Initial D Vol. #08 - 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: 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. #08

By Chris Beveridge     November 08, 2004
Release Date: November 09, 2004


Initial D Vol. #08
© TOKYOPOP


What They Say
Iggy invites Tak to watch the battle between the Red Suns and Night Kids, hoping to cure him of his lovesickness before the big race. Tak has never seen a battle from the sidelines, and he is blown away when K.T. and Zak hurtle down the road. In the heat of the moment, Tak accepts a challenge to battle in the middle of a driving rainstorm!

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 Kenta's car racing throughout the countrysidecity 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.

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 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 though none are terribly amusing. The big plus extra for this volume is the clean ending sequences for the first three used in the series, including the new one that starts with this volume.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Initial D continues to be a series that has me giddy with excitement every time I see it but it demands that it be seen all at once. Very few series I can stomach marathoning but this is one that I'd love to just sit down over the course of a weekend and just absorb as many episodes as possible. These individual volumes with the paltry three episodes go by far too fast and get you excited all the way through but often without the payoff since they end in cliffhangers.

This volume brings in some more exciting races as they continue to somehow manage to build up upon previous races that were already nail biters. In the last volume, we got the challenge from Ryousuke to Takumi as well as the invitation to join his planned all star group and really make some noise in the world. Combined with his confusion over Natsuki, Takumi's ended up in something of a daze and funk with just over a week left until the big race. Eager to get him out of it and back into the game, Itsuki and friends convince him to head out to the Red Suns place so they can watch Keisuke go up against Nakazato as Nakazato's continuing to try and win some pride for himself.

It's not often we get to see a race of others with Takumi looking on but this one goes off pretty well and we get to see a sold uphill racing between two powerful cars and skilled drivers. Even Takumi gets into it as he's finally taking in races from different views and trying to get a feel for this particular mountain course as well. What proves to be the best part of this race though is when it's over and he starts to understand just how popular or infamous he's become. One of the Red Suns racers, Kenta, challenges Takumi outright for a downhill race just as the rain starts to hit. This is all new but Kenta claims to Keisuke that he's always practiced this way and can win hands down. Surprisingly, even Takumi is all for it.

This race is just damn exciting since there are so many new variables in the game. The rain naturally brings a lot of new challenges to the race and with it being a new course, Takumi is clearly not favored to win at all. Takumi's even got a strange feeling about it and tells Itsuki to get in the car with him since he doesn't want to have to come back up to the top to get him afterwards but rather just race home, something that Takumi's seemingly done on almost every race. Stuffing him in the back seat as he subconsciously thinks of using him as extra weigh to balance on the road, the race between Takumi and Kenta rolls off and provides some of the best thrills and chills yet. Though some may hate the commentary by others, it's a necessary piece to help explain what you're seeing but even without it the visuals in this race go above and beyond what we've seen before. This is one of the best races yet,

Character development isn't too strong in this volume but there are some small but excellent moments here and there that make it worthwhile. When Natsuki catches up with Takumi and continues to express her interest in him still he's thrown for a loop but the best area is when Takumi starts talking to his father about racing and some of his understanding and beliefs in it that he's starting to acquire. His father is definitely getting proud of Takumi and watching him grow and it's great to see that it's becoming more obvious to Takumi about what he's experiencing. Bunta also manages to have one of the absolute best sequences in the series yet when he takes the car out for a ride himself after doing some tweaking with his friend from the gas station and he does that first turn and drift completely hands free. It's then that you learn just exactly what kind of skill and ability is out there and what potential Takumi just may have.

Even just talking about the show it gives me goose bumps and makes me want to watch more of it right away. Very few shows are truly as addictive as this – it even caused me to go out and buy fourteen of the Japanese soundtracks so far.

In Summary:
While most series have their ups and downs as they go along, Initial D continue to just go up and up and this volume is no exception. Every time I think we're going to get a less than stellar race or something similar to a previous race, they pull something new out of their hats and just amaze and fascinate me. While Initial D is selling rather well from what I hear, it's a complete shame that they had to do what they did to this release in order to appeal to the mainstream at the expense of a lot of long time fans of the show who would otherwise be raving about it with me every other month or so. Every time I check out the "Tricked Out" version, it all floods back exactly why I consider it to be an abhorrent thing. Initial D is a great show that's suffered from the "We can do it better" mentality.

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

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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