Initial D Vol. #11 - 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. #11

By Chris Beveridge     June 17, 2005
Release Date: May 10, 2005


Initial D Vol. #11
© TOKYOPOP


What They Say
Tak accidentally sees his girlfriend, Natalie, going out with another man! Filled with rage, he leaves the scene and overstresses his 86, blowing out the engine. This leaves only the RED SUNS as the team to stop EMPEROR from disgracing the rest of the local teams.

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 1999, Initial D's Second Stage transfer is pretty much the same as the first stage but the show makes out better in general with a better budget which means better animation as well as much better CG animation for the cars and races which helps a lot, particularly in the transition scenes or places where the two types cross over. 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. With the big race a focus for this volume, we get an action shot of the Evo and the Eight-Six racing with the added imagery of flames all around them. It's a slick piece and the Evo looks fantastic here. 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 some in-character material about the Team Emperor people and a panel on the Evo III.

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 as the only thing we get is the dub outtakes section which brings a few more goofs and gaffes from the show though none are terribly amusing.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As the Second Stage continue to roll along, we get another set of episodes that gives us a great race, some dramatic changes and probably one of the more emotional scenes in any series you'll out there right now. All of this is wrapped up beautifully in a show where there's a real sense of growing up and figuring out exactly who you are and what you want out of your life in the here and now.

The entire arc to this show with the Team Emperor racers continues to be a really good one since it's much more focused than the first stage and doesn't have to go through all of the introductions and setting. The move from Gunma to other courses and the growth of Takumi as a character and a racer has been fun to watch as he has to deal with how people are, mostly in terms of Mogi, as well as the differences in the racers he faces. From his initial dealings with Ryosuke and his plans to form an ultra team of racers to the different people he's met in the Team Emperor side, he's been challenged in interesting ways.

The challenge that Takumi faces this time with Sudo isn't exactly the most interesting race so far, but it's one that is vastly different from the others because of his attitude. After seeing what he did with Mogi in the last volume, which we all know isn't what he should have seen or what he thought he saw, he flies up to Akagi to take on Sudo and his manner and poise is so different that he's practically on fire. Sudo doesn't seem to notice but it's there and the entire way he drives in that race feels different and is visible to others. From Ryosuke's point of view, he can tell something happened to him but he still has to admire the way that Takumi has become one with the Eight-Six even under such conditions of a downhill race on a new course.

The race itself is exciting since it has that different feel to it, but the way it plays out isn't exactly unexpected. It's something I expected to happen earlier in the series because Takumi needed to have a loss in order to understand how that feels and to drive him even further in the future. This is painful in itself, but with this race having pushed both Takumi and the Eight-Six to its limits, the fact that the cars engine explodes so violently, it just leaves Takumi practically in tears about it. It's an incredibly sad sequence as he walks around his car after it spins out and is covered with dirt and he eventually just sits inside staring at the dashboard. It's such a powerful moment.

Even better, the moment is only built upon when his father shows up with the truck to bring the car back. This time of father and son together is very touching and something that most fathers and sons go through at some point. Having done it myself when I wrecked a car as a teen and needing my father's help, this was just incredibly well done and really strengthened the visible bond between the two. His father knows exactly how to handle the situation and it's done quietly and without any sort of malice, because even though the car is wrecked he knows that his son needed to understand losing and losing hard. It's interesting the differences in what each believes will be the issue between the two as well and to see Takumi, who is normally so aloof, really show such strong emotions here.

This set of episodes builds nicely upon that as it shows the growing bond between Takumi and the Red Suns as well now that he's technically joined up with them for Ryosuke's grand plan. The way some of them take up the cause after Takumi's defeat is interesting, especially Kyosuke and how he doesn't believe it counts, which is pretty accurate since even Sudo said it wasn't intended to be a race but rather a seminar. What really makes things click at the end here is that we finally get to see Ryosuke start up a race with his car, which of course segues right into the next volume. But to finally see a race without the Eight-Six and against an Evo is something I'm eager to see.

In Summary:
Initial D really is moving along at a great pace with the Second Stage and this volume is no exception. A lot of great material is here between the race and the character development that will push things towards the upcoming finale as the Team Emperor folks will have to face some serious competition. This series continues to surprise me with not only how much it's sucked me into it but just how on the edge it makes me when it plays out. Very few shows really have me sitting forward watching it to see what's going to happen next outside of one or two sports shows, but Initial D does it practically every episode. This is just pure fun.

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, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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