Initial D Vol. #15 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: D
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 240
  • ISBN: 1-59182-465-6
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Initial D Vol. #15

By Jarred Pine     February 24, 2006
Release Date: December 01, 2004


Initial D Vol.#15
© TOKYOPOP


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Shuichi Shigeno
Translated by:Dan Papia
Adapted by:

What They Say
Things are looking good for Tak after being recruited to a new racing team and trouncing the only guy to ever "beat" him on the road. There isn't much time to sit on his laurels though, because there's a new racer on the scene. His name is Kai Kogashiwa. He drives a sweet Toyota MR2 and he's gunning for Tak. Turns out, that not only was Kai trained to race by his father like Tak, but his dad is also Bunta's old archrival. Kai's dad lost to Bunta years ago, and now it's up to Kai to bring honor back to the family name. Before this momentous race, Bunta, for the first time, gives his son some racing advice as he cautions Tak about the dried leaves on the asphalt this time of year. Taking his dad's words with him, Tak and Kai launch into a fierce road battle between second generation rivals.

The Review
If there is only one word I could use to describe Shuichi Shigeno’s Initial D, it would be “consistent”. If you are still reading, you know the drill. It’s time for another race!

Packaging:
Instead of going with the original cover artwork from the Japanese tankoubon, TOKYOPOP has created a custom cover featuring a colored version of a piece of artwork from the header page for chapter #169. Not a lot of variety with the colors here and I’m not a fan of seeing screen tones in cover illustrations. The English logo integrates the original kanji from the Japanese logo, with the “D” sporting a nice, glossy finish. Inside the volume, the print reproduction looks okay. Shigeno’s artwork features a lot of dark ink work, and it comes through clean and crisp here without it looking too muddy. There are character profiles, vehicle specs, but no other extras.

Art:
I’ve read so many comments from readers complaining about Shigeno’s style and how it does not look “pretty”, and while I can’t disagree with that sentiment, I do think Shigeno’s style is perfect for a street racing manga. Backgrounds are pretty rich and he lays out a nice landscape of Japan with the towns and mountain scenes. Shigeno uses a nice technique with line effects and smudging during the racing sequences in order to heighten the tension and high intensity feel for the drifting. The detail work put into the cars is also pretty exquisite, surely pleasing all the auto geeks out there who are reading this. His character designs do all seem very similar to each other, with facial expressions looking very static most of time. The one item I am not a fan of are the little “dirt specks” in the panels, which seem to be done on purpose.

Text/SFX:
As is unfortunately the norm with TOKYOPOP, SFX are not translated. Leaving the artwork alone is a good decision here as the SFX are really integrated into the artwork during the racing sequences. However, the SFX are big enough and there is enough free space in the margins where some small subs could have been implemented with ease.

The adaptation continues to be the big sore point of this release for those who expect “100% Authentic” translated scripts. Most of the character names have either been shortened (“Tak”, “Ry”) or given more Western style names (“Kyle”, “Iggy”, “Cole”), even though their original names are listed in the character profiles along with their new “nicknames”. Some characters, however, retain their original names. The script also contains such choice localizations as: “Lou Ferrigno of street racing.”, “I gotta be on Punk’d”, and “Candy-Assed New Jack”. The adaptation feels like it is trying to hard to pump faux-American attitude into the characters.

Contents: (As always, contents review may contain spoilers)
Another volume, another race for Takumi! If you have been reading Initial D or have watched a good chunk of the anime, you’ll realize that Shuichi Shigeno’s stories all have a formula and he works it to the bone. It really is almost the same formula each and every volume for Takumi’s next race, yet somehow Shigeno keeps it very much enjoyable and highly entertaining.

Takumi is still unsure about joining the all-star Gunma driving team, even after some intense words from Keisuke, the younger Takahashi brother, who wants to see this thing through to the end for Ryosuke. He makes sure, however, that Takumi understands that after it’s all over, they still have a race to settle between them. Nothing like foreshadowing even great race battles ahead! With this, graduation, and plans for the future all stressing Takumi out, he finally just decides to go with the one thing he does well; and that’s to just drive that 86. By only concentrating on racing and whatever challengers come his way, Takumi is able to clear his head and race with more confidence. These are the crazy days of our youth! Throw caution into the wind, screw the future, and just race!

Takumi’s race in this volume is very entertaining to see play out due to this race being a reborn rivalry between dads played out through their sons. Back when Bunta was tearing up the roads, he had a rival named Ken Kogashiwa, and together they had some intense battles. It was Bunta, however, who ended Ken’s racing career, and now it seems that the seeds of revenge have been planted in his son Kai. Showing up in his MR2 SW20, a mid-engine car that takes corners with ease and no skidding, Kai challenges Takumi to a race. Kai is a little peeved that his former target, Kyoichi Sudoh, was beaten by Takumi, so Kai is looking for a bit of revenge on his own. Once Bunta finds out who Takumi is racing, he casually lets Takumi know that he will probably lose only to finally offer his prodigy of a son a piece of advice. Bunta offering advice!?! No way! Kai also gets some helpful advice from his father, knowing that Takumi is definitely getting the same. It’s Ken versus Bunta all over again, vicariously racing through their offspring!

This particular race with Kai Kogashiwa is right on-par with the others. There is ample time given to introducing our new racer, setting the stage and conflict as well as making sure Takumi continues to find his focus and purpose. With the new opponent comes a new car with a different style that Takumi must quickly learn how to deal with, as well as the loose leaves covering the road and Kai’s surprising “inverse turn”. Kai’s rope-a-dope strategy is an interesting one, especially since it seems to backfire on him later in the race after he takes the lead, giving Takumi time to readjust psychologically. The whole mind game aspect of racing is fairly fascinating and accurate, illustrated quite nicely here by Shigeno. You’ll have to wait for the results of the race, as the story ends here on quite a nice cliffhanger, having you immediately grabbing for the next installment.

Comments
Each time I pick up a volume of Initial D, I know what I am getting into. Shuichi Shigeno has worked up a formula that he pretty much sticks with for each and every race that Takumi gets involved in. By tweaking pieces of the formula like the parts of a car, Shigeno never fails to entertain me even when I know for the most part how the volume will play out. This particular race has the added twist with the generational rivalry as Bunta vicariously faces off against his old rival from his younger racing days.

And just like each and every volume, the actual race itself is illustrated perfectly by Shigeno. His panels make for fast-paced reading that matches the speed of the cars, but one could also take the time to examine the artwork and still feel the intensity of the race. He mixes in some nice narratives that act as play-by-play and color commentary, as well as bouncing around to other characters as they talk about all the possibilities that could occur during the race in quite the timely manner.

Shigeno just keeps everything very consistently enjoyable here. Unfortunately, TOKYOPOP’s horrible adaptation is also consistent. While fighting the name changes at this point is probably pointless, it would be nice if the adaptation writer could pull the reins back a bit with the script. Please, no more “Punk’d” references.

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