Post by Zak
Manga can influence lives, and no other manga reinforces this statement more than the 90’s racing manga Initial D. This tale of an unmotivated teen becoming a street racer has captured the hearts and imaginations of countless gear-heads and normies alike. Initial D is an amazing manga with exhilarating racing action and likeable characters that combine to make a very entertaining series to casually pick up and read. You’ll find yourself surprised by how easy it is enjoy this manga and how invested you can get with the generic plot and derpy looking characters. This week why not try out a classic and strap yourself in for an exhilarating read.
Initial D focuses on 18 year old Takumi “Tak” Fujiwara and his high speed races down the dangerous mountain tracks of Japan. His story begins in his hometown, Akina, chatting with his best friend Itsuki ” Iggy” Takeuchi. Iggy and Tak one day tag along with their coworker Iketani “Cole” up Mt. Akina to watch the local racing team The Akina Speedstars, of which Cole is the leader. However, things quickly change pace in this remote mountain town as The Akagi Red Suns, neighbouring town racing hotshots, challenge the Speedstars to a race. Akina’s racers quickly find that they are completely outclassed and in a desperate attempt at protecting his teams pride, Cole searches for a mysterious racer who is famed to be the best downhill racer in Akina. His search brings him to a tofu shop with a grumpy owner and his old model 86. Its now the deadline for the race and Cole and his crew wait anxiously at the top of the mountain as an old 86 rolls up the hill with Tak in the drivers seat.
While GTO was a great casual read for comedy, Initial D is a great casual read for sports/racing manga to pick up from time to time and read an arc while enjoying every moment of exhilarating racing action. However, much like how GTO suffered from getting samey over time, Initial D‘s generic approach to the racing too grows tired over time. This is both a strength, the manga is easy to read casually, and a weakness as you can’t really binge read the series without it becoming tiresome by volume 48. But despite this if you take your time and space out your reading of this fantastic manga.
The art of Initial D is a very well mixed bag of being amazing and horrible at the same time. On the one there is the superbly detailed backgrounds and cars, however on the other hand is the immense derpiness of the faces. The beautiful art when concerning the cars and the backgrounds makes the cars jump out of the page and when you see these beasts on the racing track, you’re given a sense of kineticism that gets you recreate these races mentally with ease. The artwork really makes the races in this manga stick out and become memorable despite the limits of the medium and whether you favour the motion lines of the manga or the legendary soundtrack and CGI of the anime, they are both really entertaining. Idk what kind of madman Shuichi Shigeno is but for some reason on his characters everything above the neck is derpy if not down right jarring. For me this was conflicting as there are some really lovable and entertaining characters that fill Initial D, but they all have faces that look down right alien.
And we finally get down to what I found to be the true heart of Initial D, the characters. Characters in Initial D feel very real and relatable, with real to life inner conflicts and thoughts that force the reader to see themselves in the reflection. When I began reading this manga I was wondering how this manga about cars and fish lipped characters could’ve inspired and change the lives of so many people. Initially I didn’t get it as the plot seemed very generic for sports manga and the racing was entertaining but it wasn’t until I started getting invested in the characters that I started to get why this is such an inspirational series. Takumi embodies a lot of the insecurities and worries of a young man who’s finding himself and his path in life and following his journey from a spacey and generic op main character to a passionate racer. Watching his transformation is truley enjoyable and while it may be simple, it remains an inspirational tale for those who it resonates with.
Next week we’ll be testing out the podcast format for the manga reviews and keep tuned next week for the podcast and D Grey Man.