You know, it really feels great being able to just watch through shows on my backlog without worrying about keeping up with seasonal shows as well all the time. Although, because of being able to focus on watching one show at a time, I got on a little bit of an Initial D kick at the beginning of the month and I have a lot to say about it! I also finished some prior popular seasonal stuff that I missed out on as well, so I hope that either of those will be catching your interest in this post!
Also, I think it goes without saying at this point, but since I’ll be using these posts to talk about future seasons of shows as well, there will be mentions of spoilers throughout these posts. It’s hard to discuss nuances of the show when I have to avoid spoilers, so there will likely be some that crop up, and there definitely will be some in this post.
I think we’ve mentioned on the blog before that our content typically isn’t spoiler free anyway, but I just wanted to give a brief reminder since we haven’t mentioned it in a while and our revival has been semi-recent!
Anyway, let’s talk about some anime!
Initial D Second Stage
I never thought a show about racing cars was going to emotionally tear me apart, but man does this season do everything it can to make sure that you feel something. I wouldn’t have believed it after how awesome the first season was, but this one has a completely different tone to it.
As I mentioned in the previous post, the first season was about how awesome street racing cars really were, and it had so many intense moments that were just awesome to watch and memorable as that show continued to progress. Sure, there were a lot of character moments for Takumi and his friends as well, with a lot of small drama moments and squabbles that nailed the “high school drama/romance” tone of being young and naive. But this season? Yeah, it goes places, and it goes hard.
One of the big themes that I glossed over from the first season in the last post since I didn’t really think about it too much then was how the show has a sort of deeper level to it beyond just the street races themselves. The races are just a sort of method to grow the characters and show their strongest and weakest versions of themselves, and I think that’s really important to keep in mind as someone watches the show. There’s so much growth and development that happens during each of the races, not just with Takumi either, but with all of our characters that are involved in a race. They’re all dealing with their own struggles internally and the races are a way to deal with and resolve those struggles, which is really a cool component of the show!
This really shines through in the second season, though, mostly because I think Takumi is the one that grows the most in this particular season and there’s more focus on him.
The arc of episodes that really sticks out to me the most is where he races Kyoichi because as the viewer, you know exactly how this is going to play out by simple foreshadowing. While out, Takumi sees that Natsuki, the girl he loves, is in a secret relationship with someone else, and because of that, accepts a racing challenge by Kyoichi, a great regional street racer with an even greater car. Takumi was almost expecting to lose this race but simply wanted to challenge him to let out some of his anger after the scenario beforehand. There is some foreshadowing as well that the Trueno 86’s engine, the car Takumi has always driven and won with, is on its last legs and that the engine could probably be blown at any time.
This arc of episodes just felt like a one-two punch to the gut just watching Takumi race Kyoichi, struggling to even keep up with him in the race, with his emotions almost getting the better of him in the race, something that Takumi doesn’t typically have to happen to him. There’s plenty of visual imagery during this race as well, showing the strain he’s putting on his Trueno 86… until the engine finally blows.
This has to be one of the most horrific “character deaths” I’ve seen in the show because the way it was visually depicted was just heart-breaking because of the emotional stakes that the viewer and Takumi have in the car in addition to what already happened to his emotions that day. Not only that, the use of silence in the scenes following this up was just a real gut-wrencher for me. It’s rare that during a street race, we have any quiet moments, not to mention complete silence, which would be the only thing you hear on a backroad after the insides of your car violently rupture. It just really allowed the moment to sink in, which I thought was a perfect execution of the scene.
I’ve never had a car go out that way, but I know if that was my car… I would have taken severe emotional damage. I felt like I could empathize with Takumi in this scene too since I also have a huge attachment to my car, so I can’t even imagine the pain of experiencing that during an already emotionally rough time with everything else he experienced that night. He lost both of his loves in one night, and there’s no word to describe that experience besides “emotionally devastating” and that’s not even strong enough to convey what that must have felt like.
There are plenty more scenes that follow up that one with some really great and heartfelt moments, but that one hit really hard and I wanted to mention it since I think that one will stick with me for a while. Never thought I would have teared up seeing a car’s engine die, but I guess there’s a first time for anything in anime, right? What an impressive anime this is, at least in regard to all sorts of ideas and feelings.
Initial D Third Stage (Movie)
I wrote a lot about the second season, but I honestly don’t have a lot to really say about the movie itself. The animation was a vast improvement over the previous seasons, probably because it was a movie instead of a season, but it really just felt like more of the first season in tone.
The biggest thing I can say about this movie is that it was more respective and detailed than the previous seasons since it allowed itself to focus on some finer points and close some gaps in the story rather than try to tell a whole new story itself. It added some context and some closure in some areas, but I also felt like maybe the movie tried to do too much in the short span of run time that a movie offers.
I’m not convinced that Initial D as a concept is a great format for a movie like this, but they definitely seemed to make it work well. It feels like the story progresses too fast in a few parts and cuts out some details, but it ties some loose ends together and makes its own story out of them. It makes more sense to look at this as a preparatory for the upcoming seasons than an actual season itself, almost like an OVA arc with some Initial D elements.
I guess that’s a long way to say that I did like it and it’s obviously still Initial D, but coming off the previous two seasons, it was a little lacking in what I liked about the show, but I think that was partially intentional and needed as well. The preparation will likely pay off in future seasons, but I guess I’ll have to see.
I didn’t really get a chance to watch as much as I wanted in February due to it being a shorter month on top of some work and personal reasons, so unfortunately this ended up being a shorter one than I might have liked. However, I do plan on watching more anime in the coming months so continue to watch out for more posts like these!