December 12, 2010

Initial D Fourth Stage - Project D

After waiting a few years for the English dub of Initial D Fourth Stage to come out, I can finally say that I have completed the series. I've had a subbed copy in my possession for a number of years now, but having started the series in English, I wanted to continue it. You can call me OCD as much as you like, its just how I am with my anime. Of all the seasons, Fourth Stage has to be my favorite. There were a lot of high action and fast paced battles, as well as a pretty diverse lineup of vehicles.
The segment of the story follows the newly formed Project D, made up of the Takahashi brothers (Ryosuke and Keisuke), also known as the Rotary Brothers in earlier seasons, Takumi, and the remainder of the Red Suns. Project D travels through some of the surrounding prefectures to find the most skilled drivers and beat them on their home courses. Takumi and Keisuke are the two aces of the team while Ryosuke fills the role as the teams leader. Project D is outfitted with mechanics and supply vans that allow them to operate essentially as a professional racing team.
The story shows the rivalry between Takumi and Keisuke and how neither of them wants to be surpassed by the other. The two push each other to the limit in order to become the best. As Takumi and Keisuke spend their time traveling with Project D, they are combatting a lot of inner confusion as they grow. Takumi is finding himself questioning both his and the 86's abilities after being passed on Mount Akina by his father in a new Subaru Impreza WRX. While trying to learn how to drive a 4WD, Takumi begins realizing the limitations of the 86 and begins losing faith in both himself and the car. Keisuke finds his own set of troubles when he meets Kyoko from the Saitama prefecture. She is a racer with one of the first teams they battle in Saitama and also happens to drive and FD. She instantly falls in love with Keisuke and he is finding himself constantly feeling that himself being reminded of a past relationship that didn't work. Both drivers ultimately find their own strategies for working through these issues and as a result both seem to become better drivers.
The soundtrack for the show as always is great. I do find that the original Japanese soundtrack is much better, but this tends to be the case across the entire franchise. The music used is a mix between J-Rock and Eurobeat. One thing I can say is that when watching the show and hearing the soundtrack, you want to drive.

Being a car lover and an anime lover, naturally Initial D is at the top of my list of great anime. I think that the greatest strength for the franchise as a whole is that it allows people viewing it to have a little more pride in their own ride. After watching many of the Hollywood movies out there, everyone has cars beyond realistic expectations. Initial D uses cars that most of us have or can get our hands on like Civics, Corollas, RX7s, Altezzas (Lexus IS 250), you get my point. After watching this, I didn't have the feeling that I should hate my car and get a new one thats faster or more expensive. When the viewer can walk away and not feel inadequate about what they do or do not, in my opinion, this is the sign of a great anime.
I have to recommend this anime to everyone, not just car lovers. There are a lot of deep messages in this show. It is a well done series with a number of strong key elements. I can say that this is one that truly will not disappoint.

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