Manga: Initial D

Takumi Fujiwara is an average eighteen-year-old teenager in the Gunma Prefecture with an average part-time job as a gas station attendant and a not-so-average hand in his family's tofu business. Ever since he was thirteen — five years before he was even qualified for a driver's license — he has been helping out his father Bunta by delivering tofu on the latter's Toyota AE86 ("Sprinter Trueno" in Japan, "Corolla GT-S" in America) to a hotel at the summit of Mt. Akina every morning at 4:00 AM, but with a challenge: he must negotiate the slopes and curves without spilling a drop of water from a cup placed on the dashboard.

Naturally, his secretly-instilled skills never went unnoticed by the Japanese street racing underground. When the local racing team, the Speed Stars, get a challenge from the infamous RedSuns led by Takahashi brothers Keisuke and Ryosuke — the former whom Takumi met the night before — the team had to take him in as replacement for their currently-injured main driver.

Before he knows it, Takumi is quickly, and unwillingly, plunged into a high-speed world of white-knuckle contests on the most dangerous mountain passes (touge) in Japan. Assisted by the Speed Stars, his slightly obnoxious friend Itsuki Takeuchi, his good-hearted yet somewhat shady girlfriend Natsuki Mogi, and the sage-like words of Bunta, himself a retired ace drifter, Takumi will need all the help he can get to outwit and outmaneuver the most talented underground drifters in Gunma and make his way to the top of the heap.

Initial D is a long-running manga series (1995-2013) created by Shuichi Shigeno, with a series of Animated Adaptations called "Stages". The focus is on the Japanese drift-racing underground, and as such, has acted as an anime Gateway Series for western car enthusiasts. The anime is also famous for its blatant use of Conspicuous CG during its racing scenes, making for a fount of Shout Outs in several other anime.

A live-action movie based on Initial D was released in 2005. There are also numerous video game adaptations of the material, notably the Initial D Arcade Stage series, which brought the competitive arcade racing scene to life.

A character sheet is under construction.

Compare and contrast the Wangan Midnight franchise. Not to be confused with the Will of D.

Tropes pertaining to the Initial D anime/manga with multiple examples include:

  • Adaptation Paint Job: Bunta's Subaru Impreza WRX STi is supposed to be painted "Cool Gray Metallic", just like Shigeno's own Impreza. It appears as such in the manga, the first 3 versions of Arcade Stage, and the Sony PlayStation 2 port Special Stage. When the car makes its anime debut in Fourth Stage, the Impreza is wearing the "Sonic Blue Mica" paint, and said color becomes the default paint job for the vehicle in subsequent games released from that point on.
    • Due to animation mistakes in First Stage, sometimes cars swap colors: in one particular scene, the Takahashi brothers' Mazda RX-7s change color.
  • Affectionate Parody: Densha de D is a parody of Initial D WITH TRAINS!.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Two words - "lonely driver". The Speed Stars bemoan this to no avail (particularly Itsuki). Kyoko Iwase for Keisuke would be another example, but Takumi with Natsuki is one of the few relationships to work until they graduate from high school, where she goes to study university in Tokyo and Takumi stays in Gunma. Halfway into joining Project D, he begins dating Mika Uehara.
  • Anachronism Stew: The series began in 1995 and takes place in the then-present day (stated in the manga as 199X to allow vehicles up to 1999, which many of them are on the cusp of). As the series continued, despite two or three years passing at most, cars from the early to mid-2000s start showing up, not just as background fluff that the untrained eye wouldn't notice, but as actual racing machines. Technology improves at a similar pace, with the racers' timekeepers going from handheld radios to smartphones and laptops.
    • The most egregious example by far is the cameo of the 2012 Toyota 86 in the ending of the anime.
  • Art Evolution: The Conspicuous CG gets better with each new Stage. The characters themselves evolve, looking more realistic on-screen, especially with characters such as Itsuki (he originally had constant googley-eyes and a squiggly line for a nose).
    • Art Shift: In the manga, drivers' faces get closer to a more down-to-earth look during a race; even the out-of-driver's-seat drawings tend to be more realistic than the usual manga.
  • Auto Erotica
  • Battle Aura: Post-Second Stage, with the exception of Third Stage
  • Berserk Button: Don't be a misogynist in front of Mako Sato and Sayuki - the latter will chew you out verbally, the former will leave you in the dust with her Nissan Sileighty, and they'll be very feminine and classy while doing it.
    • Badmouthing his friends or abusing his girlfriend, and Takumi will give you hell for it, be it punching your lights out or smoking you in an impromptu downhill race.
  • Bland-Name Product: All over the Stages
    • The car brand "Trueno" (in the front of the Fujiwara's AE86) is spelled as "Toreno" in First Stage, until Toyota allowed the use of the actual product name.
    • There's also "Nisino", "Missan"; even "Dunlop" in Fourth Stage becomes "Danrep".
    • In Fifth Stage, "Trust" and "HKS", two famous Japanese tuning companies, become "Trest" and "NKS".
    • In Final Stage, an AE86 with a surprisingly true-to-life rally livery is manufactured by "Toyoda" and tuned by "TRE" ("TRD", short for "Toyota Racing Development") and "Advam" ("Advan", a high performance tire/wheel company), which is odd due to the free use of Toyota for well over a decade, including other scenes from previous Stages with AE86s.
  • CCG Importance Dissonance
  • Character Development: Takumi goes from an apathetic tofu delivery guy to a hardened street racer, Natsuki realizes that Enjo Kosai isn't the best way to go for her and does her best to get out, Shingo Shoji stops being a Jerk Ass and Itsuki goes through his First Love in Second Stage.
  • Cool Car: A lot of them, though subverted with the AE86, as it's one of the lesser cool cars.
    • The subversion is itself subverted, as Real Life demand for the car increased through drift contests and the show's popularity. While drift circles had already praised the vehicle, Initial D is the reason why every fan wants an old AE86.
    • Once the reason for its popularity suddenly skyrocketed, Toyota and Subaru collaborated together to create the Toyota 86 (Scion FR-S in America) and the Subaru BRZ, specifically as a Spiritual Successor to the AE86. That's how cool this car is.
  • Cool Old Guy: Bunta, Dr. Toshiya "God Hand" Joshima and Kozo "God Foot" Hoshino. All three are the oldest known racers in the series and top-tier, and nobody has explicitly beaten Bunta.
  • Conspicuous CG: Well known for it, and usually turns up in parodies through blatant Art Shift.
  • Combat Commentator: Takeshi Nakazato covers most of First Stage and Second Stage along with Ryosuke. The latter continues commentary through Fourth Stage, though Daisuke Ninomiya and "Smiley" Sakai are added after their defeat by Project D.
    • Much of the manga handles this through the author's notes.
  • Cultural Translation: The first English dub from Tokyopop had all kinds of special effects added to it, and threw out the Eurobeat soundtrack in favor of rap. This didn't sit very well with purists of the series, and for good reason. The justification behind this was Tokyopop was only going to change the music for the TV broadcast in order to introduce up and coming new artists, but the original music would be retained in the subtitled version (or something like that).
    • They did avoid flipping the transparancies for the manga reading left-to-right, which would've yielded the "bonus" of all the cars being driven on the left side of the road and moving on the right side (well, mostly), likely because it would also have resulted in the gas pedal being on the left.
    • After Tokyopop folded, Funimation redubbed the first four Stages along with the first Impact Blue OVA, keeping the original music and scripts intact.
  • Dull Surprise
  • Family Feud: Between the Fujiwaras and the Kogashiwas, though it seems to mostly come from the latter.
  • Fanservice: Some fans complained this was the whole point of Extra Stage.
  • Gratuitous English: "COOOOOOOOOOOOL!", "Thank you!", and "Don't miss it!", just to name a few examples.
  • Graceful Loser: Quite a few racers are pretty accepting of their defeats. Of note is Kyoichi Sudo, who ties with Takumi, but considers a draw on his home course a victory for the visitor.
    • Even Shingo takes his defeat against Takumi well, despite his car flipping end over end in a failed attempt to ram Takumi off the mountain pass.
  • Leitmotif: Heavily used in First Stage, where every racer has a recognizably different theme that plays when they're racing seriously, usually relevant to their personality. For example, Awesomeness by Analysis driver Ryosuke has a theme featuring the sound of keyboard-buttons and dot-matrix printouts combined with an electronic voice, while ruthless Jerkass Shingo has a theme that opens with an Evil Laugh. In later Stage, this is mostly dropped in favor of a more generic Eurobeat soundtrack, but is still present here and there, notably with Hoshino of the Purple Shadow in Fourth Stage, whose theme is a remix of Takeshi's from First Stage, due to the same type of car he drives (a Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 to Takeshi's Nissan Skyline GT-R R32).
  • Left the Background Music On: Happens frequently, particularly during the first couple of Stages. A scene-cut will leave the music playing on somebody's car stereo or radio, or the other way around.
  • Limited Wardrobe. For First Stage; averted afterwards
  • Oh Crap!: The initial reaction of many racers upon seeing Takumi's AE86 catching up to them, let alone overtaking them
  • Only One Face: Fifth Stage really took this direction, as all characters begin looking more and more like Takumi, including Mika.
    • In most of their appearances, such as the original manga, Mako and Sayuki looked nearly identical, with the latter having a somewhat more rounded jawline (as well as certain other parts). Final Stage made them look less like twins, but also switched their head shapes around.
  • On The Next Episode Of Catchphrase: "Don't Miss It!", although it doesn't happen in episode two of First Stage (it appears in all subsequent episodes).
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Takumi, Itsuki and Natsuki
  • Panty Shot: Used and lampshaded as the characters (especially Itsuki) wonder why the school decided to make the uniforms so short.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Every Eurobeat track used in the anime and games are taken from the label Avex Trax's Super Eurobeat compilation albums.
  • The Rival: At least half the cast
  • Rule of Cool: Viewers can expect semi-accurate car designs, but don't expect semi-accurate physics, despite the realistic logic behind the races (yes, inertial drift is a real thing).
  • Schematized Prop: Pretty much the point
  • Secret Legacy
  • Stealth Pun: An auditory one in the Funimation dub of episode 24 in First Stage "Akagi's White Comet"; during the sequence when Bunta lights up a cigarette in the middle of a drift, you can hear a few bars of the song Look Away, Dixieland. It's funny because he's not looking at the road.
  • Subcultures In Japan
  • Training from Hell: Every day since he was thirteen, Bunta sends Takumi on a tofu delivery run up Mount Akina to a hotel near a lake during 4 in the morning (regardless of the weather) without spilling a single drop of water in the cup holder. In Real Life, this is physically impossible, but Takumi makes it possible.
    • Not so, since Bunta fills it half-way/three-quarters of the way, making this plausible and potentially doable.
    • After Project D is established, Ryosuke forces his brother to do runs up and down Mount Akagi while trying to exactly match the time assigned to him — without a timer.
  • Trickster Mentor: Bunta's tofu delivery runs for his son are training for his road racing ability. This is not known to Takumi until a few episodes/chapters into the series, at which point he had been performing deliveries for five years.
    • A more dramatic example occurs following Takumi and Kyoichi's first race: Bunta planned for the stock engine in the AE86 to be used to its limit, so that Takumi will be forced to accept the engine swap his father had prepared for the Trueno.
    • By the time Project D is founded, Ryosuke plays the same role, even while Bunta's mentoring becomes even trickier.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Takeshi and Shingo, who often try to stay spaced apart from each other to avoid giving off the impression of being good friends.
  • What a Piece of Junk: Woe to the racer who underestimates the AE86 or Takumi to a group of racers at the wheel of Itsuki's AE85.