WARNING: This page contains unmarked spoilers.
Located in the town of Ikaho of the expanded city of Shibukawa of the Gunma Prefecture, the father-son pair live in a small tofu house-shop. Common tropes between the two are:
- Drives Like Crazy: Anyone seated next to Takumi will not only witness his skills firsthand, but will likely faint. Poor Koichiro Iketani passes out after three turns on Mount Akina. Bunta, on the other hand, takes this Up to Eleven. What can you say about a driver who lights up a cigarette in the middle of a drift?
- Infinite Supplies: For a single parent lower middle class family who try to be stingy with money, Fujiwaras seem to have very little trouble with acquiring new sets of tires for the AE86 which Takumi would, no doubt, burn through on a daily basis with his aggressive driving.
- Bunta also seems to have very little trouble finding, much less paying for, a prototype Group A fourth generation 4A-GE Silver Top motor.
- Justified with the modifications that AE86 receives beginning with Fourth Stage since they are financed by Takahashi Ryosuke and Project D.
- The Second Stage seems to offer some justification with the introduction of Bunta's other old friend Masashi Suzuki, who is a mechanic with an incredible list of connections with other motor companies, racing teams, professional sponsorships, and the like. Not too much to believe that he be willing to hookup his old buddy with discount, or even free, car parts and modifications.
- Like Father, Like Son: According to Yuichi Tachibana, both are equally stubborn - Takumi refuses to turn down a challenge from an opponent, while Bunta won't admit his son is slowly becoming a better racer, with the possibility of surpassing him years from now.
Protagonist of the series, 18 year-old Takumi is the son of Bunta and over the course of Initial D, ascends to be one of the fastest racers in the Kanto region of Japan. While he appears to be an Ordinary High-School Student, the truth is for the past five years (since the start of 7th grade), Bunta had his son deliver tofu every early morning to a hotel lake resort at the top of Mount Akina, yet subtly instilled advanced driving techniques, honing Takumi with skills he wasn't aware of. Once news about an AE86 defeating Keisuke Takahashi in his RX-7 reaches the street racing underground, Takumi is thrust into its subculture, winning race after race against the most skilled drivers in the Gunma Prefecture. After graduating from high school, he joins Ryosuke Takahashi's newly created team called "Project D" to further hone his skills and challenge new racers beyond Gunma.
Before joining Project D, Takumi works part-time at a gas station managed by Bunta's old friend Yuichi, alongside his best friend Itsuki Takeuchi. At the beginning of the series, Takumi has little to no knowledge of cars, claiming disinterest in the subject, but slowly learns more about how cars operate and their different drivetrains. As a racer, Takumi depends on instinct rather than intellect: he's able to visualize the road and take the fastest line and point of entry at turns in any condition, provided he has driven it enough times. His mild-mannerisms and focused nature behind the wheel of the AE86 makes him unpredictable against new opponents, who fall prey to his unorthodox methods and driving techniques.
- Badass Normal: While he appears to be an Ordinary High-School Student driving an old Trueno, he is not your typical driver.
- Berserk Button
- Takumi absolutely HATES it when another driver bumps his car: Shingo Shoji from the Night Kids, Tomoyuki Tachi from the Todo School, and Shinji Inui from Sidewinder all did this to him in their races in First Stage, Fourth Stage, and Final Stage, respectively.
- He also loses it in Second Stage when he finds out Natsuki Mogi has a Sugar Daddy.
- Disrespect his friends (and/or their cars) and/or abuse/badmouth his girlfriend, and Takumi will give the offender hell for it, be it punching their lights out (Miki) or walloping them with his AE86 (or Itsuki's AE85) in an improptu race (Two Guys From Tokyo).
- Beyond the Impossible: With Natsuki sitting in the AE86's passenger seat, she witnesses first-hand one of Takumi's downhill runs; it turns out to be the fastest unrecorded downhill run on Mount Akina, shattering Bunta's previous recorded run.
- Blind Driving: A Dangerous Forbidden Technique of his. It's achieved by turning off his headlights during a night race, and is referred to as "blind attack". Takumi only gets away with it because he has the course memorized from his practice runs.
- Born Lucky: He has been saved a ridiculous amount of times during a race by pure luck. Ryosuke speculates that he was blessed with "special something" during his birth as he gets so many lucky breaks that no mathematical theory could explain it.
- During his race with Shingo, when he plans to crash into the AE86 onto the cliffside's guardrail, Takumi starts drifting just in time to avoid an impact.
- When racing against Ryousuke, his RX-7's tires give in during the last turn, allowing Takumi a chance to overtake him and win.
- In his first race against Kai Kogashiwa at Irohazaka, Kai's MR2 lands on a pile of dry leaves on the inside of the course that makes him lose control of his car during the last stretch. To be fair, however, Bunta did subtly tell his son about the leaves before the race, suggesting Takumi takes his advice and the outside to avoid it.
- Takumi is able to pass Tomoyuki during their race after the latter is distracted by a squirrel crossing the road by swerving to the side (in the manga, it's a crow that nearly hits his windshield).
- His AE86's suspension breaks down during his race against Toshiya Joshima, slowing him to a crawl, but Toshiya becomes so fatigued for the duration of the race he is forced to stop and vomit on the side of the road, instantly disqualifying him.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: How he views his driving especially in contrast to the perspectives of other drivers. This is best exemplified in the two times where Iketani goes for a ride with him down Mount Akina: Iketani screams and outright faints from Takumi's riskier-looking technique, while Takumi pretty much thinks nothing of it.
- Chick Magnet: In a series where All Love Is Unrequited, Takumi is the sole exception with a bunch of attractive women basically throwing themselves at him. Natsuki asks him out in the very first episode and eventually becomes his first girlfriend. Sayuki develops a crush on Takumi after winning the race against her and Mako. Later, he starts dating Mika. With all the pretty women throwing themselves at him, this makes him a common target of jealousy by the Akina Speed Stars, most commonly Iketani and Itsuki who have loved and lost.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique
- Takumi's "blind attack" involves turning off his headlights in the middle of a race, which are almost always at night. The only reason Takumi can get away with it is because he has the course memorized from his practice runs.
- The "gutter drop" technique is this outside of Mount Akina: although Takumi can maintain higher speeds than normally possible through a turn, few other mountain passes has gutters of the same style as those on Mount Akina. While it can be done with passes that have raised curb stones, performing the technique there puts extreme stress on the car's suspension and a mistimed entry will break it. And, as Toru Suetsugu found out the hard way, doing it without proper knowledge can flip the car.
- In Final Stage, the rev limiter is taken off of the AE86's engine: this means that Takumi can push its RPMs over 11,000, but it puts a heavy strain on the engine. Combining this with the "blind attack" is doubly dangerous, as Takumi can't see the tachometer with the headlights off.
- Defeating the Undefeatable: Beating the undefeated Ryosuke cemented Takumi's reputation as one of the best drivers in the Gunma Prefecture.
- Determinator: Takumi will NEVER give up in a race, especially when he's behind.
- Disc-One Final Boss: Traditionally the final opponent in "Legend of the Streets" mode in Initial D Arcade Stage.
- Drives Like Crazy: Zigzagged. When he's driving like he's delivering tofu or racing and he has a passenger, the passenger will almost always have freakouts on how ridiculous his speeds and technique are compared to their own, sometimes even fainting. However, he is shown to be capable of driving safely outside of racing; Natsuki notes that her parents' driving makes her carsick but Takumi's driving doesn't.
- Experienced Protagonist: He's already an expert behind the wheel when the series begins, as demonstrated when he beats Keisuke twice in a row (once in an improptu race, again in a proper organized race). His Character Development comes from him adjusting to a racing environment rather than the tofu delivery runs that Bunta assigns him every day.
- Heroic BSoD: Three times in the series - first when he finds out that Natsuki engages in Enjo Kosai, second when the AE86's engine breaks down in the middle of a race against Kyouichi Sudo and third when Bunta driving an Impreza beats him in an impromptu race.
- Instant Expert: Zigzagged; Takumi learned to drift by driving deliveries down the same stretch of road repeatedly for years, but it's theorized by his opponents he simply has a "natural talent" for driving.
- Living Legend: Following Takumi's win over Shinji, his AE86 goes down as the undefeated vehicle that has an official perfect win ratio.
- In MF Ghost, Takumi has a reputation much similar to his father, he is legendary among the generation who witnessed Project D's conquest of Saitama, Ibaraki and Kanakawa prefectures, but not all that well known to modern generations due to the Career-Ending Injury that ended his WRC career early on.
- Mid-Season Upgrade: A new engine intended for race cars is installed in the AE86 shortly after the original breaks down, which Bunta purposely allows to happen. A small upgrade in the form of a roll cage is also installed after the race against Team 246 in Fifth Stage.
- Nerves of Steel: Takumi seems to have absolutely no sense of pressure or stress before his races, which stuns all the other members of Project D.
- Recurring Boss: Players battle him several times in Legend of the Streets mode for Arcade Stage. The increase in difficulty is basically him holding back less and less.
- Signature Move
- The gutter drop technique, where Takumi drops the inside tires of the AE86 into the rain gutters to offset the heavy centrifugal force when drifting at tight hairpins on Mount Akina, allowing him to enter corners at higher speeds.
- Takumi replaces the above with the blind overtake by shutting off the AE86's headlights. This has the effect of making the car more aerodynamic (since it has pop-up headlights) and confusing his opponents, who are unable to see his car in their rearview mirror. It's explained that Takumi can pull this off only because he memorizes the course on the many, many practice runs Project D performs before every away race.
- Step into the Blinding Fight: In a mild and rare example of this being used by the protagonist, Takumi during his Project D tenure will occasionally turn off the AE86's headlights to blend in the darkness and pressure his opponent, understandably shocking the majority of them given how dangerous touge passes can be at nighttime.
- There's also a practical reason for doing this: Takumi's AE86 Trueno is a car that has pop-up headlights, so by turning off his headlights he is able to reduce the drag on his car, giving it some extra speed.
- Sugar-and-Ice Personality: When around his friends Takumi is more open and sometimes even dorky. Whenever he's in a race against an opponent he's cold and focused.
- Took a Level in Badass: Takumi's driving skills were already impressive at the beginning of First Stage. What made everyone so amazed is the fact that despite having this godlike skill in driving, Takumi didn't really know anything about cars, car mechanics, or the street racing scene in general. His experiences of racing tough opponents as well as joining Project D shaped Takumi into someone who not only drives well, but also understands the inner workings of cars as well as driving techniques.
- Back in First Stage, Takumi didn't even know what his own car was called. Fast forward to episode 7 of Fourth Stage and he can point out the flaws of the newly installed turbo on Itsuki's AE85. Itsuki, Iketani, and Kenji are all stunned and amazed after hearing such precise statements coming from him. That is how far he has come.
- Wax On, Wax Off: All Takumi does (or so he thinks) is to drive as fast as possible to have time to deliver the tofu, return home and have a little more sleep before school starts. He's taught to believe that drifting is done so as to prevent the tofu from rolling and tumbling around the trunk.
- Weak, but Skilled: Personified, as underestimating Takumi and the outdated Trueno is a quick way to get thrown off-guard when a opponent is racing him.
- What a Piece of Junk: Throughout First Stage and half of Second Stage, the AE86 is essentially this, running on the stock engine. Averted post-Mid-Season Upgrade.
- The majority of Takumi's opponents continue to question and comment on his choice of car throughout the series, and it is often considered a major factor in the obligatory declarations that "this is the toughest opponent yet" which precede each race.
The 43 year-old father to Takumi and proprietor of the Fujiwara Tofu Shop, Bunta makes his living by selling tofu to a hotel resort at Lake Akina at the top of Mount Akina. Unknown to his son, Bunta is actually a street racer and holds the fastest, recorded downhill run on Mount Akina. Though he no longer races, he secretly guides Takumi and molds him into an exceptionally skilled driver. At the same time, he occasionally tweaks the settings of the AE86 to not only suit Takumi's style, but give him an edge against his challengers. After he hands ownership of the Trueno to his son upon joining Project D, Bunta purchases an Impreza for his own use.
Bunta's method of training is surreal: placing a cup of water in the cupholder of the AE86, he advises Takumi not to spill a drop to prevent the tofu from breaking apart, but is actually a means to learn advanced drift techniques. After he buys the Impreza, he has Takumi alternate between the Trueno and his car for deliveries. Doing this will show Takumi the strength of modern vehicles and the advantages of an all-wheel drive (AWD), another strategy to improve his skills.
- All There in the Manual: Supplemental manga pages for the collected volumes states that he hates tofu.
- The Alcoholic: Although the manga and anime made no attempt to hide this, the live-action movie Flanderized this aspect of Bunta, making him a frequent drunkard.
- Badass Baritone: In the anime series, Bunta's given a deep, gruff voice to signify his experience behind the wheels.
- Batman Gambit: Knowing that the Trueno's original engine is about to go out, Bunta intentionally hides this fact from Takumi so his son can better appreciate the new engine that Bunta has lined up for it and be glad his old Trueno is up and running again. Bunta explains that if he just went ahead and swapped in the new engine while the old was still intact, Takumi would complain about it.
- Bonus Boss: In Arcade Stage, only after defeating Takumi in the last encounter with him in Legend of the Streets mode will Bunta challenge players. It's unlikely players will win, as his Rubber-Band A.I. will snap if he makes a pass. Regardless of a win or loss, the credits will roll.
- Cool Old Guy: He's almost in his 50's but still qualifies as one of the best, if not the best driver in the entire series. The fact that his definition of a "practical, easy-to-drive" car is a 280-horsepower, all-wheel-drive, 2-door GC8 Impreza really says something.
- Eyes Always Shut: Not once are Bunta's eyes ever open in the Anime and Manga; averted in the live-action movie.
- I Am Not Left-Handed: While taking the Impreza for a test run, Bunta easily drives by and passes Takumi's upgraded AE86. This is before deciding to purchase it as his personal vehicle.
- Living Legend: Arguably the best racer in the franchise, to wit in Arcade Stage, an entire mode called "Bunta Challenge" is dedicated to him. Oddly enough, only those In-Universe from Bunta's generation know of his legendary reputation.
- Smoking Is Cool: Almost always seen with a cigarette in his mouth and in one particular scene, he is seen grabbing and lighting a cigarette while drifting.
- Trickster Mentor
- His idea of secretly training Takumi into becoming a seasoned street racer is to send him on tofu delivery runs up Mount Akina every day, regardless of weather conditions. Which pays off, as Takumi's rain experience allows him to smoke Kenta, the RedSuns' rain specialist, as well as Miki during a snowy day.
- He allows the Trueno's engine to break down on purpose before installing the new engine, in order to get Takumi to appreciate the engine swap - the idea being that if he offered the swap to Takumi while the original engine was still intact, Takumi would protest against it. Furthermore, not telling his son about the engine swap after repairing the car is so Takumi can deduce by himself how powerful the new engine is through trial-and-error runs.
A racing team largely comprised of former Akagi RedSuns members, Project D is formed by Ryosuke after Takumi graduates from high school. The explicit goal of Project D is to challenge other racing teams from prefectures outside of Gunma, while setting new records on the opposing team's home course, using the best drivers from Gunma. According to Ryosuke, the expedition will develop their drivers' skills to new and further heights than ever before. Unlike other racing teams (largely hobbyist in nature), Project D is fundamentally technical: a convoy of support vans with mechanics and tuners are assigned to its racing vehicles, while the support staff will scout the next course and record it for its drivers to study before tackling it.
Led by Ryosuke, Project D is comprised of Takumi and Keisuke, the respective downhill and uphill drivers, Kenta Nakamura, Hiroshi Fumihiro, Shuichi Matsumoto and Tomiguchi. Tropes common to all team members are:
- Dream Team: In-Universe to the whole of Gunma, being touted as the best non-professional drivers the prefecture has to offer.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Keisuke is the red, Ryosuke is the blue - the younger Takahashi brother being a hot-headed, impulsive, still-in-training street racer, while the elder is deeply analytical, precise and well-thought.
- Those Two Guys: Shuichi and Tomiguchi, Takumi and Keisuke's respective mechanics.
One of the most skilled and technical drivers in the series, 23 year-old Ryosuke is the older brother of Keisuke. The eldest son of the wealthy Takahashi family, who operate a hospital in the Gunma Prefecture, he is studying to become a doctor, currently enrolled in medicine at university, but considers street racing as his greatest passion. Having been featured on the cover of racing magazines, Ryosuke is called the "White Comet of Akagi", due to his white FC. Before forming the RedSuns, he was also dubbed the "Lone White Comet", as he refused to join local racing teams. After being defeated in a race against Takumi, Ryosuke considers retirement from the street racing scene and estimates he has about a year left before starting his vocation as a doctor full-time. Instead, he forms Project D, coaching and leading the team during their journey to defeat new opponents outside of Gunma.
Like a professional racer, Ryosuke considers technical data as important as practical information, and is one of the few drivers with equally matching skills to that of a mechanic. For example, he can deduce the kind of modifications made to a car simply by hearing its performance on the road. Always calm and composed, Ryosuke never breaks into anger, with his deductions and strategies against competing drivers being the most insightful and well-sought by his peers. He holds street racing in the highest regard, claiming it has its merits, like its professional circuit counterpart, something his rival Kyouichi Sudo is against.
- The Ace: Not only is he an extremely skilled racer who only Takumi has been able to beat, he's touted as a genius who is simultaneously working on a doctor's degree, with equal, up-to-date knowledge and skills to a car mechanic.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: The animators can't seem to decide what hair color they want Ryosuke to have - he has black hair during First Stage, becomes a redhead during Second Stage, given light brown during Third Stage, dark blue for Fourth Stage and back to black for Fifth Stage and Final Stage. While it's possible Ryosuke simply colored his hair from time-to-time, this is directly contradicted by the fact his hair color stays the same during flashbacks to previous seasons where it was a different color.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Ryosuke is said to be the only driver who trains on the computer, not through simulations, but by mathematical analysis of the performance of different carsnote .
- A Day in the Limelight: Ryosuke gets an arc dedicated to him in Fifth Stage when he secretly goes off by himself to confront "Shinigami" Rin Hojo.
- Badass Baritone: Whether it's Takehito Koyasu or Daisuke Ono, Ryosuke has a notably deep voice among the main cast.
- Big Brother Mentor: For the RedSuns and Project D.
- The Chessmaster: Ryosuke's most dangerous asset as a racer is his brain. His careful planning before races allows him to go up against almost any kind of opponent.
- Didn't Think This Through: His only loss in the series, against Takumi, is a result of this. During the final corner of their race, he forces Takumi to take the outside by taking the inside, theoretically giving him the advantage in racing line. However, he failed to consider his tire wear and his tires, over-stressed by the strain of racing downhill, give out while he is drifting, making him slip outside and allowing Takumi to take the inside and overtake Ryosuke. Since it was already the final stretch of the race, it was too late for Ryosuke to recover.
- Due to the Dead: At the end of the series, Ryosuke goes to Kaori's grave to pay his respects to her after not having done so years following her death.
- Mid-Season Upgrade: For his final race in the series, his FC was given numerous upgrades. The ones visible include the switch to more aerodynamic embedded headlights, a carbon fiber hood and a rear wing.
- Red Baron: "White Comet of Akagi" (Akagi no Shiroi Suisei) due to his white FC RX-7. Meanwhile, the "Lone White Comet" epitaph is due to his weariness around girls (except Kaori) and his refusal to join race teams.
- OOC Is Serious Business: After his loss in First Stage to Takumi, Ryosuke no longer participates in street races, so when he goes out to battle alone in Fifth Stage, Ryuji Ikeda notices something is off.
- Shout-Out: Word of God states Ryosuke is modeled after retired race car driver Kunimitsu Takahashi - the forefather of drifting and Keiichi Tsuchiya's mentor.
- The Stoic: He almost never breaks his facade, and speaks in a calm tone; not once does he ever raise his voice.
- Trickster Mentor: Not as much as Bunta, but it's still there whenever he hands advice to Project D's racers - for instance, he reminds Keisuke that Kyoko's RX-7 uses a single-turbo system that gets Keisuke confused until he deduces her car has larger lag compared to his RX-7, while he hands no advice to Takumi before racing against Tomoyuki, knowing he will create an exclusive strategy of his own to use - the blind attack.
The 21 year-old younger brother of Ryosuke, the hot-headed Keisuke is largely driven by his emotions, making him a formidable driver. According to him, he was a bad seed in the family and was overly rebellious when he was younger, but after taking a seat next to his brother in the FC, he awoke to the new passion of street racing, and began dedicating his time to it. He is the first racer to challenge Takumi and is soundly defeated, something which still irks Keisuke to the core. Because of this, Keisuke desires to have a rematch with him one day.
- Adapted Out: Keisuke doesn't appear in the live-action movie; instead, his rivalry and first race against Takumi are folded onto Takeshi Nakazato.
- Big Brother Mentor: Subverted - although Kenta will usually turn to Keisuke with questions about car mechanics, even Keisuke doesn't know that much compared to his brother, thus both default to Ryosuke for his in-depth knowledge.
- Badass Normal: As Takumi's first opponent and later teammate, Keisuke is initially indicated to be far less skilled than Takumi. Over time, his intensive training closes the gap, even as Takumi likewise improves, leading Takumi to comment that some day Keisuke will likely defeat him.
- Deuteragonist: He essentially becomes the second protagonist of Initial D after Project D is founded and he and Takumi become its double aces.
- Japanese Delinquents: Early in the series, it's implied Keisuke was involved with bosozoku gangs. This becomes a Chekhov's Skill when the Tsuchisaka Lan Evo Team threatens Project D with a bosozoku gang after their loss. The gang leader happens to be Keisuke's subordinate from way back.
- Mid-Season Upgrade
- The FD gets major handling upgrades after its "accident" during its practice run at Tsuchisaka.
- Subverted in Fifth Stage when his car is supposedly upgraded, but this is actually a distraction for the Sidewinder members who are spying on him. The only change made to the FD is adding a carbon hood to it.
- Oblivious to Love: Subverted; Keisuke is aware of Kyoko's affections for him and admits he does like her, but his tendency of being able to focus on only one thing at a time prevents him from establishing a relationship with a girl and racing at his best simultaneously. Keisuke internally lampshades how he has no time for girls when Takumi is practicing day-after-day from his deliveries on Mount Akina, which he believes is widening the gap between them.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Keisuke tells Takumi not to lose to anybody else during First Stage because he wants to be the first to beat Takumi for real.
- Red Baron: Played with - because the majority of Keisuke's opponents drove AWDs during their Project D expedition, Hiroshi suggests he be called the "AWD Killer".
- The Rival: Played with - Keisuke insists he's Takumi's rival. By the end of the series, he asks if anyone in Project D wants to see the two of them settle once and for all who's the better racer; no one wants to because they've been teammates for so long they expected the animosity to have fizzled away already.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Following their race on Tsuchisaka, Aikawa accuses Keisuke of attempting to cause a car accident on the course when his FD is adjacent to Aikawa's Lancer Evolution V just before hitting a construction barricade, but Keisuke reminds Aikawa he had more than enough space on his side of the road to ensure both their vehicles would pass the barricade safely, since Keisuke already gave up space to allow Aikawa in (according to Keisuke, the FD was two centimeters away from hitting the barricade).
- Would Hit a Girl: Not physically, but in his race against Kyoko, he deliberately rams her car with his in the middle of a corner to knock it off balance. There is a pragmatic reason for it though - Kyoko's RX-7 has a single-turbo system, which means that knocking it off-balance creates a large amount of lag time from its turbo. Keisuke takes advantage of his RX-7's less laggy twin-turbo system and makes the pass.
A former Akagi RedSuns member, Kenta joins Project D when the team is formed, primarily as their errand boy for supplies and time keeper when their drivers tackle their opponents' home course records, but also as the one who films the roads used for the upcoming races so the drivers can have a closer look at the course in full detail.
- Ambiguously Brown: He has a tanned appearance that isn't explained for a while in the series. It's later revealed Kenta just likes to tan his skin regularly under the sun.
- Naïve Newcomer: He's not nearly as knowledged about racing as other Project D members and often fails to understand developments during a race.
- Tagalong Kid: There's really no reason for Kenta to be part of Project D, other than to follow Keisuke around.
- The Worf Effect: Is the RedSuns' rain specialist, yet gets completely smoked by Takumi in their sole rain match on Mount Myogi, proving weather conditions don't hinder the Akina driver at all.
- The Watson: His role in the story after Project D is founded is to ask questions about an on-going race so other characters can explain it to him and the audience.
A close associate of Ryosuke since the RedSuns was formed, Hiroshi serves as his Number Two, handling Project D's logistics, setting up their races with opponents and maintaining a website of the team's accomplishments and records broken on away courses.
A team of amateur drifting enthusiasts based around Mount Akina, the Akina SpeedStars are considered to be the worst team in Gunma, recruiting Takumi to defend their territory against the RedSuns during their attempted conquest in Gunma during First Stage.
- Adapted Out: Iketani and Kenji don't appear in the live-action movie, thus Itsuki winds up becoming leader of the Speed Stars.
- All Love Is Unrequited: The words "lonely driver" fits them so much, it's one of the recurring comedic points for the series. Iketani and Itsuki particularly have tragic love stories - the former never getting his "angel" (Mako Sato) and the latter gets dumped by Kazumi Akiyama for an older man. It comes as no surprise the team becomes really jealous of Takumi, who has a much steadier love life.
- Butt-Monkey: The entire team, in the sense they will never beat anyone in a race. Justified because the team is a group of friends who simply race for leisure, lack proper training and use improper techniques. Takumi comes around to help them out for a bit, but upon joining Project D, they are back to being the weakest team in Gunma.Iketani: "It sounds like our little Takumi is getting better all the time. And compared to him..."*The SpeedStars look at each other*Kenji: "You were gonna say that we're not getting better all the time, right? Man, what is your problem?"*Iketani and Itsuki sigh in shame*
- Fun with Acronyms: The team name is abbreviated A.S.S. Word of God says that was intentional.
- Sempai/Kohai: Iketani and Kenji are the seniors, with Takumi and Itsuki their juniors.
- Shout-Out: The team is named after "Speed Star Racing", a Japanese wheel brand.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Near the end of Extra Stage 2, Iketani decides not to confess his true feelings toward Mako so she can pursue her dream as a professional racer. Sadly, the ending implies that they never meet again.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: He's not a bad racer, but Takumi is simply much better at getting girls and racing than he is.
- The Alleged Car: Wanting to be like Takumi, he seeks out to buy an AE86 Levin, but accidentally buys a AE85 Levin insteadnote . The SpeedStars make fun of this, but Itsuki is convinced by Takumi to stick with it, regardless.
- Bromantic Foil: Whereas Takumi is aloof and occasionally empty-headed, Itsuki is boisterous, loud and clearly has too much on his mind.
- Large Ham: He says everything in the most over-the-top and dramatic way imaginable, even when he's thinking.
- Mid-Season Upgrade: Played with - his car turns from a "complete joke" to "somewhat-less-of-a-joke" after he installs a turbo in it.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Most of the time, he tends to provide some silly reaction to deflate the tension of a situation.
- This Loser Is You: While the entire SpeedStars team fall under this trope, Itsuki and his car take this to a whole other level. He tries to mimic Takumi like a street racer enthusiast, buying a variant of the same car and all while imagining himself becoming a top notch driver, while in reality it's clear that his driving skills won't even reach levels needed to compete against other Akina SpeedStars members, and he is so stupid that he bought the wrong car in his efforts to mimic Takumi. This is before getting into his love life regarding Kazumi.
- Related in the Adaptation: The live-action film turns him into Itsuki Tachibana, the son of Yuichi Tachibana.
- What a Piece of Junk: Whenever Takumi is behind the wheel of Itsuki's AE85, he becomes just as dangerous as he would normally be in his AE86.
- Running Gag: After Iketani and Itsuki's past experiences with women, they tend to poke fun at Kenji on whether there's a reason women are not attracted to him in particular, since he always hangs out with his teammates. At one point, he started shouting the moment he sensed an implication.
- Only One Name: He doesn't have a last name.
- Only Sane Man: Between himself, Iketani and Itsuki, Kenji's the most level-headed and reasonable of the three.
Claiming Mount Akagi as their home course, the Akagi RedSuns is the strongest racing team from the Gunma Prefecture (until the formation of Project D). According to the team, it's their policy not to conduct races against any opponent on Mount Akagi, claiming they "can't get excited about it" (the exception is when Team Emperor begins their conquest of Gunma).
Based around Mount Myogi in the Gunma Prefecture, the NightKids are a team of average skilled drivers, suffering from an on-going power struggle between its two leading members, Takeshi and Shingo.
- Boring, but Practical: His grip-driving may not be as flashy or crowd-pleasing as the drift cornering the series is known for, but he's able to go toe-to-toe with his opponents while doing it. He even Lampshades how Awesome, but Impractical drifting isnote .
- Break the Haughty: Had full confidence in his R32's ability to wipe the floor with Takumi's AE86 (and Ryosuke's FC to an extent). His loss against Takumi makes him realize how out of his league he is in terms of skill. His defeat at the hands of Keisuke later on in First Stage on his home course makes it worse.
- Composite Character: The live-action version of Takeshi keeps his personality, but he takes over Keisuke's initial rivalry with Takumi, being the one who first races against him on Mount Akina.
- Running Gag: Every time he or Shingo realize they're getting too close, they immediately put distance between each other to prevent people thinking that they are friends.
- Technician vs. Performer: Favors the technician, preferring grip driving techniques over "showy and weak" (in his own words) drift maneuvers.
- Adapted Out: He's not seen on the live-action movie, but part of his role was transferred to Seiji.
- Dirty Coward: The whole "gum tape deathmatch" ensures Shingo gets the bead against FR (front engine, rear wheel) drivers since having a hand permanently duct taped to the steering wheel is what gives FF (front engine, front wheel) drivers an advantage. Furthermore, Shingo won't hesistate to bump his opponents off the road if it means he can win.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Attempting to ram Takumi off the mountain pass backfires badly on him.
- Jerkass: Until he loses to Takumi, where he tones it down considerably, especially in Extra Stage.
- Kick the Dog: To goad Takumi into a race, Shingo wrecks Itsuki's day with his blind date by smashing his AE85 onto Mount Akina's guard rails.
- Not So Different: Although Shingo despises Takeshi, both characters share the same philosophy for mountain racing and analytical skills when observing other races in the series.
Impact Blue is a team composed of two female racers, Mako Sato and Sayuki. Unlike other racers in the series, the two are sole members of Impact Blue, with Mako acting as the driver, while Sayuki works as a navigator - a similar fashion seen in World Rally Championships. They specialize in high-speed pursuit racing, thanks to the narrow roads on their home course of Usui.
Mako Sato and Sayuki
- A Day in the Limelight: Extra Stage is dedicated to the duo.
- Expy: Of French female rally driver Michèle Mouton and her Italian co-driver Fabrizia Pons.
- Ms Fanservices: Aside from a Beach Episode with the girls wearing bikinis during First Stage, Mako gets a Shower Scene in Extra Stage.
- Rare Vehicles: Subverted; the Sileighty is pretty common among drifters, but most of them, like Mako's, aren't genuine units, but were actually user-modified cars created from 180SXs with S13 Silvia front endsnote .
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Sayuki is the the sassy Femme Fatale Genki Girl, while Mako is the Cute Bruiser Nice Girl.
- Tranquil Fury: They make it no secret that they're pissed off at the unnamed Emperor for belittling them over the fact that they're women, but nonetheless they stay cool and collected enough during the subsequent race to make him eat their exhaust.
A highly skilled team of racing vehicles that exclusively use Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions, Team Emperor are the self-proclaimed king of the mountains. Hailing from Tochigi, the Emperor's home course is the one-way road of Irohazaka. In Second Stage, they plan to take over the Gunma Prefecture in a similar fashion to what Ryosuke initially planned to do with the RedSuns, though team leader Kyouichi Sudo's goal is simply to defeat his rival in a race.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: They're shown defeating several teams with relatively little effort as an introduction, with the Myogi NightKids amongst their victims.
- The Dreaded: Their appearance in Gumna and their effortless victories over several teams there causes every team in the prefecture to crap their pants.
- Japanese Delinquents: How the team is portrayed in the live-action movie - a bunch of Badasses Wear Bandanas with theatrics.
- Mercy Lead: One of the team's local rules, allowing the car with lower horsepower to start first.
A former student and graduate of the Todo School, Kyoichi is The Ace of Team Emperor and The Rival to Ryosuke. His Lancer Evolution III has been upgraded to 350 horsepower with a World Rally Championship-style "misfiring system" built into it. According to him, techniques acquired on the race circuit trumps all other forms of racing, especially touge, which Kyoichi believes is inferior to professionally trained drivers.
- Armor-Piercing Slap: In a rare male-to-male example, Kyouichi slaps Seiji Iwaki for refusing to follow his "Simulation 3" tactic that would've secured his victory against Takumi.
- Boring, but Practical: He always prefers to use the most simple, straight-forward techniques when racing. This means that he almost never makes any errors or fatal mistakes while racing, but on the flip side, makes him an extremely predictable driver, something Ryosuke easily exploits during their race on Mount Akagi.
- Fatal Flaw: Emphasized by Ryosuke after he beats Kyoichi at Mount Akagi - because he became too comfortable on one-way professional circuits and Irohazaka, Kyoichi has a slight fear of taking the right lane of public roads (for oncoming cars going uphill). This allows Ryosuke to circumvent Kyouichi's error, take the lead and win.
- Graceful Loser: He concedes defeat to Takumi during their rematch in Irohazaka; while they did tie, he calls it a win for Takumi since he's the visitor and was able to keep up on Emperor's home course.
- We Win... Because You Didn't: Inverted - Takumi ties with Kyoichi in their second race in Irohazaka, but Kyoichi declares Takumi the winner. While Takumi does not believe that this was his win, Kyoichi reasons that Takumi, a visiting driver, is able to keep up with a driver at his home course.
- Worthy Opponent: Sees Takumi as this after Takumi beats him on Irohazaka. Or more specifically, ties with him, but Kyouichi considers anyone who can keep up with him on his home course the winner.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: An excellent but arrogant racer; gloating against Takeshi after beating him only cemented this reputation.
- Composite Character: He takes up Shingo Shoji's role of ramming cars behind them in the live-action movie.
- Pride: Is angered when Kyouichi instructs him to tail Takumi for most of the race to understand Takumi's technique, believing he shouldn't have to in what he perceives to be an inferior vehicle. He impatiently discards that plan and overtakes Takumi early during their race on Mount Akina, only to lose the lead he gained later because there's only so much he can learn from watching the Trueno in his rearview mirror, thanks to Takumi's gutter drop technique. Seiji earns a slap and a "Reason You Suck" Speech from Kyouichi for his efforts.
- Shout-Out: He collects stickers from racing teams he beats, slashes them in half, and sticks them to the wing of his Lancer Evolution IV, reminiscent of World War I and World War II fighter pilots who liked to tally kills somewhere on their plane's chassis.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: His Evo IV was colored red in the manga, but in Extra Stage, it's silver, likely due to it being a different version.
- Adapted Out: Was shown only in Extra Stage.
- He-Man Woman Hater: He declares that he won't lose to Mako and Sayuki because they're women. He ends up losing when his tires go bad on the most difficult corner of the Usui course, and he's so ashamed that he tells his teammates not to tell Kyoichi.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Challenges a pair of women to a race, believing he'll win based on gender alone. Not only does he lose, but that loss is caused by him crashing. And finally, what the hell was he thinking by boasting when he's challenging Impact Blue on their home course, which is stated to be one of the toughest courses in Gunma?
- Named by the Adaptation: Was left unnamed in the manga.
Seven Star Leaf
Similar to the SpeedStars, this group of amateur, average-skilled racers are based in Tochigi, with their home course being the Nichien-Momiji Line.
- Dub Name Change: The team name was changed to Seven Star Racers in the English versions of Arcade Stage, likely to make it fit in better with the acronym SSR.
- Japanese Ranguage: Despite the full name, their team name is acronymed as SSR.
- Shout-Out: Like the Akina Speed Stars, this team is also named after the wheel manufacturer "Speed Star Racing" (SSR).
- Red Baron: Referred to as "Kamikaze Toru" among his teammates, this is due to his reckless driving style going downhill. Ryosuke, however, points out how reckless driving alone does not equate to being faster.
- Schmuck Bait: After witnessing Takumi's shortcut technique that goes over the deep gutters, Toru attempts to follow suit, but without the knowledge behind said technique (by reducing pressure on the inner front tire), he ends up falling in and rolling his car.
- Achilles' Heel: His R34 has the power to pull away on the straightaways, but its cornering ability is a major weakness. Since cornering emphasizes recovery speed, Keisuke is able to overtake him and end the race.
- Adapted Out: His race against Keisuke in Fourth Stage is not shown. It was relegated to Battle Stage 2.
- It Only Works Once: Invoked; heeding Toru's warnings, Atsuro goes on the defensive, believing Keisuke will do the same shortcut technique Takumi used against Toru. Unfortunately, Keisuke has other ideas (see above).
Northern Saitama Alliance
Centered in the Saitama Prefecture, this "team" is actually a group of unnamed racing teams in the prefecture banding together in order to face Project D.
- Five-Man Band: Subverted; it's actually four members, though one of them fulfills a dual role on the team.
- The Leader: Doubling as The Smart Guy, Nobuhiko is Wataru's cousin and the one who decides on using a Cappuccino for Sakamoto in the Alliance's rematch against Project D.
- The Lancer: Wataru, The Ace driver for the team.
- The Chick: Kyoko, the only female racer in the Alliance.
- The Big Guy: Sakamoto, a professional rally driver brought in because of his experience.
- Big Brother Instinct: Towards Takumi; he even plays a major hand in exposing the Imposter Project D duo during Fifth Stage. Fittingly, Wataru drives the same car as Takumi.
- Big Brother Mentor: Played with in Second Stage - since he and Takumi drive an AE86, he offers as much advice regarding the limitations of their vehicles, but is appalled when Takumi doesn't know how great his car is with the new engine installed. As an AE86 enthusiast, this makes Wataru bitter and he challenges Takumi to a race at the Shomaru Pass. By Fourth Stage, this is played straight when Takumi is still having trouble adjusting to the Impreza.
- Mirror Match: Has one with Takumi at the end of Second Stage, in an AE86 vs. AE86 battle.
- Slobs vs. Snobs: Wataru treats his battle with Keisuke as this; Keisuke, who hails from a rich family, is able to obtain the parts he needs to modify his FD. Wataru, on the other hand, picks up what he can afford for his Levin and makes due with what he has, thus he deduces the driver with the most endurance is the winner, suggesting he will win based on his background. Unfortunately, Wataru does not pay attention to the rainstorm-soaked road and spins out due to a drainage grating, causing him to lose the race.
- Didn't Think This Through: Despite being The Strategist for the Alliance, Nobuhiko doesn't take into account the AE86's full specifications into consideration, thinking his Altezza is enough to catch up with Takumi in the downhill. Like Takumi's race against Daiki, he holds off using his car's engine capabilities until the first turn, then revs up to 11,000 RPMs, speeding ahead of Nobuhiko by such a wide margin he Can't Catch Up. As a result, Nobuhiko reluctantly forfeits the race. Played with, however, because Nobuhiko gathers enough information on the AE86 to challenge Project D a second time by recruiting Sakamoto and purchasing a Cappuccino for his use.
- Action Girl: The only other named female racer in the franchise after Mako and Sayuki.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Subverted when Keisuke reveals he does return her affections, but he can't focus on having a relationship with Kyoko while simultaneously racing for Project D; he ultimately chooses the latter.
- Big Damn Heroes: Played with - by chance, Kyoko comes to see the race between Project D and the Tsuchizaka Lan Evo Team. Since Keisuke's FD was still under repairs from an accident during practice, she allows him to borrow her FD for his race against Aikawa. However, Ryosuke prepared a back-up vehicle for his brother to use, but opted for Kyoko's FD on the reason Keisuke has raced against her car before, thus knows what its advantages are.
- Cute Bruiser: Being super-adorable doesn't make her any slower as a driver; in fact, she comes closest to beating Keisuke had he not figured out her RX-7's single-turbo weakness at the last second.
- Boring, but Practical: How he gets defeated - the lightweight Suzuki Cappucino can easily match Takumi's AE86 in cornering, but thanks to his car's Mid-Season Upgrade, Takumi just resorts to outright accelerating on the straightaway to beat Sakamoto.
- Logical Weakness: Due to its small size, the Cappuccino can't effectively block a two-lane road and always leaves just enough space for Takumi to attempt an overtake.
- What a Piece of Junk: Zigzagged; in Real Life, the Cappuccino is extremely under-powered in terms of engine output compared to other cars in the seriesnote , but it has extremely low weightnote , which gives it a tremendous advantage in downhill races.
A racing school that becomes one of Project D's opponents in Fourth Stage, they specialize in front-wheel-drive Honda vehicles.
- The Aces: The school's graduates either go semi-pro or full professional. Of the ones who are facing Project D, Tomoyuki Tachi is an actual professional racer, with the largest chance of defeating the team.
- Berserk Button: Drivers who are full of themselves; Daiki assumes Project D is nothing but weak drivers that brag about their accomplishments. When he meets them in person, however...
- Honor Before Reason: Mr. Todo offers Daiki to drive his shop's Civic Type R demonstration car for his race against Takumi. He declines saying it wouldn't be much of a win (on the idea that Takumi isn't such a tough opponent). Todo lampshades this, calling him naive; as expected, Daiki doesn't realize Takumi barely pushes his AE86 to its potential throughout their race, holding back its 11,000 RPMs to 9,000 for much of the match.
- Adapted Out: Much like the previous race with Atsuro Kawai, Keisuke's race against Smiley is relegated to Battle Stage 2.
- In-Series Nickname: "Smiley", due to his face tensing up whenever he races, which makes him look like he's smiling.
- Signature Move: A variant of the Defensive Feint Trap, a tactic taught by the school - after goading Keisuke into following his rhythm, he uses his brake lights to force him into letting go of the accelerator. Attempting to catch up causes him to have too much speed at the next corner, which could've cost him the race.
- David vs. Goliath: Lampshaded by Kyoichi, who personally contacts Ryosuke to dissuade him from accepting the Todo School's rematch against one of their graduates - a professional racer, even suggesting Ryosuke be the one to race Tomoyuki.
- Didn't See That Coming: The first victim of Takumi's blind attack, something no professional racer would dare do for touge.
- Graceful Loser: Even though he loses by outside means (dodging an animal crossing the road), he takes the loss well, blaming it on bad luck, something even professional racers have to experience.
- Heroic BSoD: Discussed In-Universe - Tomoyuki tells Mr. Todo he's been in a racing rut in the professional scene. His former mentor suggests he return to touge racing temporarily to find out what it is he's missing ever since he became a pro. Following his race against Takumi, Tomoyuki finds what he's been looking for.
- Nothing Personal: Said word-for-word internally before Tomoyuki gives Takumi a small nudge to throw him off his rhythm and make a pass, citing this is what happens on professional circuits.
- Shout-Out: Tomoyuki's racing outfit is reminiscent to the same outfit worn by Keiichi "Drift King" Tsuchiya during his professional career.
Tsuchisaka Lan Evo Team
Group of racing criminals who are Project D's final opponent in Saitama Prefecture. Unlike other street racers, they are primarily motivated by monetary gain and are known to use underhanded tactics such as sabotage and threats to ensure victory, something that has earned them a bad reputation in Saitama.
- Dirty Cowards: Not only do they sabotage the race for Project D, they are such Sore Losers that they call in a bosozoku gang to beat up Project D members just because they lose. After it turns out the same gang is on Project D's side, they immediately begin begging for mercy.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: In addition to getting beaten to a pulp by the hired muscle they tried to sic on Project D (see Too Dumb to Live), they also sabotage Keisuke's practice run on Tsuchisaka with an oil slick, causing him to crash and cripple his FD. During Takumi's race against him, Ichijo's Lancer Evolution VI's front wheel catches some leftover oil on the road (since Project D couldn't get rid of it all), causing him to lose traction on the outside, giving Takumi a window to pass him on the inside before the final turn.
- Jerkass: They make pre-Character Development Shingo look like an outright fair Nice Guy by comparison.
- Only in It for the Money: The only reason they accept Project D's challenge is because there's betting money on the line to see them lose.
- Only One Name: Neither of its racers have full names.
- Oh, Crap!: Their reaction upon finding out the gang they contacted is led by a former subordinate of Keisuke.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The cocky, foul-mouthed Aikawa is the red to Ichijo's cunning, scheming blue
- Too Dumb to Live: They threaten Project D with a bosozoku gang after their loss. However, the gang they contact happens to be from the same prefecture as Project D (therefore, highly likely/certainly fans of them, too) and led by a former subordinate of Keisuke. Needless to say, the current gang leader is not amused at being made to look bad in front of his former boss.
- Unskilled, but Strong: While their driving skills are far below average, their cars are extremely high performance AWD vehicles, even by Project D's standards. Lampshaded by Takumi, who comments to Shuichi during Keisuke's race against Aikawa he should have already won after the start, but the match up is balanced because he's using Kyoko's RX-7 rather than his own due to the crash and Keisuke hasn't had enough ample time to practice the course.
- Villainous Breakdown: Starts losing it as Keisuke stays on his rear for the majority of their race, disbelieving he can maintain a close follow-up while driving a "new car" (Kyoko's FD) for the first time.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Post-race, Aikawa attempts to accuse Keisuke of trying to crash into his car when there's little road on the course due to a construction barricade, since two cars wouldn't fit side-by-side to pass it. Subverted when Keisuke explains in full detail Aikawa had more than enough space on his side of the road (next to the guardrail) to give his FD room, since his car was roughly two centimeters away from hitting the barricade, whereas Aikawa's Lancer Evolution V was at least five centimeters from touching the guardrail.
- Just Between You and Me: Ichijo goads Takumi into throwing their race on the threat of an incoming bosozoku gang to beat up Project D; he even states he'll let Takumi off from the beatings so long as he loses.
- Rare Vehicles: His car is basically a limited edition version of the Lancer Evolution VI, named after Finnish rally champion Tommi Mäkinen.
A team based in Ibaraki, Purple Shadow is led by a pair of exceptionally skilled middle-aged street racers.
- Cool Old Guy: Toshiya and Kozo are at least in their 40s, well above the age of an average street racer, yet they are some of the toughest opponents Takumi and Keisuke has ever come across.
- Red Barons: Toshiya "God Arm" Joshima and Kozo "God Foot" Hoshino - the former due to his excellent one-handed handling/steering, the latter due to his superb accelerator control.
- Weak, but Skilled: They have way more experience in street racing than any other opponent Project D has faced, yet their age also means their bodies can't take as much gravitional forces compared to Takumi and Keisuke who are still in their prime.
Dr. Toshiya Joshima
- Confusion Fu: He changes his racing lines every lap, yet he is able to keep his lap times exactly the same every time. This confuses Takumi, who is used to winning by either copying or observing the weaknesses of his opponents' lines to no end.
- Didn't See That Coming: Toshiya is so confident throughout the seven rounds of the race against Takumi that he gets completely blindsided when Takumi manages to surprise him by using his Signature Moves, causing Toshiya, for the first time in the race, to grab the steering wheel with both hands.
- Difficult, but Awesome: Ryosuke states that an S2000 is a good, but difficult-to-handle car very few people on the planet can truly master; however, Toshiya falls into that category.
- Marathon Boss: The race between him and Takumi takes 8 rounds, longer than any other race in the series (the closest being five rotations at the Shomaru Pass between Takumi and Wataru).
- Victory by Endurance: Inverted as this is how he loses to Takumi; although the latter manages to break the AE86's suspension during the last round, Toshiya gets sick due to the G-forces involved and accumulated stress for eight rotations that he has to stop the car to vomit on the side of the road, losing by default.
- Acrofatic: Keisuke is surprised that Kozo can drive at such high speeds, considering how fat he is, due to the gravitational forces. Also applies to his R34 GT-R, being considerably heftier than the RX-7.
- Awesome, but Impractical: His Skyline R34 GT-R is this, according to Keisuke - it's undeniably powerful and armed with a superior 4WD system, but its heavy weight compromises handling.
- Beyond the Impossible: Normally, a 4WD Skyline GT-R shouldn't be able to drift because the built-in "ATTESA" system in the car cancels out any attempts at tail-sliding by increasing front-side traction. But somehow Kozo is just so good at handling the GT-R that he can effortlessly drift it despite the said system. Nobody is able to figure out any explanation on how he can do it.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Kozo's a very relaxed, talkative person and even applies this to his driving technique by constantly talking to himself to relief the building pressure.
- Challenge Seeker: He deliberately gives Keisuke the most favorable set of rules he can for their race just to make it more challenging for himself.
- Kiai: He does this every time he tackles corners to make sure he doesn't strain his concentration.
- Motor Mouth: Like the Kiai mentioned before, he will constantly talk to himself to keep himself relaxed.
The first team to face Project D in the Kanagawa Prefecture - its first line of defense is their job.
- No-Sell: Subverted; halfway through his race against Takumi, Satoshi no longer looks back into his rearview mirror and instead concentrates on the course, seemingly rendering Takumi's blind attack useless. However, the slight speed boost Takumi gains from improved aerodynamics by using the blind attack is still enough to give Takumi the advantage he needs to win the race.
- Shout-Out: He could be named after Satoshi Motoyama, a Super GT and a Formula Nippon racer.
Racing Team Katagiri Street Version
The second line of defense against Project D's conquest of Kanagawa, its members are all professional racers of some sort.
- Generation Xerox: Enforced by his father, Ken Kogashiwa - he was The Rival to Bunta during their generation, and makes it so that his own son will challenge Takumi to a race in Third Stage to see which father-son duo will come out on top.
- Not So Different: Kai and Takumi are raised by their respective fathers to be exceptionally skilled drivers; although Kai is the one who is a professional kart racer when he appears in the series, Takumi is being groomed to eventually go professional post-Project D. Kai also subtly Lampshades how the MR2 is precious to him, just as Takumi loves his AE86.
The third line of Defense of Kanagawa against Project D, their home course is Hakone.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Ryuji is the blue to Hiroya's red - Ryuji's hell-bent on using his Zero Theory to win races, whereas Hiroya doesn't bother to greet Project D before the official races. Irony ensues when the color of their respective vehicles is red for Ryuji's Z and blue for Hiroya's Silvia.
Leader of Team Spiral, Ryuji is the son of a wealthy Buddhist head priest who has designed a driving technique based around Buddhist teachings called "Zero Theory" that focuses around emptying all unnecessary thoughts and emotions while driving. He becomes the "following car" of the race between Ryosuke and Shinigami, during which he witnesses the former's skill firsthand and names him the perfect personification of his Zero Theory.
- Achilles' Heel: Zero Theory focuses around eliminating all emotions, including fear and fighting spirit, by encouraging the driver to avoid deliberate risky behavior. While this isn't a problem in a relatively safe circuit environment that the theory is designed for, in the extremely dangerous touge racing, Ryuji hesitates at the face of imminent danger and doesn't dare to follow Keisuke who floors the pedal when an extremely thick fog sets in during their race.
- Berserk Button: He does not appreciate people who break the rules of touge racing, especially not in Hakone.
- Badass Driver: One of the few to survive an encounter with Shinigami, and could have beaten Keisuke had he not hesitated.
- Oh, Crap!: This exemplifies his reaction at multiple points during the race between Shinigami and Ryosuke - everytime the former attempts to ram Ryosuke off the road and when he notices brake trouble on Shinigami's R32.
- You Fool!: When Shinigami intentionally misses the last chance to stop his R32 (with shot brakes) on Hakone's downhill, this is his reaction.
The final line of defense of Kanagawa against Project D, and touted as the best in the prefecture.
- Serious Business: His primary weakness as a driver, according to Rin, is he takes racing too seriously, thus fails to enjoy the sport enough to race to his full potential.
- Ambiguous Disorder: There are implications Shinji has some form of autism spectrum disorder - for example, he seems to be lacking in social skills and understanding of societal norms, while taking an interest in memorizing every little detail of the Tsubaki Line in what is deemed unusual behavior or interest by most people.
- The Ace: Sidewinder's best driver, and by extension, the best in all of Kanagawa.
- Badass Driver: Rivals Takumi in sheer driving prowess, to the point where their battle takes up all four episodes of Final Stage while most only take two.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: Shinji races by his own rules and fails to understand why people would find actions, such as giving someone else the lead and ramming other cars during a race, insulting.
- Book Dumb: Despite having high IQ and incredible spacial intelligence, he doesn't have good grades in school, according to his mother.
- Fatal Flaw: Due to only driving on his local pass, Shinji only drives on the fastest line he knows. While this is normally enough, as very few people can keep up with him and even if he's tailing behind, Shinji will bump the other car to get them out of his way to stay on his line. However, against those who can keep up and can disrupt his line, Shinji can't respond or improvise very well. This allows Takumi to overtake him with the blind attack to force Shinji to panic and get him off his ideal line, and when the AE86's engine blows and makes him swerve, Shinji can only skid out to avoid being hit.
- Final Boss: He is the final opponent of the series, as well as the last opponent standing in the way of Project D's conquest of Kanagawa.
- Foil: He and Takumi drive the same car and have learned to drive in a similar manner, but whereas Takumi is careful, reserved and driven by his instincts and experience during a race, Shinji is impulsive and tends to be driven by his emotions.
- Mirror Match: Has one with Takumi in an 86 Trueno vs. 86 Trueno battle, although Shinji's Trueno is a notchback while Takumi's is a hatchback.
- Strong, but Unskilled
- Compared to Takumi, Shinji drives all-out at full-speed down the mountain, while the more experienced and skilled Takumi is meticulous and reserved.
- Illustrated in a spectator's comment: Shinji uses heel-and-toe braking just for fun, while Takumi uses it sparingly and strategically. Shinji's line of sight is also looser, according to the same person.
Go's older brother, Rin is a highly skilled driver famous throughout Kanagawa. Originally arranged to be Kaori's fiance by their respective fathers, she rejected his proposal for marriage due to her own affections for Ryosuke, despite Rin genuinely falling in love with her. After threatening Kaori's father with the prospect of a miserable life at work by his family because of her choice, Kaori commits suicide, turning Rin into a recluse and causing him to withdraw from the street racing scene. He has grown to despise Ryosuke, who on the outside, appeared to have moved on from Kaori's death.
- Dark Is Evil: His R32 is dark gray with powerful specifications. Combined with Rin's deadly driving, he becomes very deserving of his Red Baron status.
- The Dreaded: Everyone in Kanagawa knows who he is and are utterly afraid of him, though others merely consider him an urban legend.
- Drives Like Crazy: He's still a Badass Driver all the same, but Rin seems to enjoy ramming people and causing them to crash or spin out in the process, and his powerful R32 allows him to keep up with anyone no matter how good their car and/or driving is. So far, only Ikeda and Ryosuke has survived being rammed by him on-screen.
- Four Is Death: His car's license plate ends with 4, befitting his deadly driving style.
- Goroawase Number: The full license plate of his car is "37-564", meaning "kill everyone"note .
- Hikikomori: After Kaori's death, Rin quit his job and isolated himself from everyone else, including his family.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Attempts to ram Ryosuke off the road multiple times during their race on Hakone. Not only does he fail (Ryosuke counters his every move skillfully), his aggressive driving destroys his R32's brakes and tires. Since it's a downhill race on the steep-sloped Hakone, this would have been fatal had Ryosuke and Ikeda not been there.
- Red Baron: Rin gained the nickname "Shinigami" for his dangerously powerful dark gray R32 and deadly driving style.
- Redemption Equals Life: After Ryosuke and Ryuji stop Rin from slamming himself and Ryosuke into a toll booth, Rin realizes Ryosuke had actually shared Rin's pain over Kaori's death, curing his depression and resentment of Ryosuke. He later reunites with his brother Go to discuss the race between Takumi and Shinji.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Rin races Ryosuke out of resentment for Ryosuke moving on from Kaori's death, believing he's indifferent about her passing. Rin is so intent on ramming Ryosuke off the road and killing him it borders on Murder-Suicide. He even makes a promise to Kaori before the race that he will send either himself or Ryosuke to her side.
- Revenge Before Reason: He continuously tries to ram Ryosuke off the touge, forgoing conserving his tires and brakes. This comes back to bite him hard when his brakes stop working and his tires wear out, resulting in severe under-steering and no brakes on the steep, twisting Hakone downhill.
- The Resenter: Played with - Rin's resenting motive isn't jealousy towards Ryosuke that Kaori fell in love with him rather than Rin, but rather anger over Ryosuke no longer dwelling on Kaori's death. In Rin's eyes, this is disrespectful to her.
- Enjo Kosai: She engages in this; her giving up the practice and facing the consequences of such a decision is a good part of her Character Development.
- My Girl Is Not a Slut: Before the start of the series, Takumi got into a fight with Miki when he accuses her of being one. Subverted when he finds out about it in Second Stage thanks to a mysterious letter addressed to him at school.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Ultimately, she and Takumi are separated after he encourages her to chase her dreams and move to Tokyo, studying at Tokyo University post-Third Stage.
- Benevolent Boss: To the Speed Stars and Takumi who worked at his gas station - he'll even look the other way for Koichiro to head out with Kenji in Second Stage to catch a glimpse of Takumi's race against Wataru at the Shomaru Pass.
- Dare to Be Badass: Discussed - he knows Takumi is just as stubborn as his father and trying to convince him to race against Takeshi upon being challenged in First Stage would be impossible, since that will simply fall to deaf ears. Instead, Yuichi opts to tell Takumi how impossible it is for an AE86 to beat a GT-R in a race - how he won't be considered a coward if he backed down. This riles Takumi enough to prove he can best Takeshi.
- Related in the Adaptation: The live-action film turns him into Itsuki's father.
- Spit Take: Pulls this when Bunta tells him his son has been delivering tofu to the Lake Akina hotel resort for years since he was in 7th grade.
- The Blacksmith: Masashi is the one who discovers the new race car engine and opts to install it for the AE86 after the car's old engine breaks down.
- What Exactly Is Her Job: Initial D makes it ambiguous as to what Kazumi's job for her aunt actually is - Second Stage implies it's a traditional Ryokan (inn), as she's seen wearing a kimono/yukata, but the implication in Fourth Stage of an older "ex-boyfriend" who may have abused her indicates that it's actually a brothel. As her brother Wataru keeps insisting Itsuki find a better girl than his sister, it's suggested the latter might be true.
- Why Would Anyone Take Him Back?: In-Universe example - despite implications her ex-boyfriend did something to her, to Itsuki's surprise, Kazumi forgives her ex and stays with him.
- The Rival: Was this to Bunta back in their younger days.
- Attempted Rape: He pulls this on Natsuki after she refuses him; after all, Natsuki is a former "patron" of his father.
- Mook Horror Show: Third Stage shows his transition from pride to terror as he pushes his clearly superior car as fast as he can through the snow...only for Takumi to keep up with him.
- Only One Name: It's unknown what his last name is.
- Strong, but Unskilled: Your all-wheel-drive 250-horsepower Celica might be a good car (and indeed, good on snow, being a famed rally car), but it won't make a difference if you're an awful driver, Miki.
Two Guys From Tokyo
- Calling Your Attacks: ULTIMATE TECHNIQUE: EXTREME ULTRA SUPER LATE BRAKING!
- Gonk: They aren't exactly the most handsome in Initial D.
- Otaku: Are explicitly named as such - even the Arcade Stage games name them specifically as "Otaku 1" and "Otaku 2".
- Smug Snake: Mixed with a subtle This Loser Is You, the driver of the pair confidently believes his experience on an actual circuit gives him enough skill for touge racing, and wants to prove it to the Speed Stars by deliberately waiting and goading them into an impromptu downhill race on Mount Akina. Unfortunately, regardless of the driver's skill, he's still an amateur racer who knows simplistic braking techniques compared to the likes of Takumi, who smokes the two of them while driving Itsuki's AE85.
- Those Two Guys: Exactly What It Says on the Tin, due to No Name Given, of which Arcade Stage uses this moniker.
Impostor Project D
- Voiced by: Anri Katsu and Hirokazu MiuraCar: 1985 Toyota Sprinter Trueno GT-Apex (AE86) and 1997 Mazda Éfini RX-7 Type R (FD3S)
- Adaptation Dye-Job: For some reason, in the Arcade Stage games, imposter Keisuke's hair is colored black.
- Costume Copycat: They have similar looking cars and hairstyles to Takumi and Keisuke, with T-shirts saying "Project D" written on them in marker. That's all it takes to impersonate Project D, apparently, despite the fact that "Takumi" is really chubby with major acne problems and "Keisuke" is much shorter than the real deal.
- Gonk: They aren't exactly the prettiest drawn characters in Initial D; Lampshaded by Keisuke, who finds it more insulting his impostor is so ugly compared to them besmerching Project D's reputation.
- Legendary Impostor: For Takumi and Keisuke, right down to copying their vehicles.
- Those Two Guys: In spite of being Project D imposters, they didn't seem to learn about the rest of their crew, and thus only steal the identifies of Takumi and Keisuke.
- Armor-Piercing Slap: Gives one to Takumi in a case of Mistaken Identity after her friend Tomoko was previously approached by his Imposter Project D doppleganger.
- The Ace: Implied to be one of the best golfers in Japan, or at least in the Gunma Prefecture.
- Love at First Punch: According to Takumi, he falls for her right after she slaps him in the face.
- Not So Different: Her skill in golf is implied to be comparable to Takumi's skill in driving, thanks to her being driven by her father into pursue a golfing career. Takumi even describes her as having a "golfing aura", in much the same way many of Takumi's opponents have noticed he has a racing aura.
- Driven to Suicide: Due to the pressure of bringing possible shame from having rejected the Arranged Marriage between herself and Rin, alongside Rin's threat of potentially making her father's work life hell.
- Only One Name Her last name is unknown to the point where even her gravestone doesn't display it as Ryosuke is visiting it.
- Posthumous Character: She's already died three years before the start of Initial D.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Despite being long deceased at the start of the series, the flashbacks in the Fifth Stage and corresponging manga chapters showed that Kaori was the one to push Ryosuke to truly make something of his passion (street racing) rather than just concentrate on his career of becoming a doctor. This inspiration led to Ryosuke forming the Red Suns and later Project D.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Zigzagged; while Kaori did fall in love with Ryosuke, whether he ever returned his affections for her is unknown. It's implied from his visit to her grave in order to pay his respects at the end of the series he did.