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  • Ass Pull
    • The series is chock full of these with regards to race results, particularly Takumi's luck randomly bailing him out of Unwinnable situations. Take his race in Fourth Stage against Toshiya "God Arm" Joshima, for example: the AE86's suspension breaks after being strained to the limit following eight rounds of "cat-and-mouse", causing him to fall far behind Toshiya on the last rotation. However, Toshiya is forced to bail out of the race to vomit on the side of the road after exhausting his body in the absurdly long race, giving Takumi Victory by Endurance. The problem is there are no prior indications in the previous seven rounds of exhaustion seen in Toshiya.
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    • Also in Fourth Stage, it looks like Itsuki Takeuchi is going to get a Relationship Upgrade with Kazumi Akiyama. From out of nowhere, Kazumi's older brother Wataru arrives with Kazumi's ex, who begs her forgiveness and asks her to stay with him. To Itsuki's horror, she agrees and takes him back, despite having every reason not to, leaving Itsuki heartbroken. This entire sub-plot feels so contrived as it specifically makes Itsuki feel miserable and ensures This Loser Is You continues to be in effect for him.
  • Awesome Art: The Manga has tons of beautiful spreads of car designs and races. It comes as no surprise Shuichi Shigeno put a ton of work into research and reference pictures to create the story.
  • Awesome Music: Aside from the opening and ending songs by Japanese band "m.o.v.e.", it's the Eurobeat songs that drive the soundtrack and Animated Adaptation into what it is.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
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    • Takumi Fujiwara himself. Fans of him sees him as a prodigal down-to-earth street racer with various tricks from his sleeves and is admired for his levelheadedness in every situation he came across. Detractors find him as a bland, Boring Invincible Hero that only loses twice with no strong personality factor and find his battles rather formulaic and predictable in comparison to others. A third party brushes off aside all of his personality traits and writing fumbles and just here to see him performing his signature moves and pulling off his fancy tricks in the still-warm asphalt.
    • Itsuki is either seen as a loyal sidekick and a friend in need for Takumi, and always take poor consequences like a champ, or an obnoxious lecher that doesn't fit with the show's tone and narrative (at least until Second Stage) with his sole purpose is to be yanked-off from any chance of romance when it's given. To all fairness, most criticism that came from the detractors are directed through how he is treated moreso that his character.
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    • Vehicle-wise, the signature Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86, at least the ones that Takumi had. Fans were disappointed that the real life counterpart of said car doesn't live up to it's fictional counterpart, seeing it as rather overblown to what's been there, not ignoring the track condition and the fact that most of the car's spoils came from Takumi's own driving prowess than the car itselfnote . Even with an extensive amount of skill, the car itself has rather dated specs and relatively underpowered that most of the ones that seen in competitions are heavily overhauled to meet the current standards.
  • Broken Base
    • The fandom is fractured between those who are completely alienated from the series' writing and only follow it for the races and Eurobeat and those who either don't mind the narrative or enjoy it regardless. Surprisingly, this friction between the bases does not cause many Flame Wars, as the two generally steer clear of each other.
    • Fifth Stage and Final Stage were not received well by some viewers, who consider it an undignified ending, while others greatly admire the vastly-improved CGI and were just happy to see the series continue after the ambiguous ending of Fourth Stage.
    • A minor example in late-Fourth Stage: some fans detest the Mid-Season Upgrade Keisuke Takahashi's FD receives post-Tsuchisaka Lan Evo Team, mostly because the iconic pop-up headlights of the Mazda RX-7 is replaced by after-market fixed headlights, while others don't mind the cosmetic change to the overall vehicle.
  • Die for Our Ship: Predictable towards named female characters of the series, considering the vast male cast, and the greater focus on the races.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Some of the Stages include a warning at the beginning of each episode telling viewers to follow traffic laws, only to proceed with twenty minutes of dangerous touge racing sequences on the dark roads of Japan.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: To some viewers, what Kyoko is saying when she realizes she's about to be overtaken in her race against Keisuke in Fourth Stage has questionable undertones, at least when heard in Japanese (this is less pronounced in the Funimation dub).
  • Draco in Leather Pants: In spite of his ruthless and disgusting behavior, Shingo Shoji is among the most well-liked characters of the series even before his Character Development seen in Extra Stage, with many of his fans glossing over his numerous defects.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Fans who disliked Fifth Stage and Final Stage outright refuse to acknowledge it as Canon, claiming the Animated Adaptation ended on Fourth Stage. Another Downplayed example are fans who discovered the last two Stages years following their release, having believed the series ended at Fourth Stage,note  but wish they hadn't watched them.
  • First Installment Wins
    • While many of the Stages have wildly divided opinions, often skewered towards the negative, there is one constant: (almost) everyone loves First Stage. The only other Stage to have such a high amount of fans compared to detractors is Fourth Stage.
    • If there's ever going to be a Shout-Out to Initial D, chances are it's going to be a parody of the first race in the series between Takumi and Keisuke.
  • Gateway Series: To drift racing, touge, or even racing, in general, for Anime.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight
    • Final Stage's reveal of the meaning behind the "D" of both Initial D and Project D being the word "dream" was unintentionally revealed almost eight years prior thanks to "Initialize", the Title Theme Tune of Tokyopop's English localization of the anime, which featured backup hype vocals shouting out the phrases "Initial Drive, Initial Dream!".
    • In Second Stage, when Team Emperor starts their Gunma Prefecture campaign, Keisuke expresses disgust about the incredibly large spoiler on one of the team's Lancer Evolutions. Fast forward to Fourth Stage where Keisuke's RX-7 FD gets a new aerodynamic upgrade, complete with a larger, after-market spoiler in comparison to the stock spoiler on a Lancer Evolutionnote .
    • Second Stage has everyone from Gunma in a panic, as Team Emperor, a team from an outside prefecture, starts Curbstomping their opponents with little resistance, including the main characters from First Stage. Cut to Fourth Stage where Takumi and some of the former RedSuns crew - the only ones who managed to make a stand against Emperor - do the exact same thing with Project D.
    • After the animated film remakes decided to ditch the Eurobeat soundtrack, Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune, the primary competitor to Initial D Arcade Stage, introduced a Eurobeat track in Maximum Tune 6.
  • Hype Backlash:
  • Just Here for Godzilla
    • The series has caused this in the American automotive scene, with hundreds of American fans trying to buy AE86s from shady importersnote , specifically because the car is the "main character" of the series rather than on the merits of the car itself. Regular Car Reviews made a rant about this when he covered the AE86 Trueno.
      Mr. Regular: "SHUT UP! You don't like this car! You like a cartoon! A boring cartoon!"
    • A large amount of people are only into the series for the races and Eurobeat, either disliking or being uninterested in the side-plots.
  • Memetic Mutation
  • Ryousuke changes his hair color to be like Takumi.Explanation 
  • Memetic Loser: Whenever Takeshi is brought up, someone will make a joke about him understeering and crashing his R32 or explicitly call him a terrible driver. Made worse by the fact that Shingo also feels this way about him - in the loosest sense of the term - "colleague", and Shingo is a fan-favourite of the series.
  • Moral Event Horizon
  • Narm Charm: Almost all vehicular scenes throughout all Stages are animated in 3D. In First Stage, it's made more apparent as each racing segment looks like a video game from the early 2000's (compared to Second Stage and beyond, where the 3D work is done much better). However, despite its egregious use for the Anime, many fans enjoy the racing scenes due to (or because) of its Narmy appearance. It does help races are very well choreographed with exciting and interesting angles.
  • The Scrappy
    • As mentioned in Die for Our Ship, Natsuki is detested by most of the fandom for basically being a Hypocrite; Kyoko as well - not to the same hypocritical extent as Natsuki, but largely for being one-dimensional.
    • It's diffcult to find anyone who's fond of Shinji Inui, Takumi's last opponent from Final Stage: this character is often accused of being a Creator's Pet due to their match-up being a tailor-made 1:1 race against Takumi, being disproportionately challenging, and causing Takumi to use a dangerous technique in a bid to win that causes the AE86's second engine to explode.
  • Seasonal Rot: Some fans felt the series got progressively worse with each Stage. Fourth Stage is the exception to some, viewed either as almost or just as good as First Stage. Meanwhile, Third Stage is often seen as Filler, Fifth Stage and Final Stage are poor attempts at Pandering to the Base and Second Stage is hardly ever discussed.
  • Song Association: Go ahead - try finding someone who won't go "Oh, hey, it's Initial D music!" or "This song would be perfect in Initial D!" the second they hear Eurobeat.
  • Sophomore Slump: Even though there's a significant Animation Bump, Second Stage is not usually deemed to be on par with First Stage due to its shorter length and having less narrative charm. That the plot in this Stage focused less on Takumi by giving more screen-time to Team Emperor's conquest of Gunma, the Internal Reveal and fallout of Natsuki's Enjo Kosai habits and Itsuki's friendship with Kazumi may explain the slump.
  • Special Effect Failure: In Final Stage, Takumi blows out the AE86's engine because he fails to see that he accidentally revs the engine well past its limits while executing the "blind attack", leaves the tachometer dark and therefore unreadable. However, a scene is shown from his perspective in the car while performing the blind attack, yet the tachometer is visibly lit.
  • Tear Jerker
    • During the battle with Kyouichi in Second Stage, Takumi's AE86 has an engine breakdown and he's forced to make an emergency stop, with Kyouichi declaring him the loser of the match. Takumi's father Bunta subsequently has the car towed while Takumi's in tears, thinking he's the one at fault. Yes, Bunta knew beforehand it was going to happen, and so did the audience. Yes, Bunta was going to replace the engine and allowed the breakdown to happen, just so Takumi will have a better appreciation of the new engine; otherwise, Takumi would either protest to having the engine replaced or get angry for having the engine replaced under his nose. Yet, think of it from Takumi's point of view - the car that he had made a name for himself in just a few short months has made its literal last revolutions. For all he knew, his racing career was effectively over.
    • The scene where Itsuki gets dumped by Kazumi for an older man she used to love in Fourth Stage, ending with him alone and sobbing. Even Koichiro Iketani and Kenji sympathize with him, with the former saying that he has also felt the same pain with Mako Sato back in First Stage. However, Mood Whiplash ensues when Itsuki runs into Iketani's and Kenji's hiding place, prompting a hilarious Oh, Crap! from the two of them, and Itsuki shares this reaction when he sees them.
    • Kyoko in Episode 18 of Fourth Stage: getting to spend a whole day with Keisuke after helping him out with his latest race was all she could wish for. The catch is despite his understanding (and, in a way, reciprocating) her affections for him, he can't focus on anything else, but racing - his passion. The last scene between them as he goes on full attack mode on Mount Akagi (per Kyoko's request, with her riding shotgun) was enough to bring her to tears, realizing she will never love anyone else as fiercely as him ever again.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: More apparent from Fourth Stage and on, thanks to advancements in CG technology, making the details of each car near-accurate to how they look in Real Life, as well as improvements to the races without them feeling static.

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