By SentaiSeiya on November 08, 2012No comments
Initial D Fifth Stage episode 1
At the end of Intial D Fourth Stage, the previous installment of the series, Takumi beats Dr. Toshiya “ God Hand” Joushima, of the Purple Shadow, thanks to sheer luck. The fact God Hand was able to control his car using only one hand gnaws at the back of Takumi’s mind. So much so that Takumi finds himself trying to learn this technique. Takumi is enthralled by this difficult driving technique as it requires 100% confidence on the part of the driver, because it is impossible to react to unforeseen conditions on the road.
Most of the plot of this episode of Fifth Stage revolves around a couple of imposter drivers who claim to be the Aces of Project D, Takumi Fujiwara and Keisuke Takahashi.
Early in the episode, Takumi and Itsuki come across the imposters, but Takumi does not want to cause any trouble and does not call out the individuals on falsely using his name and the name of his team. The hard-headed Itsuki, on the other hand, cannot stand to see these two phonies use the fame of Project D in order to get close to the ladies.
Itsuki calls out the two wannabe Project D members, but fails to clear up the misunderstanding, partially due to Takumi’s uncooperativeness.
The next day, a young girl pays a visit to the gas station where Itsuki and the gang work. She is looking for the famous Takumi Fujiwara. Not looking to get his autograph or anything along those lines, the girl instead slaps Takumi because he allegedly hit on her innocent friend and left her broken hearted.
The misunderstanding is left partially unresolved as girl leaves. On the other hand, Takumi is left feeling bad for how the girl treated him.
Since this misunderstanding is a result of the two guys using the Project D name for their personal gain, the real Project D sets out to clear the name that Takumi and the Takahashi brothers have built up from the ground. They set up a challenge for the fake Takumi, that only the real one can pull off. After the fake one makes several excuses for why he cannot do it, the real Panda Trueno, driven by Takumi shows up to prove who the real driver of the legendary Hachi-Roku is.
The episode ends with four guys from Kanagawa, the next stop on Project D’s tour to be the best racing team in Japan, watching Keisuke practice. This foreshadows what are sure to be some tough battles to come.
The first episode of Initial D Fifth Stage is a welcome return for the fans of the series, as the animated version of the Fujiwara/ AE86 saga has been MIA for six years now since Fourth Stage ended in early 2006. While it was nice reintroduction to the drifting-driven universe of Initial D , the first episode is a bit on the slow side, but packs a couple of good drifting moments and several good laughs thanks to the ugly-as-sin imposters and the plucky Iketani.
While it has been more than half a decade since Fourth Stage, this new installment of initial D does not push the animation of the series forward. With minimalistic animation during the non-race scenes and what looks like to be little improvement on the racing scenes from the last installment, Fifth Stage does not exactly scream out Initial D in HD. The character designs look pretty much unchanged since the last time we saw Takumi and the gang. Limitations of the animation aside, I am very glad that this chapter of the Initial D saga is getting the animated treatment. I am not one to judge a show solely on animation, as many of my favorite shows are from the times when anime was very rough around the edges. That being said, Initial D has a great storyline, which more than makes up for the budget constraints of this niche anime.
Also making a return in Fifth Stage is the music we know and love. M.O.V.E reprises their role by providing the opening song for the series.
This should be no surprise to those who have watched the other Initial D installments, as M.O.V.E. has built part of their career around laying down tracks for the Initial D franchise. As for the rest of the soundtrack, there is more Eurobeat music, but nothing that is immediately catchy. I did not care too much for the ending song, but on the plus side it does feature some live action footage of an AE86 drifting, though it does not look like Takumi’s car.