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Initial D Logo.png

Takumi Fujiwara is an average eighteen-year-old teen from Akina in Gunma Prefecture with an average after-school 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 of Gunma 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 Speedstars, 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 knew it, Takumi is quickly, and unwillingly, plunged into a high-speed world of white-knuckle contests on the most dangerous mountain passes in Japan. Assisted by the Speedstars, his slightly obnoxious friend Itsuki, his good-hearted yet somewhat shady girlfriend Natsuki Mogi, and the sage-like words of Bunta, himself a retired ace drifter, he'll need all the help he can get to outwit and outmaneuver Japan's most talented underground drifters and outmaneuver his way to the top of the heap.

Initial D is a long running manga series (since 1995) created by Shuichi Shigeno, with a series of anime adaptations. The focus is on the Japanese drift-racing underground, and as such, has acted as an anime Gateway Series for western car fans. The anime adaptation is also famous for its blatant use of Conspicuous CG on 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, most notably the Initial D Arcade Stage series, which brought the competitive arcade racing game scene to life.

The Initial D anime and manga have examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye Job: Bunta's Subaru Impreza WRX STi is supposed to be painted Gunmetal Grey, just like Shigeno's own Impreza. It appears as such in the manga, the first 3 versions of Arcade Stage, and in Special Stage. When the car made its anime debut in Fourth Stage, the Impreza appears wearing the "555 Blue Mica" paint, and said color becomes the default paint for the car in subsequent games released from that point on.
    • Due to animation mistakes in First Stage sometimes cars swap colors. There is one scene in particular where the Takahashis' 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. Takumi is one lucky guy to have actually gotten a girlfriend who stuck with him for so long. And then he gets another one in the manga when the first one moves to Tokyo.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: In an rare male-to-male example, Team Emperor leader Kyouichi slaps Seiji for refusing to follow a tactic that would've secured his victory against Takumi.
  • Art Evolution: The CG animation gets better with each new season.
  • Art Shift: In the manga, the faces get closer to a more realistic look during a battle as adverse other situations, though even the out-of-driver's-seat drawing tends to be more realism than usual manga.
  • Attempted Rape: Miki, the son of Natsuki's former "patron" attempts this on Natsuki in Third Stage, after she refuses him.
  • Auto Erotica
  • Awesomeness By Analysis: Ryosuke Takahashi, one of the hero's main rivals, is said to be the only racing driver who trains on the computer. Not through simulations, but apparently by mathematical analysis of the performance of different cars.
  • Battle Aura: In the 2nd and 4th Stage seasons.
  • Berserk Button: Don't be a misogynist in front of Mako or Sayuki. The latter will chew you out verbally, the former will leave you in the dust. And they'll be very feminine and classy while at it.
  • Bland-Name Product: In the first season, the car brand "Trueno" (in the front of the hero's car) is spelled as "Toreno", until Toyota allowed the use of the actual product name.
    • There's also "Nisno", "Missan", and even later in Fourth Stage Dunlop becomes "Danrep"
  • CCG Importance Dissonance
  • Character Development: Takumi goes from an apathetic tofu delivery guy to a hardened road racer. Natsuki realizes that prostitution isn't the best way to go for her and does her best to get out. Shingo, while remaining a jerk, stops being a Jerkass. Itsuki goes through his first love in the second season.
  • Cool Car: A lot of them, though in a bit of a subversion, the hero's has one of the lesser cool cars.
    • The subversion is itself subverted, as real-life demand for the hero's car increased through drift contests and the show's popularity.
  • Cool Old Guy: Dr. Toshiya "God Hand" Joushima, Kozo "God Foot" Hoshino, and Bunta Fujiwara himself. All three are top-tier racers, and nobody has ever beaten Bunta. Even when he's not serious.
  • Conspicuous CG: Well known for it, and usually turns up in parody works through a blatant Art Shift.
    • Lucky Star spoofed it. The really funny thing is that the driver is a cop, and should know better. And drives at 40 km/h (25 mph for the metric-impaired).
  • Combat Commentator: Nakazato Takeshi covered most of season one and two, along with Takahashi Ryousuke. Ryousuke continues commentary through Fourth Stage, though Ninomiya Daisuke and "Smiley" Sakai are added to the commentator roster after their defeat by Project D.
  • 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 a rap soundtrack. This did not sit very well with purists of the series, and for good reason.
    • The justification behind this was that Tokyopop was only going to change the music for the TV broadcast in order to introduce up and coming new artists, but that 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 left-hand-drive and moving on the right side of the road (well, mostly), however.
      • And now, FUNimation is releasing it with a proper dub and the original music. They're starting with Third Stage and Fourth Stage first though since neither series made it here.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ryousuke.
  • Delinquents: Keisuke was once involved with bosozoku gangs.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Bunta, Takumi's father. What can you say about someone who lights up a cigarette in the middle of a goddamned drift? While it's the middle of the day. In moderate traffic!
    • Takumi is this to anyone who's rode with him and witnessed his skills firsthand. Poor Iketani faints after three corners of riding with Takumi for the first time.
  • Dull Surprise
  • Enjo Kosai: Natsuki Mogi, Takumi's crush, engages in this. Her giving said practice up and facing the consequences of such a decision is a good part of her Character Development.
  • Executive Meddling: The translators working on the English version of the manga originally wanted a straight translation, but Tokyopop executives demanded various changes because they were "aiming for a younger audience than Japan". This resulted in the translators writing an open letter to the fans in which they joked about releasing the manga shrink-wrapped with White-Out and a felt-tip pen.
    • Additionally, they wanted even more significant changes including, but not limited to: removing the kanji from the show's logo and the car, changing "tofu" delivery to "pizza" delivery, and having Takumi renamed "Jeffery" because it was "easier to pronounce". In the end the translators elected to give everyone the "nicknames" used in the English versions of the Arcade Stage games. As a result, "Takumi" became "Tak", for instance.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Bunta.
  • Family Feud
  • Fan Service: Some fans complained that this was the whole point of Extra Stage.
  • Gratuitous English: "COOOOOOOOOOOOL!", "Sankyuu!" (Thank you!), and "Don't miss it!", just to name a few examples.
    • Sankyuu's all but a common loanword now.
  • Heroic BSOD: Takumi gets one after his AE86's engine breaks down.
    • He also gets a minor one after Bunta in an Impreza beats him.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Natsuki. Technically, she's a sugar baby, but oh well.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: While Takumi's driving down Akina, a Subaru Impreza drives by and passes Takumi's upgraded AE-86 easily. It turns out that the car belongs to his father Bunta - and he was just taking it for a test run before deciding to purchase it as his personal vehicle.
  • Instant Expert: Averted in that Takumi learned to drift by driving delivery orders down the same stretch of road repeatedly for years?but also played straight in that Takumi is also theorized to have a "natural talent" for driving.
  • Kick the Dog: Jerk Jock Shingo. To illustrate, he wrecks Itsuki's date with his blind date, and nearly goes kamikaze on Takumi in a race, though this fails and only Shingo crashes instead. He does tone his Jerkassiness down considerably in Extra Stage.
  • Limited Wardrobe. For the first season, though averted after.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: The AE86 Trueno's new engine, installed shortly after the original engine broke down in mid-race. Which Bunta purposely allowed to happen.
  • Oh Crap: The initial reaction of many a racer upon being passed by Takumi's Trueno.
  • "On the Next Episode of..." Catchphrase: "Don't Miss It!" (said in Gratuitous English), although it doesn't happen in episode 2 (it appears in all other episodes afterwards).
  • Ordinary High School Student: Takumi and Itsuki.
  • Otaku: The "Two Guys From Tokyo".
  • Panty Shot: Used and lampshaded as the characters (specially Itsuki) wonder why the school decided to make the uniforms so short.
  • The Red Stapler: The AE86 has cropped up in Tokyo Highway Battle, Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport (where it also shows up as the icon for the Drift events), and Juiced, among other games.
    • This series is what pushed it from "old used car" to "sought-after classic" both in Japan and the US; slightly subverted by the fact that the notchback coupe model is more sought-after than Initial D's hatchback due to a slightly stiffer shell.
    • And guess what? The notchback appears much later in the manga, driven by a young boy named Shinn.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Every single Eurobeat track used in the series and games are taken from the label Avex Trax's Super Eurobeat compilation albums.
  • Rule of Cool: You can expect semi-accurate car designs, but don't expect semi-accurate physics.
    • The videogames, in fact, are notorious for their very arcade-like drifting physics.
  • Schematized Prop: Pretty much the point.
  • Secret Legacy
  • Shower Scene: Mako in Extra Stage.
  • Subcultures in Japan
  • Sugar and Ice Personality: Takumi.
  • The Load: Iketani and Itsuki, in the sense they will never beat almost anyone in a race. Ever. Takumi came around to help them out for a bit but after he left, they were back to being a weak team.
  • The Rival: At least half the cast.
  • Those Two Guys From Tokyo
  • Too Dumb to Live: The last team from Saitama. When you contact a group of bad-asses to beat someone up for you, make sure they're not a) fans of the team and/or b) former subordinates of the guy whose car you sabotaged.
  • Training From Hell: Every day, Bunta sends Takumi on a tofu delivery run up Mount Akina to a hotel at 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 anyway.
    • Not so. Especially since Bunta fills it half way\three quarters of the way, this is very possible. I wouldn't recommend street racing if this was what you're going for, but it certainly is doable.
  • Trickster Mentor: Said tofu delivery runs are training for Takumi's road racing ability. This is not known to him until a few episodes/chapters into the series (at which point he had been delivering tofu for five years).
    • A more dramatic example happens during the battle between Takumi and Kyouichi, when the Trueno's engine goes boom. Bunta planned for this to happen so that Takumi would be forced to accept the engine swap that Bunta had prepared for the Trueno.
    • As if that's not enough, by the fourth stage he also has Ryosuke Takahashi playing the same role even while his father gets trickier.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Sayuki ("tomboy", or better said sassy Femme Fatale) and Mako (Yamato Nadeshiko... with some more Fan Service)
  • Unknown Rival
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Shingo and Nakazato, who often try to stay spaced apart from each other to avoid giving off the impression of being best friends.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: All he does, or so he thinks, is driving as fast as possible to have time to deliver the tofu, return home and have a little snooze before school, drifting so as to prevent the tofu from rolling and tumbling around the trunk.
  • Weak but Skilled: Underestimating Takumi and his Trueno is a quick way to get thrown off-guard when you battle him.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?
  • You Suck: Itsuki.