Roving Thoughts archives


Something I never made up my mind about with Initial D

When I was watching Initial D, one of the things I was never able to make up my mind about was whether Takumi's story was fundamentally egalitarian or fundamentally conservative. Explaining this is going to require both some words and some minor spoilers (nothing more than you'd get by reading the Wikipedia page, though).

Initial D is certainly very egalitarian on the surface. Takumi is a (street racing) outsider in an unimpressive car and he beats a whole series of established street racers driving much better cars. Takumi does this by being an excellent driver (and in the initial races by being utterly familiar with his home mountain), but he got his driving skills and local knowledge through literally years of incessant daily practice. Takumi is better because he has worked harder, whether his opponents realize this or not, and a better driver in a good enough car will smoke a not as good driver in a hot car.

(A number of Takumi's early opponents get fairly emotional about what they feel is a total upset to the natural order. How can this nobody in a dinky car be beating them? They're renowned street racers, they have the right car, how come they're not winning?)

But as the series goes on we discover that Bunta (Takumi's father) was himself an infamous street racer when he was Takumi's age. As this comes up in the story, we also have any number of people saying that of course Takumi is good, he's 'Crazy' Bunta's son. Blood will tell, after all. If you've been watching anime for long you've seen this theme before; 'blood will tell' is a fairly major trope (mostly in shonen fighting shows, I think). If we believe 'blood will tell' then Takumi was destined for greatness from the start and someone who practiced as much as Takumi but did not have his blood would always be his inferior. This is fundamentally conservative, not egalitarian; it says that Takumi is innately one of the nobility of street racing, forever beyond the reach of ordinary people.

Depending on where you look at it and what you pay attention to, the anime story goes both ways. As I mentioned, I never was able to make up my mind about what it really was at its heart.

(Of course I am thinking too much about this.)

anime/InitialDUncertainty written at 18:23:06; Add Comment


A memorable moment from Initial D

Author has recently been watching Initial D with enthusiasm and reading his reactions has been giving me flashbacks to the days when one of the anime clubs here showed us the first three stages. Several bits and pieces from the series have stuck with me over the years since then. The most distinctly memorable one is a moment very early on in the first season and probably when I fell for the series, partly because it was surprisingly subtle for an anime.

(Based on the list of Initial D episodes, it's probably from the first episode.)

Initial D starts off with the familiar anime scenario of the hidden badass; in this case Takumi (our protagonist) is secretly a really good driver and racer but none of his peers know it. At one point, Iketani (the leader of the local street racers) takes Takumi and Itsuki (our comedy relief secondary character) for a fast drive up the mountain in his hot car to basically show off. Itsuki is in seventh heaven (he looks up to Iketani) but Takumi is visibly almost-terrified on the drive up, to the point where Itsuki ribs him about it when they get to the top.

What Initial D did really well was show and convince us that Iketani was actually not a good driver and his fast drive was pretty sloppy. Takumi was rightfully scared because he actually understood what was going on and how dangerous it was; Iketani was oblivious. The Initial D anime staged this scene well enough that a non-driver like me could really get Iketani's true skill level while at the same time it avoided making him so obviously terrible that Itsuki's ignorance would ring hollow. It was believable both that Iketani was not good and that he and Itsuki didn't understand it, and in the process the show reinforced Takumi as someone who did know what he was doing.

It would have been easy for the show to overplay this scene in a lot of directions (making Iketani's driving too bad, making Takumi's reactions to it too extreme, and so on). That the show didn't, that it played things reasonably subtly because it was confident that the audience would catch on, was a big point in its favour when I watched it way back when.

(I was reminded of this by Author's recent tweets about another bit of physical humor from the show.)

anime/InitialDMemorableMoment written at 23:06:46; Add Comment

Page tools: See As Normal.
Login: Password:
Atom Syndication: Recent Pages, Recent Comments.

This dinky wiki is brought to you by the Insane Hackers Guild, Python sub-branch.