A memorable moment from Initial D

February 8, 2013

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.)

Written on 08 February 2013.
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Last modified: Fri Feb 8 23:06:46 2013
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