Like most anime fans, I had heard loads about Initial D back in the day but sadly never had the chance to watch the then new TV series or read any of its manga. All this time later I finally get the chance to see what all the fuss is about with the newly remade Initial D film series that condenses the story down into three, hour-long movies starting with Initial D Legend 1: Awakening. I have to admit that I see the appeal, as cool cars and characters mesh together well here and set the stage for some racing action viewers will find themselves drifting to.
The story centers on lowly gas station attendant Takumi Fujiwara, who also works for his dad making late-night tofu deliveries for his father, a legendary drifting master who can drive their Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86 down the local mountain roads with precision and ease. Naturally Takumi has inherited these skills, but doesn’t see them as anything special until he comes across some local car racing teams doing their best to race and drift their way down the mountain as fast as they can. When Takumi easily speeds/drifts by a racer with a car way more powerful than his one night on one of his deliveries, it isn’t long before a rival team known as the Akagi Red Suns want to race against the legendary “86” (short for the AE86) and see how they measure up. The local Akina Speed Stars convince Takumi to race for them, and it’s here where he discovers he truly does feel alive when racing against others, and introduces the world to the high stakes world of drifting.
With a running time of an hour or so, there’s just enough racing action here to get fans and newcomers excited while leaving them wanting more in the next two films. I liked how they kept things short and sweet here, as there’s equal parts racing action and dialogue heavy drama featured. With this being a fairly new movie, it looks and sounds great on Blu-ray as every detail comes racing through nicely, especially the CG-generated vehicles that look and sound like their real-life counterparts. As far as extras are concerned, there’s a small preview of the next entry, Initial D Legend 2: Racer, and some previews of other Sentai Filmworks titles.
Initial D Legend 1: Awakening is a perfect way for fans and those new to the series to enjoy what the story and characters have to offer, while also scratching any racing itches in the process. A good looking and great sounding film that’s short and to the point is more than enough to get viewers to drift on over and join the race in this film series.