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[ a parent's guide to anime ]

[ rated pg ]

Initial D

A Parent's Guide to Anime
Rated: PG

Parental Guidance Advised

Reviewed by Rosalyn Hunter:

On Akina mountain in Gunma prefecture, young men gather at night to race their cars down the mountain. When a famous racing team, the Akagi Redsuns headed by the rich Takahashi brothers, comes to Akina to race the local team, the Akina Speedstars, their leader Iketani knows that they don't have a chance to win unless they can find the mysterious tofu delivery driver who beat the younger Takahashi on the Akina mountain downhill.

They discover that the mysterious driver is Iketani's own co-worker, Fujiwara Takumi, a high-school student who, although he just got his driver's licence, has been secretly delivering tofu for his dad's shop for 5 years. Can Takumi, a local boy who knows nothing about cars, beat the famous Takahashi on the downhill and save Akina's honor? Will he even show up for the race?

I saw these subtitled. The animation was a mixture of computer CG animation, and cel animation. The polygonal animation used to draw the cars is not the best animation out there, it looks a bit like an advanced video game, but it is appropriate to show the action. The sound quality on the voices is a bit tinny, but the music soundtrack and sound effects were awesome! Real car sounds were recorded, and they really add to the excitement of this heart pumping anime.

There is little to find objectional in this show except that the entire sport of street racing is in fact illegal. The moves that the drivers perform are very dangerous, and the speeds that they drive on narrow mountain roads are very reckless. If your child is near the age of getting a driver's licence, or is just starting to drive, then you might need to give them an extra talking too about car safety, because the urge to try to perform a drift around corners may be too much for them. Either hide the car keys or carefully measure your tires each morning to make sure that they aren't driving recklessly.

There is little sexual content in the show as all of the characters are real losers when it comes to relationships. The biggest red flag is that Mogi, Takumi's girlfriend, has a "papa" who pays her for sexual favors. The relationship is mentioned in the first episode, but Takumi doesn't find out about it until the second stage. This will probably go over the head of very young viewers, but may be a subject of discussion for teens. Mogi's ruined reputation ultimately causes Takumi to break up with her.

There is no nudity, but there is some leering at women's bodies, especially in the episode where they go to the beach. Also, in one episode, a female driver offers her virginity to Iketani if he will arrange a road race between her and Takumi.

Profanity depends on the subtitlers. Some use profanity in the translations, and some don't. You may want to preview the titles if you are concerned about this.

The family relationships in this anime all tend to be of a positive nature. Takumi was taught driving by his father, once a great road racer, who watches over his son's progress secretly from the background by making sure that the car is always ready for races and giving Takumi hints at key times. There is admiration and trust shown between the Takahashi brothers, and other characters. Also their are good same sex friendships between the guys at the gas station, and the female drivers in Usui.

A strong warning for those of a romantic frame of mind. I have watched the first, second, and third stages, and I must say that none of the romantic relationships comes to a satisfactory conclusion. We get the impression that the characters spend so much time with their cars, because they don't have anywhere else to go. The LONELY DRIVER is a commonly mentioned theme in the show. The love between a man and his car is shown very well, however. We see Takumi break down in tears when his engine blows.

This series is about cars, and people who love cars passionately. It is often easier to recognise the cars than the people. Takumi is known by most people as the driver of Akina's Hachi Roku (a black and white "panda" Trueno with an AE86 chassis). If you know what this means you will love this show. The show revolves around roadraces between these characters and their cars as they race down mountains around Japan. All the races are accompanied by blaring Europop, rock, and hiphop music. The soundtrack is really up beat, fast, and exciting.

I found this to be a very interesting and entertaining anime. It is set outside of the big Japanese cities in the more rural mountainous areas where there is little to do on Saturday nights other than climb a hill and watch a race. All of the characters, as far as I know, are over 18 (the age required to get a driver's licence in Japan). The major characters are blue collar, rural, middle-class people. They work in low paying jobs like a gas station attendant, or fast-food worker and they spend all of their money on cars. The exception are the rich Takahashi brothers who own expensive cars and computers, but all are equal in their love of driving. They all strive to be the fastest, and the races are about driving strategy and the care and quality of the car. Some races are determined by tire wear! If you love cars, this is the anime for you. If you aren't that into cars, this anime will give you a glimpse into another world, where people get excited every time a new model car comes out. Where car upgrades become an obsession. Definitely worth a look.

Parent's Guide Rating:

yellow (parental guidance advised)

The main character's girlfriend, Mogi, is in a sex for money relationship with a middle-aged man who drives a Mercedes Benz. This will go over some heads, but I found the thought disgusting. Mogi is a high-school student.

One character offers her virginity to another, and sets up an arrangement to meet him that does not come to pass.

Basic close-ups of breasts and behinds in some scenes.

A scene on a water slide where one guy is leaning against a girl's breasts and feeling guilty, and his friend is leaning against another guy's privates crying about it. This is played for humor.

Romantic warning. - These characters total ineptitude in romantic relationships will drive a romance lovers to the edge of despair.

Gratuitous car washing - This floored me. The main character always gives his car loving looks, but at one point he decides to wash the car in a long scene while love music plays in the background. This is extremely gratuitous, but I guess people love their cars.

Extra Stage - There is nudity (a shower scene) and a scene where one person stares at a woman's breasts and behind (for humour).

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