They are by far the best anime! We counts down the best anime to come out all the time, including the likes of Dekobou no Jidousha Ryokou, Gegege no Kitarou: Youkai Japan Rally 3D, Oval x Over, and more!
11: Dekobou no Jidousha Ryokou
English: Dekobo the Big Head’s Road Trip
MAL Score: 4.11
A man encounters strange animals during his road trip in his car. Short film from 1934.
Simple to a point. A path is taken and the journey occurs. While other elements are included to provide more drama and flair like the weather the story ‘falls flat’.
-certain details are overlooked. Like for example water tends to produce bubbles.
The vocalist doesn’t bring much to the film. Yes, the script is read off but there is no spark. Also, maybe it was the animation speed but the viewer might find the reading to be a tad fast at first.
Overall: Old film aside this animation doesn’t provide much content. Then when it wraps up the audience is thrown for a loop. Although the art is drawn nicely.
10: Gegege no Kitarou: Youkai Japan Rally 3D
Japanese: ゲゲゲの鬼太郎 妖怪JAPANラリー3D
MAL Score: 5.48
No synopsis information has been added to this title. Help improve our database by adding a synopsis here.
9: Oval x Over
MAL Score: 5.76
A promotional video for the Indy Racing League Bridgestone Indy Japan 3000.
A thrilling race. Three drivers with their own stories. A narrow line between victory and defeat. Who will be the champion?
8: Bakusou Kyoudai Let’s & Go!! WGP Bousou Mini Yonku Daitsuiseki
Japanese: 爆走兄弟レッツ&ゴー!! WGP 暴走ミニ四駆大追跡!
MAL Score: 6.41
Rion gets tricked into installing a chip into his racing car called “Gun Bluster” by the mini-4wd company he was associated with. His car starts racing without control and causing various riots with fellow racers, Rion teams up with the TRF Victorys and start chasing after Gun Bluster to remove the chip.
Rion, Retsu and Go Seiba along with the other TRF members, Ryo Takaba with the help of his little brother, Jiromaru, Tokichi and J are confroted with an association that is also after Gun Bluster, but what are their intentions?
United along-side their trademark mini-4wd, the TRF’s and Rion race together and avoid traps to safelly capture Gun Bluster!
7: eX-Driver the Movie
Japanese: エクスドライバー the Movie
MAL Score: 6.61
After winning domestic preliminary round, Lisa, Lorna, and Soichi advance to ex-Driver world race competition held in Los Angeles as representative team from Japan. Like a bad omen, they encountered a reckless AI car the first night they arrived at Los Angeles. Although they successfully stopped the car, the local police department is not very happy about that and insists to examine their car overnight.
However, the problem did not stop just there. The daughter of the United States team`s sponsor, Angela, has gone missing. Lorna realized that Angela was on the reckless AI car before. Soichi who guessed that Angel could be in danger then start looking for her. But Soichi got captured by a mysterious man, and he shocked to find Angela is also there.
During the confinement inside a warehouse, Soichi finds out that apparently there is a connection between the series of incident and illegal gambling on the ex-Driver world race competition. Now Soichi must escape from the warehouse with Angela…
The movie follows the three leads from the series as they enter and win a domestic preliminary round and advance to the eX-Driver world race competition held in Los Angeles as a representative team from Japan. Not long after arriving in LA, an AI car goes haywire, setting off a chain of events that leads out main trio into a conspiracy involving the race competition and some of the people involved with it.
If my reaction to the series was lukewarm at best, the movie doesn’t do much to change that. We don’t even get to see that many differences between how Japan and America deal with how they handle their AI cars, which would have made for some good world building and could have been a neat culture shock for the three main characters, and would have made the movie stand out more by giving it some personality.
Like I mentioned earlier, the animation is a step up from the series, but unfortunately it still has some of the early 2000s CGI used for the cars. To be fair, it’s not the worst CGI that I’ve seen from the era, and is a bit better than the series, but it might turn some people off who aren’t use to seeing older CGI.
But that’s not all, because on the same day that the movie was released, a short called “eX-Driver: Nina & Rei – Danger Zone”, which was featured as a bonus on the same DVD as the movie, and is a prequel to the series featuring two minor characters, who are the top eX-Driver team.
I’m going to include this as part of my review for the movie because I still want to talk about it, but I don’t think I can justify a whole review for it, especially since it’s only 24 minutes long, and doing a stand alone review with a minimum character/word limit would be stretching it out to the breaking point.
The plot focuses on a mysterious mini-AI car that terrorizes the city, and it’s up to Nina and Rei to stop it, all while having to deal with something or someone from the eX-Driver’s past.
Out of the entire series, this is the most entertaining entry. The whole thing felt like an homage to an 80s or 90s buddy cop action movie, with the angry police chief cliche and everything. The villain for this special was also pretty fun, and I’m not going to spoil it.
This OVA wasn’t anything special, but compared to the rest of the series, it at least feels like there was an attempt made to make something at least fun, even if it ended up being to late into the series for someone to care about it outside of the dedicated fans or people who like to check out everything.
If anything, you could probably watch this without knowing anything about the rest of the series, and you would have to only spend 24 minutes at most to watch it.
I found the art style a bit lackluster and a little outdated i n the series, but the movie seems to be a bit more on par for the era in which it was released. The inconsistencies in the series’ art is largely gone and the movie is much cleaner in both action and non-action scenes.
The sound remains truly stellar. The cars sound proper, that is to say a Europa sounds like a Europa and different from the Stratos. When the car shifts, the sounds changes properly and the voice acting (English dub) is better than many, even it’s predecessor.
While there wasn’t enough time to fully develop the story line and characters out in the series, the movie shows us what a longer show might have treated us to. The story line is not stellar by any means, but it was quite enjoyable. Whereas the original series felt like the action got old quick, the movie presented new challenges and situation. The plot was also decent and felt a bit more cohesive.
The same thing happens with the characters. With Lorna, Lisa and Sōichi now a known quantity, the movie shines a bit more in displaying their relationship as a team. It is now fully clear that Sōichi and Lisa are attracted to each other and as I suggested in my review of the series, they are able to use that budding love interest to lead to some fun interactions between them and other characters. It made for a much more enjoyable character set.
Even the characters outside the main three are better thought out and developed in the movie, which overall raises the score.
The most frustrating part of this series is its premature end. Worth a watch, especially if you like cars. If you were disappointed by potential in the series that was not fully realized, it is all a little bit more polished in the movie. It makes me little bit sad that there never got to be a longer run of this concept.
MAL Score: 6.74
Tomoe Shiro, a formidable racer with a very promising career, experiments a U-turn when a serious accident puts his life at stake. He recovers miraculously though when his heart is replaced with the engine of his own racing car. However, because of that very reason, race regulations demote him to the category of a mere mechanical part of the vehicle and is deprived from the right to participate as a pilot in regular races. Only in a far away colonial planet, along with a multitude of other charismatic pilots also vetoed from participating in regular competitions, will he be given the opportunity to race for his pride and the money of the prize. And so this exciting rally starts!!
(Source: Official website)
The story is set in future when mankind plants Terraformers on planets in an attempt to colonize them. By going haywire Terraformers produce disastrous consequences of tectonic shifts, environmental changes and ‘stampede’.The protagonist, having an engine as his heart, must now participate in a precarious race with the Terraformer as the final destination risking his life to achieve what the Loser King couldn’t 100 years ago.
A rapid plot development and simple sci-fi imagination about racing form the core of the movie. The plot is fast-paced but not rushed and doesn’t seem to have missing/skipped parts, I’m saying that most people can easily comprehend the plot and all its sci-fi inventions and appreciate it. Though its mainly focused on racing other aspects are also glimpsed at nicely. The fiction introduced is nothing extraordinary but original enough. However sometimes too many elements are introduced all at once in a not so impressive manner, the racing course also didn’t impress me much.
I hope you notice the use of contradictions.. ‘Loser King’ as a hero and ‘Tailenders’ as great racers.. its amusing
The art and animation are good if not great. The art and graphics have been done really well with minimal use of CG. The action scenes are somewhat lacking in both depiction and direction, what is expected is sometimes skipped and the focus, angles and timing do not come out so well in some racing scenes. The rest of the animation is much better and impressive.
Sound.. what to say , your usual noise of engines revving up, tires screeching and the like, nothing more, nothing less..
I’d rather not comment on characters cause 27 minutes is hardly time enough to define and develop a character. If I had to say, I suppose the main cast are introduced pretty well even though they don’t have an air of originality to them.
All in all I think it has a decent plot which is skilfully executed with nice animation, for a time pass its really good. The sci-fi touch given is also nice and improves the potential, if developed further it can turn out to be really good.
Personally, I couldn’t care less about the Redline similarities, intentional or otherwise. Actually, I couldn’t be happier. Redline is possibly my favorite anime movie ever, and anyone who feels strongly about it wishes they just had more of it. Imitation is the best form of flattery, and if the people behind Tailenders saw greatness in Redline then I applaud them for recognizing what worked and doing an impressive enough job at emulating it. All art has a genealogy somewhere.
In the Tailenders universe, mankind and other various creatures have been forced to live nomadic lives on gigantic moving cities due to a malfunctioned terraforming machine that’s been going around wreaking havoc on the environment for years. High speed racing has been glorified, as these “Tailenders” scope out the constantly changing Earth as they race. Among these drivers is Shiro, who gets into a life-threatening accident just as he’s about to overtake the simulated ghost of his hero and rival, “Loser King”. Shiro is revived by the mechanic Tomoe, with his body changed and heart replaced with a new special engine. Shiro himself has now become the vehicle, and he and Tomoe aim to be faster than ever in the upcoming race. But Tomoe has her own grander goals in mind…
The premise and reasoning behind a dystopian future that has forced humanity to constantly move is clever and an appropriate ideology and backdrop for the high speed breathless thrills. There’s also a simple theme of human and technology evolution that’s possibly inspired by Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann when taking a look at the lightning-struck animation style that bears similarities to that Gainax work and studio Trigger. Despite this setting construction almost no time is spent showing these moving cities and other than Shiro and Tomoe’s meeting practically all other time passes on the road.
This is where the action is, and the prime time to talk about what draws people to Tailenders. If you’re looking to things similar to Redline, the subject of racing doesn’t matter as much as the art style and quality of animation. Tailenders features the same beautifully bright solid colors contrasted with heavy outlines and pitch black shading covering most sides of characters and objects. It’s absolute sugar sweets for the eyes, and the jagged character designs that all look drastically different from each other keep the environment constantly fresh and always bring out the stark coloring.
The animation is generally smooth but is not nearly as fluid as Redline, which reveals a handicap of time, budgeting, or talent. This is where the similarities start to become differences as it’s clear where Tailenders falls shorter. There’s much less movement in scenes than Redline, and many shots attempt to draw less frames to portray movement more simply. This leads to a lot of frames of just straight traveling cars and moving backgrounds, and basic cockpit angles. The vehicles are CG, probably because they’re easier to reuse on frames. Although the cel-shading look to them with the solid color textures make them cohesive enough to the world’s general art style, the clear detachment the CG has from the 2D backgrounds further makes them look like objects being dragged across a screen. There just isn’t as much going on in each of Tailenders’ scenes as Redline. The music is hardly adrenaline pumping with just about only an average main theme and many scenes of silence, even behind the wheel. Sound editing is occasionally weak and combines with the simple display of movement to create scenes that could do better to have more impact. A particularly shocking example is the cheap slashing sound used when Goodspeed lands on top of the missile shooters that has almost no punch behind it. It dials down the excitement.
Still, these are by no means too significant flaws when being compared to one of anime’s most technically visceral achievements. Other than audio, Tailenders is still an impressive visual piece that carries a light but likably eccentric enough storyline, world, and characters. For 27 minutes it meets an all-around quality that’s high enough for it to not run out of gas and be an easy recommendation for anyone looking for more anime with bright, sharp, and kinetic art direction. It may be carried by those things since Redline also has a more empathetic main character and even a more believable romance, but I would’ve been fine watching more of Tailenders as it is. It’s a pity things stopped here.
The plot takes place on planet Terulus, long after terraformers were used to try and repair the environment, only for them to go haywire and ravage the surface of the planet for centuries, creating mutations to the wildlife and devastating earthquakes. Because of this, giant cities that could drive around the planets surface were created to house what was left of the population.
One of the biggest past times is a racing competition. The dream of every racer to beat the track records held by Loser King, who disappeared a century ago. Shiro, one of the top racers, is horribly injured by a stampede. A mysterious woman walks in and offers him the chance to race again by replacing his heart with the engine from his own car. Soon, Shiro finds himself trying to win the Planet Redevelopment Race and try to beat the Loser King’s record times.
Even though it’s not much longer than the average episode of a TV series, Tailenders tells a satisfying enough story in it’s run time that i didn’t really mind it’s length. Sure, it’s not going to have a lot of character or story depth, but Tailenders wasn’t trying to have that. The characters are well defined enough within the constraints of the short that all of them are enjoyable despite their simplicity.
The short’s world definitely feels like a world despite simply being a setup for it’s plot. Tailenders wants to tell a simple fun story and it does it pretty well. I wish it was slightly longer so it’s pacing could be a bit better, but it’s a minor issue. I can’t really talk about the plot beyond the initial premise since it’s less than 30 minutes, but it was satisfying for what it is.
The art and animation is top notch. The artstyle is a little more over the top than Redline’s, which helps differentiate it enough from Redline that you won’t mistake them from each other. I could see how it could grate on someone more than Redline’s artstyle, as it seems less refined. But it comes down to personal preference, and i had no problem with it.
Tailenders didn’t have the budget or development time that Redline did, and it doesn’t quite reach the peaks that Redline did, but it does fit a lot into it’s scant 27 minutes long running time. It also didn’t recieve quite the same attention either, which is a shame, because Tailenders is definitely worth a watch, as it’s can be just as fun as Redline.
5: New Initial D Movie: Legend 1 – Kakusei
English: Initial D Legend 1 Awakening
Japanese: 新劇場版 頭文字［イニシャル］D Legend1 -覚醒-
MAL Score: 7.76
The first movie in a trilogy, focusing on the battle against the Takahashi brothers.
Initial D’s movie retelling- itself an adaptation of an adaptation- is not one that aims to reinvent the series it is based on. It is yet another sort of compilation movie, an inferior version of the TV series that came before. Does that mean the movie itself sucks? Not necessarily, though it is beyond any doubt a disappointment.
I’m not entirely sure why Initial D is being remade since 1998 isn’t exactly what I would consider to be ‘old’. I suppose it exists as a way for anime fans who detest anything from before the 2000’s (you have my condolences) to get into the series with its pretty new visuals. And look nice it does, although the movie has lost far more than it has gained.
Let me first mention the positives before I start complaining: Initial D Kakusei looks fantastic. First Stage was admittedly pretty rough-looking with its cheap CG during the races, which often detracted from the experience and made it resemble some sort of weird PS2 game. The CG in Kakusei, on the other hand, is thankfully kept to the bare minimum. I can hardly fault the original series for its CG considering the money situation is very different between TV series and movies, but it is still an upgrade nonetheless. Speedlines are far more effective than bouncy bouncy CG cars rolling around.
Takumi’s new voice actor is also a far better fit. Takumi sounded like a 40-year-old man in the original series (really, what the hell was up with that?), whereas here he actually sounds like a teenager. Miyano Mamoru makes Takumi seem more alive and human, less lethargic, especially when you consider the same voice actor also played Okabe from Steins;Gate. It’s a nice change, since in the original series it was like Takumi just didn’t give a damn about much of anything. It is a bit strange to hear such a popular voice actor in his role, though. I’ve heard him in so many different anime now that I just can’t identify him with Takumi.
Others do not fare nearly as well, with Keisuke being robbed of all personality by his new seiyuu. Depending on your tastes, you might also find the story to be lacking in emotion or humanity. And you would be correct, as this has been (at least for me) the main issue with the franchise. There’s a lot of cool moments to satisfy both action and racing fans, but there’s nothing to really make you care about the characters. The romance here feels even more tacked on and superficial than usual, considering the movie removes important scenes like an enraged Takumi punching Mogi’s ex-boyfriend. Here, Mogi is just eye-candy and Takumi a quiet badass. Yawn.
The decision to use (generic) rock music rather than Eurobeat, the series’ staple, is beyond disappointing– it’s actually baffling. There is a major lack of intensity during the races as a result of this stupid decision. Whereas tracks like ‘Heartbeat’ or ‘Don’t Stop The Music’ blasting would often make the entire race, here the songs merely accompany it. The rock music has its place in anime, but Initial D is not where it belongs; it feels like something you’d find in a show like Kuroko no Basket instead. I don’t necessarily wish the same tracks from First Stage were reused here ad-nauseum (the entire thing would reek of laziness), but certainly it could have at least tried to preserve the same mood and atmosphere from the original series. Maybe people new to the series won’t care all that much, but it’s a bummer to see the Eurobeat gone. It was by far the best thing about the series. Initial D was the music.
The pacing is also very strange since it’s trying to tell a story in movie format while moving at the speed of a TV series. If the bigwigs behind the anime wanted to go for the movie approach, they should have tightened up the pacing and covered a much larger amount of content. It doesn’t use the medium to its advantage; it just feels like a compilation with pretty visuals rather than an actual movie.
People new to Initial D should be aware that, like the original series, there’s a bit of car and racing terminology that is pretty much gibberish to anyone who doesn’t follow the scene. It doesn’t really impede the enjoyment, though, since the spectacle is still more than enough. Most of it simply boils down to Takumi being a drifting god, anyway.
Should you watch Initial D Kakusei? I can’t say I recommend it. It’s simply an inferior version of the original series with prettier visuals. If visuals are all that matter to you, then hey, I suppose you’ll have a pretty good time. But if you value characters, music and mood to any extent, you would be better off just watching (or rewatching) First Stage instead. There are much better things you could spend the hour with instead. You could watch three episodes of Aikatsu, for example!
The pacing of this movie works for the way it is. Nothing feels to rushed but the specifics of Natsuki’s story is more hidden this time. Other than that, fans of Initial D who have prior exposure know what to expect. As for the final race, if you play the arcade games, the pace of the race works in accurate conjunction to that so I can’t really make an excuse it feels to rushed. I mean, most players can beat Akina in about 3 minutes.
As fans of the original TV series are aware, the voice cast has entirely changed and I felt it was unnecessary. I mean, Gundam for the most part very rarely changes the cast and neither has the new Evangelion series. The cast are still active and can still play. The only name I can recognize is Miyano Mamoru, most famous as the voices of Light from Death Note and Setsuna from Gundam. I say his performance works for what it is but I think it is the voice direction as opposed to his abilities as a performer is what I have an issue with. There are instances where you can get a reaction out of him as opposed to saying you fucked Natsuki or whatever. I felt there were instances where his reactions were completely out of character, or at least what I am used to.
Bunta’s voice feels weak compared to Ishizuka Unshou’s original performance. The rest of the cast to me lacks the personality of the original TV series voice actors.
And in other sad news that I find criminal. The Eurobeat and MOVE are no longer part of the soundtrack. Try to imagine a Cowboy Bebop reboot/remake without the jazz and that’s how some Initial D fans probably feel. Half of the music is heavy bass with weak techno cords and the other half is generic J-Rock. I say viewers who have no prior exposure to the original series will have no issue with this factor but to me, the Eurobeat and MOVE is part of the identity of Initial D.
As for the character design, it is sharp and crisp and more in tune with that of 4th to Final Stage. As for the races, I felt it was too over reliant on above and below angles and close ups. I felt this ruined Takumi’s inertia drift he did against his first race against Keisuke. In the 1998 series, granted the quality is not that great, but the set up and execution made it exciting. I felt this series lacked that. There are instances it works, and instances it doesn’t. Another issue is the frame rate. With the upper angles, the frame rate felt rough but the lower angles the frame rate was much smoother.
Overall, I say long time fans of Initial D will have mixed feelings for the right reasons. I say viewers with no familiarity will be more open minded to the changes and may enjoy it.
STORY- 5/10 DRAW: Initial D always represented a bit of a paradox in story terms to me. The plot remains simple and consistent throughout, but I could never really follow it. I know what happens, but it usually ends up becoming a big blur in my head. It by and large follows Character X races main character, main character wins in a very cool way. The story is a copy/paste from the manga and anime, but with a few differences. 1, Mogi is downplayed. 2, A lot of the ‘meat’ is trimmed off to make the story fit into an hour length package. 3, In the anime and manga, a character almost causes a head on collision and wrecks his car. In the movie, the same accident is caused not by another car, but a bump. and 4, In the anime and the manga, the main character goes straight home after the Akina race, but in the movie, a rival character confronts the main at the bottom of the mountain in order to have an important conversation that would not have fit elsewhere. I think that these differences are small enough to call this category a wash.
ART- 9/10 NEW WINS: Holy crap. This is where the first stage needed this remake the most. In first stage, the animators used a CGI tool that they clearly did not have the hang of. Not only did it look like a PSone was rendering the frames, but the cars never really moved right, especially at low speeds. Now, the cars all look stunning, the action is fast-paced and crisp, and the cars are moving more or less like they actually would. There are a few jarring moments, like when a car does a J-turn, but the animators never got the hang of J-turns anyway. I am not a fan of some of the screenplay, for example, where the POV will be a wide angle, then suddenly moves forward an absurd amount to emphasize the action and goes back to wide angle to appear artsy. Fortunately, the wonky cinematography is the exception and not the rule, and I found myself enjoying many of the moving shots. The actual human characters look cleaner and sharper. by far the biggest improvement is Itsuki, who looks significantly less like a giant-faced mutant. All things considered, the new version has better art in nearly every way. The old just can’t compare.
SOUND- 3/10 OLD WINS: Betrayal is a pretty weak word to describe my feelings on the background music in the movie. Initial D always had fast, energetic, and catchy eurobeat music in the background for a sample, look up “Space Boy Initial D” or “Don’t Stop the Music Initial D” on Youtube. It seems like a stupid combination at first, but it just ‘clicks’ in the most satisfying ways. The movie on the other hand, ditches the eurobeat in favor of the most generic rock music on the planet. Initial D First Stage relied less on the animation to convey speed and more on the eurobeat to draw the viewer into the race. This new version is quite the opposite. It ends up being so tragic, because if the producers had decided to keep the eurobeat and update the animation at the same time, the result would have been magnificent at worst. Like the Star Wars prequels with better acting… and no Jar-Jar.
CHARACTER- 6/10 OLD WINS: Not much to talk about, both the anime and the movie have identical characters with identical stories, but the anime just had so much more time to develop them. An hour is really short for a feature length film, and the movie does its best and does a good job of character development, but it is not quite enough.
ENJOYMENT- 7/10 OLD WINS:I wanted to like the movie more than the series, but I enjoyed the old anime series more than the new movie. The eurobeat is too good, the nostalgia too strong, and the QUALITY animation gives its share of laughs.
OVERALL- 6/10 OLD WINS: The important part here is the movie COULD have been better than the original series if it had about 20 more minutes of hardcore supporting character development, and had the glorious eurobeat soundtrack. But the fact is, it doesn’t. I just wish it did.
4: New Initial D Movie: Legend 2 – Tousou
English: Initial D Legend 2 Racer
Japanese: 新劇場版 頭文字［イニシャル］D Legend2 -闘走-
MAL Score: 7.78
The second movie in a trilogy.
3: New Initial D Movie: Legend 3 – Mugen
Japanese: 新劇場版 頭文字［イニシャル］D Legend3 -夢現-
MAL Score: 7.82
The third and final movie in a trilogy.
The story follows Takumi Fujiwara on his ascension to street racing greatness. Instead of glossing over his complex personality, or the nuanced relationships he has with others around him, Mugen dives head first into the intricacies of a young man’s life and how he deals with the ever-changing landscape of his world. Fujiwara finds himself embracing who he’s becoming as a street racer and forces him to confront the reality of the future beyond driving without a care in the world on his home course. Through this, he bonds with his father; a relationship that has shown little depth in both the original manga and anime adaptation. We, as viewers, get a front-row seat and better understanding of the romance he has with his then-love interest. While his friendship with his Akina Speed Star brethren remains as consistent as it always was, Fujiwara’s budding friendship and appreciation for his street racing constituency is explored in a way it has never been before. As Fujiwara grows, we get a true glimpse of how observant he is of his surroundings and his knowledge of self.
Artistically, Initial D has always grown with the times. As technology improves, as does the artwork of Initial D-related media. Gone are the days of poorly constructed 3D models of classic Japanese automobiles. Vehicles look real in the Legend Trilogy because they are. Advanced cell-shading techniques have given way to an immersive experience that truly shows off the direction of anime for the future. The characters’ facial expressions are individual to their personalities and add a layer of depth and understanding to who they are as individuals. Picking up where Final Stage left off, the roads and the surrounding landscapes look absolutely stunning, even during the street races in the twilight hours. The original storyline was done justice with this modernization.
The voice acting is solid, but foreign. Viewers have grown accustomed to 16 years of consistent, recognizable talent. Having new actors, though talented, makes a few of the characters feel foreign. With the lack of Eurobeat, the Legend Trilogy feels like a separate story entirely, at times. I have no personal qualms with replacing Eurobeat for Japanese alternative rock, however, the score feels flat and uninspired. In fact, many Initial D inspired audio that can be found in far corners of Soundcloud tend to favor instrumental, jazzy hiphop, often inspired by the vibes of the late, great Nujabes. However, the quality isn’t bad, but the choice in music simply feels out of place. Thankfully, the car sounds are as genuine as it can possibly get. You can easily distinguish the sounds from 13BT, 4AGE, and RB26DETT engines. The tire sounds are also accurate with how the characters are driving. In its production, there was an exceptional amount of attention to detail that went into the racing experience.
As mentioned before, the Legend Trilogy has taken character development in Initial D to an entirely new level. Instead of sullen melancholia, near-comical seriousness, and uncomfortable comic relief; we get a range of human emotion that allows us to fall in love with personalities, as opposed to simply the common underdog story. We see Fujiwara falling in love. We see him praise the opponents he’s beaten on Akina. We see him struggle with his own identity in finding his place in this world he was suddenly thrust upon. Even better, we get much-needed backstory on the RedSuns and Takahashi Ryosuke. Previously, these things were mentioned in passing and it was left up to readers of the manga to interpret these nuances in context. For anime watchers, such details may have been missed. Additionally, Takumi’s father, Bunta, shows a considerable amount of compassion and respect for his son during this period of growth. They even share a moment or two of shared stubbornness that only happens between father and son.
The enjoyment factor of Initial D has changed. The story itself has long ended so longtime fans may lack the excitement of finding out what happens next. One could argue that the enjoyment factor has now become the satisfaction of knowing. For individual viewers, some may feel relief in knowing details that went unmentioned previously. Others may develop a new respect for certain characters. Or, like me, you could fall in love with the underdog story all over again as the Legend Trilogy offers new perspectives. What’s most pleasing is that it can be equally enjoyable for both longtime fans and new viewers alike. Overall, Initial D is Initial D. It’s a cultural staple. A legend in itself. It’s responsible for many pilgrimages to Gunma Prefecture, Japan. It’s the reason why an cheap, fuel-efficient, economy car from the 1980s gained unthinkable popularity since production ceased nearly 30 years ago. It’s the ridiculously esoteric, and still personally relatable story of a teenage boy from a single-parent household finding himself and growing into a man with goals and ambition. It’s the dream we see become a reality.
For starters, I’m applying my usual format for Compilation movies here, so all movies are being reviewed at once. They’re technically not this but rather a re-adaptation of the Manga, but the point still stands.
As I stated in my Review of both shows, neither Initial D’s First Stage or Berserk 1997 have aged that well visually. That’s part of the reason the Berserk movies failed, as when you get right down to it, they were little better than the OG anime, with its Animation still being inconsistent, just in a different way. The Initial D movies on the other hand look… good! Actually, scratch that, they look great! Like, seriously, this is some great stuff! Not only are the character animations improved, but the CGI looks better than ever, and overall, this is a beautiful looking set of movies! I’m… actually surprised!
Though to counteract that, the sound is a downgrade. Contrast to the rest of the series, which uses Eurobeat Songs, the movies use standard rock. It’s pretty good rock, sure, but it just doesn’t hold a candle to the original OST. The same goes for the performance. Don’t get me wrong, these are all fine performances, but compared to the original VAs, something feels… missing. Like, to give an example, take for instance Miyano Mamoru; who takes over the role of Takumi from his Gundam 00 Co-Star Miki Shinichiro. He sounds a lot like Miki, but it feels as if he’s not taking the stoicness far enough. Perhaps more notable is Shiraishi Minoru as Itsuki, who sounds borderline identical to Iwata Mitsuo, but he isn’t taking the character’s goofiness far enough for my taste. Again, these are all solid performances; they’re just not as good as the original Seiyuus. Either way, it’s not as if they half-assed it with the cast, what with it having Uchida Maya, Suwabe Junichi, Nakamura Yuuichi, Hirata Hiroaki, Tsuchida Hiroshi and of course, the Casting Gag to end all Casting Gags, Ono Daisuke as Ryousuke! Nice!
Yet of course, it is in the plot that will decide whether this movie series is worth your time. And the answer is… yeah, it is. I mean, yeah, a bunch of issues with the show’s plot are still here (Read my review of that for more information) but if there’s one thing this movie does right, it’s retelling the story. The Berserk movies tried to cram way too much in in too little time. Here, they just go through the main plot beats and not much else because, well, there isn’t much left to tell without making the movies an unfocused mess.
Perhaps most surprisingly it doesn’t fall into the Second Compilation Movie curse! Yeah, they just decide to skip over a bunch of stuff in the middle part of the show so as to not drag things out, with the whole subplot with Mako and Satsuki being removed (Which does make their cameo in the final movie kinda odd). It’s actually kinda refreshing!
In general, I know this Review was short, but that’s because there isn’t much else left to tell. If the Berserk Movies were a soulless cash-grab, this is a work by a man who clearly cared about the franchise and wanted to leave his own mark of it while respecting what came before. Do I prefer it over the series? Eh, not really, as the removal of most of the SOL subplots and humor do make it a less enjoyable experience for me, but when it comes to the main plot, it arguably handles it better than the show proper. I had low expectations for these movies, I really expected them to suck… yet they didn’t. These movies are totally worth it to fans and newcomers alike, and I have no issues recommending them.
Final Score: 7/10
Well first things first, the art style and animation is in my opinion definitely improved. The characters got modern touch as well (especially the girls, they got more moe factor) which is subtle but noticeable.
They really followed the manga for the visual instead of going the realistic route that season 5 and 6 went for. The smokes are drawn instead of using CG FX, the cars have jagged lines which gives off the “this is a manga” feel.
Other thing that is miles better than the TV series are the sounds of the cars, specifically the engines and tires. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the soundtracks and BGM, it’s not bad per se but definitely not great either because somehow they decided not to use Eurobeats or even having M.O.V.E. to sing the theme at all (which at this point, has shaped Initial D as an anime).
The story is basically a recap of the first season highlighting the races taking place in Akina, following our underdog Tofu delivery boy Fujiwara Takumi. In this movie however, the characters have slight difference from their anime counterpart (probably due to the changes of voice actors). Personally I find these change to be quite interesting, although it does breaks the characters I already knew from the anime, it’s not exactly as bad as it sounds.
TL;DR: If you have the time, just watch the tv series. This movie is a nice alternative if you don’t have the time to watch the first season or if you didn’t like the dated visuals.
2: Initial D Third Stage
Japanese: 頭文字〈イニシャル〉D THIRD STAGE
MAL Score: 7.88
Takumi Fujiwara is a skilled street racer, but he suffers a crushing loss against the team Emperor’s leader Kyoichi Sudou due to his AE86 experiencing an engine failure. Doubting his abilities, the recent high school graduate is then approached by the Akagi RedSuns’ team leader Ryousuke Takahashi, who proposes the formation of a professional street racing team. Although it would be the ideal way to improve as a street racer, Takumi remains undecided.
Does the young street racer have what it takes to become a professional? Perhaps Ryousuke and the RedSuns can help him reevaluate his own doubts and misconceptions concerning street racing. However, first and foremost, Takumi decides to settle the score with Kyoichi Sudou…
Well, the art, resolution, and the cg continue to progress. The art is cleaner and more detailed, and the cg’s rendering also improves. The races as usual are exciting, but have more of a gimmick or twist behind them this time, which makes them fresh and original in addition of allowing the races to take place in a new environment. And you can never get bored of breath taking drifts. However, some problems I have in this movie are that the races this time tends to end more anti-climatically more than usual.
Fortunately for some, the tech speak is virtually non-existent this time so it’ll be easy to follow and just simply enjoy the races. But I say the tech speak in the previous sagas are always a big help in getting a professional understanding of how the cars and techniques work. But that’s just me.
Well, I can’t really add too much about the voice acting since anything I said in the previous reviews can be applied here too. However, the addition of Kai played by Canna Nobutoshi is a great one. He is very intimidating and hot blooded as Kai like other roles he has played such as Guts from Berserk, Tasuki from Fushigi Yuugi, and Knuckles from Sonic. The music is still the number one trait has always captivated me to Initial D, and is a great representative of the fast and fun nature of this anime. The opening theme Gamble Rumble by MOVE goes very well to the sequence and is always in tradition that MOVE is part of the soundtrack, and I love the insertion of Crazy for Love as well. The ending theme Jirenma adds a new kind of feel to this series as well that you have to watch to understand what I mean.
Like I said, to get into this movie, and understand and enjoy it, you have to see the first 2 seasons to understand a lot of things such as Takumi’s developing acquainting with Ryosuke, why Takumi is avoiding Natsuki and what ended their relationship, and the score he has to settle with the Emperors. To me, this movie is an extension of season 2 and transitions very well into the 4th stage. This movie does an excellent job of standing on its own by further developing Takumi’s character, and balancing his issues and resolving them.
Third Stage involves a few larger plot points and many of the smaller plot points from First and Second Stage that remain unfinished. We’re not treated to anything earth shattering, but it is a necessary part of the overall initial D storyline. Unfortunately even in the manga, you couldn’t get away from some of the plot points that were opened and yet unclosed, so Third Stage serves as that closure. Some may find it a bit more tedious when compared to the other stages, but I find it enjoyable as it delivers a lot of satisfaction from closed plot lines.
Both CGI and drawn art takes a big leap in the movie compared to any previous installment in the series. CGI especially is incredible compared to the previous stages. Drawn art is treated to an overhaul of rich colors and generally looks much better than First and Second Stage. There is a point in the beginning of the movie where I actually remarked to myself just how rich the blue was of the gas station uniforms. Sunsets are well drawn and play an integral part in the settings of this movie and in the metaphorical sense.
Sound quality is good, both acting languages (English, Japanese) are well done and comprehensible. The Eurobeat is great and really helps propel the excitement of the races. OST music outside of the Eurobeat is much better and the car sounds are equivalent to that of Second Stage.
Compared to the previous stages, characters shine in Third Stage. Much of the plot revolves around their growth and change. Mogi is featured, Itsuki continues to mature and Takumi undergoes a comparatively massive shift in development.
It’s hard to say how I feel overall about Initial D Third Stage. It gives you a ton of closed plot points, a few exciting races and tons of character development and interaction. Yet at the same time, it feels melancholic. Nonetheless, it is an important part of the Initial D storyline and a must watch.
The story told is about Takumi’s effort to tie all the loose ends from the past two series. So, we’ve got races, development of his craving for becoming the best driver and an emotional part involving Mogi.
Most of the races are as good as always, but there is one which due to the nature of the rival becomes even more interesting. From this race we will also hear some more of Bunta’s story which is a very good thing.
Although Christmas and snow fit love emotional story like nothing else, while watching that part of the movie I had the strange feeling that it was simply taking too long, especially that similarly to what we’ve seen before when it comes to emotions Takumi is definitely on the slow side.
The animation is better than in the second season. The races seem more realistic, the car models are more detailed and even the character animation stepped up a notch. It’s a shame though that there is still such a wide gap between the quality of how the races and characters are animated.
When it comes to sound it is the same thing we have experienced before. So, once again will listen to good voice acting combined with eurobeat music. It seems that the Initial D style simply does not get old and sounds as good as always.
Most of the time we will be seeing characters, which Takumi has encoutered before. Two chracters are however worth pointing out.
First we have Takumi’s greatest enemy in the movie, who all though plays a short part in the story is one of the most memorable characters from the movie.
Secondly, we have the guy who gets involved with Mogi. Since the Mogi part of the plot is way too long for my taste, the least would be to let the viewers know why the hell is he acting like that.
Concluding, it was a pleasent feeling to see the animation improve, but still as a whole the movie is not as good as the second season of the series, but mark my words when I say… ‘You have to watch it!’.
MAL Score: 8.29
Every five years, an exhilarating race called Redline is held, and the universe’s most anticipated competition has only one rule: that there are none. Racers are pushed to their absolute limit—a feeling that daredevil driver JP knows all too well. Having just qualified to participate in Redline, he is eager to battle against the other highly skilled drivers, particularly the beautiful rising star and the only other human that qualified, Sonoshee McLaren.
But this year’s Redline may be far more dangerous than usual—it has been announced to take place on the planet Roboworld with its trigger-happy military and criminals who look to turn the race to their own advantage. However, the potential danger doesn’t stop the racers; in fact, it only adds to the thrill. Relying solely on his vehicle’s speed, JP prepares for the event to come, aiming to take first place in the biggest race of his life.
As a film about racing, the plot is fairly standard fare, but the larger than life presentation coupled with the sheer imagination and creativity that has gone into Redline is second to none. The story – despite cliches – is both exhilarating and incredibly well paced. The action is, as you would imagine; fast, fantastic and full of adrenaline. The drama is at times cheesy, but it fits well with the films over-the-top attitude. The crazy antics in Redline make it clear the film isn’t to be taken too seriously; it isn’t a production that sets out to challenge our minds, but rather an exhilarating thrill-ride that’s sole purpose is to entertain. In that respect, the story delivers and then some.
The tagline for Redline during its release was ‘Witness the Future of Animation’ and it’s safe to say the studio never doubted the creativity of the team behind the film. Madhouse handled the production, with second key animation from Gainax – the films full development totaled seven years, with over one hundred thousand hand-made drawings. The amount of action and detail on screen at any one time is so vast the film begs for repeat viewings. The animation – in a word – is mind-blowing. The film is full of colour, detail and beauty like no other, the art style is vigorous and unique, and the character designs are fresh, exuberant and interesting.
The music – chiefly a variety of electronic compositions – is sublime. It blends seamlessly with Redline’s fast-paced visuals, the sound editing is first-rate and the vocal tracks leave warm, fuzzy feelings – especially the ending song. The vocal talent is superb and particularly noteworthy; the film employs actors rather than seiyu in the leading roles. The leading man – JP – is voiced by Takuya Kimura, a member of the pop group SMAP and veteran actor who starred in Yoji Yamada’s The Hidden Blade, part of the directors Oscar nominated samurai trilogy. The leading lady – Sonoshee – is portrayed by none other than Yu Aoi; an actress with many award-winning films under her belt, multiple of which were directed by national treasure and acclaimed auteur Shunji Iwai. Lastly, JP’s right-hand man Frisbee is handled by Tadanobu Asano, one of few Japanese actors making a name for himself in Hollywood (recently he starred in Marvel’s Thor). To quote journalist Helen McCarthy; “casting him was a stroke of genius.”
The main characters all very much fit into conventional archetypes, but they’re not made to be complex, deep, thoughtful beings. The characters, like the story and presentation, are themselves larger than life, quite literally. JP and Sonoshee alone make up about half the human population in the entire film; all of the other characters belong to their respective alien races, besides two other humans. The characters are written to be entertaining, to build the scale of the film and to perform as the archetypes we know and love, but that’s not to say they’re by any means flat; the main characters receive a sufficient amount of development, and the supporting cast is comprised of an exceedingly rich, varied, exciting and incredibly fun horde of wonderful characters.
Redline is a film not to be taken too seriously and anyone doing so has certainly missed the point. Needless to say, if you want a realistic racing film then you have come to the wrong place. However, if you want a fast, funny, eye-watering, explosive experience that will suck you into a world which words barely do justice, this is the film you’re after. But, more than a film, Redline is an experience. Every element works in melody, bouncing off and complementing one another, ultimately creating a tremendous overall work that is magical to behold, completely unlike any other anime production to date.
The first 10 minutes do an excellent job of letting viewers know what’s in store for them. It’s here that the film treats us to an intense and gorgeously animated race sequence and equally beautiful backgrounds and character models. From there on out it’s clear that the films intent is to overwhelm the viewer with adrenaline-filled races brought to life with mouth-watering animation and sound. Storyline and character development are of the lowest priority.
It’s no surprise, then, that Redline sticks closely to the usual 3 act structure. We’re first given a taste of things to come while the personalities and motivations of the major players are established, topped off with introducing the long term goal. The second act is all about the preparation with some rudimentary attempts at character development while act 3 is the main attraction: a 40-minute onslaught of non-stop racing packed with over-the-top, high speed moments and more explosions than 3 Michael Bay films put together.
Sounds good on paper. But Redline goes so overboard with its spectacle that it somehow becomes a bit dull. It’s simply too much.
First off, there are too many characters. The main characters are pretty forgettable and the only contestant who was somewhat cool was the established champion. The film further hurts itself by introducing subplots and characters who aren’t related to the race. A sizable chunk of screentime is reserved for a b-story involving an evil government (basically space-China) that’s out to stop the race and dig up some ancient weapons or something. Ultimately they’re only there to cause tons of explosions and other kinds of destruction. This in a film that’s already filled to the brim with explosions and spectacular set pieces.
This is Redline’s second excess. There is simply too much going on in the third act. A big race alone would have made for a wonderfully thrilling climax but Redline throws in an obligatory mafia subplot as well as the aforementioned evil government. What it all leads to? Stuff getting blown up and more stuff getting blown up.
This wouldn’t have been so bad if there was a reason to care or even some sense of urgency but there isn’t. All the cars race at impossible speeds and run just fine even after taking enough damage to wreck 10 spaceships. The result is that tension is basically nonexistent in this film. Nobody of note dies and damage to the vehicle is shrugged off so easily that one gets the feeling the only thing at stake is the film’s running time.
It’s a real pity seeing as the film is brilliantly animated and incredibly stylish. The film had a production history of 7 long years and you can tell when watching it that all that time was well spent in honing the stunning visuals to perfection. It’s no exaggeration that this is a new benchmark in terms of pure animation. The film’s many characters have detailed, instantly distinguishable models and are fluidly animated, machines roar and rush over surfaces with incredible speed and there’s even the occasional use of deformed animation for stylish effect that’s very effective. The visuals in Redline are a labor of love and the best part is that it overwhelms the senses in a way that seems difficult (perhaps impossible) to replicate in another medium.
In the end, that makes it all the more tragic that these gorgeous visuals aren’t telling a story worth caring about. Worse yet, its main hook (the visuals) simply can’t be used to carry a 100-minute feature film. Some serious editing could have reduced it to have its length and it would’ve made for a better-flowing and much more enjoyable viewing experience.
As it is, Redline is a stunningly animated but overlong film with such incompetent storytelling that it cannot reach its full potential. One can only hope that first-time director Takashi Koike’s next project will be a lot more polished. As it is, the talent is there. It simply needs to be honed and guided properly.
Now in when it comes of the plot of Redline it is short, sweet and straight to the point. The film follows our main character JP, a driver who wants to race in a tournament called Redline which is held every five years. However he fails to qualify for it and just when he believes his dream is over, by chance two people drop out of the tournament which gives him a qualifying place.
It has been mentioned by critics and viewers, that Redline lacks a plot or that the story comes across as lackluster and while I can understand that point of the argument I can also argue against it. The film has enough of a plot to work in cohesiveness with the rest of the film and while it’s not overly complex or thought-provoking it doesn’t have to be. I would like to think of it this way: Would your rather watch film with an overly drawn out plot and character development which could be potentially tedious and slow down the fast-paced nature of the film? Or would you want to watch a film with a condensed plot that has enough story and personality to make you care about what you are watching? Personally I prefer the latter.
When it comes to the visual presentation of Redline, words fail me. I mean seriously, no words can truly say how beautiful this film really is. Japanese animation studio Madhouse have crafted one of the most visually stunning animated films in existence, you really have to see it in action to comprehend its awesomeness. Firstly there’s the character design, from the human-based characters to all of the other alien races and cybernetic beings that reside within Redline’s world, the designs are diverse, unique and interesting. Secondly you have the vehicles which are also fabulous, coming in many different shapes and sizes, from simple to completely crazy designs, with individual quirks and weapon arsenals to be admired. And lastly there’s the locations of the film that vary from the rocky crayons where races are done to spaceships floating above planets, all of which have an incredible amount of detail that draws your eyes in especially on a large cinema screen.
But I feel that the main aspect that makes Redline so great is the fluidity of the animation. The quality of the animation in this film is actually insane, with several sequences of high-octane action crafted with some beautiful choreography, nicely placed camera angles and great use of speed. Everything moves in such a smooth manner, with no moments of slowdown or inconsistencies whatsoever. The film delivers an experience like no other in the animation department and really conveys on the concept of speed, pushing you to edge of your seat and beyond.
But what is a film without a good soundtrack? Luckily Redline happens to have a brilliant soundtrack crafted by James Shimoji, which compliments the visuals wonderfully. The soundtrack is mainly composed of techno-based music, but it works well with the action on-screen, its explosive, fast-paced and it sounds so good! Also personally I felt that Redline’s soundtrack really reminded me of the video-games F-Zero GX and Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom, both of which have great soundtracks with explosive music that sounds great on the highest volume level. I also have to note that the sound editing in this film is tackled perfectly as well.
In terms of the enjoyment of Redline, I say be prepared to fall in love with this film. After watching the trailers for this film you get a rough idea as to what you will be watching, however those trailers cannot prepare you for the whole film. As a lot of people know this genre of film has been done before, after all Redline is a film about guys, girls and cars. But what Redline as film does well is give us a familiar format to work with, but it’s covered in such an innovative, stylised and charismatic fashion that you will be left in awe after you see it. Also throughout all of the chaos and mind-blowing visuals, Redline never feels like it’s heading into unnatural territory, in fact a lot of aspects about Redline feel realistic and believable.
Overall Redline is an experience that I feel everyone should enjoy. It’s a like a rush of energy that’s exhilarating, fast-paced and unforgettable. Takeshi Koike, Redline’s director should feel very happy about the film that he has crafted and considering his previous work before coming onto this project I’m not surprised that this film turned out to be a success. Again I feel the need to mention Madhouse’s insane skills as an animation studio as they have created a film full of action, charisma and style unlike any other film. There are so many individual things about the film that’s weird and wonderful and completely unexpected, but overall I say watch this film and experience the epicness that is Redline!
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
2. Initial D Third Stage
3. New Initial D Movie: Legend 3 – Mugen
4. New Initial D Movie: Legend 2 – Tousou
5. New Initial D Movie: Legend 1 – Kakusei
7. eX-Driver the Movie
8. Bakusou Kyoudai Let’s & Go!! WGP Bousou Mini Yonku Daitsuiseki
9. Oval x Over
10. Gegege no Kitarou: Youkai Japan Rally 3D
11. Dekobou no Jidousha Ryokou