|A notable racing anime that is very niche with its appeal.|
Yeah, this is one of those shows that have a niche audience that I'm not gonna have interest in continuing further with. I've heard quite a bit about Initial D since college where it was popular with street racing fans and even served as a gateway drug to anime for some. It even gets poked fun of for its subpar animation in some comedy anime like Lucky Star and School Rumble, which I'll cover a little later in this review.
Pretty much, Initial D's selling point is the various street racing competitions that male lead Takumi and his friends are involved with. Plenty of in-depth terminology on the various cars and their parts are part of regular conversation between racers as they hype up the capabilities of their car and driving, as well as any reputation that a reputable racer within the series has. The races are genuinely suspenseful, albeit predictable in their outcomes and usually defy real-life physics, as Takumi finds himself regularly challenged by other street racers throughout the course of the series as he adjusts to the street racing craze and improves his skills in later episodes against unique challenges like a "duck tape death match" or racing in unfamiliar territory. The series does delve into backgrounds and developments of some prominent characters in the series, but many are hard to connect with due either to lacking much in personality (mostly applies with Takumi), are archetypal to a great extent or only exist as challengers to Takumi and to gawk at his exceptional driving skills when he beats them. Essentially, Initial D is mostly focused on racing and you will find yourself rather bored of the series if you are expecting anything more out of it.
Visually, Initial D is quite subpar sporting rough lining and washed-out colors for its scenery and characters designs, the latter sticking out quite prominently with the faces of said characters looking quite off. The races and cars within the series are animated entirely in CGI which looks quite a bit on the cheap side in terms of rendering and the audience in said races looking like cardboard cut-outs while races are in action during many shots. On the plus side, Initial D's techno soundtrack is quite catchy and upbeat, going along nicely with many parts of the show and doing well at making the races in the series seem genuinely intense.
Even with said soundtrack though, it isn't enough to have me wanting to see more of Initial D. The title's premise appeals to a rather niche audience and doesn't have much else that sticks out with it beyond its cliched characters and subpar visual presentation. Your mileage will definitely vary with this one.