Initial D Fourth Stage – Collection 1
The Initial D manga and its corresponding
anime series having been going strong for well over a decade now,
combing high-octane street racing thrills with a distinctive animation
style and plenty of drama.
This new outing from Madman comprises the
first 12 episodes of the amine’s Fourth Stage, which originally aired in
2004 and 2005. The episodes focus on Takumi Fujiwara, a renowned street
racer who has joined the seemingly unstoppable Project D racing team.
Together with allies like the formidable Ryosuke the team takes on all
challengers, in a series of scenic nocturnal locales and with the aid of
some of the most powerful Japanese vehicles around.
Rev heads will certainly find much to
recommend this first half of Stage Four, which contains more action and
more nuanced relationships, both in and out of the Project D circle,
than some of its predecessors. The animation style is again strong, and
though some of the character designs tend towards the generic the cars
and the racing sequences are within exception artfully staged and
executed. The series is also served by an expansive anamorphically
enhanced 16:9 widescreen transfer.
On the audio front, both English 5.1 and
Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital mixes are available. The English voice dub
is very strong and the surround audio is necessarily much more bold and
immersive than its Japanese counterpart, but the 2.0 more than gets the
job done and is perfectly satisfactory for those of us who prefer to
watch animations in their original language. Still, 5.1 mixes would be
nice in both languages...
Though there are no bonus features the
present set is still an excellent and action-packed outing that builds
well upon previous seasons and throws some exciting new elements into
the mix. With a running time of five hours these 12 episodes are bound
to keep even the most ardent fans entertained, and will likely have
stalwarts and newcomers alike clamouring for Collection 2.