Yes, ladies and gentlemen, what you're seeing is the infamous street racing anime.... That's been given a movie (trilogy) reboot. For 20 years, this series graced its presence from manga, to anime (17), and even a premiere (Third Stage). And now, you get to witness a whole new world of Initial D.
(Full Disclosure: Avex/Sanzigen wanted me to watch their new trilogy so badly that
they came to my door with a Panda Toyota AE86 armed with First Class tickets to Tokyo as well as tickets to a premiere at a theater in Shibuya someone kindly had a DVD for the world to see on the wonderful tool called YouTube. Wait, why am I getting a delivery of fried tofu? I hate tofu. Also, this was done on a RAW, subless video so this is still a work in progress until a subtitled version comes out.)
Because it was based on the series that ran for so long, I knew the trilogy would cover the first few races of First Stage according to the manga (yes, unfortunately, the SilEighty race may not have a chance to be shown since it was set after the race with the FC3S. Not my words, but the words of various internet boards. I happen to be a member of one of those. /shudder)
Good - It Got A Reboot
For one, I am actually willing to watch Initial D once more because of the fact that it's a new leaf for an aging series. Anyways, quite a couple of things had to be changed. Firstly was Keisuke Takahashi's encounter with the AE86 - that was placed in the beginning. To be honest, I have no idea why as the Red Suns' first encounter with the Akina Speed Stars also got the reboot hammer. Let me put it to you in a simple flowing schematic:
Keisuke and AE86 > Keisuke meets the Speed Stars > Speed Stars meet up at the pass > They get overrun by the away team > Iketani crashes > Back to regular programming
See what I mean?
Also, this may be a hit or miss despite the fact that it's in a Good section, but the
craptastic commonground music called Eurobeat is long, long GONE. G-O-N-E GONE. (Confession and personal preference: I loved Eurobeat until a speeding ticket and a few years later, the novelty wore off.) Instead, your ears are graced with some J-rock that miiiiight be a bit questionable (It's not One Ok Rock or -insert mainstream J-rock band here-) but hey, I know some fans would lynch me but why do you still want to listen to old music?) Sadly, the composer that Initial D fans knew and loved (Atsushi Umebori) got switched out for someone else (Akio Dobashi, he's done a couple of Gundam series). But I'm not exactly complaining since the scores don't sound too bad so far.
Questionable - A Bit Of Character Development
The one thing that bugged me in Initial D was the character development... Or the lack thereof when it came to the main character: Takumi Fujiwara. Everyone else and their damn mother had it but we always see Takumi as the clueless, emotionless yet skillful driver. Well, the reboot put paid to that and gave Takumi some much needed change. Just look at Takumi's happy face!
(Mind you, this was after the FD race. He strangely enjoys driving all of a sudden. A little more about that later.)
Unfortunately, this came at a price: a few main supporting characters are starting to feel like they're made as background props: I'm looking at Kenji in question. He still has that 180SX but strangely, he only has less screentime than fucking Nakazato, of all people.
Questionable - Pacing And Timing
(I know the above screencap is a bit of a bad/tasteless joke.)
I don't know why, but I have this gut feeling that the reboot took things a little too quickly/mixing things around too much for my tastes, such as Takumi's growing love for driving. It took him a few episodes/races (starting somewhere around the R32 race) and even an engine failure (the Heroic BSOD trope fits here). Also, why move around the Red Suns encounter and Iketani's accident after Keisuke sees the 86 for the first time? Well, knowing how this is a reboot of First Stage, I feel like I can't really ask that. If I never saw Initial D before seeing the trilogy, I guess I could say it's a flowing plot so I can't say too much negativity.
Questionable/Bad - Voice Acting
I'll be honest - this was one of the few main points that got the fanbase riled up. For the new series, we actually got a host of fresh VAs instead of the same old voices. While some of the new crew fits well with the characters, some just sound odd. Ryosuke falls under this question - mainly because of the fact that Daisuke Ono (Koizumi in the Haruhi Suzumiya series, Sebastian Michaelis in Black Butler, Tenzou Crossunite in Horizon In The Middle Of Nowhere) has an odd tendency to change octaves at certain moments compared to Takehito Koyasu's ability to have the same familiar voice we knew for so long. It just doesn't sound right.
Would I Recommend It To Someone?
Well, I can't really give a straight answer as of yet because we barely scratched the surface of the three-parter. We still have the R32 and EG6 (aka the asshole) race to cover plus the S14 rain battle as well as the piece-de-resistance: Ryosuke.
But would I recommend this to someone who has never watched Initial D? I might. It's not a bad series and despite the flaws I've spoken about (I know there may be a few more), I guess it's starting to become good again. We'll see.