I approached this manga with not very high expectations and as it turned out very rightly. I definitely did not like the initial D manga and in this review I will try to explain why.
Let’s start with the plot. The storyline at the beginning (for some 200 chapters) was quite interesting. The romantic theme as well as the first races were addictive and I already assumed that this manga would be much better than I thought. However, I was wrong. After these about two hundred chapters we get a mush over and over with a repeating pattern which is boring with each new chapter… A group of racers go from one place to another racing against opponents. It looks more or less like there is literally nothing interesting going on there. They win every race in total. Then they go to another place and so on.
The main character of the series is one of the few advantages of this series. At first, he is very reluctant to drive and race with a car. He treats it like work and it is a very interesting plot in the series. Of course, our main character is a genius in the art of driving and he wins against every opponent, which as I wrote before, gets boring.
Takumi’s first girlfriend. A well-written character, perhaps the best in this whole manga. She probably got the only creative arc in the series. I’m talking of course about her relationship with an old man with whom she had sex for money and other gifts. Of course, as befits the quality of this manga, the author had to remove it from the pool of characters. Overall, I have the impression that he must have forgotten about her or something like that. Eventually she went to Tokyo just to study and they were supposed to call each other with Takumi, but unfortunately we heard nothing about her after she left the main city.
Takimi’s second girlfriend I totally don’t like this character as it replaces Takumi’s first girlfriend. It was as when I was reading anything where she was, I had in my head “wait, where is that first girl ???” I can’t like this character for that simple reason. It is also not very well written. She plays golf and that’s it. In appearance, she is practically a clone of the first girl, but we’ll get to the looks of the characters in this manga later.
Takumi’s colleagues from his work at the gas station were okay. All fascinated by cars and all desperately trying to find a girlfriend. In their presence, even funny jokes were made and I laughed several times.
Teacher and mentor of our main character. This character is very mysterious and intriguing at the same time. He is quite lonely and often tries to forget it by using stimulants, but overall he is really cool.
Summing up the characters, I am very sad that most of them did not get a chance for a bigger arc or at least backstory. This is one of those elements why initial D is boring and bad. All characters revolve around one person. They have practically no effect on the series. It’s hard to get close to them. They are just boring.
☛Visual side of the characters
Now let’s move on to the design of these characters. Oh, that’s probably the worst thing about this manga. I noticed that for most of the manga, the characters are divided into about 4-5 groups of appearance. And I’m really not lying. The characters look mostly the same and sometimes it’s hard to tell one character from the other, which is a huge downside of the series and something that I haven’t seen in manga so far. On top of that, the facial expressions of the characters are at a horrible level. Their faces are practically always without any visible emotions.
Some examples of these… things…:
After the characters, let’s move on to the rest of the visual side. The manga is kinda decent for this aspect (not counting the characters). The backgrounds are definitely a big plus. The cars are also drawn well. The big downside for me was how much of the characters’ thoughts were contained during any race. You know the races should be exciting, so there shouldn’t be too much text on a page. Well, there’s characters’ thoughts that do not contribute anything to the plot and only take away from it an element of dynamics. In my opinion, during races, there should be a maximum of 3-4 sentences as heroes’ thoughts, because more simply knocks the reader out of the engaging race.
Some examples of the art:
If you want to learn about old car models from the 90s and you don’t mind a shit story, horribly drawn characters and plot holes, go ahead and start with initial D. I personally did not like it and after 700 chapters I can confidently say that I have wasted mine time 3.8 / 10