DVD Review: Initial D Legend 2: Racer

We return to the hills of Akina to explore what this DVD release of Initial D Legend 2: Racer has to offer; so what exactly does it contain? Well let’s speed down the hill and find out.

Synopsis:

In Initial D Legend 2: Racer, sometimes the only thing that beating a champion accomplishes is making you the next target for a long line of challengers, which is why Takumi Fujiwara’s defeat of the RedSuns’ Keisuke hasn’t ended anything.

In fact, it’s only served to draw the reluctant delivery driver even further into the dangerous world of drift racing. Takumi’s fate is sealed when his friend Itsuki accidentally accepts a challenge from Takeshi Nakazato, leader of the Myogi NightKids.

Now it’s a matter of honor, and Takumi will have to pit his gutter technique against the 4WD skills of a much more experienced driver! The race is on as the legendary street racing series returns in a second explosive new motion picture!

Our View:

Initial D Legend is a trilogy of films that recreate the original Initial D story to offer a more streamlined viewing experience and this second film, Racer, continues the story of Takumi Fujiwara by introducing a new set of challengers with different personalities.

 

Taking place shortly after the events of the first film, which saw Takumi Fujiwara defeat Red Sun’s ace team member Keisuke Takahashi and in turn impress his brother Ryosuke Takahashi, Takumi Fujiwara has now become famous within the racing community. This notoriety has not gone unnoticed as notable drivers, including leader of the Myogi NightKids Takeshi Nakazato, have driven to take on the new kid on the block.

Just like the previous film, Awakening, Racer has the vibes of a single anime episode spread across sixty-four-minutes as upon arriving within the town Takeshi Nakazato encounters Itsuki, who is a high-school friend of Takumi Fujiwara and also a co-worker at the General Station, accidentially sets up a race. Takumi Fujiwara meanwhile is reluctant to join the Speedsters and, more importantly, reluctant to race against Takeshi Nakazato. As such its another case of numerous characters talking to one-another to come up with a plan of action, except instead of looking for the most notable driver they are looking for someone as a replacement for Takumi Fujiwara.

Long story short, although the film is only just over an hour long, Takumi Fujiwara eventually agrees to race to Takeshi Nakazato in a downhill drift race and upon doing so ignites the passion of racing within himself. Elsewhere meanwhile another member of the Myogi NightKids wants to demonstrate his own abilities and so, after casuing harm to another Speedsters car, Takumi Fujiwara reginites his passion for driving once again and agrees to this new challenge of drift racing – with the stakes even higher than before.

Compared to the previous film Racer focuses more on the racing aspect, especially the two intense duels with high levels of detailed descriptions for each car being raced, and in turn leaves the character building behind. Sure enough we get further into the mind of Takumi Fujiwara – who now actually begins to show some emotion – but the potential love interest from the previous film is nowhere to be seen.

It’s great that this film focuses on the selling point of the series but it would’ve been nice to see the characters develop on screen more; especially between Takumi Fujiwara and Natsuki Mogi as their relationship seems sudden and unnatural.

Extras:

Just like the previous Initial D Legend release this second film ‘Racer’ only features a limited amount of bonus features, with items including a short preview for the next film and trailers for other Sentai Filmwork releases. The most notable addition, which naturally wasn’t presented in the previous Awakening release, is a recap of events from the previous film – an ideal addition for those who haven’t watched the first film recently.

The preview for the third film, known as Initial D Legend 3: Dream, is presented in both English and Japanese audio tracks and is dependent on which audio option has been selected from the main menu. This particular preview teases another new threat as well as a conclusion to main ‘first stage’ storyline of Initial D.

Specs:

Media:  DVD 5
Region: 2
Running Time: 1:04:14
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 448kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 720×480 (480p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

Initial D Legend 2: Racer continues the foundations that were built in the previous film by expanding upon them with the range of opponents eager to challenge the new kid on the block as well as introducing the prospect of Takumi Fujiwara being passionate about this new found racing experience. The film may only be just over sixty minutes in length but it provides the adrenaline fuelled racing intensity that one would expect from your typical high-speed film.

Unlike the previous film, Awakening, narrative in this is pretty self-explanatory with Takeshi Nakazato offering a challenge and the Speedsters working amongst themselves to recruit Takumi Fujiwara to become their ace. It’s a story which quickly sees Takumi Fujiwara agree to be a racer for the Speedsters and, in doing so, awakens his newfound passion for racing strong opponents. Fortunaely this story this does cover the entire length of the film as the introduction of a third rival, and another member of the Myogi NightKids, throw down his own vicious challenge to Takumi Fujiwara which, in turn, sees a rather unusual duel played out.

In terms of a progressive nature then unfortunately Initial D Legend 2: Racer fails to meet the standards one expects, as while Takumi Fujiwara does built as a character his relationships at school, as well as the potential love interest, see no improvement. It’s simply one challenge, one threat and then an ending of some sorts. This aside this second film is more entertaining, from a racing perspective, than the previous film and it still manages to retain the same high-quality aspects (both in audio presentation and visual quality) as the previous film.

Initial D, and in turn Initial D Legend 2: Racer, is a franchise for car fanatics and those who enjoed the competitive drifting nature of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, as it tends to focus on the cars rather than the developing characters. Once again It’s good; but nothing special but well worth a watch if you enjoyed Tokyo Drift.

Score: review-stars-3

Initial D Legend 2: Racer is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray within the UK via MVM Entertainment.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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