The Ultimate Tofu Guy Drift
The above line is the title of the first episode of 'Initial D', an anime about car racing
which has almost as much dramatic car racing per episode as some driving movies. Some fans
of the movie 'The Fast and the Furious' might like this anime's driving scenes, but
(fortunately) there are no sex scenes in the entire series.
The makers of the series are clearly auto racing fans, and many details of the racing are
fairly accurate. Also, the 'cinematography' is very good, and draws you into the excitement
of the races. You do not have to be familiar with cars to enjoy it, but there is a lot of
technical talk along the way. Most of it summarizes to, "Much better than the hero's car".
The series focuses on a few characters, and builds a good plot around them.
I don't know what the cars are, other than the names that the characters refer to
them by. Sorry!
Part of the background of the series is the existence of 'Road Racers', who take their
cars and race on public roads. There are many groups of such racers, the local one being
the 'Akina Speedstars', who race on Mt. Akina, the central course of the series, and a couple
racers from outside groups come by for a while; these include the 'Redsuns' of Akagi, the
first to arrive, and the 'Night Kids' from Myogi.
- The main character. He is 17, and just got his liscence, but his dad has been making
him drive the tofu to the hotel on the top of Mt. Akina for the last 5 years, since he was
12. He developed a masterful driving technique, both driving gently so as not to
disturb the tofu (his father gives him a cup of water, and he must not spill it), and
driving fast downhill to get home and to bed. He drives his father's Eight-Six (refers to
the chassis, 'AE86'), a Toyota Trueno, white with a black stripe. They call the color design
'panda'. Initially, he knows nothing about cars, and doesn't care, but he gets interested later.
- Takumi's best friend, and a principal comic relief character. He has been really interested
in road racing for a while; in the first episode, he is looking at cars in a catalogue, and
he's planning to get an Eight-Six. He is a nice guy, and somewhat of a loser, but he is
fairly honest, when he doesn't get carried away by pride. Itsuki is a great fan of the
Akina Speedstars, and eventually gets a Toyota Levin (the sister car of the Trueno).
- Prospective girlfriend of Takumi. Is from a rich family, "hates people who smoke or
break promises", and turns out to have mild motion sickness or something. She mentions it
in the fifth episode, after Takumi drove her to the beach, because that was the first car
ride in a long time when she didn't get ill. When she goes on her second date with Takumi,
she, at Takumi's request, sets up a girl for Takumi's friend, Itsuki.
- The head and founder of the 'Akina Speedstars' (which is said in English even by the Japanese voice actors),
he is an okay racer in his S13 (a Nissan), and a friend of Takumi. Early episodes had a running joke about
fried tofu, which began when he was asking Fujiwara Bunta (Takumi's father, and owner of
a tofu shop) to race for Akina against the Redsuns. He sometimes serves as comic relief too.
- Another comic relief character; Kenji is the No. 2 racer in the Speedstars.
He drives a "180".
- Number 2 in the Redsuns, after his brother Ryosuke. He is an instincts driver, and a very good
one. He is the first to be beaten by Takumi. His car is a yellow Mazda RX-7, which the
characters call the FD.
- The "White Comet of Akagi", a legendary undefeated driver. He is a real 'think' driver,
and even uses computer simulations to go faster. Strangely, though he has black hair in
the first season, his hair changes in the Second Stage, and looks like his brother's.
His car is a Mazda RX-7 'FC', the model of a year before his brother's. He is the leader
of the Redsuns.
- Top driver of the Myogi "Night Kids", Nakazato drives a black R32. It is a four-wheel-drive
'grip' car, with a fancy "ATTESA" drivetrain that gives it a huge power advantage over the
other cars. Nakazato began to drive the 32 after he was defeated by one in his (black) S13.