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Drifting Pop Culture:

Initial D

Initial D is a Japanese comic book (manga) that was first published around 1995. Since then, the comic book has expanded into an animated series and movie by Avex and a live action film by Avex and Media Asia. 

The story of Initial D is centered in the Japanese prefecture of Gunma and focuses on the world of illegal Japanese street racing. Initial D is considered part of drifting's pop culture due to drifting technique being heavily used by the majority of the drivers in the series. 


Set in the late 1990's, the story of Initial D follows the life of high school student Takumi Fujiwara. Takumi is the son of Bunta Fujiwara, a tofu shop owner and former street racer who dominated the Gunma area as a young man. To help out with his father's tofu business, Takumi was forced at a young age to drive his father's Toyota Sprinter Trueno GT Apex (AE86 Toyota Corolla GT-S) each morning to the top of Mount Akina to deliver tofu to a hotel at the summit. 

Takumi slowly learned to develop his driving skills, but was often a reluctant employee. Being forced to wake up in the pre-dawn hours to deliver tofu, Takumi would try to drive as quickly as possible to the hotel hoping to get home early enough to get some more sleep. However, Takumi's fast, but rough, driving destroyed the delicate tofu he was carrying. To teach him to drive smoothly enough to preserve the tofu, Takumi's father forced him to drive with a full cup of water in the car's cup holder. Over time, Takumi learned to drive quickly and smoothly, not spilling the water in his cup holder and not destroying his cargo.  


New Balance shoes and clothing line are also very commonly used in the series as the characters always wear different clothing everyday. This was not so common in earlier Stages, but are more apparently seen in much later Stages.


Manga creator Shuichi Shigeno has his very own Eight-Six and Impreza STi, which are the two main cars Takumi and Bunta drive. His Impreza STi is gunmetal just like the manga and arcade, where in the anime it was blue.


Some mountain passes, like Mt. Haruna (Mt. Akina), have added large speed bumps to the road. These "drift bumps" are placed to prevent racing on the mountains. They are usually placed at the entrance and exit of corners, like the five sequential hairpins on Haruna. As of late, many precautions have been taken, such as the drift bumps, to deter street racing. This includes extending the guardrails to prevent the infamous jumps on Irohazaka Pass. Large road reflectors, nicknamed "Cat's eyes" are placed in the middle of the road to prevent drifting, as these reflectors are large enough to tear the oil pan off of a lowered vehicle, though they more commonly destroy alloy wheels. Plastic poles are also placed in the middle of the lanes to deter drifting, as Japanese roads are narrow. These poles are frequently removed by drifters, as they interfere with the required line of the road.


Initial D Characters

Takumi Fujiwara Takumi Fujiwara

18 years old, Takumi Fujiwara is the son of Bunta Fujiwara, the owner of a tofu shop in his hometown Akina. He hardly shows much emotion on his face. His best friend is Itsuki Takeuchi, who is a racing fan.


Takumi works part-time at a gas station with Itsuki, along with Iketani, who is a member of the local racing team, the Akina Speed Stars. In the first few episodes, both Itsuki and Iketani think that Takumi is totally ignorant about cars and racing, judging by Takumi's statements on his lack of interest on the subject.


The only one who suspects that Takumi has a great deal of knowledge on cars and racing techniques is the owner of the gas station, Yuuichi, as seen in the episode where Takumi discusses the drifting technique with Iketani and Itsuki. In fact, Takumi has far more experience with downhill racing than Iketani and Itsuki, as Takumi has been driving his father's AE86 Trueno for five years since he was 13 (in his second year of junior high school), delivering tofu to a hotel at 4 a.m. every day.


Takumi's driving technique is regarded among the best in Akina; the very fact that he has managed to win races against more powerful cars with his AE86 Trueno is testament to his driving skills. As a result of constant everyday practice and over 5 years of experience on Akina, Takumi is able to adapt to nearly any situation that presents itself during a race with astonishing speed. One of the main factors for his nearly unparalleled driving skills is his ability to visualize the road in his head, thus making up for the lack of visuals, no matter how dark the mountain pass may be.


Officially, Takumi is not part of a team, but later, Takumi joins Project D, a super-team created by Ryosuke Takahashi aimed at capturing all the time records in Japan.

Bunta Fujiwara Bunta Fujiwara

Bunta Fujiwara is the owner of a tofu shop in Akina, and the father of Takumi. He is the best driver in the series, but he'd rather just have more of an indirect hand in Takumi's racing development. He is the original driver of the mysterious AE86 that holds the record of the fastest downhill time at Akina. Back in his youth, Bunta was also a legendary street racer. Bunta has a unique way of training his son to drive; every morning when Takumi has to go on his tofu delivery route, Bunta will give Takumi a cup of water. The cup of water is placed in the drink holder; Takumi must not spill even a drop of it while he is driving.


Later in the series, Takumi has been using the Trueno more than Bunta has, he agrees to let Takumi own the car and pay for its shaken (car tax). Not known by Takumi until recently, (Fourth Stage, 14th episode) Bunta got a new car, a Subaru Impreza WRX Type R Version V. To test his new car, Bunta drove it down Akina, and raced his son who just finished doing his deliveries.

Natsuki Mogi Natsuki Mogi

Takumi's love interest. Although only a high school senior, Natsuki also has a much older (middle-aged) boyfriend that pays her several thousand dollars a month for regularly scheduled “meetings.”


Yuuichi Tachibana

The boss of the gas station that Takumi worked in. An old friend of Bunta's, and a racer in his youth.


Masashi Suzuki

A mechanic that helps Bunta install the TRD tuned Group A Spec 20V SilverTop 4AGE from an AE101 Trueno (Not a Formula Atlantic 4AGE Engine, which is a 16V First Generation 4AGE) into the Fujiwara Tofu Shop Hachiroku after Takumi blows the engine in a run against Kyouichi. He also finds Bunta the GC8V Subaru Impreza WRX STi Version V


Keiichi Tsuchiya

Voice on the Phone to Bunta in Stage 1, Ep23 - This is actually Keiichi Tsuchiya, who is considered the father of Drift and who is on the Technical advisory crew for the Anime series. In the Stage 1, Ep2, the Speedstar drivers are shown watching and chatting over his video, The Drift Bible, a beginner's guide to drift.


Ken Kogashiwa

Kai's father. Bunta's life-long rival.



A senior in the football (soccer) club of the school that Takumi attended. He was Natsuki's ex and drives a Celica GT-Four (ST205). He also got assaulted by Takumi as a result of his (apparently sexual) mistreatment of Natsuki. He kidnaps Natsuki and forces her to come to Mount Akina with him. His plans are foiled by Takumi who gets Natsuki's call for help and chases Miki with his Trueno until he spins out and Natsuki escapes his Celica.


Kouichirou Iketani Kouichirou Iketani

One of Takumi's friends, Iketani works at a local gas station with both Takumi and Itsuki. Itsuki admires him, as Iketani is leader of the local racing team, the Akina Speed Stars. Iketani drives a Nissan S13 Silvia. At first, Iketani thinks that the Speed Stars are the best drivers in Akina but later his boss Yuuichi tells Iketani of the mysterious driver of an AE86 who was the fastest driver in his time, and that he suspects that the driver is the owner of the local tofu shop.


He is an average racer at best, but he is decently skilled enough to be leader of the Speedstars.


It is Iketani (along with Itsuki) who explains to Takumi the practice of referring to street-racing cars by their chassis codes, since this is the simplest way of denoting different body style/engine combinations. For example, instead of specifying the 1983-1986 Toyota Sprinter Trueno GT-APEX hatchback with the 4A-GE engine, one can simply call it an AE86, or more simply, an "86".


Itsuki Takeuchi Itsuki Takeuchi

Itsuki is Takumi's best friend; he provides the comic relief in the series but quite loud and obnoxious. Itsuki works part-time at a gas station with Takumi and Iketani; Itsuki plans to use the money he earns to buy an AE86 but mistakenly buys an inferior (less power, poor brakes, and worse suspension) AE85 Levin. With a car, he is a self proclaimed member of the Akina Speedstars. In Fourth Stage, it is revealed that Itsuki has installed a turbo for his AE85.

In the live action movie, Itsuki was changed dramatically: his role was merged with Kouichirou (and thus becomes the leader of Speed Stars) and likewise, drive the S13, as well as experienced the crash that Cole experienced. Additionally, his father is now Yuuichi, the boss of the gas station. His character was even more obnoxious then the original version. His new car, the AE86, is also inferior due to the fact it was stock, unlike Takumi's AE86 which was tuned by his father.



Kenji Kenji

A member of the Akina Speed Stars and Iketani's best friend, Kenji drives a Nissan 180SX. He hangs out at the gas station where Iketani, Takumi and Itsuki from time to time, usually discussing cars and driving techniques with Iketani and Yuuichi. He has respect and admiration for Iketani and Takumi; Iketani since he's the leader of the Speed Stars and Takumi for his driving skills.


Kenji seems to be a decent enough driver; when Iketani wasn't able to race against Keisuke due to his accident and the Speed Stars weren't sure if the AE86 driver was going to show up, it was Kenji who was chosen to race against Keisuke.

To this day, his last name hasn't been revealed in any media form of Initial D



Ryosuke Takahashi Ryousuke Takahashi

One of the more highly skilled drivers in the series (he is the Red Sun's fastest member as well as their leader); he and his younger brother Keisuke have been featured in racing magazines and are regarded highly by other drivers. Ryousuke drives a Mazda FC3S RX-7 and has never been defeated in a race before, until he met Takumi Fujiwara. Ryousuke is very serious about racing; he pours over technical data just like any professional driver and he's one of the few drivers who are just as good at mechanics as well as driving skills. He is known to be able to tell what kind of modifications have been made to a car just by hearing it, and what a driver is capable of just by watching the car drift. Ryousuke's fame is so wide spread throughout Japan that he has been given the moniker, "Akagi's White Comet".


His only rival would be Kyouchi Sudou; they had an argument about racing theories when Ryousuke ended Kyouichi's winning streak a year before the series' start. Currently, he is enrolled in college studying medicine, and planning to become a doctor to work at his father's clinic. He has only one year of racing left, he estimates, and assembles a new team (named Project D) aimed to capture all of the records in Japan.


Keisuke Takahashi Keisuke Takahashi

Keisuke is the number two driver for the Red Suns. Keisuke drives a Mazda FD3S RX-7 and is a skilled driver, second only to his brother. Keisuke is a rather hot-headed young man and does not like losing. He joins his brother's new team and has a rivalry with Takumi. Keisuke races the Hillclimb (Uphill) on most races, while Takumi races the downhill.


Keisuke isn't quite as analytical as his older brother, and Ryousuke's ability to compute and analyze amazes Keisuke. But at the same time, Keisuke's ability to think less while he's driving, and to do only what he feels amazes Ryosuke. While Ryousuke has decided that he wasn't going to be racing much longer, and that he was going to become a doctor in the future, Keisuke has dedicated his life to racing, setting his goal as becoming a professional racer.



Kenta Nakamura Kenta Nakamura

One of the youngest members of the Akagi Red Suns, Kenta absolutely adores Keisuke Takahashi and is always eager to prove himself to Keisuke. Kenta was recognized by Keisuke himself for his driving skills, and has been somewhat taken under Keisuke's wing. Kenta specializes in rain conditions, because he had a habit of practicing in the rain since the wet roads wouldn't wear his tires down as much.



Takeshi Nakazato Takeshi Nakazato

Takeshi Nakazato of the Myogi NightKids, who is also known as the Black Lightning, first makes his appearance at the race in Akina where Keisuke Takahashi of the Red Suns is to race against Takumi. Surprised that Takumi could defeat Keisuke, Takeshi decides that he's going to be the one to challenge the 'Akina downhill specialist', and that the Red Suns are next on his list.


He is skilled but his downfall is his anger and emotions getting in the way of his mind, this resulting in poor throttle control. He is very good at acceleration and is known for his grip driving philosophy. His previous car was a Nissan Silvia (S13), with which he used drifting techniques. He changed to the R32 after a devastating loss to a white R32, on his home course of Myogi. Following the defeat by the White Skyline, his philosophy has become that grip driving techniques are faster than "weak" drifting techniques.


Takeshi is the leader of the NightKids team on Myogi mountains and he also has an interest in Sayuki of Impact Blue. In the live action movie, he's the one that first encountered Takumi's AE86, and also the one that challenged (and lost to) Takumi, instead of Keisuke and the Akagi Red Suns



Shingo Shouji Shingo Shouji

A member of the Night Kids, Shingo drives a red Honda Civic EG-6 (SIR-II). Shingo is a dangerous driver; not because of his driving skills, but because he races dangerously - Shingo will nudge his rival's car in order to make the other driver lose control. He will also challenge another driver to a 'Duct Tape Death Match'- in which each driver tapes his right hand to the steering wheel for the duration of the race, limiting the steering capabilities of the driver. He also has been seen undermining Takeshi's leadership. Shingo is the 2nd best driver in the NightKids team and has a childhood friendship with Sayuki of Impact Blue.



Mako Satou & Sayuki Mako Satou Sayuki

Hailing from Usui, Mako Satou is the driver of the Usui combination; Sayuki is her co-driver/navigator, similar to that in the WRC. Mako has a love interest with Iketani of the Akina Speedstars, whom she originally got close to in order to acquire a race with Takumi.

Sayuki is a cheerful girl and she's always looking for good looking guys like the Takahashi brothers. As navigator, she gives out instructions to Mako when they're racing (when to brake, what drifting technique to use etc.).

Driving a blue Nissan SilEighty, the duo are the fastest in their hometown. They first appear in the series on Mt. Akina before the race between Keisuke and Takumi.





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