Initial D is a Japanese manga written and illustrated by Shūichi Shigeno, originally published in Kōdansha’s Young Magazine since 1995. The story was adapted into an anime series by Avex and later into a live-action film by Avex and Media Asia. The anime and manga focus on the world of underground street racing in Japan, and all the action is concentrated in mountainous passages where the drift driving style is particularly used.
The story takes place in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, specifically in its mountains and surrounding cities. Although the names of some places where the races take place are of fictitious origin, in reality, this is not the case since it has been verified that all the towns that appear in the series are based on real places in the Gunma Prefecture. They are described and recreated almost entirely in detail and even keeping their real names (except Akina, which in reality is the town of Haruna that today is merged with the City of Takasaki).
In this article, we are going to give you a thorough insight into the Initial D anime series. You’re going to get all the necessary information, as well as a complete guide to watching the whole series, including the four anime movies that are part of the franchise.
Initial D watch order by release date
In this section, we are going to bring you an overview of the Initial D works in the proper release order:
- Initial D First Stage (anime, 1998)
- Initial D Second Stage (anime, 1999–2000)
- Initial D Extra Stage (OVA, 2000)
- Initial D Third Stage (film, 2001)
- Initial D Battle Stage (OVA, 2002)
- Initial D Fourth Stage (anime, 2004–2006)
- Initial D Battle Stage 2 (OVA, 2007)
- Initial D Extra Stage 2 (OVA, 2008)
- Initial D Fifth Stage (anime, 2012–2013)
- Initial D Final Stage (anime, 2014)
- New Initial D the Movie, Legend 1: Awakening (movie, 2014)
- New Initial D the Movie, Legend 2: Racer (movie, 2015)
- New Initial D the Movie, Legend 2: Dream (movie, 2016)
- Initial D Battle Stage 3 (OVA, 2021)
- New Initial D the Movie: Battle Digest (movie, 2022)
In the next part of this article, we are going to tell you how you should watch the series in chronological order.
Initial D chronological watch order
In this section, we are going to give you a chronological overview of the works in question. The good thing is that the release order coincides with the chronological order, so here we go:
Initial D First Stage (anime, 1998)
Takumi Fujiwara is a high school of 18 years student who generally seems aloof and disinterested in the majority things. With his best friend Itsuki, Takumi works at a gas station. They are also friends with a young man named Iketani, the leader of the Akina Speedstars, which is a local racing team, as well as their manager, Yuichi.
One night, Iketani takes the two to Mount Akina to experience the life of a street racer. But just in time, the RedSuns came from Mount Akagi, led by the Takahashi brothers, to challenge the Speedstars to a race. What they don’t know is that the fastest car downhill is an eight-six, and that’s what Takumi uses to deliver tofu every morning.
RedSuns’ Keisuke Takahashi is on the hunt for Akina’s mysterious Ghost Rider, who defeated him with a shocking drift technique. Hearing this rumor, Iketani goes in search of this monstrous Eight-Six, only to learn that it belongs to Takumi’s own father. The Akina Speedstars have accepted the challenge from the RedSuns but Iketani will not be able to compete in the upcoming fight.
Coincidentally, he hopes he can run Bunta Fujiwara in his place. Iketani calmly waits for Bunta to show uo to go up for his team against Keisuke Takahashi, but to his surprise, Takumi reluctantly shows up in his place. This shocks everyone as the unexpected is about to happen.
Everyone in the crowd is at a loss for words, as they have just witnessed the impossible, an eight-six passing Keisuke’s FD. Ryosuke sets out to solve the problem behind this somewhat simple car and uncover its unexpected secret. The next day, Takumi arranges to meet Natsuki at the beach, and the exciting thoughts of racing begin to interest him.
As Ryosuke trains with his FC on Akina’s course, a more ominous vehicle appears from behind. Meanwhile, Takumi is asked how he acquired his divine drifting skills, as Iketani wants to see a first-hand demonstration. Nakazato of the Nightkids wishes to challenge this mysterious eight-six, but he assumes his driver agrees.
Initial D Second Stage (anime, 1999–2000)
Emperor, a team of Lan-Evos from Tochigi Prefecture, arrived intending to destroy all Gunma teams. They soon realize that Gunma’s fastest car is not only Akagi’s White Comet, but also a new downhill legend called Akina’s Eight-Six. Both Iketani and Itsuki wonder if the Eight-Six would get a new upgrade to increase the power of Takumi’s vehicle.
However, the decision is up to Bunta. Elsewhere, Emperor’s winning streak doesn’t slow as they continue to sweep Gunma, easily beating all the racing teams. Your next target is Akina’s Eight-Six. Kyoichi senses a strange fighting spirit in the Eight-Six pilot as he gives Seiji strict no-racing rules. However, Seiji decides to ignore these rules and launches his Evo IV at full power.
Takumi is outclassed in almost every category because the performance of the Evo IV is truly amazing. The risk of a fight intensifies as the race reaches the second half of the course. Takumi cannot accept his victory over the Evo IV in his heart and decides to make a wish. To add to his already troubled thoughts, Takumi receives anonymous messages about his relationship with Natsuki.
Takumi soon discovers Natsuki’s secret, leading him to vent his anger in a selfish battle against Kyoichi in Akagi, oblivious to the huge disadvantage he is at. Which became apparent when the Evo III started unleashing its monster abilities. Kyoichi recognizes how amazing Akina’s downhill specialist is, but he has complete faith in his rally Evo III. Takumi soon realizes the difference between the roaring power of the Eight-Six and the Evo III, eventually blowing up the Eight-Six’s engine. But it seems Bunta instinctively knows the race is on as a major turning point in the series is about to occur.
Initial D Extra Stage (OVA, 2000)
Mako’s driving concentration has lately been off pace as Sayuki solves his problem. When a call from Shingo of the Nightkids reaches Sayuki, the members of Team Emperors search for other racing teams to conquer. To prevent the conquest, the Sil-Eighty of the Impact Blue will defend their course at home against these outsiders. In order to improve Mako’s world, Sayuki arranges a perfect match for her best friend. At first glance, that could sound good, but is it worth it if it means giving up their street racing dreams for a relationship?
Initial D Third Stage (film, 2001)
As his reputation grows, Takumi receives the offer of his life from Ryosuke. Unsure of what to do, Takumi tries to find his answers by demanding a rematch with Kyoichi Sudō, leader of Team Emperor, on his own home course. Takumi faces the son of one of Bunta’s former rivals. As the fall season turns into winter, Natsuki is determined to make her relationship with Takumi work.
The unexpected arrival of one of his old flames arrives from out of town, adding more complex issues. But if Natsuki and Takumi don’t honestly admit how they feel about each other, they could be lost forever. When Takumi finally makes up his mind, a major turning point awaits everyone in Initial D, as a new story is about to begin.
Initial D Battle Stage (OVA, 2002)
Battle Stage is actually a compilation of races from the first two seasons and the movie, except for the Extra Stage OVA episodes. The battles from First Stage have been reanimated and remastered with the more advanced CGI used in the Third Stage movie, although the character art remained the same. The OVA also has a battle not featured in either the manga or the anime, which was animated using the new CGI and old character art.
Initial D Fourth Stage (anime, 2004–2006)
Takumi Fujiwara has made up his mind and joins Ryosuke and Keisuke Takahashi to form a new racing team. Project D is now formed and they have only one goal, to compete against the best riders in the entire Kanto region. This is actually the story of how they made legends of themselves on the streets of Touge. The first fight is against Seven Star Leaf (members are Tohru and Atsuro) on their Momiji Line home course.
At the cafe, Tohru’s lover Nao says that if Tohru loses the fight, he has to promise to stop running. And the battle between Takumi’s 86 and Tohru’s downhill Roadster is about to begin. Both Takumi and Toru Suetsugu are ruthless drivers, but there’s a big difference in their skills. It was during this fight that Takumi became known as one of Project D’s double aces, as the Eight-Six stood ready to outrun Seven Star Leaf’s own downhill roadster with techniques never thought possible in the street.
At the end of the episode, Daiki calls Tomoyuki and promises on behalf of the Todo School that he will never lose to Project D downhiller Takumi Fujiwara. Project D has now raced against todo school riders. This time Todo will be using his wildcard student riders Daiki Ninomiya with his EK9 and Smiley Sakai with his DC2 as they will use the skills they learned to achieve their goal of becoming a professional rider.
The pressure on the Project D team has started because there is no time to make mistakes when future fights are going to be like this. Daiki decides which position he will take in battle. To ensure victory, Ryosuke Takumi gives two tips to use against Daiki’s EK9, especially when Daiki’s skill level is that of semi-pros. Everything else depends on Takumi’s driving skills.
Project D receives another call from Todo Racing School, this time against a pro racer who has just returned. Ryosuke is warned by Kyoichi Sudo not to let Project D compete with the pro racer, especially since it is a newly formed team. Much to his confusion, Ryosuke wonders which car to use against Tomoyuki Tachi, one of Todo’s elite graduates. What confuses him, even more, is Kyoichi’s warning that if they face Todo, Ryosuke will have to face his FC himself. Ryosuke has made up his mind and decides to withdraw the eight-six as his bet.
Tomoyuki then demonstrates all the driving skills he learned as a pro with an EK9, but assumes his opponent is a street specialist. Takumi must find new ways to overcome some of racing’s biggest obstacles in order to win. A nightmarish new enemy arrives on Mount Akina and challenges Takumi to a battle down a hill. On top of that, Itsuki gets a new upgrade on his Eight-Five, as demonstrated during the descent.
Initial D Battle Stage 2 (OVA, 2007)
Battle Stage 2 is another compilation of races, this time from Fourth Stage with unchanged CGI, even when the hidden battles are concerned. It also shows Keisuke’s first two races as part of Project D, as they were not shown in Fourth Stage.
Initial D Extra Stage 2 (OVA, 2008)
Mako’s and Sayuki’s reputation as being the fastest on Mount Usui begins to grow, but Mako is dissatisfied with Usui and considers becoming a professional racer. Iketani, now an enhanced street runner, had a chance to encounter Mako again, giving Iketani another chance to meet her where they first met. Two guys in a black Altezza challenge Mako and Sayuki to a race where they realize they aren’t bad racers. Iketani is ready to meet Mako waiting for him when something happens which prevents Iketani from meeting Mako at the right time.
The two meet after Mako picks up Iketani when he has a flat tire. Upon hearing about Mako’s possible future, Iketani holds back her feelings so that Mako can make “the right decision.” Mako decides to turn pro for a year, but not without giving Sayuki and Mount Usui the ride of their lives. In the end, after the credits, it is said that Mako and Iketani will never see each other again.
Initial D Fifth Stage (anime, 2012–2013)
Following their narrow victory over Purple Shadow, Project D’s reputation hangs in the balance after two imposters parade around Saitama. Initially, Takumi doesn’t seem to notice the incident, but notices it after being falsely accused of taking advantage of a girl. Meanwhile, they face the final phase of the Project D Expeditions, which will be the toughest yet. Takumi receives an apology the next morning after reporting the crooks.
The first phase of Project D’s Kanagawa Expeditions is against Team 246: Satoshi Omiya and Kobayakawa. Although they ride for their own pride, 246 is actually a big part of a large plan designed by Team Sidewinder’s Go Hojo and Eiji Kubo. As the uphill race begins, Kobayakawa discovers Keisuke Takahashi’s true skills. As the first battle draws to a close, the descent begins between Takumi’s Eight-Six and Omiya’s NB8C Roadster.
As both cars are pushed to their limits, driver control decides the outcome. Can Takumi win against Omiya’s marvelous automatic control? Another factor will come into play. Kanagawa’s second line will face RT Katagiri, where Takumi meets Kai Kogashiwa: a former rival of Irohazaka; Street racing graduate and now pro racer with his MR-S. However, Takumi begins to show a “Zone” that came from the Purple Shadow races, which is a Zone that even Ryosuke could not explain. The winner of this race is impossible to determine.
Initial D Final Stage (anime, 2014)
Thus, the match between Takumi and Shinji begins immediately. Shinji takes the lead. Bunta comes out of the tofu shop and breaks her key pouch after accidentally dropping it. Bunta speculates that an unfortunate event is about to happen. Showing his dormant power, Shinji asks Takumi to electrocute himself. Takumi and Shinji continue their match as Takumi, still confused by Shinji, begins to concentrate. But suddenly, Shinji lets Takumi pass, which upsets Takumi even more.
The turn of events completely disheartens even Kubo, but Gou and Ryosuke believe it was inevitable, creating a fitting ending for Project D’s Expeditions. By the middle of the race, both riders are equally strong. You face a battle for leadership. The intense downhill battle between the two riders comes to an end as Takumi and Shinji push their absolute limits. When this battle ends and Project D’s reign finally ends, the true meaning of “D” will be revealed. With the characters taking different paths, Takumi’s passion for being “the fastest out there” will never end.
Initial D Battle Stage 3 (OVA, 2021)
Battle Stage 3 is an OVA that shows every race from Fifth Stage and Final Stage. Unlike the previous two Battle Stage OVA films, this one does not feature any new battles, and doesn’t feature any character dialogue at all.
Initial D Legend: Awakening, Racer, and Dream are movie trilogy that retells the story of the Initial D anime, but with new animation and character designs. It adds nothing new to the plot, which is why we did not list them separately; if you want a digest version of the whole series, this is your way to go. New Initial D the Movie Battle Digest is a recap of the movies, but with some additional scenes.