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Initial D Legend 3: Dream Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read

My kind of fast cars and beautiful women.

What They Say:
In Initial D Legend 3: Dream, this is it! As the final showdown between breakout downhill racing phenomenon Takumi Fujiwara and Ryosuke Takahashi, the unbeaten leader of the Akagi RedSuns, draws near, both drivers and their teams go into overdrive. Takumi’s 86 and Takahashi’s RX-7 are broken down, returned and transformed for battle. Skills that are already at the top of their form are honed into razor sharpness. Takumi must resolve his romantic situation with Natsuki. And then the race is on! Get ready for the ultimate duel on blacktop as the masters of drift square off in a winner-take-all competition that will steal your breath away in new theatrical movie Initial D Legend 3: Dream directed by Masamitsu Hidaka!

The Review:
The audio presentation for this film brings us the original Japanese language track in 5.1 as well as the English language dub, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The mix here is one that works really well for the show in that the focus on the racing and the machines is top-notch. The dialogue is well-handled as needed but that’s fairly pedestrian. The racing side, however, really needs it to step up in capturing the sound of both the engines and the road and it does that very well with great placement and sense of depth and accuracy to it. Where it’s not quite up to speed, however, is with the music. Part of it is that I don’t think it could recreate the lightning in a bottle that the first TV series was so it’s going to seem underserved in contrast to it. What they do here with the music is solid and it works well enough but I know I’m just too connected to the past mix for it to match or exceed it.

Originally released in 2016, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Animated by Sanzigen and Liden Films, I really like the look of the work here as it feels like it captures the tone and designs of the manga from Shuichi Shigeno while giving it a slick and more modern feeling – all while still being fully of the time period in which it takes place since it’s not reworked into the present day. The cars get the most attention with some great looking curves and motion when in action going through the streets and I love the detail to the interiors of it as well. The character designs are where things get a bit trickier as they were always “ugly” but they found a good way to keep them true to the original designs while smoothing out the flaws a bit so they feel more like reality in a way. The encoding captures all of this very well with a great look to the colors that are rich and solid throughout and hold up perfectly during the high motion sequences.

The packaging for this DVD/BD combo release is kept simple with the black strip along the top listing the two formats while the rest of it is given over to the artwork.The cover for this installment is my favorite of the three as we get Tak and Ryosuke on either side of the cover with the logo running over them. That’s set to the dark highway race that they engage in here with the cars looking good with positioning and lights being on. The back cover does a split with the top half using a black background as we get a look at the design of the 8-6 along with a few shots from the film and a good summary of the premise. The bottom half goes for a blue background and breaks out the technical information for both formats clearly and accurately as well as having a section for the production information. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

The menu design for this release goes with a static image that replicates the cover artwork reworked a bit in terms of layout. The background is definitely a good piece to use here with the colors coming through it and just the layered look as it works well in contrast to the character artwork in front of it. The designs are going to be off-putting to some but there’s a charm to them that I like and getting it affirmed here at the start sets the tone well. The navigation strip along the left is using some elements of car design that while I do think works it also looks funky and wonky as hell to the point where I question whether it works. There’s little to the release beyond the film itself but the navigation is a breeze and everything is easy to set up and move around in.

The extras for this release aren’t much in the way of extras but we get the preview trailer for the third and final installment as well as a recap piece for the second one if you don’t remember what happened there.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The third and final film in the series, Initial D brings is theatrical animated side to a close with the Dream feature. Originally out in 2016, the work is one that again reminds me of how frustrating it is to be a fan of this franchise. There’s a great look to it all here that I thoroughly enjoy but it’s just like the other two films in that we’ve seen it all before. Granted, that was without the same quality as we get here but the story is condensed and tightened but still the same. It simply lacks some of the breathing room to explore the characters. We get some great races but there’s also the nods to the races ahead, some of which have been animated before, but most of which have not. It’s frustrating to keep doing the same story material over and over.

The hour that this installment runs works through some fun material, particularly at the start as we get Takumi and Itsuki together in his 8-5 going down the mountain only to have to deal with the NightKids that are looking to cause trouble. A lot of racing is definitely the vehicle and what it can do and a lot of it is the person as well. When it comes to teens and just beyond, a lot of it tends to be the car. They can do a lot of things and they may have some talent but mostly it’s just a combination of both and a bit of luck that lets them stand out. The Takahashi brothers are different and a few others later in the run are as well, but the property has always made it clear that Takumi is both talented and well trained in addition to having a great car. So, seeing him in the 8-5 as he essentially dusts both of them with only a little bit of trouble is delightful because it reinforces just how good his skill is in eking out a greater performance from the vehicle.

The back side of the film gives us a much more engaging race to deal with in that it focuses on Ryosuke making his play to bring Takumi into the fold for his greater plans, which are only mostly alluded to here in that there’s a bigger world out there. The race itself is pretty exciting because Ryosuke is the one that’s most like Takumi but without the polish and molding that comes from his particular personality. This nighttime race definitely has a lot that it delivers on because of the power of both cars and the talents of each and it delights because of how well animated it is and the excitement of the back and forth battle between them. I’m still tied to the music of the original series so this doesn’t quite hit me in the same way but it’s visually a far more engaging race, one that brings things together well at the end with how it unfolds and what Takumi’s father is like in helping him deal with it.

One of the areas where the films falter more than the TV incarnation is in really fleshing out the cast. This film doesn’t do much to change that but I really like that we do get the romantic interlude for Takumi as he and Natsuki go out together for a bit. Again, it’s not deep or rich or anything but it’s wonderfully animated to give them some time together and really make it feel like a teenage romance with all that potential and fun with it. The lightness and the simplicity of just taking a drive is a great contrast to the intensity of the racing that we get most of the time but I also really just enjoyed the way that they quietly spent some time together that lead to that magical first kiss moment where it all really connected for them – enough so that nobody trusts Takumi to get to where he needs to be on time or in the right frame of mind.

In Summary:
The Initial D film trilogy is a strong one in that it delivers the basic ideas with some fantastic racing sequences. It’s a delight to watch and it delivers exactly what the bulk of the fans want, even if they’ve seen it all before. It’s a property that makes out well with a modern update but it left me frustrated in a “been there, seen that already” mindset. It’s very pretty and technically executed well but I wanted new material, not to revisit the same thing once again. This final film has two good races to it and some good character material that reminds you that these are all teenagers and I’m glad I got to see it because they’re fun and exciting. But I really wanted a whole lot more than this.

Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Initial D Legend 2: Racer Recap, Japanese Preview

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: June 12th, 2018
MSRP: $39.98
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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