Ultimate Initial D Characters Guide
New to the awesomeness that is Initial D? Or curious to find out more about your favorite characters? We’ve covered everything you need to know in this guide.
Based on Japan’s real-world touge-heaven, Gunma Prefecture, in the late ’90s, the infamous Japanese anime Initial D’s primary focus is on its most prominent character - Takumi Fujiwara.
Takumi is an eighteen-year-old delivery driver who transports tofu every day to the local hotel on the fictional Mount Akina.
For the deliveries, he gets the opportunity to use his father’s 1983 Toyota Sprinter Trueno GT Apex AE86, or Eight-Six, (AE86, or Hachi Roku) in the most stylish way imaginable.
We think it’s pretty safe to say that Initial D and The Fast and the Furious have both played prominent roles when it comes to bringing drifting to the mainstream.
While The Fast and the Furious attracted viewers across the world, Initial D’s main following resides in Japan, where there’s a massive following for both anime and manga, but it has gone on to capture the hearts of the rest of the world since its introduction in 1995.
The original manga series, which was illustrated and written by Shuchi Shigeno for the Weekly Young Magazine, went on to span across 48 tankōbon volumes published by Kodansha Comics, which then went on to become the hugely popular TV show, and later re-created into a real-world movie.
After five years of delivering tofu to the local hotel on the empty mountain roads of Mount Akina (based on the real-life Mount Haruna), Takumi’s skills behind the wheel earned him legendary status among the local driving scene.
Despite making the initial tofu runs out of boredom as a job, Takumi grew to love the touge, and as he began meeting with the local street racing crews, he would soon be determined to become the fastest driver in the Gunma Prefecture.
As he begins to live the street racing culture, his ability continues to progress throughout the series, as he goes head-to-head against some of the highest-regarded competitors on the mountain roads, causing some severe upsets along the way.
Although some of his rivals have far superior cars, it’s Takumi’s pure skill and talent, which allows him to continue pushing the boundaries behind the wheel of his lightweight, Eight-Six.
After starting with the Akina Speed Stars, Takumi planned a takeover with the highly-regarded ‘Project D’ crew, who planned to destroy every course record throughout Japan.
When you think of AE86’s and the touge, JDM legend Keiichi Tsuchiya will undoubtedly spring to mind.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, the grandfather of drifting played a substantial role in creating the series, providing his technical input to achieve the most realistic animation possible, and later appearing in Episode 23 of the First Stage.
Unfortunately, he didn’t go head-to-head with Takumi!
The series added to the already gargantuan cult-following that Toyota’s legendary AE86 has in Japan, and fans are still creating replicas and re-enacting their favorite Initial D scenes in the present day:
If you’re a lover of all things 86, then make sure you check out our 7 Best AE86 Corolla drift builds to blow your mind.
But, that’s enough Eight-Six loving for a moment, as let’s not forget the real reason we’re here - to explore the best-known characters that appear alongside Takumi in the epic Initial D series.
Main Characters in Initial D
We’ll be taking a look at the most featured characters in the Initial D series and providing their story alongside the car that you’ll most likely recognize them for driving.
How could we not begin our list with the most prominent face in the series?
Eighteen-year-old Takumi is the son of Bunta and is eager to become the fastest racer in the Kanto region, with plans to prove that he’s the fastest driver in Japan.
After reluctantly delivering tofu to a nearby hotel in the early hours of every morning for his father, Bunta, Takumi began to hone his driving skills on the empty touge roads.
After a street race that saw Takumi defeating Keisuke Takahashi in his RX-7, he continued to prove his talent as he became one of the most skilled and respected drivers in the Gunma Prefecture.
Once he graduated from high school, he joined Ryosuke Takahashi’s ‘Project D’ team as they prepared to prove their worth against competitors beyond Gunma Prefecture.
Takumi has an incredible ability to visualize the road ahead and take the corners with pinpoint precision, using his Eight-Six to the very best of its ability.
Although he’s calm and collected behind the wheel, he soon loses his temper when other drivers bump into his precious car, and you certainly won’t want to disrespect his friends, either!
Ryosuke becomes convinced throughout the series that Takumi has been gifted with a “special something” in life, after having numerous near-crashes that he mind-blowingly manages to escape unscathed somehow.
In his final race as a driver of Project D, Takumi’s engine blows, locking up the wheels and sending both him and Shinji into a spin after he had no other option but to follow.
After his experience with a blown engine against Akagi in his Evo III, Takumi knows to press the clutch, which allows his wheels to continue spinning for him to finish the race driving backward without power.
Shinji’s lack of experience caused him to spin out completely, and although a blown engine is typically a defeat, Shinji accepted that Takumi was the winner of the race, allowing Takumi to keep his beloved Trueno.
Bunta Fujiwara is Takumi’s father and owner of Fujiwara Tofu Shop, who provided Takumi the opportunity to make deliveries, as he went on to master his skills on the touge.
Bunta was no stranger to street racing and was rumored to be undefeated. He held the record for the fastest time on Akina’s downhill route in Takumi’s AE86, which still belonged to Bunta at the time.
It was Bunta that knew the potential Takumi had to offer, and he handed him a cup of water to go into the AE86’s cup holder and informed him he was not to spill a single drop.
Although this was mainly to ensure he did not destroy the tofu in the trunk, it proved invaluable to Takumi, and it was one of many touches that helped refine his skills as he’s encouraged to drive with care and precision.
After gifting the “White Ghost of Akina” 86 to Takumi, Bunta moves on to test drive a Subaru Impreza WRX STi Type R Version V and beats his son on the touge, without him being aware it was Bunta behind the wheel.
He keeps the new purchase a secret for some time before coming clean that he was behind the wheel.
To improve his talents, Bunta allowed Takumi to use both the WRX and the Eight-Six for deliveries, which provided the perfect opportunity to advance his knowledge as a driver with both the RWD and modern AWD platforms.
Bunta is well known for his casual style and also for enjoying far too many cigarettes.
One of his most memorable moments in the series was his ‘smoking drift’, where he lit a cigarette as he drifted his car around a corner.
Iketani is the leader of the Akina SpeedStars. He works at the local gas station alongside Itsuki, both of who are friends of Takumi.
Best known for his beloved Nissan Silvia S13, and he teaches Takumi the art of naming cars after their chassis codes, hence the “Eight-Six” of his AE86.
Ryosuke founded both the Akagi RedSuns and later in the series, Project D.
Along with this younger brother, Keisuke, they became known as the ‘Rotary Brothers’ due to their loyalty to Mazda’s RX-7 family.
After creating the Akagi RedSuns with long-term plans to dominate Japan’s street racing scene, Takumi soon caused an issue by defeating Ryosuke, who had previously turned down a professional racing career.
Following his defeat, he retired for a short while, before creating Project D, where Takumi would become a driver in the team, with Ryosuke going on to mentor both him and Keisuke.
Not only an incredible driver, but Ryosuke is also intelligent and pursues a medical career while still maintaining his obsession with street racing.
He’s the calmer, level-headed of the two brothers and also makes a fantastic mechanic.
At 21 years old, Ryosuke’s younger brother is best known for his hot temper, both in daily life and in the driving seat of his yellow Mazda RX-7 FD.
He is the first person to have challenged Takumi in the series and is easily defeated, and he’s continually eager to have a rematch, which he’s convinced he’d have a chance at winning.
However, when he was eventually handed a second opportunity to beat Takumi, he was once again defeated, which formed a rivalry between the two drivers, despite his appreciation for Takumi’s driving abilities.
Despite initially being part of the Akagi RedSuns, Keisuke becomes Takumi’s teammate when they join Project D later in the series before becoming a professional racer.
Kenta was another member of both the Akagi RedSuns before moving on to Ryosuke’s new creation, Project D.
He’s known for picking up supplies and tracking times, scouting information on upcoming races, and was regarded as the third-best driver of the Akagi RedSuns.
Inspired by Takumi, he tries to get his hands on an AE86 Levin but instead unintentionally buys himself an AE85 Levin, leaving him mocked by his fellow Akina SpeedStars teammates.
Takumi eventually persuades him to keep it.
Despite Itsuki struggling to prove himself with the AE85, and he’s convinced it’s the car letting him down, Takumi gets behind the wheel and proves that it’s more Itsuki’s lack of driving talent rather than the car itself.
Best-known as “Boss”, Yuichi is the gas station owner where Takumi and his friends worked.
He’s a past friend of Takumi’s father, Benta, and raced alongside him in his younger years, but he never proved to be a particularly impressive driver.
Throughout the series, Yuichi is seen as a father to the Akina SpeedStars and drives a V40 Toyota Camry, with Takumi passing him on the touge one night, where Yuichi assumed it was his father, Benta, behind the wheel.
Natsuki Mogi is the first female on our list, and she’s known for being fearless when she’s riding in a car with Takumi behind the wheel.
Despite being in a relationship with a wealthy older man named “Papa,” she falls in love with Takumi, and the pair begin dating.
As she ended her relationship with Papa, Takumi had been watching from the parking lot and saw the two leave a restaurant together, where he wrongfully assumed that she hadn’t broken off the relationship and opted to cut ties with her.
After explaining to Takumi what he had seen, they opt to remain friends.
Later in the series, Miki kidnaps Natsuki, and Takumi chases him across the mountain before Miki crashes his car, with Takumi rescuing Natsuki and taking her home.
Natsuki takes the opportunity to explain to Takumi that she will be heading to university in Tokyo, and they end their relationship with Natsuki telling Takumi that “they’ll meet again someday”.
Better known for her golfing abilities than her driving, 18-year old Mika Uehara becomes another dating partner for Takumi during the latter part of the series.
Her initial appearance in the series is when she slaps Takumi for blowing off her best friend, Tomoko.
After the confusion with a Takumi imposter, the real Takumi heads out to meet Mika before talking for several hours to explain the situation.
The pair eventually end up dating, and Mika teaches Takumi how to play golf, with Takumi driving her to different regions in his Eight-Six.
Although their relationship appears to be going well, it becomes a mystery beyond the Final Stage.
Mako Sato forms half of the team ‘Impact Blue’ alongside Sayuki.
She throws her SilEighty too fast into a corner in a race against Takumi, resulting in her spinning out and almost crashing with Takumi.
In her SilEighty, she’s the quickest driver on Usui Pass and later becomes a professional race driver.
Initial D Stages
Now that we’ve reminded you of your favorite characters in the Initial D series, we’re willing to bet you’re craving giving the series a re-watch, and we certainly don’t blame you.
We’ve had questions about which order you should watch Initial D in since the naming process can become a little confusing at times!
So, for those of you that are looking to make sure you appreciate the full Initial D experience from start to finish, here’s the full list in order:
1 – 1998 - Initial D: First Stage
The very first episodes of Initial D began in 1998, as Takumi Fujiwara becomes an instant hit in Japan.
This series is based on Chapters 1-77, (Volumes 1-7.)
2 – 1999/2000 - Initial D: Second Stage
In this series, Team “Emperor” surfaces, with the ultimate quest of crushing every team in Gunma. Takumi’s 86 struggles to keep up with their AWD Evo’s.
This series is based on Chapters 78-145, (Volumes 8-13.)
3- 2000 - Initial D: Extra Stage
A two-part story based on the lives of “Impact Blue” SilEighty team drivers Mako and Sayuki.
4 – 2001 - Initial D: Third Stage (The Movie)
This was a 105-minute movie with Takumi preparing for high-school graduation. He requests a rematch with Kyoichi Sudō, team Emperor leader, and goes up against a street racer whose father once rivaled his dad.
This series is based on Chapters 146-156 and 159-185 (Volumes 14-17.)
5 – 2002 - Initial D: Battle Stage
This series recaps all of the previous battles from the first three stages, also featuring a new battle between Keisuke’s FD and Seiji’s Evo IV.
Each battle has been freshly reanimated and also features guest commentary from the Drift King, Keiichi Tsuchiya.
6 – 2004-2006 - Initial D: Fourth Stage
Takumi decides to join Ryosuke and Keisuke Takahashi with forming their brand new team, Project D. They have one goal - to defeat all of the best drivers in the Kanto region.
This is the beginning of their soon-to-be-legendary status on the touge.
This series is based on Chapters 192-424, (Volumes 17-32.)
7 – 2007 - Initial D: Battle Stage 2
This is a recap of every race from Fourth Stage and also includes brand-new battles as Keisuke’s FD goes up against Smiley Sakai’s DC2 Integra and Atsuro Kawai’s ER34.
8 – 2008 - Initial D: Extra Stage 2
Similarly to Extra Stage, this is an additional OVA, but this time focuses on the relationship between Koichiro Iketani and Mako Sato.
Mako decides to become a professional racer, and after the credits, it’s made clear that Mako and Iketani will never meet again.
9 – 2012-2013 - Initial D: Fifth Stage
Takumi is falsely accused of taking advantage of a girl, as it becomes clear that there are Project D imposters in Saitama.
The series ends without a conclusion in the battle of the AE86’s between Takumi and Shinji.
This series is based on Chapters 425-667, (Volumes 32-45.)
10 – 2014 - Initial D: Final Stage
The end of an era. Takumi and Shinji’s title fight for the ultimate Eight-Six continues.
Spread over four episodes, the series ends with both drivers pushing to their limits before the true meaning of “Project D” is finally revealed.
This series is based on Chapters 668-719, (Volumes 46-48.)
Optional extra: 2005 - Initial D: The Movie (Hong Kong)
Based on the original story, with numerous noticeable differences, the movie met with mixed reactions from fans and critics alike.
Although it’s not the most mind-blowing movie ever produced, it’s well worth checking out and can be streamed on both Netflix and Apple TV.
For those of you that are die-hard fans of the original manga/anime series, it may be best to lower your expectations a little in preparation.
Will Initial D Return?
After eighteen years of publication, the Initial D collection sadly came to an end in 2014, with Initial D: Final Stage.
There have been rumors since that it would make a return, this time, instead of touge street racing, it would be about rally racing, but they are still yet to come to fruition.
Many fans felt that the ending to the series, which spanned almost two decades, was far too abrupt and that it couldn’t be left as it has, but that sadly appears to be the case.
The closest that fans can get to a continuation of Initial D at the current time is with the creator Shuichi Shigeno’s more recent series MF Ghost, where Initial D is directly referenced, with the mention of many characters from the series.
As for a real return for the Initial D series, as much as we’d love to see it happen, we feel it’s extremely doubtful.
Initial D has done an incredible job of introducing anime/manga fans to street racing and drifting and provided automotive enthusiasts with one of the best series ever to reach TV screens and comic books.
From a unique perspective, it gives a fascinating insight into the behind-the-scenes action that goes on in the lives and thoughts of Japan’s street racers.
With touches from some of the most infamous names in street racing and drifting, helping out with the series, it’s incredibly realistic and provides an in-depth wealth of knowledge about tuning and racing to its fans.
Whether or not you’re a fan of cartoons, anime, or manga – drifting, and tuning fans should take some time to check out the Initial D series and appreciate the unique insight that it provides.
So, there we have it! We hope that we’ve covered everything you could want to know about the most popular characters in Initial D in this guide.
Thank you for reading our Initial D Characters guide.
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