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Benjamin Shelkey

Anime 0505-213-02

First season of Initial D

Initial D, which started out in manga form in 1995 by the artist Shuichi Shigeno, was adapted quickly to an anime directed by Noboru Mitsusawa (for the first and third seasons). The main focus of this action series is the sport of illegal street racing, almost all of which occurs on mountain passes, where the drift style of racing is seemingly ubiquitous. Perhaps the main emphasis of the anime series, if one would say there is one, is that a person will never be able to determine the capacity of their own skill and abilities unless they try and give it their best attempt. However, the application of this notion is hardly exclusive to Initial D; to many people in real life, experimentation and perseverance were crucial factors in how they came to be who they are now.

            In Initial D’s first season, the main character, Takumi, starts off relatively unaware of his own ability as a racing driver, mostly because he had never went toe-to-toe with another person in a race. As the son of a tofu shop’s owner, his chores entail delivering their goods at the top of a long, winding mountainside road. Takumi’s reluctance to race stems from his view of driving as a chore- he has no desire to do it any more than necessary.  His lack of enthusiasm subsides, however, once he is offered a full tank of gas as an incentive to win by his father, Bunta. He changes his mind, races, and is discovered by his friends to be incredible skilled at driving when he beats his opponent, a highly ranked racer. While this garners him a great deal of respect, it also leads to more and more challenges involving complicated and/or adverse conditions. These include racing with a hand duct taped to the wheel, racing down the side of a mountain in the intense rain, racing in very challenging and unfamiliar territory, and racing against far superior cars with much more experienced drivers. However, the fact that he is willing to give each new challenge his best try enables him to string up a long line of victories even as the odds seem constantly stacked against him. The fact that he is willing to try new racing circumstances is demonstrated when he replies “Road racers have to accept challenges, right?” to a racer looking to “battle” him in a race. In said challenge, he manages to win by a slight margin and realizes that he has become one of, if not the best racer in the area. As an action anime, the constant challenges presented by the competition provide much of the momentum behind the plot. In this regard, these challenges are very much comparable to other issues in anime of the action genre.

This concept can be seen in other works that fall into the genre of action. One does not have to look far to come across this idea in other areas. One such example is in Hagakure: Book of the Samurai. Only twelve pages in, the narrator states on finding ones capabilities: “No matter what it is, there is nothing that cannot be done. If one manifests the determination, he can move heaven and earth as he pleases. But because man is pluckless, he cannot set his mind to it. Moving heaven and earth without putting forth effort is simply a matter of concentration”. While this does not imply the direct consequence of discovering one’s own capabilities, it implies that with motivation and determination, anything is possible. It would hardly be a stretch to say that with limitless potential comes a great deal of self-discovery. While this is not directly analogous to Takumi learning his potential; there are parallels that can be drawn with his consistent resolve to become better even if that meant trying new things, many of which were not in any way easy.

In the real world, determination plays just as large of a role in opening ones eyes to the multitude of opportunities that surround us all. When a person has ability and skill, the next most important thing is arguably confidence when looking to accomplish a goal. In the introduction of Hero with 1000 Faces, Dr. Estes remarks about Joseph Campbell: “No, this work is authored by a genuinely inspirited person  who himself was once a novice, that is, a beginner who opened not just the mind, but also the longing heart, all in order to be a vessel for spiritual realities---ones greater than the conclusions of the ego alone. Over time, Campbell became to many people an example of what it means to be a master teacher”. While he may not have initially been the greatest, Campbell’s effort to start something -and keep with it- made proving himself to the world an afterthought next the content of his books. His determination to be the very best in his field despite not being a virtuoso is not an exact parallel to Takumi for the reason that Takumi’s skill is much more active and dangerous, but both persevere to become renowned for their mastery. The amount of determination put into his work to make it better, along with the consequential realization of his developing skill as an author, can be seen as akin to that of Takumi’s devotion or the statement made in Hagakure, where the statement that the earth and heavens can be moved explicitly affirms what Campbell achieved.

It is an often-repeated quote that “the longest journey starts with a single step”.  To this end, one must always start, often from nothing, if they ever wish to find out their own capabilities. Whether in real life or in anime, this is a commonly occurring theme, if not a truth to be acknowledged by all.

Works Cited

Tsunetomo, Yamamoto. "Hagakure." Rpt. in 12. Mycourses. Web. 6 Oct. 2010. <>.

Campbell, Joseph J. "Hero with 1000 Faces." Rpt. in Princeton: Princeton UP, 1949. 12. Mycourses. Web. 6 Oct. 2010. <>.

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  1. I think you have a good thesis here. For the final, expand on and refine it. I think it is great to bring in Campbell and Hagakure to use here but I think you need to restructure the argument slightly. try to frame it more as Initial D being an example of the action genre. Discuss something from Campbell or other sources and explain how this relates to Initial D. It wasn't clear in your work how they relate. final note: avoid parentheses in a formal work. While they are fine for casual notes, etc. you should explain everything in sentence structure in an essay.