To this day, I have not successfully gotten anybody to actually watch Initial D, but not for lack of trying. It's a hard series to recommend because it seemingly appeals to a very niche audience who like anime, cars, and teen drama.

So how did I guy that doesn't like any of those things become such a hardcore fan?

First I'll go in to the background of Initial D for those who aren't familiar with it. The original manga was created by Shuichi Shigeno in 1995, and has since been adapted to games, and of course the brilliant anime. It follows the lives of Japanese, illegal street racers in the Gunma prefecture. The show is notable for a number of reasons which I'll mention later, but mostly its famous in Japan for its accuracy when it comes to racing and cars. Its worth noting for car enthusiasts that the Drift King himself, Keiichi Tsuchiya, actually helped with the editing.

I'll be talking primarily about the anime, since I find it to be superior to the manga in a few ways that I'll talk about. Also the specific dub I recommend is the Funimation one, since it's not completely shit like the Tokyopop Americanized version. Be warned: This series is distinctly Japanese although, to me, it has a universal appeal.

I have never been in to cars. I actually didn't even get my license until I was 23, and when I got behind the wheel I caused a traffic collision that put me in over four thousand dollars of debt. If it were up to me I would have just moved to a city where I didn't need to drive, but as I became more focused on managing my game development time I ultimately realized that being able to drive would increase my productivity, and allow me to cut off ties with the people who were driving me around. In addition, I would become less of a burden. When people talked about cars, the only reason I could relate was because I knew about guitars which could be considered another 'boy' thing considering the amount of pride and dick-waving that goes along with it. In high school owning an American Fender of Gibson was as important to me as losing my virginity, so when guys went on about their cars I understood on a very basic level. If you would have asked me before about LSD and ABS, I would have asked you why you would want to do crunches while tripping.

The thing is its impossible to watch Initial D without looking at your own car afterwards. Could this thing drift? Probably not. Also it's an automatic. Why did I buy an automatic? I would get in my car and grip the gear stick, even though I couldn't actually shift gears. Subsequently I became much more confident in my driving.

Initially it wasn't impossible for anyone to get me to watch this show. A friend from work whose opinions I valued dearly told me to watch it, but I told him I don't like cars. I don't like anime. I don't like anything.

Netflix really took off in my house. It now runs almost 12 hours a day on at least 3 televisions in my home. This is a strange thing because I've never really been one to communicate with my family at all, but now I find us talking about shows and movies we've watched, and it cuts out all the "well now I have to find this movie" thing that usually comes along with recommendations. Other times you just walk into the room and see something cool. I overheard the weirdly stilted dialog of the show, and I loved it. Just something about the sheer adolescent shit talking mixed with the almost frivolous voice acting really drew me in.

I said before that I thought the anime was superior to the manga, but its not the fault of the manga at all. If you do the math, a really good time on the Akina downhill is about 3 minutes. So how do you pad a race across an entire episode, or series of episodes? Fucking monologues man. The characters go on and on about their motivations, their feelings, and lots of other things. It's the perfect show to put on in the background and just listen to. It's not something you could do with a lot of sports manga, but when somebody's behind the wheel time seems to slow down.

Obviously they're not on a Shakespearean level or anything, but rarely do you have such an introspective story when you're dealing with characters that are young and stupid. What would normally be seen as a silly hobby almost exclusively for rich kids seems a bit more grounded when you realize what these guys are actually like on the inside. Even the most dick-headed characters have their human moments, and guys that you really want to hate end up being not so bad after all. These guys rattle off about how hard they've worked to get where they are all while a ridiculous cover of "Don't Stand So Close To Me" plays in the background.

It's this human element that makes Initial D so memorable. There are some truly odd love stories being told here, but you can relate to them because everything about the show is just so damn sincere. At its core it's a story about kids finally understanding their place in the world. Guys get jerked around by girls, people wreck their cars, and most of all everyone that encounters Takumi understands that what they need to do to succeed is work harder.

It also cuts all the fat you normally get with fiction about street racing. Proper adults are nowhere to be seen with a few exceptions. The cops never show up, though sometimes races get interrupted by pedestrians. That's not to say that the show's focus is tight, but most of what you expect to be filler actually connects to the story in a logical why.

At this point I'd like to tackle some objections I've heard when I recommend the show. These are the same ones I had before I watched it.

I don't like cars.

You're starting out in the same position as Takumi. The main character doesn't know anything about cars, nor does he even care about them at the start. Every time a new racer is introduced, you learn about their car. It's a shonen manga after all, and they fucking love to go on about their cars and what makes them special.

Yeah but racing is boring.

It is when you don't understand the stakes. Remember this is a drama show, and I guarantee at some point you will not want Takumi to lose. After all, competition is interesting because of stakes.

I don't like anime.

This is the perfect 'background' show. Put it on your TV in the background while you do something else. You'll know when something important happens because everyone will freak out.

The art is ugly.

That is personal preference of course. The cars are animated with computers because otherwise showing the races would have been impossible. You can't use canned animations because the cars are different every time. As for the art style -- I get that it's ugly, but that's one of the endearing things about the series to me. Also the hair is totally 90's accurate.

That voice acting.

Is amazing. Initial D has extremely little over-acting. Everyone talks like they don't give a shit, which is great because teenagers and 20-something really don't. It seems like they had to fill in a lot of dialog to match 'the flap' and so the characters just kind of go on about stupid shit nobody cares about. I'd put it on my list of top dubs up there with Cromartie.

In conclusion, Initial D is an underrated, misunderstood anime about being a stupid youth trying to find a place among the rest of the fools. Give it a shot.