It's been almost five years since we saw the last new release of something from Initial D with the fourteenth volume of the anime from TOKYOPOP. FUNimation stepped up to handle distribution of the series in a couple of sets in 2007 and 2008, but it's been forever since we've had anything new from the franchise. Thankfully, FUNimation has decided to take on the title personally now by bringing over the third and fourth stages of the show while also planning to re-dub and re-work the first two stages for later release. Knowing that the die hard fans want new material, they've kicked off their releases with the first of the unreleased pieces, the Third Stage, which is a movie that took place in the middle of the TV seasons.
Unlike a lot of movies from franchise, especially established ones like Initial D which was a phenomenon in Japan in manga form, this movie picks up where the TV series ended and carries the story forward. It's not a side story or something out of place in the universe or even a re-telling from a different perspective. The story here takes us to the time in the life of Takumi where his school days are almost over and he has to figure out what it is he really wants to do with his life. He's discovered a love of downhill racing in the last six months as he's ended up causing quite the stir among the locals on Mount Akina. Takumi's never professionally raced or even tried racing itself, but it turned out that his father was tuning his car, the infamous Eight-Six, and teaching him the right things all this time as he handles the driving for his father's tofu store. All of it has paid off as Takumi is as much of a gifted driver as his father was in his youth, if not more so. What he lacks is experience with other racers and knowledge of the workings of cars and their weaknesses and strengths. But for someone like Takumi, it's not really necessary as he has such innate skill.
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