A couple of years after the third stage movie made it to theaters, the Fourth Stage arrived in early 2004 and ran through early 2006 with twenty-four episodes. The series isn't like most shows, even at that time, as each episode runs for nearly twenty-seven minutes at a time when the majority are moving further and further to the twenty-three minute range in order to deal with the necessity of getting more advertisers on it. Those extra few minutes do help with this show though as more time is spent on the racing and the intensity of it all flows even better. Unlike our viewing of the first two stages, as those were three episodes discs spread over several months, we got to see the first half of this stage in the space of a day. And what a difference.
The Fourth Stage focuses on Takumi's days upon joining Ryosuke's Project D team as they're setting about to do some big things with it. Of course, this is all while Ryosuke spends his days doing medical student things, hence his napping here and there and his usual kind of disconnect as he deals with everyone else. The focus though is almost solely on Takumi as he takes the bold step to being really into something with a passion. At least by Takumi's standards. Ryosuke's approach still stands as he uses the website to egg on other teams a bit by playing up their skills and how nobody will defeat them and showing off their stats. That help provide a psychological edge against their opponents, which is one of the many facets that Ryosuke uses to win.
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