Did you catch that intro? I hope you did. In case you didn’t, it’s the opening sequence for my 2nd gateway anime, and still my favorite anime/manga series of all time, INITIAL D. Now before you dismiss me as an asian ricer with a fart-can exhaust and stickers that add 10 horsepower each, let me tell you about the times I lived in.
The year was 2001, and I had just gotten my own car. It was a 1991 Toyota Camry LE with the 2.5 V6 engine. Reliable as hell, and I put that car through some abuse. My mom got me a Blaupunkt CD player for my car and that was the beginning of some good times. Throughout high school, I was into the dance music from Japan, along with their dancing games, like “Bust A Groove” and “Dance Dance Revolution”. With the availability of fast internet connections, I was about to download and burn CD’s with impunity, and my family members who rode with me all remember my soundtracks from back then. Nothing but Super Eurobeat and bouncy happy J-pop, Happy Hardcore, Trance, and other electronic music.
One time, I was meeting up with my homegirl Katie (rest in peace) and a couple of our classmates and cousins for one of our random-ass trips. I mean, we were just getting out of high school, so all we could really do back then was drive around. Once we hit the road, this happened.
[One Night in Arabia by the Go Go Girls starts playing]
Girl: Hey, you’re into anime right?
Girl: And you like cars?
Me: I suppose…(fast and the furious just came out so…)
Girl: And you like Eurobeat?
Me: ….just what are you getting at?
Girl: Dude. Watch Initial D. It will change your life.
When I got home, I found a link to download episode 15 of Initial D: 1st stage. Here it is.
Within the first few minutes of that race, I was hooked. Completely. Utterly. The eurobeat music, the screaming tires, the drifting, the cars, it’s as if someone hit me in the face with a fist full of awesome and subsequently taken my wallet. I downloaded the rest of the first season, then the second season, and Katie bought me Initial D Third Stage:The Movie. Yeah, I was a total junkie by this point. I only left my house to practice driving in my camry. Yes. I tore around the local mountain roads by my house in a bid to become a street racer like the characters in Initial D. If you cracked open my head back then, it would be empty save for a couple issues of Import Tuner, some Initial D songs, and the entirety of the Initial D anime in my head.
Why I consider this anime my gateway was this reason. It led me to hang with the Southwestern College Anime Club, since I felt that there HAD to be at least one person that was into Initial D as much as I was. There were a few, and I still hang with those people today. Once I joined the anime club, my fate was sealed. I would be an anime otaku, a junkie, someone who was so enthusiastic about their craft that they didn’t really give a shit about anything else.
Nowadays, I don’t watch Initial D as much, but in my RSX, there’s always at least one Super Eurobeat CD. And you can bet your ass that I’ve done some mountain runs of my own. Mostly Mt. Palomar up north.
Street racers never die, and neither do otaku. I’m glad to be both.