Recent Viewings- Initial D

In the world of creating content, you can not constantly create, there must be a time where you unwind and take new content in. It is within this time, that more ideas, inspiration and more start to plant the seeds in one’s mind. Having said that, I want to start sharing some of the things I watch and some of the ideas and inspiration that I get from them and how they may shape the future of the Cosmic Rage project.

A few months ago, at the SGMS conference, I gave a presentation on the history and some of the techniques of CGI in Japanese animation. In the late 1990’s there were a few titles that were experimenting with CGI. One of the series I discussed was a show called Blue Sub Number 6. One of the series I wanted to talk about but had to cut out due to time, was a show called Initial D.

A friend of my suggested Initial D a while back and I was pretty late in getting to watch it. This past weekend, with the blizzard I had a chance to watch Season 2 (Stage 2) and also a couple of bonus episodes and the movie that is considered Stage 3.

Initial D is a story about a high schooler who works at a car shop and also delivers tofu, but starts to become a street racer. The story follows the typical power creep storyline, where the main character overcomes villains who consistently become stronger and harder to beat.

The true gem about Initial D is truly the innovative artwork that went into the series. Initial D used 3D CGI for all of the car racing scenes while maintaining the cel style artwork for the character scenes. In the first stage, A scene was generally done either in 3D CGI or cel art, there wasn’t really any compositing or the merging of cel art with 3D CGI. In the second stage there was more compositing of 2D and 3D artwork.

When I was learning about the production of Initial D, I learned that after stage 1 did so well, they had a larger budget for the second stage. Also take into account of the growth of technology and software, and stage 2 has a more polished look. The artwork for the Stage 3 movie builds on the stage 2 series.

So you can see the difference, here is a trailer for Stage 1 from FUNimation


Here is a trailer for stage 2, as you can see, there are a few shots where you can clearly see car renderings in 3D composited with the 2D characters.


Finally, here is a trailer for the 3rd stage film.


You can see from the first to the third stage, there is a progression in the art. If you have the chance to watch a few episodes I would highly suggest it just from a production stand point.

After all of this, you may be asking how this pertains to the Cosmic Rage project. Well, Cosmic Rage is going to feature 2D characters, and I am experimenting with using 3D environments. I want to combine my experiences with drawing, animation, design and motion graphics to create something new.

That is what series such as Blue Sub Number 6 and Initial D did when computer animation started to surface in Japan.