Known for its breathtaking drifts and detailed explanations to the mechanics of the cars and road conditions, another main appealing factor of the Initial D franchise is its addicting soundtrack, mostly consisting of Eurobeat. So, why was Eurobeat featured in Initial D in the first place? Avex, a record label which had hit J-Pop artist Ayumi Hamasaki and K-Pop Queen BoA under contract during the late-90’s/early-2000’s, was interested in breaking into anime and Initial D was their gateway. The lyrics of the songs have nothing to do with the races but the producers felt its fast BPMs (beats per minute) and intense electronic instrumentals were an effective way to suck viewers into the series and it worked.
Even before the release of Initial D, Eurobeat was already popular in Japan thanks to para para, a popular club dance. For Westerners, they probably had exposure to Eurobeat through Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution and Para Para Paradise arcade games. As for Initial D, let’s give you our top 5!
5. Wait for You by ACE
This is one of the few songs in which a Euro song was never used in a race but instead, on a date between Takumi, and his new girlfriend, Kyoko. We can say for sure, this version is far superior to Elliot Yamin’s original release. Compared to the original, its fast beats and ACE’s singing style makes the song feel more positive and uplifting. The song appropriately reflects Takumi and Kyoko’s relationship of being unable to see each other that often, but when they get together, they have all the fun in the world. If anything, it's the kind of song you want to listen to either after finishing a fun date to build anticipation for the next.
4. Kimi Ga Iru by GALLA
Second Stage is probably the most emotionally investing of all the seasons, and Kimi Ga Iru does a great job of establishing that with its soft acoustics and powerful singing. For Takumi, it's about discovering that his girlfriend has been engaging in an enjo kousai (or compensated dating) relationship with a middle aged Benz driver. For Takumi’s best friend Itsuki, it's about his developing relationship with Kazumi, a woman slightly older than him he shares a deep connection with. Through this song, audiences can connect with all of that. It takes us on a journey to that part of youth and what it means to have such experiences whether they be good or bad, but in the end, everything’s going to turn out all right.
3. Beat of the Rising Sun by Dave Rodgers
This song was used in Takumi’s race against Ryosuke at the end of the first series. Just as Dave Rodgers, the Godfather of Eurobeat, was used in the first episode, it was just as equally appropriate to end the season with one of his other hits, Beat of the Rising Sun. The intensity knows how to build up the tension to its conclusion. The structure, beats and instrumentals of this song feels like a metaphor over who is going to be the best street racer on Japan with these two rivals put everything on the line as they head for the finish line.
2. Night of Fire by Niko
Night of Fire is considered the Eurobeat anthem to its fans. It has been remixed into Japanese by J-Pop groups Dream and Hinoi Team. This song is used in Takumi’s race against Kenta at Myougi. Even though it was raining in this race, the use of Night of Fire was rather ironic. The song is just super intense and in your face. If any series is going to have Eurobeat in its soundtrack, no way can anyone neglect this song. This song is about having the best night of your life and Takumi had that racing against an unknown opponent in his first race in a mountain other than his home of Akina.
1. Space Boy by Dave Rodgers
This is the first song used in the series. Its quiet acoustic hook is like a calm before the storm. Then when it transitions to its energetic electronic instrumentals, it perfectly pans into the Hachiroku zooming at at top speed and drifting through Akina’s tight hairpins to get viewers excited. The song is an effective gateway into the series and probably for other Eurobeat fans who may not be familiar with anime. Space Boy appropriately fits the mood that the driver at the time was a mystery and was going to catch the viewer by surprise. The song brings an appropriate sense of excitement by making the drifting of the Hachiroku feel like a highlight reel with a preview of things to come.
The only disappointment we have with the Initial D soundtrack is that it never once features the one and true original godfather of Eurobeat, Michael Fortunati. He is the one who made Eurobeat big in Japan back in the eighties. Many of his hits such as Into the Night, Give Me Up, and Dancing the Night Away would have been a perfect addition. If you did become a Eurobeat because of Initial D, we strongly recommend his songs. In addition, it is also rather sad that the Taiwanese live action movie didn't have Eurobeat as well. To fans, Initial D without the Eurobeat is like a Cowboy Bebop without the jazz. So what are some of your favorite songs from Initial D?