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Initial D: v. 29
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This latest installment in the popular manga series continues the fast-paced auto-racing story of Tak Fujiwara, a young racing star on the verge of greater things. Tak falls into racing by default, testing his driving prowess up and down Mt. Akina while delivering orders from his father's tofu business. He eventually hooks up with the racing team Akina Speed Stars, encouraged by the team's leader, Cole Iketani, who becomes his mentor. In this volume, Tak reaches a turning point, hooked on the racing life. Pushing to master the sport, he begins to surpass Cole, and their relationship comes to a head after Tak takes Cole's place in the book's cliffhanger finale. Shigeno sets this book up like a video game, identifying the characters and the specs of their amped-up cars before ushering readers into the story. And like a video game, character motivation, development and empathy aren't quite as important as the hair-raising race action on Mt. Akina. Shigeno's drawing is competent, and he's in full control of his subject. His panels are cinematic, with quick cuts and dynamic visual angles of the cars hurtling down the mountain. His layouts are thrilling and highlight in clear detail the characters' driving techniques. Indeed, the racing action compensates for the soap opera-esque clichs and slow-moving subplots that pad the rest of the book. The book is published in the newly fashionable American manner, to be read right to left, as it was in the original Japanese edition. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

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