8/10 A great authentic instalment that focuses chiefly on racing and its developmental stages. Takumi with the help of Ryosuke of Project D learns extensively about theory mechanics and even the psychological aspect of serious street racing. In nearly every race Takumi discovers something new from his opponents technique and adapts it improves it or simply invents something entirely new so as to come out on top. And he does unfailingly even through the oddest of circumstances. His disadvantages arent as great as before. His car now has the upgraded engine and even a team of mechanics tuning it to the specific course and his liking in every race. Still his car has no ABS and lacks the stability and quickness of modern electronics. He soon discovers that when his Dad decides to give him the Hachiroku and buy himself an Impreza WRX. Bunta then proceeds to beat his Akina downhill in it of course without informing him of his purchase. After he realizes who the driver was and gets to drive the AWD Subaru himself he also actualizes the fact that his technique makes his runs with the better car faster. Thus his beloved AE86 is hindering his development and effectively driving him to an impasse. Most of my qualms about this title are storyrelated and a few minor ones Ive always had with how the show allows some opponents to behave. The story here is minimal and disappointing. We are shown that Mogi now in Tokyo has sent Takumi a letter but he doesnt seem to care to even respond albeit he is thinking about her all the time. The reasoning is pretty solid however as he cant focus on much else when hes the ace driver of Project D a temporary superteam. The other aspect is Keisuke of the Red Suns. He is developed a bit and some plot is written on him. It is shown that he used to be a rebel whod lead street gangs in high school and his brother saved him from that lifestyle by showing him his Touge. A girl also comes to fall in love with him and even help him win on some occasions but he decides to reject her for his competitive bromance with Takumi. The studio is also the worst so far with everyone looking much too blurry and about five years younger. Further we have the races themselves. Almost every single one of them is intense and involves some new interesting and wellanalyzed technique. One of the standouts was the one where Takumi raced an actual proracer. He discovered the disappearing line overtake. A technique where the attacking driver uses his opponents blind spots to come up in his line and force him to give up the line. Said pro uses this trick which Takumi immediately retaliates with his own twist turning off the headlights for extra sneakiness so the pro decides to ram him lightly to force his way back in the lead. Takumi doesnt retaliate since he doesnt like putting other lives at risk but overtakes him cleanly anyway. The tactics of the pro racer were so unbecoming in my opinion. Perhaps light ramming is accepted in protected circuits where drivers know whats coming but with Takumi who had no idea those existed he couldve easily flown off the mountain and to his certain death. Speaking of certain death there is another interesting race where the opponent seems kind and respectful yet attempts murder many a time. The final races and most intense are when the duo of Takumi and Keisuke race against the Gods of Touge. God Footso named for his divine pedal controland God Armso called for his godlike handling which employs only one hand for better angles. The first one is likely the most underhanded yet. Keisuke faces God Foot who uses some pretty murderous tactics to get ahead. Initially Keisuke is faster and manages to overtake. Theyre doing an uphill and downhill battle and at some point they have to Jturn around a cone to turn around. God Foot gets to his side right before that point Jturns with him and uses the fact that this will cause a headon collision with certainly fatal speeds to force Keisuke to back off and give him the lead. Thereafter when Keisuke overtakes him again God Foot bumps him. At least he apologizes for that infraction. The last race is Takumi v. God Arm. This opponent comes with a few quirks. He only uses his right hand for steering making for better angles and he has the unbelievable ability to attain the same exact speed while cornering by using random lines differing each time. That shouldnt be possible as each line limits how much speed you can carry but he apparently can do it because hes not using all his speed and he performs delicate torque control at variable points throughout all the random lines. This strategy is very powerful as it helps maintain better tire grip and is sure to throw Takumis pace off. The race comes down to a war of attrition where each driver is tired and God Arm has to go for his recordlines which arent the ideal ones for speed but the ideal ones for gripas his racing style is more so grip than drift. He uses this to get a gap Takumi overshoots his gutter technique and fries the suspension but God Arm is too late. His middle age finally shows as he stops and throws up right before the goal. Undoubtedly the most hollow victory our protagonist has tasted to date. The last part of this title Ive yet to mention is the conclusion of Itsukis plotline which was started in Second Stage. He finds the girl he likes in one of Takumis races and manages to chat her up. Later the girl learns that her ex has gone to her house and is searching for her. She panics and tells him that she doesnt want to go to her home tonight. Awkwardly and terribly Itsuki immediately asks her if they could get a room and somehow she responds positively. Then she admits that she had been dating some guy before and hasnt fully gotten over him yet. Then he asks her how many times they got a room and tacitly how many times they had sex. Beautiful bro beautifully smooth. Even after all that he has the girl. But an unexpected turn of events occurs. Her ex finds them and stops by shouting to her that she loves her and only toyed with her because he didnt have the confidence to treat her seriously because of their age gap. Itsuki hearing that and knowing shes not fully over him denies her proposal to leave. He in lieu closes his eyes opens up his arms and tells her to run to the chest of the one she truly loves. Of course the creator does him even dirtier than before and when he opens up his eyes she had run to the ex. Poor Itsuki. Overall I think this is one of the better titles in the franchise and everyone who loved First Stage is sure to love this one as well.