Warning: This is not an unbiased review. I hate what Tokyopoop has done with Initial D, and I encourage everyone to not support their release. I'm mentioning that right up front so that no one gets confused with this being an impartial review. It's not.
I'm going to start by being mean because... Well, because I have an agenda when it comes to TP's version and everyone should know that by now.
The disc comes with two different versions, the "classic" version and the "tricked out" version. It does have Japanese with subtitles and English tracks. Because I'm a masochist, I watched the tricked-out English track.
First thing that hits you is the music. Wow, hideous. The opening song has been replaced by some weird rap piece, the lyrics of which make about as little sense as your average Eurodance song. At least with the opening they made some effort to make sure that the music synchs somewhat with the video. No such effort was made with any of the other songs, and it shows. The ending song makes me laugh. It sounds like in the background there is a duet between a giant mutant mosquito and a synthesized donkey.
I'm not going to say too much on the voices. The acting wasn't so horrid that it made me laugh. It's also not what I'm used to, so I expect that it would make me cringe no matter how well they were chosen. Takeshi's voice made me cry. But then there was no way they were going to get anyone who could hold a candle to Hiyama Nobuyuki.
I don't know why, but they took all the original sound effects out. In some spots they re-dubbed their own. But for the most part, we don't get a lot of car sounds.
The dialog is designed to be almost incomprehensible to anyone whose age does not start with a 1. It is so littered with current slang that it sounds stupid if you are not a teenie-bopper.
As expected, all references to Mogi being a slut have been removed. I suppose that is inevitable since you can't very well have a heroine who is a whore. Unless you're Shigeno, who did create a heroine who is a ho.
At the end of the first episode they say "Don't worry about it if you don't know all the technical terms yet. Initial D will teach you everything you need to know about driving!" They really need to add a disclaimer: Under no circumstances should you think that anything these characters say about driving is correct. The car stuff varies between sounding strange (like the person writing it didn't understand what they were talking about and was just parroting something they had heard) and being flat-out wrong.
What makes this version "tricked out" is that they have added a bunch of wonky video transitions randomly throughout the driving scenes. My roomie described it as "it looks like they handed this over to a bad AMV creator." I have no idea why they spent the time on it, since it doesn't add anything to the show. Actually, it makes several scenes difficult to tell what is going on, and may make some people nauseous.
Other than that, the core of the story is more or less left in tact. I cringe with every word out of the characters' mouths, since they are so filled with slang, and the original dialog so isn't. There are a lot of small differences in the characters that bug me. But I suppose technically they are close enough. (Though really, they somehow manage to make Takumi sound like a normal, well-adjusted teenage boy. I think this is mainly the voice actor's fault for not making him sound so spaced-out when he talks.)
Now for the being nice/fair part: The Japanese version is actually the original Japanese dialog. (Yes, even Mogi's lines about Papa paying her to see him.) The subtitles are clearly based off of the Central Anime translation, and are reasonably correct. Mogi's exact relationship with Papa is, unsurprisingly, glossed over and changed. But other than that, it's pretty much the same.
I suppose if one cared about introducing Inital D to the American market, I would say this is a reasonable start. But really, I don't care. I have no interest in someone producing a dumbed-down, edited-for-teenagers version just for the purpose of attracting fans. They aren't my type of fans. I won't be able to have interesting conversations with them. Why should I care?
That said, for some people this would be a perfectly acceptable alternative to fansubs or buying the Hong Kong imports. Me, I still encourage people not to support Tokyopoop.
(That line above seems particularly appropriate for Tokyopoop.)