I have to admit, when I first saw that Funimation was re-doing everything Initial D thus far, I was quite surprised. At first I was thinking that it was just some ruse to get hardcore fans to buy more merchandise with the same crap English audio but "remastered". But then I read this: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/press-release/2009-09-25/funimation-entertainment-acquires-initial-d-first-through-fourth-stages
More specifically : "These stages will feature a new English dub cast and will remain uncut and use the original music."
I was ecstatic! A new English dub? Thank goodness! When I watched the first two "stages" of Initial D in English, I was really turned off by the fact that not only were all of the voices so ill fit for the characters, Kodansha tried incorporating U.S. slang into the mix to make it sound "tight". Not only that, but if you've watched both the English and Japanese versions you would easily recognize that in the English version they practically muted all of the engine and screeching sounds, with the exception of blow-off valves. Overall the English quality was poor, which led many, many people to just watch the Japanese version with subtitles.
When it comes to the music in Initial D... oh God. That was the first time I ever started listening to Eurobeat and stuff like that. There's a certain vibe that just excites the viewer when there are street racers doing their thing while listening to fast-paced, upbeat music. But again, the English version before really screwed this up, and put in some R&B and Rap into the mix, both of which were also ill-fitting to the racing scene depicted in Initial D. This one you can't totally blame on Kodansha though... I mean when they released this thing in English they didn't know what the American crowd would think about upbeat Euro music they've never heard before. Then again, that's what the first two seasons of Initial D in English felt like: a shit-job translation with a look that didn't fit the bill just to make money off the kids in the States. The only thing I liked about the English version was the opening and closing of the first stage. Just the music by itself, mind you.
So, enough with the flaming of Kodansha. I did get a chance to view an episode of Funimation's Initial D in English thanks to iTunes and I've got to say that I'm quite impressed. I want to say that they digitally remastered the traditional music because it sounds so much clearer than my DVD version of Stage 4. The voices were actually not too bad. I wouldn't say great, more like the voices are what they're supposed to be. When it came to the racing they cleaned out some of the static but left the original engine sounds in place, which was a relief in my opinion. If ever, I would say Funimation did accomplish what they wanted to do by redoing the dub and leaving the rest alone: they created the Initial D experience in English.
So, I know my review didn't really explain much, but honestly if you want to know what it's like then view a free episode in crap quality somewhere and look for yourself. I'm simply recommending it, and plan to see if I can scrounge up enough money to buy Funimation's version. It's been years since Stage 4 has been out, and since then the craze for Initial D has died down with the times. However I wouldn't see Funimation's move as risqué... in fact, I think they knew what people wanted. I also think that they've known this for quite some time now and have been waiting for the right opportunity to purchase the rights from Kodansha and do Initial D some justice. If you get a chance, definitely watch one of the episodes from Funimation in the best quality you can find. Even if you're not an Initial D fan, I bet you would gather some enjoyment from watching. : )
If you're even more curious or don't know what I'm talking about, check this out: http://www.funimation.com/initiald/