Cruel Like Ceres (Ōban Star-Racers)

Ōban Star-Racers

is a French/Japanese animated television series created by Savin Yeatman-Eiffel of Sav! The World Productions.

Presentation

Ōban Star-Racers is a co-production between France and Japan. The creative team behind the project (Paris based indie company Sav! The World Productions) moved to Tokyo and worked hand in hand with the teams of anime studio Hal Film Maker for almost three years.

Originally planned as an all-French, all-CGI production, the animation is mixed-media, with 2D Japanese-animated characters and sets produced in Japan by the aforementioned Hal Film Maker, and with 3D French-animated ships and races produced by Pumpkin-3D.

Development

Sav! The World released a short movie entitled "Molly, Star Racer" in 2001 set to a Y&Co. remix of Ayumi Hamasaki songs. The trailer already showed a mix of 3D and 2D though at the time 3D was still predominant. It featured many of the characters with unfinalized designs including Jordan, Don Wei, Maya, Aikka, Satis, Toros, Sül, Ondai, Ning & Skun, Furter and of course, Molly racing across various places in the Oban landscape featured later in the series. This short movie won the 2001 LEAF Awards and was nominated for best editing in the 2002 Imagina Awards.

The search for financing for the series was a long process since Yeatman-Eiffel refused to negotiate with a party that would have more control than that of the creator (including, but not limited to the option of changing the main character into a boy). So, Yeatman-Eiffel created his own company, "Sav! The World Productions", to create this series without having to conflict with potential investors. In the end it took him a total of nine years to complete the series (the concept was created in 1997, with initial production having begun in Paris is 2000, later moving to Tokyo in 2003).

While this is Sav! The World's first TV series, the company has previously existed as a maker of various short films (including the aforementioned Molly, Star Racer).

Synopsis

In the year 2082, Earth has been invited to compete in the Great Race of Ōban, an intergalactic race whose winner can be granted any wish in the world — even bringing back a loved one. The invitation comes from the Avatar, a mysterious entity who ends hostilities between Earth and the sinister race of the Crogs, in return for Earth's entry into the race. Eva Wei, an Earth student, escapes boarding school to find her father, Don Wei, president of Wei Racing and the best race manager in the world. Having left his daughter in the care of the boarding school for many years without ever visiting, Don Wei does not seem to recognize Eva as his daughter. Unable to tell her father who she really is, she lands a job as a mechanic in his team under the name "Molly", a name chosen from a convenient poster on a crate in the hangar. When Wei Racing is ordered by the government to represent Earth at Ōban, Molly stows away as they are taken to a far-off planet. During the first race, the Whizzing Arrow, the Earth Star-Racer ship, crashes due to sabotage. Its star pilot, Rick Thunderbolt, becomes unable to race. After finding that the gunner, Jordan Wilde, makes a miserable pilot, Molly steals the ship and enters the next race. Don Wei grudgingly decides that the only one who can replace Rick is Molly. Haunted by the death of her mother — a famous star-racer — and the harsh "reunion" with her father, Molly is determined to win so she can be with her parents once again.

Main Characters

The following characters play a primary role throughout the series.

Eva "Molly" Wei

An ambitious 15 year-old Earth girl who often subverts her school studies to improve her mechanical skills. Upon escaping from her harsh boarding school, she travels to find her father, Don Wei, and subsequently lands a job as a mechanic for his company. Lacking in self-confidence and intimidated by his harsh demeanor, Eva is unable to tell Don Wei who she really is, and assumes the name "Molly" after reading it on a poster. Eva soon becomes the lead pilot for the Earth Team after their star, Rick Thunderbolt, is injured during the first race. Molly soon meets the other contenders of the Great Race Of Ōban and develops a crush on Prince Aikka. Her life soon becomes more complicated when she learns that the reward for winning Ōban is any wish her heart desires, including bringing her dead mother back to life. Throughout the series, Don Wei attempts to confront Molly with the question of their relation, but she only returns cryptic responses and leaves the matter unresolved. Believing that winning the tournament is the only way to reunite her family, if she is not victorious, she says she would prefer to stay "Molly" forever. After the last race and the crowning of Jordan Avatar she rejoices to see her dad once again and returns to live with him back on Earth.

Don Wei

Eva's father and owner of Wei Racing, a successful Earth corporation that manufactures vehicles and sponsors races. Uptight and arrogant with an openly hostile view towards female pilots, he often hides his true feelings through formalities, as well as pride. When his daughter finds him, not only does he not recognize her — he even mistakes her for a boy at first. The death of his wife and the following separation from his daughter shaped him into the uptight man he seems to be. Due to several events while on Ōban, he finally discovers that Molly is his daughter. Afterwards, he becomes very concerned for Molly's safety due to the increasing danger of the grand finals — even attempting to withdraw the team from the competition to prevent her from racing. Near the end of the series, he reveals to her that he knows she's his daughter, and didn't want what happened to his wife to happen to her. Although yelled at by Molly, he continued to watch over her without the others knowing about their relationship. Finally before Eva leaves to crown herself Avatar, Don confronts her by her real name in front of the team and Prince Aikka and tells her he loves her. At the end of the series he returned to Earth to live with Eva as a family again.

Maya Wei

Eva's mother and Don's wife, one of the best racers on Earth who was lost in a race ten years before the start of the series. Her sudden and tragic death appears to be the reason for Don Wei's current behavior. It originally appeared that Spirit, one of the pilots racing on Alwas, caused her to crash, which was later shown to be false — the crash was caused by Maya's ship leaking fuel from the engine causing it to explode. Eva is determined to win The Great Race of Ōban in order to bring Maya back to life and reunite her family. However, Eva later learns the truth about the "Ultimate Prize" and that the Avatar's power would not bring back her mother. Later, she discovers that her mother was actually "killed"; it was Canaletto who caused the crash. After returning to Earth, she and her father pay their final respects at Maya's grave.

Jordan C. Wilde

A 17 year-old rambunctious army soldier who is hired by Don Wei to be the gunner for his racing vehicle. He is a good shot, although he tends to overdo it. Jordan is very protective of his racing partners. As seen throughout the series, Jordan has an intense hatred of the Crogs because his grandfather was attacked by Crogs on an exploring mission [Seen in Episode 1]. He doesn't approve of Eva's interest in Prince Aikka, as the Nourasians have an alliance with the Crogs. While he acts more like an overprotective brother toward Eva while they are on Alwas, on Ōban he starts to develop more serious feelings for her. Jordan helps Eva fight their way to the Temple of the Heart to stop Canaletto from regaining his Avatar powers. In the end, after telling Eva he loves her, he spares her by becoming the new Avatar, destroying Canaletto and restoring Ōban in the process. Jordan is last seen, in his Avatar form, watching Eva and the Earth Team leave Oban, with a tear running down his face.

Rick Thunderbolt

A Minor League Racing Champion and one of the best racers on Earth, Rick is chosen to accompany Don Wei as the Earth Team's original pilot. He is seriously injured in the team's first race, and is later told that he can never race again. Cool and confident, he seems to appreciate Molly's enthusiasm, and affectionately calls her "Little Mouse." Eventually, Rick becomes Molly's personal coach and begins to discover that Molly is hiding a secret from the team. During the race against Spirit, he finally determines Molly's true identity but doesn't reveal it to anyone else. After the team qualifies for the Grand Finals on Ōban, Rick returns to Earth.

Koji

The Earth Team's co-mechanic and electronics specialist. Originally working at Miguel's Garage, he is hired by Don Wei as part of the Earth Team. Shy and non-combative by nature, he prefers to avoid conflicts but his quick thinking has saved the Earth Team on many occasions. It was his idea for the 'clustered turbine' hyperdrive that allows the team's new racer, the Whizzing Arrow III, to be much faster than their previous racers. After returning to Earth, he goes back to work for Miguel.

Stan

The Earth Team's co-mechanic and hardware specialist. Originally working at Miguel's Garage, he is hired by Don Wei as part of the Earth Team. The polar opposite of his fellow mechanic Koji, Stan is very direct and combative, and doesn't hesitate to speak his mind, especially when the safety of a teammate is at stake. Stan feels that Don Wei is putting too much pressure on Molly to win on Ōban, and that Don is too prideful and concerned with his own feelings to consider the feelings of the rest of the team. After returning to Earth, he goes back to work for Miguel.

Prince Aikka

The Prince and Knight of Nourasia who races on the back of a giant flying beetle named G'dar, which acts as his vehicle. Noble, chivalrous and skilled in martial arts, he is a rival of Molly's, but also a close friend — Molly finds him cute. Molly and Aikka promise each other that during their race they would not use weapons against each other, but near the end Molly is unable to prevent Jordan from firing. Aikka feels betrayed and gains a distrust of humans. It is later shown, however, that Aikka still cares for Molly and would even come to her defense if he felt she was threatened, such as in her race against Spirit. Aikka is one of the nine Ōban finalists, and appears to have forgiven Molly's "betrayal," but still holds a grudge against Jordan. Once on Ōban, Aikka is pressured by General Kross to cut ties with the Earth Team and eliminate them, as the Crogs have invaded his world and hold his family. He finally succumbs and disables the Arrow III during a race in the mountains. Although he begins to drift from the Earth Team and lose their trust, he later abandons a race and goes looking for Molly after the Arrow III crashes. During the final race, he confronts Molly and Jordan and apologizes, and suggests they defeat Kross together. At the end of the series, he promises to show Molly his kingdom one day.

The Avatar

An enigmatic, seemingly omnipotent entity who organizes the "Great Race of Ōban" every 10,000 years, and grants the winner their wish, or so the competitors were led to believe.

In "Revelations", the origins of Ōban are revealed. The planet is the first creation of almighty beings known as the Creators, who then went on to create the rest of the universe. However, they chose to give up their immortality, and so organized the great race of Ōban every 10,000 years, the winner of which would prove themselves as the strongest, fastest and most fit to be leader. The winner would not get one wish from the Ultimate Prize — they would instead become the new Avatar, the new guardian of the Creators' creation, until the next race. Jordan Wilde becomes the Avatar, replacing Satis who replaced Canaletto before him.

Satis

A small, eccentric being who proclaims himself to be the Avatar's loyal servant. He mysteriously appears whenever Molly needs some encouragement, or when things aren't going her way. He also has a second persona, Super Racer, and competes against her in the playoffs on Alwas. Satis becomes even more mysterious, when on Ōban, another grand finalist pilot reveals that he was on all three preliminary planets at the same time. Just prior to the final race, it is revealed that Satis is not the Avatar's servant, but the Avatar himself. Satis was the previous winner of the Great Race 10,000 years ago. It is also revealed that as the finish of the race approaches his power and health have begun to weaken. After Molly refuses to accept the powers of the Avatar, Satis destroys the Pyramid of Power in the temple to prevent Canaletto from stealing the powers. Canaletto defeats him, and Satis is last seen in the hands of Aikka, disappearing into a cloud of lights.

Canaletto

Also known as "The Timeless One". A dark, sinister being that first appears as a shadow with flaming red eyes and a raven-like head. It is shown that he once went on a crusade to destroy all life and create universal purification, thinking that life is a weakness, a mistake made by the Creators. Canaletto was the Avatar before Satis, but he refused to give up the title and so was imprisoned by the Great Beings. Feeling that he was wrongfully removed from his rightful throne, he intends to become Avatar once again. Molly discovers a crest with his insignia. He has been using Molly as his pawn for some time, killing her mother to give her motivation to participate in the Great Race, destroying the Whizzing Arrow I and injuring Rick so that she has to race in his place. He knows that when she wins the Great Race, her carelessness would set him free and once again give him the opportunity to be Avatar.

Alwas Cycle Characters

The following characters play a supporting role during the first half of the series...

  • Grooor — A biomechanical racer who, along with his ship, seems to run on steam power. Violent and quick to anger, he does not suffer losing gracefully. His sleek, Podracer-like craft is described as a "piece of junk", but is very resistant to damage, thanks to its polarised titanium exterior. It's also heavily-armed, with a pair of missile launchers/projectile cannons on the fronts of the engines and a rapid-fire laser gun mounted on the cockpit. Grooor himself has an odd tendency to shout his own name in battle.
  • Flint — A pilot from Alwas, the host planet of the Great Race's preliminary matches. Somewhat arrogant and not quite as good as he seems; the judges fix the races for him, since he's the home-town favorite. He and his gunner, Marcel, pilot the Flying Fortress, a green star-racer that resembles a steam-powered train or tugboat. The two of them later confront Stan and Koji, who are looking for spare parts, and show them the location of a star-racer "bone yard". Flint reasons that if he can help the Earth Team reach Ōban, then he will have lost to the best team in the galaxy and that this would "restore" him in the eyes of his fans.
  • Ceres — The last surviving member of the Mong, a very ancient race. He resembles a hieroglyphic carving come to life, and his ship is a bizarre tangle of pipes that apparently functions via an unknown form of planetary magnetism. He could use this force to reflect enemy attacks back at them and also used a flute to create hallucinations. He could also use his staff to tap on the hollow pipes of his ship, creating destructive sound waves to use against enemies. Ceres was able to trap Molly within a hallucination during their race, until Rick was able to turn on her CD player, causing the illusion to shatter and Ceres to lose concentration and ultimately crash into a wall on the race track. He survived though, and is briefly glimpsed in Make Way!, waiting in line to return to his homeworld.
  • Para-dice — A cat-like, 12-year old hacker prodigy; trickery and sabotage are her main strategies, but she won't hesitate to blast an opponent off the course either. She controls her ship via a dynamic footpad, which resembles a Dance Dance Revolution platform. She sees the Great Race as nothing more than a game. It was Paradice that reveals the 'true nature' of the Ultimate Prize to Molly during their race. She is seen again, briefly, in Make Way! when Eva runs to the docks looking for Rick.
  • Super Racer — A racer dressed as a superhero who turns out to be Satis in disguise, testing the other racers. He acts very cocky and usually makes eccentric poses. His ship is unique, it resembles an upright ring, with the cockpit on the top and a mouth with shark teeth painted on it. Two large metal balls come out of the center of the ring and rapidly orbit around the ship to prevent enemies from overtaking him. There are also light laser cannons mounted on the nose.
  • Rush — A giant, Viking-like racer who, despite his intimidating appearance, is a very friendly, good natured person. His first appearance was in Hostilities Break Out when Molly nearly gets run over by his star-racer on her way to get fuel. He saves Molly from drowning after she becomes trapped inside flooding ruins. Rush abandoned the race to duel Toros after it was revealed to him that he was the Crog who lead the invasion of his home world Byrus. He lost both the duel and the race when Toros drove his ship into a bridge over the race course, burying him in a pile of rubble and knocking him out of the playoffs. Rush had wanted to use the Ultimate Prize to undo the damage that the Crogs had done to his home world. Rush's star-racer is made of a unique metal from his homeworld that is nigh-unbreakable. However, it is also faster than it looks, thanks to its powerful magma-fueled engines. Rush sits atop his racer, controlling it and its two extendable arms with a pair of circular control yokes.
  • Spirit — Ambassador of the Phils; a mysterious, shadowy being. Ten years earlier he raced against Molly’s mother, Maya. Near the end of the race Maya’s ship crashed and exploded. Molly and her father since that day have believed that Spirit had intentionally killed Maya. During a race against Molly that ended in Molly crashing her ship trying to kill Spirit, Spirit showed an unconscious Molly what really happened to her mother. Spirit then left to finish the race, but not before shedding a tear. He is eliminated at the end of the playoffs by Prince Aikka. He utilises his polymorphic shapeshifting powers to transform into a bird-like creature that can easily match any star-racer's speed.
  • Toros — Colonel of the Crog Imperium and younger brother of the Crog leader. The Crogs are the sinister alien race that threatened to destroy Earth 25 years ago. He is determined to obtain the Ultimate Prize in order to enslave the entire galaxy under Crog rule. Toros was also the leader of the Crog force that decimated Rush's homeworld of Byrus, transforming it from a paradise into a polluted wasteland. Seemingly unbeatable, he is finally handed a defeat during his rematch against Molly when he crashes against the starting gate in a game of "chicken", but still advances to the Grand Finals. During the course of the Arouas playoffs, his first racer, a standard Crog Trident was damaged during his race with Rush. It was replaced just before his rematch with Molly with an upgraded model, sporting more curvaceous and intimidating blades and a two-stage Hyper Drive similar to the Earth Team's Whizzing Arrow III. Despite having the best record on Arouas, Toros' single '"unacceptable'" loss to the Earth Team results in him being replaced as the Crog's pilot on Oban by General Kross. Kross states that he "Gave his head willingly to the Crog Imperium", hinting that Toros may have been executed by his own request, unable to bear that he lost to the Earth Team.

Ōban Cycle Characters

The following characters play a supporting role during the second half of the series...

  • Sül — A 'magician' known across the galaxy with telekinetic super-powers that are rumored to equal those of the Avatar himself. Sül shows little emotion and rarely reacts to the other pilots unless attacked. He does not actually use a star-racer during the competition, instead he surrounds himself with glowing, diamond-shaped objects conjured and controlled by his mind. He does not want the ultimate prize because, as the "master of space, time, and even the course of destiny", there is nothing he wants to wish for. He is eliminated by Canaletto midway through the finals, as he threatened to ruin his carefully laid plans. It is possible that he still survived, though; since he was sucked through an inter-dimensional portal, he does still exist in another dimension as Canaletto wasn't strong enough to kill him.
  • Ning and Skun — Two very proud and aggressive sisters from the destroyed planet Inna, their star-racer is distinctive in that it is actually two ships that fly in tandem, but are capable of combining to form a more powerful craft. After combining their ships, they gain the ability to use an extremely powerful heat-seeking plasma cannon. The short-haired sister, Skun, can make her fingernails grow into very long claws. She is also extremely strong, tearing a hole in the Arrow III's hull with her bare hands in the episode Nervous Like Ning & Skun. They want the ultimate prize to reunite their people, who are scattered throughout the galaxy. In the episode "Canaletto's revenge" the sisters challenge Kross for the last gate. Although it is never seen, the battle is witnessed from afar by Molly, and the fact Kross emerges victorious, emphasises their demise. This proves to be false when in the final episode both are shown to have survived.
  • Lord Furter — Captain of a space-galleon, as bad-tempered as he is egocentric. He is easily recognizable due to him being the smallest in stature of all the racers, as well as his habit of keeping his very large tongue hanging outside his mouth. Being a pirate, he only sees the Ultimate Prize as a treasure to be claimed. After the race is over, his crew members return to where they came from and assumedly continue being pirates, but Furter himself is conspicously absent. His star-racer is a large, slow, pirate ship-like vehicle armed with 4 cannons, capable of firing either energised cannon balls or tow cables. It also carries a pair of powerful (if rather slow-firing) guns hidden in its masts. Furter's crew can usually be seen running about the deck, going about their duties and panicking when shot at. The vessel was destroyed by Kross in the episode "Canaletto's Revenge" when he rammed his star racer into it, splitting it in two before it exploded; all the crew escaped, but Lord Furter tried to prove his loyalty to his ship by not abandoning it, though at the last moment he has a change of heart and flees just as his ship explodes.
  • Kross — General of the Crog Imperium. He replaces Toros as the Crog's representative on Ōban, because Toros' loss to the Earth Team in the last race of the playoffs was "unacceptable". Even more intimidating than Toros, Kross has a distinctive crescent-shaped scar over his left eye and has four ears compared to Toros' two. Kross pilots a much stronger version of the Crog Trident, the starfighter used by Toros on Arouas; his is equipped with more cutting blades, and a fixed bow weapons pod that fire sickle like laser bolts, a large laser sword, and can emmit energy torpedoes. After revealing the true nature of the Ultimate Prize to the Crog Senate, they make him their Supreme Ruler. Kross stalks and attempts to eliminate all the pilots during the last race of the competition. In the end, it comes down to a sprint between him and Molly. Kross attempts to land on top of Molly and cut her racer in two, but a last second manoeuvre by Molly sends Kross's fighter plowing into the ground. Kross' last words are a surprised curse of "By Kramm" as his fighter crashes and explodes with him in it.
  • Ondai — Ondai is a robot that looks like a cylinder that walks on three metal legs. Very analytical and constantly running calculations, but is also known to have a sarcastic and narcissistic personality. Ondai's star-racer is capable of transforming into a humanoid mech armed with a pair of energy swords and a battery of missile launchers. He may sometimes get carried away with calculations when too many things around him are mathematically possible, causing him to go into a state of awe, as was exemplified in Optimized Like Ondai. His constant putting-down of living creatures would make one think that he would wish for machines to reign supreme, but this could not be further from the truth; he actually envies organic beings. As a robot, he cannot feel the sensations of touch or warmth, which he longs for. Constant study of living creatures has done nothing, so he hopes that the Ultimate Prize will do that which science cannot; make him flesh. His star-racer (in robot mode) was disabled by Prince Aikka in the final race, and he isn't seen again.
  • O — The tallest of the nine Oban pilots, he resembles a large upside down teardrop with stubby legs and one large eye in the middle. He appears to "pilot" a large, bizarre, organic construct that looks similar to a jellyfish of some sort. In 'Ominous Like O', Kross fired a laser at him, and he absorbed the shot and fired it back in a giant wave which damaged the Arrow III causing it to crash at the bottom of the seemingly bottomless canyon. O is also able to transform into a larger bulkier humanoid-like form with arms that somewhat resemble the heads of killer whales. In Canaletto's Revenge, it is revealed that O was present when Satis first locked Canaletto away - Satis begs O for his help to destroy Canaletto, as alone he could only neutralise his powers. However, O left instead, with Satis calling after him "O, don't leave, come back!" Thinking back to this during the last race, a guilt-ridden O chooses to settle in a crater rather than attempt to finish. After Canaletto is freed, O rushes to help Molly, Jordan and Prince Aikka and follows them to the Temple of the Heart, where he protects them from two giant guardians controlled by Canaletto before being killed by them. His unique energy-absorption abilities allowed him to take the guardians down with him, consuming them in an enormous explosion that disintegrated all three of them.
  • Muir — A large crab-like alien with a heavy, armored shell and large pincers. Molly and Jordan initially mistook it for a native Ōban life form. Prince Aikka comments that it's not normally aggressive unless provoked. Muir flies in what appears to be a giant, flying horseshoe crab, with claws and tentacles similar to its own, and a strange retractable fin in the back that discharges energy spheres. In Monstrous Like Muir, Molly discovers that she isn't the only one who wants to bring back a loved one; Muir's mate was killed by alien hunters and it hopes to win the Great Race to bring her back to life. While racing, Muir sits atop a large, liquid-filled globe, containing the body of its mate. It is also revealed that the tentacles on Muir's back allow it to communicate telepathically and appear to be highly prized as a hunting trophy. Muir chooses not to take part in the final race after learning the Avatar doesn't have the power to resurrect his mate. After the race ended he returned to his home planet.

Earth Team Star-Racers

Whizzing Arrow I — Prototype racer built at Miguel's Garage by Miguel, Stan, and Koji. Purchased by Don Wei for the Great Race. It has very powerful engines but unsteady and untested. Rick Thunderbolt pilots the Arrow I in the Earth Team's first race on Arouas. Near the end of the race, the port engine explodes causing the racer to crash in a flaming wreck across the finish line. The Arrow I cannot be salvaged.

Whizzing Arrow II — Sister ship to the Whizzing Arrow I. Purchased by Don Wei for the Great Race. Subtle advances over the Arrow I make the ship more stable. The Arrow II also boasts an orange and red flaming paint job, along with the addition of a sharp-toothed rabbit that Molly painted on in 'Surprising Like SuperRacer', compared with the Arrow I's flat green color. The Arrow II serves as the Earth Team' primary racer during the preliminaries and most of the semi-finals on Arouas. It suffers severe damage throughout the competition numerous times but is constantly repaired by Stan and Koji. During the semifinal race against the Fihl Ambassador, Spirit, the Arrow II is damaged beyond repair when a crash literally tears it to pieces.

Whizzing Arrow III — New racer built on Alwas by Stan and Koji with the help of native Skrub mechanics to replace the lost Arrow II. The Arrow III is far more advanced than both Arrow I and Arrow II but maintains the same overall shape of the previous racers. Major upgrades include it being safer, more stable and a good deal faster than the Arrow II while in cruising mode. Also, a new Hyperdrive developed by Stan and Koji back on Earth but not implemented until after the Arrow II's crash which uses 'clustered turbines' for a far greater thrust that allows the Arrow III to far exceed the Arrow II in speed. The new Hyperdrive is physically very different from its predecessor too, forming numerous turbines and wings all around it. A larger fuel supply also allows the Hyperdrive to be used for longer periods of time. In addition to the much greater Hyperdrive, mechanics Stan and Koji also added in the "Booster Drives" A grouping of five extra turbines that extend from underneath either side of the star racer's main engine blocks, proving to be a massive boost to the racer's speed. In the series, these drives as a much needed edge to some of the more punishing races.

Music

The opening and ending theme songs of Ōban Star-Racers are composed by Yoko Kanno (of Macross Plus, Escaflowne and Cowboy Bebop fame), and the musical score is composed by Taku Iwasaki. The series has two official soundtracks only available through the official site which include extended versions of "A Chance To Shine" and other songs.

In the US broadcast, the opening theme song was replaced by an original rock oriented theme song entitled "Never Say Never". The closing song had also been replaced during the first broadcasts, but now features "Waratteta", the original closing song composed by Yoko Kanno. This is the first song to retain its original Japanese lyrics to be featured on Jetix USA. Jetix UK retained the original Japanese opening theme, albeit slightly remixed, but replaced the ending theme with an instrumental version of the opening theme. Oddly, ending credits on Jetix UK-run episodes still show "Waratteta" to be the ending theme. The French broadcast also has the original theme, but only plays the part that's in French.

  • Opening Themes

"A Chance to Shine" by AKINO (International broadcast)

"Never Say Never" by After Midnight Project (U.S. broadcast)

  • Ending Theme
by Mou Sukoshi

Trivia

These facts are coming right from Savin Yeatman-Eiffel himself (see )

  • Eva Wei escaped from the Stern Boarding School in spring.
  • The lion-monkey creaures of Ōban are called Drudgers.
  • Aikka's swordmaster was never given a name in canon. A fan came up with the name "Canaan," which became commonly used. Savin Yeatman-Eifel later approved of the name.
  • The home planet of the Crogs is called "Kramm."
  • The Inna, Ning and Skun's people, are a female-only race.
  • The Inna's home planet was shared with another male-only race. The two were often at war with each other.
  • On the day of her accident, the ship Maya Wei was flying was called the Cloud II.
  • Nourasia is based on traditional Japanese society.
  • Early designs of Canaletto portrayed him "closer to a bird (of bad omen.)"
  • O's racer can live indefinitely, so long as it stays out of harm's way.
  • The reason Savin Yeatman-Eifel gave for the almost noseless design of the characters was that he "didn't like noses."
  • Though the Avatar can send his "projection" easily across the galaxy, his powers ultimately originate from Ōban. Because of this, he can only physically leave occasionally. In addition, the heavy responsibilities of the role, and that he will outlive nearly all living beings, heavily diminish the capacity for normal relationships.
  • After returning to Earth, Rick performed a series of odd jobs without being able to race for a living.
  • "Waratteta" (笑ってた, Waratteta?) by Mou Sukoshi is most likely the hardest anime ending to find.

Casts

Thomas Guitard, Alexandre Coadour and Rémi Caillebot are actors of the French dubbing association Gotohwan. Gabrielle Jeru and Sarah Bouché de Vitray joined it after working on Ōban.

The English voices were recorded by Airwaves Sound Design in Vancouver, Canada. Voice director for the series is Michael Donovan.

Character French English Japanese
Molly Gabrielle Jeru Chiara Zanni Junko Noda
Jordan Thomas Guitard Sam Vincent Keiichirou Satomi
Rick Alexandre Coadour Michael Dobson Jun'ichi Suwabe
Don Wei Jérôme Keen Ron Halder Unshou Ishizuka
Toros / Avatar Mathieu Barbier Paul Dobson Banjou Ginga
Stan / Satis Nicolas Mead Dexter Bell / Brian Drummond Keisuke Fujii/Masashi Hirose
Prince Aikka Rémi Caillebot Kirby Morrow Hiroaki Miura
Koji Vincent Latorre Alessandro Juliani Yoshinori Fujita
Maya Sarah Bouché de Vitray Nicole Oliver
Flint Laurent Maurel
Groor Omar Yami

Awards and nominations

Molly Star-Racer (pilot film)

  • LAEF AWARD - London Animation and Effects Festival 2001
  • Nominated for Best editing - Imagina Awards 2002

Oban Star-Racers

  • Animeland Award of the Best non-Japanese Animation Series of 2006 – Grand Prix Animeland 2007 (awarded by the readers of France’s biggest animation/manga magazine, Animeland).
  • Grand Prix du Divertissement Eurojap Award – Polymanga 2007 (awarded by one of Europe's largest anime convention, Polymanga)
  • Nominated for Best Animated Series – Children BAFTA AWARDS 2007 (BAFTA is essentially the UK equivalent of the American Oscars and Emmies combined )

Media and Merchandise

According to the series' official merchandise site, there is a video game based on the series to be made for the Nintendo DS by an unnamed developer. A mobile phone game has also been made by award winning game studio Devalley Entertainement.

A vinyl collector figure of Molly (8 inch) will be available from Muttpop in June 2008.

Two volumes of French-language DVDs have been released by WildSide Vidéo long with a limited edition full series box set. In the United States the series is being released on DVD by Shout! Factory and the first episode appears as a bonus sneak peek on the company's DVD release of Medabots season one. However, the episodes while containing the Japanese opening theme, are based on the U.K. versions (with the exception of Waratteta being included rather than the instrumental version of the opening). The series is also being released on DVD in the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands by other companies.

A yet unreleased series of novels and an art book is planned for publication in mid 2008.

Volume 1 of an original soundtrack for the series is also on sale, as well as two series of three collectible t-shirts available from the Oban Fan Shop

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