Definitions

Speed_Racer

Speed Racer

Speed Racer is an English adaptation of the Japanese manga and anime, which centered on automobile racing. Mach GoGoGo was originally serialized in Shueisha's Shōnen Book, and was released in tankōbon form by Sun Wide Comics, re-released in Japan by Fusosha. Selected chapters of the manga were released by NOW Comics under the title Speed Racer Classics, later released by the DC Comics division, Wildstorm Productions under the title Speed Racer: The Original Manga. Under the name of its Americanized title, Speed Racer, Mach GoGoGo, in its entirety, was re-published in the United States by Digital Manga Publishing and was released as a box set in commemoration of the franchise's 40th anniversary. It was published under the title Speed Racer: Mach Go Go Go as part of the company's DMP Platinum imprint. The series is an early example of an anime becoming a successful franchise in the United States.

Background

Plot

Although the series was full of action, technology, and danger, the plot of the original series was pretty simple. The plot follows the adventures around the world of an ambitious young man who falls in love with racing and becomes a professional racing car driver. In every episode, the plot is backed up by perilous story lines and intense action, putting the show's main characters in a deep predicament, leaving viewers at the edge of their seats and making the show notable to many to this day. The plot is also backed up by several other back stories, such as the story of Speed's older brother.

Mach GoGoGo manga

The characters and story lines originated in Japan as the manga and anime series Mach GoGoGo, from the anime studio Tatsunoko Productions.

Mach GoGoGo was first created and designed by anime pioneer Tatsuo Yoshida (1932–1977) as a manga series in the 1960s and made the jump to TV as an anime series in 1967. The actual manga was inspired by Yoshida’s earlier, and most popular automobile racing comics, Pilot Ace. Pilot Ace’s main storyline would be lifted onto Mach GoGoGo, which followed the adventures of an ambitious young man who would soon become a professional racer.

When Yoshida had plans for a newer project, he took the popularity of Pilot Ace to his advantage. The characters’ designs in Pilot Ace would set the main ground for the character design in a newer project entitled, Mach GoGoGo. Yoshida got his idea for his story after seeing two films that were very popular in Japan at the time, Viva Las Vegas and Goldfinger. By combining the look of Elvis Presley's race-car driving image, complete with neckerchief and black pompadour, and James Bond's gadget-filled Aston Martin, Yoshida had the inspiration for his creation. Soon enough, Mach GoGoGo hit shelves in the early 1960’s. The central character in the anime and manga was a young race car driver named Gō Mifune (Mifune Gō).

The name of the series, Mach GoGoGo is actually a triple pun:

  • "Go" is the Japanese word for the number 5. Thus "Mach-go" is the name of the car ("go" also being a suffix attached to the names of ships, etc.), which would be called the Mach 5 in the American adaptatiom
  • It is the name of the main character, Go Mifune. (Speed Racer in the American adaptation)
  • It contains the English word "go."

Taken together, the program's title means, "Mach-go, Mifune, Go!".

Also: "Gogogo", is used as a general Japanese sound effect for "Rumble". The names themselves constitute a multilingual wordplay of the kind that had started to become part of the Japanese popular culture of the time.

The manga (which was compiled into 2 deluxe volumes for Fusosha's re-release) has several story lines such as "The Great Plan", "Challenge of the Masked Racer", "The Fire Race", "The Secret Engine" and "Race for Revenge" that have been adapted to the anime, each story having similar story lines. However, minor changes occur between both the original manga and the anime series. Differences include minor changes in some story lines and back stories of several characters and places.

A few years later after the volumes were released, Yoshida decided to release his manga series as an anime program, adding new and heart-pounding plots in addition to the original stories in the manga. 52 episodes aired in Japan, each one emulating the fast-paced action of the manga.

Symbolism

Yoshida selected the names and symbolism in his creation very carefully. The large red M on the hood of the Mach 5, which in North America was assumed to stand for "Mach 5," is actually the emblem of Mifune Motors, the family business. That is also the origin of the "M" on Gō's helmet. This was a homage to Japanese film star Toshiro Mifune. His given name, Gō, is also a Japanese homophone for the number 5 (the number on his race car). This is also represented by the yellow letter G embroidered on his short-sleeve blue shirt. The tradition of symbolism on characters' shirts would be also used on Michi (Trixie) and Sabu (Sparky), who had the letter "M" and "S" on their shirts, respectively.

English adaptation

The English rights to Mach GoGoGo were immediately acquired by American syndicator Trans-Lux. The main character Gō Mifune was given the name "Speed Racer" in the English version. A major editing and dubbing effort was undertaken by producer Peter Fernandez, who also provided the voices of many of the characters, most notably Racer X and Speed Racer himself. Fernandez was also responsible for a rearrangement of the theme song's melody and subsequently wrote its English lyrics.

In a 2008 interview with Chicago Tribune DVD columnist Louis R. Carlozo, Fernandez recalled that he landed the job working on "Speed Racer" after ghost-writing scripts for "Astro-Boy" and "Gigantor." Simultaneously with "Speed Racer," Fernandez also voiced the main character and wrote scripts for another anime series, "Marine Boy," sometimes taping both shows in the same day in New York City. Fernandez also said he could not possibly have predicted "Speed Racer's" lasting appeal at the time or in the decades that followed. Reflecting on the series' staying power, he commented: "There was the family relationship. You knew about Speed's family, you knew them well. They were all involved in each race. And we all play with cars as little kids, we love cars. The Mach 5 was a hot car, and there were all sorts of cars throughout all episodes. I still think the Mach Five is ahead of its time."

In an effort to squeeze the complicated plots into existing lip movements, the frenetic pace of the dubbing made Speed Racer famous-—and famously parodied-—for its quirky "fast" dialogue and constant gasping. In the early 1990s the series made a comeback as reruns on MTV broadcast in the early morning hours. In 1993, the series was rebroadcast in syndication concurrently with a new American-created remake courtesy of the newly established "Speed Racer Enterprises", with distribution by Group W's international unit. In this version, all references to Trans-Lux were removed, with the opening sequence including a recreated logo, and with the episode titles and closing credits recreated (with the latter sequence including three typographical errors: Jack Grimes is misspelled Jack "Crimes", Hiroshi Sasagawa is misspelled Hiroshi "Sasacawa", and "Yomiko" is misspelled "Yumiko"); this is the version that later aired on the Cartoon Network in the late afternoon (and later on in late night/overnight) programming, and is also the version released on Region 1 DVD. This version can also be seen on the streaming video service Hulu (although oddly enough, episode 31--Gang of Assassins, Part 1--is missing; otherwise the complete series is available).

In 2008, a revival of the show developed in the United States with permission from Lions Gate Entertainment and Speed Racer Enterprises, Inc., made by various companies and studios. A live-action film was released under Warner Bros., written and directed by the Wachowski brothers, as well as multiple tie-ins with toy companies. A new animated series called Speed Racer: The Next Generation was made as a Nicktoon and continues to air through the year.

Audience

Beyond Speed Racer's appeal as an early anime, the series generally is for family entertainment and does not contain the deep intellectual conflicts or controversies seen in anime today. It can be argued that the plots in Speed Racer were more complicated than conventional American cartoons of the 1960s, but the overall purpose was to please a growing fan base worldwide with exciting stories that involved facing adversity on the race track and beyond. The original Mach GoGoGo episodes underwent minor editing to reach the form which aired in the US and was considered appropriate entertainment for the whole family,. The amount of violence in the series in its American release was almost equal to its original Japanese airing; however, to appeal to a smaller demographic, scenes were changed slightly, to lower the number of casualties seen throughout the show.

Characters

Speed Racer

The focus character of both the anime and the manga is Speed Racer, originally . He is known for his love of racing and values his family. He drives the Mach 5 (as well as other cars, such as the Mach 6 in the movie) and always manages to wind up in extreme danger (such as encountering thugs, race fixers, gangs, etc.) with his younger brother or his girlfriend Trixie. Speed is shown to miss his older brother, Rex (secretly disguised as the Racer X) in both versions.

Casually, he wears a blue shirt with a yellow "G" (standing for his Japanese first name, Gō) that sports a white collar, a red racing bandanna around his neck, white pants, lucky red socks, brown loafers and yellow gloves. He has a brown Elvis pompadour style when he is casual. In racing, he sports a white open-face helmet with an M (representing Mifune Motors) flashed on top. On special occasions, Speed wears a red blazer with a yellow "G" embroidered on. This only happens in the anime. In the manga, he wears his standard outfit on special occasions. In the live action film, he wears a white leather racing jacket unzipped and over his classic outfit, and white pants. He wears his classic outfit (without the embroidered "G") in the first half of the Casa Cristo 5000.

According to Peter Fernandez's introduction in the American release of the Mach GoGoGo Manga, he wanted a name that everyone could remember. So he came up with "Speed Racer" a name for both the main character and the actual series itself. In the 2008 film, he is portrayed by Emile Hirsch as an adult and Nicholas Elia as a child.

Spritle and Chim-Chim

Speed Racer has a younger brother named Spritle, originally who, along with his pet chimpanzee, who responded to the name of Chim-Chim in the American version and in the Japanese original, constantly got into mischief by hiding in the trunks of cars. Despite being children, they are delinquents. Their rebellious attitudes often lead them to trouble. Although they are this way, their mischief somehow often aids Speed away from danger. Oddly, Spritle and Chim-Chim dress in identical jumpsuits and striped hats and often perform identical physical actions. They both have an extreme appetite for candy and they are usually bribed with dessert or other presents by other characters, sometimes even by baddies. This occurs when Spritle and Chim-Chim refuse to do a favor at first. Spritle and Chim-Chim often use a slingshot to combat any threats that come to both themselves and/or Speed.

According to the Peter Fernandez's introduction in the American release of the Mach GoGoGo manga, Spritle got his name for him being an energetic "sprite". Chim-Chim got his name because he was considered a chimpanzee. In the live action film, they are portrayed faithfully like they were in both the anime and the manga. Spritle was portrayed by Paulie Litt in the film.

In the original Japanese release of the anime, Sanpei's sounds were realistic, sounding more like a monkey. In the American airing, when Jack Grimes provided the voice of Chim-Chim, Sanpei's sound-effects were also heard behind Grimes' re-recording, which explains why Chim-Chim has two "voices" in the American adaptation.

Pops Racer

Speed's father, Pops, originally is a former wrestler-turned race car owner and builder. Reluctantly quitting his job after feuding with a member of a corporate car manufacturing company who disapproved of the construction of a new engine for the Mach 5, he founded his own company, Mifune Motors. In the series' Americanization, the company was changed to Racer Motors. He is portrayed as a hothead who is overprotective of his family. His care for his family caused his eldest son, Rex (who would return as Racer X) to run away. In addition to Spritle and Chim-Chim, his attitude brings comic relief in the anime series and live action film. He wears an athletic red shirt and a beige mechanic's cap and is overweight. Despite his build, Pops is nearly unmatched in combat as he was once a champion heavyweight wrestler. His unique design skills have created very powerful engines for his cars, especially his (in the film) prized "Mach" Series, giving them the ability to travel at high speeds while at the same time sustaining maximum performance. He is portrayed by famed actor John Goodman in the 2008 film.

Mom Racer

Speed's mother, Mom, originally is a side character in the series. She rarely appears in the anime or manga, having limited dialogue. In the live action film, however, she is portrayed as an encouraging, caring, parental figure by Susan Sarandon.

Sparky

Other regular characters included Sparky, whose full name in the movie is Wilson Sparkolemew (in the manga and anime, he is only called Sparky) and was originally named , the company mechanic, whose yellow shirt bears an "S" that matches both his original Japanese name and the North American renaming. Sparky is portrayed both in the anime and manga as a quirky young man who is a best friend of Speed and knows everything about cars. In the live action movie, he is portrayed as older than Speed but is still his close friend, and still retains the quirkiness of the original character. He is portrayed by actor Kick Gurry in the live action film

Trixie

Originally , Trixie is Speed's chaste girlfriend. The "M" adorning Trixie's blouse stands for Michi. Michi would often fly around in a helicopter during a race, advising Speed Racer via a radio link to the Mach 5, in effect acting as his spotter, a function she also serves in the live-action film during the Casa Cristo 5000. In the manga it is mentioned that her father is the president of Shimura Aviation, which explains why she owns her own helicopter. Further implying that she is a "rich girl", she can also be seen driving a Mercedes (in the anime; in the manga, it's a generic symbol not representing any car company). A recurring event, used to add comic relief in the anime, is when Trixie becomes jealous and arrogant if Speed is appalled or enthralled by another beautiful girl or when she is ignored or left alone. In the 2008 live action film, she is portrayed by actress Christina Ricci. She had a reddish brown bob cut with bangs in the anime version, although the hair was dark brown in the live action film version.

Casually Trixie wears a pink blouse with the aforementioned embroidered "M" on her left side. She also sports red pants. In racing events where she spots for Speed as his navigator, she dons a white long-sleeve shirt with pink overalls placed over it. The overalls also have the embroidered "M". In this situation, she also wears a pink cap with racing goggles placed over it. In special occasions, Trixie wears a blue hat and dress.

According to Peter Fernandez in his introduction in the American release for the Mach GoGoGo manga, he came up with the name for Trixie for the show's American airing when he found naming her character tricky. He then tinkered with the word "tricky", relating that word to a name, and he came up with "Trixie".

Racer X (The Masked Racer)

A frequent recurring character, driving car number 9, the "Shooting Star," is the enigmatic Racer X (in the Japanese version). Racer X is a heroic, mysterious, flamboyant, selfless, sympathetic and often brooding soldier of fortune whose secret identity is that of Rex Racer (in Japan) Speed's older brother. Six years ago, Rex had a falling out with Pops after Rex wrecked a race car that Pops had built. Pops had told Rex prior to the race that Rex was not yet prepared to compete at the professional racing level. With less than one lap to go in his first major race, Rex was leading and cruising toward victory, but lost control of the car and wrecked it. Pops exploded with anger and berated Rex. In even more enraged response, Rex fled the family and exiled himself while vowing to become the world's greatest race car driver. It was at that time that Rex assumed the mysterious, Racer X identity, to pursue his racing career. In both Speed Racer X and in the 2008 movie, however, Rex is thought to have died in that accident. In the film, he is portrayed by two actors, Scott Porter as a younger Rex Racer, and Lost actor Matthew Fox as the older Rex Racer and Racer X.

It was acknowledged by both Pops and Speed over the years that Racer X was the superior driver of the two, and the greatest driver that they had ever seen, but Speed always vowed to defeat Racer X as the two vigorously competed. In the anime, Speed was often suspicious of Racer X's identity and motives because Racer X would repeatedly, and inexplicably, sacrifice winning races to protect Speed from drivers and others who tried to harm him. The assistance from Racer X nearly always led to Speed winning races, while Racer X came in second place. Racer X always left the scene unnoticed, receding into his secret life. It was not until the episode "The Trick Race" that fans of the show finally got to see the face of Racer X. Early in the series, in the episode "Challenge of the Masked Racer," Speed had already begun to suspect that Racer X might, in fact, be his estranged older brother.

Car Acrobatic Team

One of the original set of characters that appeared both in the manga and in the anime. The 16 racers' (automobiles numbered 11 through 26) uniforms are embroidered with a letter from the English alphabet. All of the cars in the team, except for number 11, look the same in appearance, with purple and black accents. The cars also act similarly in function. The cars sprout wings from both sides, making them capable of traversing large gaps and gorges. The most notable of the team are Captain Terror and Snake Oiler (the latter being a character exclusive to the anime). It should also be noted that the initials of the Car Acrobatic Team form the word, CAT, an agile and acrobatic animal.

Captain Terror is the leader of the Car Acrobatic Team, is shown as an arrogant racing car driver in the manga, sabotaging races for his own benefit. His arrogance gets the best of him, and he ends up getting severely injured in an explosion after not heeding Speed's warning about his car leaking oil in the dangerous Alpine Race. He has a "Z" embroidered on his racing uniform, and has a face of skeletal features and a lone feather atop his helmet. He drives the number 11 car, the only car different in appearance to the rest of the Car Acrobatic team.

In the anime, Captain Terror's character exists, but his original attitude in the manga had formed a new character for the anime, Snake Oiler, a hothead racer, eager to win. Embroidered with an "S" on his uniform and tinted visor on his striped helmet, Snake Oiler drives the number 12 car, similar in appearance to the other cars in the Car Acrobatic Team. The role Captain Terror had in the manga was lifted on to the Snake Oiler character, therefore Captain Terror's role in the Alpine Race was replaced with Snake. Although Snake didn't exist in the original manga, he was more notable in the west due to his appearance in the anime.

In the live action movie, Snake has completely changed in appearance. He is no longer part of the Car Acrobatic Team as it never existed in the film's time line. However, in homage to the Car Acrobatic Team, Snake is leader of his own racing team, named "Hydra-Cell". He wears large shades and sports a black pompadour. His racing uniform is made entirely of snake skin and his car is now completely orange. Despite the change in appearance, Snake's car number and attitude are still intact in the film. He is portrayed by Christian Oliver.

Westernized Appearance of Characters

One distinct feature seen in Speed Racer is the Westernization of their characters' physical appearance and, to some extent, their mentality. This is partly due to Tatsuo Yoshida's affinity for the United States through portrayals of American life in numerous films (see Background above). This use of Western appearance can somewhat be referred as mukokuseki (literally meaning, "stateless"), though the term relates to more abstract anime and is used for hyperbole in this case. In Speed Racer, the fair complexion and American attire can be seen as an example of mukokuseki, but it can take many unconventional forms. This can be seen more readily in later anime in the fantasy and mecha genres, where characters are given more unusual traits like unusually colored hair (pink hair, blue hair etc.), enlarged eyes, and dysmorphic humanoid bodies (such as Tetsuo and the Espers in Akira). Reasons behind the presence of mukokuseki may be to diversify the character roster and distinguish between individuals, but it can have cultural implications. Other aspects of physical appearance, such as disproportionally large eyes, are used to promote kawaii, or “cuteness”, as seen in many shōjo anime. It has even been implied that the large eyes could have its roots in early influences from older cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat.

Despite their Westernization, the series falls into the familiar manga-anime storyline, which is a form of Japanese expression. Speed Racer embodies the typical manga characterization of a teenage boy with superior skills (in this case, racing skills) facing unreal adversity through a multitude of villains; this is seen more in mecha anime such as Mobile Suit Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion. Though always doing his best, he frequently receives a helping hand from his virtually superior brother (Racer X) when he falls short of his goals. This kind of continuing support can easily be identified in the episode “Challenge of the Masked Racer”. Another persistent manga component is the overreactions of many characters. The long, drawn out dialogues with no pauses are very distinct in Speed Racer, from Pops speaking his mind to Ace Deucey's thugs in "The Great Plan" to Racer X’s monologue of his thoughts to Speed after crashing in "Challenge of the Masked Racer."

The Cars

Many of the show's cars are shown to have special abilities in the series, which is one element of the show's glory and legacy. Some cars (especially Speed's Mach 5) have made a great impact to many viewers of the show and are notable to most of the series' fans.

  • Note: The names of the cars that have appeared in both the manga and the original anime have been fitted with Bold Italics.

The Mach 5

The Mach 5, the car Speed Racer drove in the series (known as the "Mach Go," or simply the "Mach," in the Japanese version), is a technological marvel, containing useful pieces of equipment. Gō Mifune/Speed Racer easily deployed these gadgets by pressing buttons marked "A" through "G" on the steering wheel hub (it should be noted that although there are buttons on the steering wheel in the manga, the letter designations are exclusive to the anime). This uniquely designed car, built on a sleek, white body has a large "M" on its hood, the logo for the family business, Mifune Motors (Changed to Pops Motors in the anime and Racer Motors in the live action film). The two-seat car's uniqueness also derives from its mostly red colored interior.

A "5" is emblazoned on both side doors of the car. In the manga and anime this is the car's racing number; in the film, it is portrayed as the fifth car built in Pops' "Mach" series of racing vehicles (the anime and original manga only reveal the Mach 5 and the younger Rex Racer's car as having been built by Pops). Although technically inferior to other racing vehicles such as the Mammoth Car and the GRX, the Mach 5 manages to win most races because of Speed's superior driving skill.

The Mach 5 had been stolen from Speed a few times, one of which where Cornpone Blotch took the car to add it to his car collection in the "Girl Daredevil" saga. However, Speed usually manages to get it back at the end of the episode. At one point, the car was replicated, designs, functions and all, by Speed Racer baddie, Dr. Nightcall. However, this replica included other new abilities that would inspire later functions of the car in remakes of the show, one of which were the Aero Jacks, used as a replacement for the Auto Jacks in Speed Racer X. In manga continuity, the Mach 5 was destroyed and rebuilt. One of its new functions also included the Aero-Jacks. See Manga and Anime Differences for more information on the Mach 5's manga continuity.

In both American comic and movie continuity, Pops is portrayed as having built a "Mach" Series consisting of other variants such as the Mach 4 and Mach 6 in addition to Rex Racer's Mach 1 and the Mach 5.

The Shooting Star

The Shooting Star is Racer X's car, colored bright yellow with a black front bumper and numbered 9 on the hood and sides. The car's engine is located in the back, and it is a very agile machine, often displaying abilities akin to and above those of the Mach Five. Many of its high-tech features allowed Racer X keep an eye on Speed Racer, who is his younger brother.

In later comics written by Tommy Yune, Rex acquires the car that he names "Shooting Star" from Prince Kabala of Kapetapek. During his time training with the royal leader, Rex is informed that he is the ninth student of Kabala, hence the number 9. Rex also builds other cars numbered 9 with similar paint schemes and names them variants like "Falling Star".

In the 2008 film adaptation, the car makes an appearance but is not named. The car was the only car built in addition to the Mach Five for the movie, and features weapons like machine guns mounted above the cockpit and under the chassis. In addition to this car, Racer X also drives a car built for the competitions in the film, a T180. This car was entitled the "Augury" in the film's video game counterpart. Like Racer X's unnamed street car, it features a number 9 and is colored schemed black and yellow, with a large black "X" on the front bumper. The T180 only makes one appearance in the film, when Racer X competes to protect Speed in the Fuji race after he has rejected Royalton's offer.

The Mammoth Car

Appearing only in the anime, it is supposedly the largest racing vehicle in the world. Designed after an extremely long trailer truck, the Mammoth Car is mostly red and is built by infamous Speed Racer villain Cruncher Block. The Mammoth Car was built almost entirely of $50,000,000 in stolen gold bars. By entering it in 'The No Limit World Race', Cruncher wished to smuggle the gold out of the country. The Mammoth Car's main engine has . Each wheel also has an engine with . In total, the Mammoth Car is run by . It can travel at , on any kind of road and on any kind of terrain. It has magnetic brakes, and is over long, making the Mammoth Car one of the most interesting cars in the series. It was destroyed after it crashed into an oil refinery and it was melted into its original gold compound by the intense heat.

The Mammoth Car makes a small cameo in the 2008 film in the scene where Cruncher Block interrogates Taejo Togokhan (a character created just for the movie) after he resists Royalton Industries in the race fixing business. They were interrupted by Racer X, who battles the Mammoth and saves Taejo. The Mammoth Car in this movie is shown to have view ports for its drivers to shoot out of, just like in the original series, and is shown to fire missiles from its grill.

The Mammoth Car also makes an appearance along with Slash Marker Jr.'s X3 in Speed Racer: The Next Generation in the second and third episodes of "The Fast Track" saga as an enemy program of the show's virtual racing track. Although the Mammoth Car is rendered in CGI after its original anime design, the car is missing its grill and many other details that had appeared in the original anime. The Mammoth Car in this episode makes the same sound as it did in the anime, made when its headlights were turned on. It pays homage to the original series by using its signature attack of surrounding and circling a rival.

The Melange and the X3

The Melange was a topless racing car numbered with a "3" driven by racer Slash Marker. The Melange was named directly after Napoleon's horse, who saved his life several times in battles. The Melange's chassis was colored with two shades of purple and had an exposed engine on its hood. During the 'Race at Danger Pass', The Melange, along with Marker, was fatally crashed by members of the Three Roses Club.

Since then, Slash's son, Slash Marker Jr, had plotted his revenge on the Three Roses Club by building a car with a sleek, black chassis marked "X3". The car was driven through remote control and a robot dummy was placed in the driver's seat, broadcasting the phrases "Melange Still Races" and "Melange is alive" to haunt those of the Three Roses Club. The X3 was used primarily to deliberately crash into and fataly kill those affiliated with the Three Roses Club, leaving a card marked X3 to haunt other Three Roses Club members who haven't been killed yet. Speed, who had volunteered to help the police, chased down the X3 until it crashed into the guard rail of a train track.

Speed noticed its robot “driver” and brings it back to the police for further investigation. Meanwhile, Slash Marker Jr. secretly brought back the wrecked car from the train track and replaced its chassis with a replica of the original Melange in his secret underground car factory, to prepare for the next Race at Danger Pass. Since it is the same car with the chassis of the Melange, the car can still be controlled remotely. The new Melange is still numbered “3”, but it had the ability to be changed through remote control to “X3”, making the drivers of the Three Roses Club realize that the new Melange is actually the X3. The car, "driven" by Slash Jr.'s sister, Lily and controlled by Slash Jr. in his helicopter, was used to fatally crash into two Three Roses drivers until it was destroyed when it lost control and crashed into the final member of the Three Roses Club.

The X3 makes a cameo along with the Mammoth Car in Speed Racer: The Next Generation as an enemy program of the virtual track. The car has the same design as the original X3, but rendered in CGI form, as with all the other cars in the show's racing sequences. It pays homage to the original anime by making the same beeping sound used in the old series.

The GRX

The GRX was technically an engine, but it has become more identified with the gold-colored car that housed the engine in the series episode "The Fastest Car on Earth." The engine was designed by Ben Cranem, and was responsible for crashes and deaths of four test drivers, including its inventor due to the impossible speeds it could attain. Cranem died and the GRX engine was buried with him, but Oriana Flub and her men retrieved the engine and placed it into the car with a sleek, golden, and markless body.

Oriana convinced Speed to test drive the car with the GRX and Speed was sprayed with a special serum known as the V-gas to artificially sharpen his reflexes. The V-gas causes its driver to become extremely thirsty and if the driver consumed any compound containing water, it would tamper with his mentality and would develop a strong phobia of speed. Like the other test drivers who were given the gas, Speed became scared of even the slowest of speeds. However he regains his love of racing due to Pops' help in the race that followed. By then, the car had a new driver, Cranem's son, Curly. Curly was given the V-gas and soon experienced its side effects. The GRX and its engine were destroyed when he fatally crashed the car due to the side effects of the V-gas.

In the 2008 film adaptation, the name makes an appearance as a car developed by Royalton Industries and driven by Jack "Cannonball" Taylor. The car retains none of the back story from its anime counterpart, and is redesigned into the racing competition of the film. It is numbered 66 and colored brown and gold and was transformed from a two-seater to a single-seater. In the Grand Prix race that closes the film, the GRX is the main competitor for Speed in the Mach 6 and features a secret weapon called the "spear-hook" that is illegal in professional racing. Speed uses track cameras to reveal this device, aiding the case built by Inspector Detector against Royalton.

Manga and Anime Differences

Like most manga series that have been adapted to anime, there are several changes that occur in both timelines of the Speed Racer (Mach GoGoGo) series. Besides the obvious Americanization of the original Japanese characters' names, some changes include a change in a character's backstory, new characters and other information that was never seen in both the anime and the manga. (See Background section for more information on the manga)

Continuity Changes

  • In the manga, Speed (Go Mifune) always wears his standard outfit, even on special occasions. In the case of the anime, however, Speed wears a special outfit, exclusive to formal occasions. The same instance goes for Trixie.
  • The meeting between Spritle (Kurio), and Racer X occurs twice (once in each volume) in the manga along with other scenes preceding and following it. However, several dialogue changes are present and the outcome of each meeting is extremely different. The outcome of the first occurrence follows closely to "The Most Dangerous Race" saga of the anime. The outcome of the second occurrence between the two follows more closely to the "Challenge of the Masked Racer" saga in the anime.
  • The manga has a dramatically different ending from the anime. In the manga, Rex Racer (Kenichi Mifune), reunites with Speed revealing to him that he was the mysterious Masked Racer, Racer X. In the "The Trick Race," Speed confronts him asking if he is his older brother, prompting Rex (as Racer X) to punch him in the stomach, knocking him out cold, then declaring that he "can never go home again". In both instances, Speed finally knows that his brother is the Masked Racer.

Character Backstories

  • It is mentioned in passing that Trixie's (Michi) father is the president of "Shimura Aviation" (Shimura is Michi/Trixie's last name in the Japanese releases). It is not mentioned in the anime.
  • Some characters, such as "Snake Oiler" are exclusive to the anime, which also contains some original stories not found in the manga.
  • Prince Kabala, was considered a separate character in the manga and is in no way shown affiliated with Racer X (in the anime, Prince Kabala dies and his guise was used by Racer X to help maintain his homeland of Kapetapek). Racer X, on the other hand disguises himself as another person in the manga.

Vehicle Backstories

  • Although many of the Mach 5's special features are seen in the manga (such as the Auto-Jacks, belt tires, cutter blades, etc.) including buttons on the steering wheel, they are not marked , as in the anime, with letters, except for the large, central button which is marked with an "M" (instead of "G" in the anime).
  • In the manga, the Mach 5 is destroyed once. When it is rebuilt, the Auto-Jacks are superseded by the Aero-Jacks, which did not appear in the original anime series (but did in the Japanese remake in which the Auto-Jacks are never seen). This new Mach 5 is also fitted with regenerating tires, which did not appear in the original anime, but do appear in the 2008 live-action film.
  • At the end of the manga, Rex Racer was portrayed driving the Mach 5 - a scene that may have inspired the backstory of the car in the live-action film, in which it originally belonged to Rex who relinquished ownership to his younger brother, Speed.
  • A car entitled the "E-RX" appears in a chapter of the manga, but does not appear in the anime. It functions similarly to the anime's GRX, being portrayed as "the fastest car in the world". Although it doesn't appear in the anime, the E-RX appears in many of the American comics.

Voice cast

American version (1967/1981)

  • Peter Fernandez - Speed Racer/Rex Racer (Racer X)/Additional Voices (also writer and director, English-language dialogue)
  • Jack Grimes - Sparky/Chim-Chim/Additional Voices
  • Corinne Orr - Trixie/Spritle Racer/Mom Racer/Additional Voices
  • Jack Curtis - Pops Racer/Inspector Detector/Announcer/Additional Voices

Japanese Cast version

Episodes list

References in Popular Culture

Speed Racer was one of the first truly successful anime franchises in the United States. The pivotal episode in which Racer X reveals his identity to Speed ("The Trick Race") was selected by TV Guide as one of the Top 100 TV episodes of all time.

Speed Racer was even introduced in a 1990s Cartoon Network Tv intro that started with the Scooby Doo Gang and an announcer explaining about the Mystery Machine and its alloy wheels; slick paint job, and its groovy soundsystem. As Scooby drives the van, Speed Racer's Mach 5 comes in and knock the van off the track, and exploding with the "chyok chyok" noise in the background. Near the end of the hilarious crash, Speed leaps from the Mach 5, he does the famous pose (from the end of the popenign sequence in mid leap, and then the camera does the famous shot from front to sideways, with the announcer going, "Speed Racer, on Cartoon Network!" It ends with Speed saying to Scooby, "Dogs should not drive", as the Scooby Gang looking bewildered as to how they survived the crash. In the ad, the Speed Racer Theme is playing about ten seconds when the fabulous Mach 5 comes in.

The title character was "interviewed" in a humorous series of promotional ads for auto racing that ran on ESPN. The Speed Racer characters also appeared in an animated television commercial for the Volkswagen GTI in 1996. In the ad, titled "Sabotage", Speed drives a GTI to victory after the Mach Five is disabled. The ad also incorporated the rotating freeze frame shot from the cartoon's opening sequence, with the GTI replacing the Mach Five in the shot.

Speed Racer was also featured in a 30-second advertisement for GEICO Insurance in 2004. In the ad, Speed is advised that the bridge is out ahead. That's bad news for Speed Racer, but Trixie, who transmitted the news to him from her helicopter, is more concerned with her good news about GEICO's savings, as befitting GEICO's campaign of the time. The next shot of Speed shows him dumb struck in bewildered astonishment.

In the 1977 film Slap Shot, after arriving at their hotel room in Charlestown on their way to join the Charlestown Chiefs, one of the Hanson Brothers asks when Speed Racer is broadcast in the city. It should be known that the Hansons, when they are not playing hockey, play with toy racecars.

The series was also revived on MTV for a short period of time in 1993, then moved to Cartoon Network in 1996, and again to its sister network Boomerang until 2005, after which it was picked up by the SPEED Channel.

The series was parodied in the Dexter's Laboratory episode with a pun-intended title, Mock 5. It featured Dexter competing in a soapbox derby against Mandark; Dexter's father in a role much like Pops Racer, and Dee-Dee in a role very much like Racer X (as 'Racer D'). Everyone in this episode talked incredibly fast and detoured into redundant chatter, all the while having their lip movement never match their speech. A clip from Robot Chicken includes a race similar to the Hanna-Barbara Wacky Races featuring several famous race characters including Speed Racer, the Knight Rider, Mario Kart, The Dukes of Hazzard, Batman, and so on. In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends installment "Make Believe It or Not," the group plays a game where they imagine things happening. When they start to imagine who they would be, Mac says he is a interstellar race car driver, then makes a familiar pose which is kneeling in front of a car with one hand pointing up like Speed Racer.

Speed and his dad Pops were parodied on the episode of Family Guy, "The Son Also Draws." Chris Griffin enters a soapbox race held by his Boy Scouts troop. When the racers line up at the starting line, Speed shows up and jumps out of a soapbox car that resembles his race car, the Mach 5. Pops comes out from the audience at the race and tries to convince Speed that he should not be in this race and that he isn't Speed's real father. In their conversation, they have purposefully bad lip sync, a parody of the series, and each sentence Speed and Pops says ends in "Ha ha!".

Speed Racer was parodied in the Fairly Oddparents animated movie, Channel Chasers. A short segment of the film featured Timmy Turner taking a role similar to Speed's. Even the car's gadgets were parodied by Timmy inserting a coin then pressing a numbered button, activating either the jumpjacks, or the "buzz saw" lasers, that and the number five is changed to a one, and the "M" on the helmet, and the car are changed to a "T". Even the title of the short segment is Speed Racer's name in reverse; Racer Speed. Most characters during this segment parodied Speed Racer's fast dialogue and added exclamations such as "Hah! Hoo! Ha!" to the end of their lines, in the same vein as The Son Also Draws.

In the episode My Hero (season 1) of Scrubs (tv series), Ted's band sings an a cappella version of the American theme song.

Rapper Ghostface Killah uses scenes from Speed Racer for his music video for his first solo single, "Daytona 500."

The Nicktoon Kappa Mikey had a minor recurring character, a fat, middle-aged version of Speed, who appeared in the pilot episode and every opening sequence. Here, he was a limousine driver who would escort the main cast to wherever they needed to go. This is fitting, considering that Animation Collective, the producer of the series, also produces Speed Racer: The Next Generation.

One of the most memorable parts of the anime, is the shot at the end of the title sequence for: as Speed leaps from the Mach 5, he freezes in mid-jump, and then the camera does an arc shot from front to sideways. It is thought that this opening sequence partially inspired the Wachowski Brothers to incorporate the so-called "bullet time" effect into The Matrix. The Wachowski Brothers later went on to produce a live action adaptation of Speed Racer in 2008 also entitled Speed Racer.

In the Homestar Runner web cartoon, the episode 3 Times Halloween Funjob has the character Stinkoman dressed in a Speed Racer outfit (if you click on Coach Z and Bubs' candy basket). This is followed by a reference to Akira. Also in the Homestar Runner sketchbook, they Brothers Chaps said that one of the sketches was supposed to be a Trixie version of Marzipan

Also in 1994, a European dance production team called Alpha Team remixed the original English TV theme and called it "Speed". The song was a Top 20 hit in Australia on the dance music label, Central Station Records.

In the Book, "Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor PoopyPants", on one of the "Name-changing Charts", you can see the name "Chim-Chim".

In Transformers Animated, the Autobot Blurr's Vehicle mode resembles the Mach 5.

Legacy

The show's mainstream success in America spawned an ongoing Speed Racer franchise, ranging from comics, video releases, merchandise, a live-action film, and newer series either rebooting or continuing the original series. Even in Japan, the cartoon had spawned a new web series and various special events.

DVD releases

Artisan/Lion's Gate Entertainment released the first 11 episodes of the original series in DVD format in the US and Canada on April 22, 2003. This turned out to be the first in a series of DVD re-releases of the shows.

The second volume, containing episodes 12 through 23, went on sale on May 18, 2004. The DVD came in a special package where one could push a button on the cover and the Mach 5's headlights would light up while a portion of the show's English theme song played.

The third volume came out on May 24, 2005, with the discs packaged in a round metal box made to resemble the steering wheel of the Mach 5. It contains episodes 24 through 36. This volume was later released to promote the live action film in a standard keep case.

Lion's Gate released the fourth volume, which featured episodes 37 through 44, on March 14, 2006; this volume included a die-cast toy Mach 5. The last episode, "Race the Laser Tank," was time-compressed (in other words, sped up to take up less space on the DVD). Although nothing was removed from the episode, the higher-pitched voices of the characters and the diminished quality of the episode due to the time-compression upset some fans.

The fifth and last volume was released on October 31, 2006. This volume included the final eight episodes of the series, and for a limited time it came with a miniature license plate with the inscription, "Go-Speed Racer-Go!

The entire series was released in the United States on October 7, 2008 and in Australia on April 30, 2008.

Later series

  • The New Adventures of Speed Racer was an American produced 1993 series by Fred Wolf Films with a much more contemporary art style. It introduced science fiction themes such as robots and mutants. The series was off the air after only 13 installments, as the show failed to arouse viewer interest. Tatsunoko did not authorize the production of this series.
  • In 1997, Tatsunoko produced a modernized version of Mach Go Go Go which aired on TV Tokyo and lasted for 34 episodes. An English adaptation of this remake was produced by DiC titled Speed Racer X, which aired in 2002 on Nickelodeon, but only the first 11 episodes were adapted due to licensing disputes between DiC and the Speed Racer Enterprise.
  • Speed Racer Lives, a Flash-based series of "webisodes" that takes place many years after the original series, was made available on the internet to promote a new line of toys.
  • Speed Racer: The Next Generation, a new series, conceived as taking place years after the original, focuses on the sons of the original Speed Racer. Its premiere coincided with the live-action feature film in May 2008. Peter Fernandez voices a middle-aged version of Spritle, Speed's younger brother from the original Japanese series. The movie's protagonist, also named Speed, and one of Spritle's nephews, is voiced by New Jersey native Kurt Csolak. Larry Schwarz is the creator of the TV series, which is produced by Animation Collective, the creators of Kappa Mikey. Like the 1993 remake, this series was not authorized by Tatsunoko.
  • , a web based series by Tatsunoko Pro., and created by Tatsuo Yoshida's daughter, Suzuka.

American Comic Adaptations

  • Mach GoGoGo - selected chapters of Tatsuo Yoshida's original Mach GoGoGo manga series were reprinted by Now Comics as Speed Racer Classics and by DC Comics/Wildstorm Productions as Speed Racer: The Original Manga (ISBN 1-56389-686-9). In 2008, a hardcover box set of the complete manga series was released by Digital Manga Publishing as Speed Racer: Mach Go Go Go (ISBN 978-156970731-9).
  • Now Comics launched an American Speed Racer comic series in 1985. The series became an instant hit with the high production values of superstar airbrush artist Ken Steacy. The comics continued for nearly 40 issues and included a spin-off Racer X series and crossovers. A mini-series adapting The New Adventures of Speed Racer was also released, which included art by Oscar González Loyo. Now Comics also published a 4-issue crossover between Speed Racer and the characters of Ben Dunn's Ninja High School in the 1990s.
  • Wildstorm Productions released a new Speed Racer comic series in 1999 to widespread acclaim, becoming the #1 pick of industry publication Wizard magazine. The manga style of writer/artist Tommy Yune recaptured the striking look of the original anime which was soon followed by an industry-wide revival of comic adaptations of other classic animated series. The prequel comic storylines were also released as the graphic novel Speed Racer: Born to Race (ISBN 1-56389-649-4) and a Racer X miniseries featuring the artwork of Chinese manga star Jo Chen.
  • IDW Productions is re-releasing the Wildstorm series as Speed Racer/Racer X: The Origins Collection (ISBN 978-160010211-0) and previously published issues from Now Comics as Speed Racer Vol. 1-5. A new miniseries Speed Racer: Chronicles of the Racer was also produced.

Toys

  • Lego has released new Speed Racer construction sets to coincide with the release of the Speed Racer film. These include a 242 piece Speed and Snake Oiler set, a 237 piece Racer X and Taejo Togokhan set, a 367 piece Racer X and Cruncher Block set, and a 595 piece Grand Prix set, which includes Trixie, Pops, Speed, Spritle, Chim-Chim, 2 racers, and a racing announcer.
  • Mattel has the master toy license for the 2008 Speed Racer film, including action figures, related vehicles, and accessories. Mattel's Hot Wheels division produced miniature replicas of the Mach 5 called the West Wind, and later the Second Wind, and their Barbie Collector division released a collector doll set featuring Trixie and Speed as they appeared in the film.
  • Jada Toys currently holds the rights to produce diecast replicas of the Mach 5 from the original animated series. In addition, they released a plastic model kit of the movie Mach 5.
  • Playing Mantis released a wide range of the Speed Racer miniatures, including replicas of the villains' cars and "mini-dioramas" under their "Johnny Lightning" line. A limited-edition release of the Mach Four from the Wildstorm comic series remains one of the hardest-to-find collectibles to this day. In 1998 Playing Mantis acquired the rights to the "Captain Action" action figure line, a vintage line about a crusading adventurer who disguises himself as famous "super-heroes." Playing Mantis had planned to produce new costumes of Speed Racer, Racer X, and Captain Terror for the revamp of the line, but they were never produced. Control art for the Speed Racer costume appears on the packaging of some figures, and pictures of the prototypes are available online.
  • Resaurus produced two series of five-inch (127 mm) action figures, rich with articulation and accessories; as well as a full-sized Mach V in 1999. A third series of figures and a full-sized Shooting Star were planned, but the line folded before this could happen.
  • Toynami is currently releasing a large-scale version of the Speed Racer vehicles, including a Mach Five playset complete with all of its gadgets.
  • Polar Lights is currently manufacturing two 1/25-scale (according to the box) model kits in standard "glue" and snap-together variations (though the scale of the model inside is closer to 1/32). These can be built with or without the waterproof bubble canopy at the modeler's discretion. The kits feature a homing robot and separate jacks; and a rear engine (possibly a tip to NOW comics, which illustrated the engine in the rear).
  • RC ERTL has produced Speed Racer's Mach 5 in 1:18 Die Cast Form with many features of the animated car, including pop out saw blades, ion jacks, opening doors, hood and trunk. It includes Spritle Racer and Chim-Chim figures. (Special variants were made with decals celebrating Racer X and other characters from the series as part of the 35th Anniversary Edition in 2001. A similar die-cast version of Racer X's Shooting Star was produced as well. It has now been retired from production and is a sought-after collectible.
  • Art Asylum made a line of toys consisting primarily of their block-figure Minimates in 2006.

Film

The Wachowski Brothers wrote and directed a live-action adaptation of Speed Racer, released on May 9, 2008. However it was panned by most critics and was a box office failure, making just under $90 million worldwide against a production budget of at least $120 million (before prints and advertising).

Video Games

In 1992, Accolade made Speed Racer in The Challenge of Racer X for DOS. Two years later, that company made Speed Racer in My Most Dangerous Adventures for SNES.

Namco created a Speed Racer arcade game in 1995.

In 1998, Jaleco made a Speed Racer game for the PlayStation.

In 2006, a joint production of ironmonkey.com and blitinteractive.com, entitled Speed Racer -- The Great Plan, was released to the internet as a Shockwave game. The game stays very true to the original television show, with all the original voices, sounds, and Mach 5 controls.

A game based on the Speed Racer movie, for the Wii, DS and PlayStation 2 platforms, stars Emile Hirsch (Speed), Christina Ricci (Trixie) and Matthew Fox (Racer X) reprising their roles.

Footnotes

References

  • Johnson, Glen. "Speed Racer." Glen Johnson's 60's Anime. 03 Apr 2007. 19 Oct 2007.
  • Patrick, Macias and Tomohiro Machiyami. Cruising the Anime City: An Outer Guide to Neo Tokyo. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press, 2004.

External links

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