Speed Racer (1967)

Created by Tatsuo Yoshida
English Dialogue by Jack Curtis & Peter Fernandez
Starring Peter Fernandez, Jack Curtis, Corinne Orr, Jack Grimes


Widge's Anime Warnings:

Released by: Artisan.
Rating: NR
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format

My Advice: Rent it.

The kid's name is Racer. Speed Racer. And as his name implies, he's got the pedal to the metal and the thing to the floor. He has the potential to be one of the greatest race car drivers in history, but of course his dad isn't too keen on the idea. His dad's got problems of his own, seeing as how he wants to soup up his experimental race car--the Mach 5--even further. He wants it to achieve ludicrous speed. He wants it to go plaid. Trouble is, his company doesn't want to give Papa Racer the fundage necessary. But--never fear--it's Speed Racer to the rescue. With his kid brother and a monkey in the trunk.

Sometimes there's anime we watched as children--before we even knew it was anime--and nostalgia becomes a huge factor on why something that was cool then is still cool. Speed Racer works not only because of this, but because it's so cheesy to almost be surreal. The odd dialogue, the bizarre action sequences, the plot contrivances that make no sense in any reality--all of these converge somehow to make the thing still worth watching and enjoying. Now, I'm not saying it's anything I would want to pop in whenever I need some animation to unwind to--but it retains its classic status by just being so goddamn weird to watch as a "grown up" (whatever that means). Does this qualify it as "camp"? Not sure. Just be prepared for parents everywhere to complain that this show will make their dumb as nails children think they can smack into solid objects at amazing speeds and walk away.

That being said, it's obvious that the anime completist is going to want to have this on their shelf even before I start talking about the features. And those features primarily consist of some text-on-screen "files". Sure, the explanation of what each of the lettered buttons on the Mach 5's steering wheel is kinda neat, and so are the bits about the English language vocal cast. For the most part, though, the features come out as pretty lean--and nothing you can't work your way through in ten minutes on a bad day.

I'm not sure what else we could ask for--redoing the audio for 5.1? Audio commentary from Peter Fernandez (Jack Curtis, unfortunately, is no longer with us) would be priceless, as I'm sure any fan of the show (or anime of that time period in general) would want to hear about how insane it must have been to translate these shows, direct the voices and provide one-fourth of the voices as well. I'm sure at some point we'll get a boxed set of the entire show, but until then, this will have to do.

One last bit of horror comes from the trailer/opening credits/song for the "New Adventures" revamp in 1994--which beggars description, it's so damn bad.

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