HTF REVIEW: "Speed Racer" Limited Edition (with screenshots)

Ronald Epstein

Founder
Owner
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 3, 1997
Messages
56,796
Real Name
Ronald Epstein


Speed Racer
Limited Edition






Studio: Artisan/FHE
Year: 1967
Rated: NR
Film Length: 300 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
Subtitles: None





Go Speed Racer Go!!


As a kid growing up in the late 60s and early 70s,
afternoon television was alive with the likes of
Magilla Gorilla, Felix the Cat, Bugs Bunny and
The Flintstones. Coming home from school
everyday I found myself sitting in front of the
TV and catching up with my favorite programs.



Amongst the wealth of really great animated
programs showing on afternoon TV was a show
called Speed Racer. I'll admit up front
that as a kid it was the cartoon I liked the least,
mainly because I felt the animation was often
wooden, the adventures were rather lame, and
in addition to the cheesy dialogue, the voices of
its characters didn't match up to their mouth
movements very well.



Little did I know back then that I was witnessing
the invasion of Japanese animation to American
television. Along with such classics as Astro
Boy
and Gigantor, Speed Racer
successfully introduced young viewers to a brand new
form of animation that was heavily influenced by
Disney's style of characters with large expressive
features. In the early 1960s, American animated
cartoons such as Mickey Mouse and Popeye were at
the height of their popularity in Japan. Japanese
animes, often lower in quality than their American
animated counterparts, could be produced on a
shoe-string budget. Animes had their own look, feel,
and distinctive style, often choppier and less
sophisticated than American animation. But they
rolled quickly off production lines, and their
popularity spread quickly throughout Asia.



It's kind of amazing that after all these years,
Speed Racer is deeply ingrained in American
pop culture. References to the cartoon often pop up
in songs, movies, and everywhere else. Even the
very-hip MTV network revitalized the cartoon back
in November of 1992. Just about everyone has seen
Speed Racer and knows exactly who he is and what
the program is all about.



In case you don't know by now, the show is about
a young man named Speed who is trying to become
the world's greatest racecar driver. Speed Racer
is the son of Pop Racer and boyfriend of Trixie.
His dad has built him one of the fastest cars in
the world, the Mach 5. With it he races in some of
the most dangerous races in the world, and somehow
seems to get involved in international intrigue.
Bad guys are usually doing bad things and it's up
to Speed, Trixie and his little brother Spritle and
his pet monkey Chim-chim to save the day. In the
end, Speed always seems to be back in the race
alonsgide its top leaders.

Speed Racer's storied career actually began in
a simple comic book called "Mach Go Go Go", then
evolved into an anime cartoon. In 1967, the 52
episodes of the series were dubbed into English and
syndicated nationally on television.



Artisan Home Video and Family Home Entertainment
have come together to release a Limited Edition
set that contains the first eleven episodes of the
hugely popular "Japanimation" series. The single-DVD
set arrives in unique real rubber tire slipcover
packaging. Though the thin piece of square rubber
adorns only the front cover (and even has that nice
rubber aroma), it's a rather clever packaging idea.
I especially like the raised colorful Speed Racer
logo that has been etched into the rubber. It's
very seldom you see creative packaging like this.



Inside the semi-rubber slipcover is a standard
Amaray case that houses the DVD. Thirteen episodes
are included in this set: The Great Plan (1&2);
Challenge of the Masked Racer (1&2); The secret
Engine (1&2); The Race against the Mammoth Car (1&2)

and The most dangerous Race (1,2&3). Each
episode runs a little over 23 minutes each.



A 4-page booklet inside the cover is sort of lame.
There is a complete episode list but it lacks any
information pertaining to original airdate. A
circle of the show's characters surrounds the list
of episodes. The back cover of the booklet contains
the words to the original Mach Go, Go, Go and
Japanese Ending theme songs.


How is the transfer?


I don't quite know what to say about this transfer
other than the fact that it looks and sounds exactly
as I remembered it. Presented in its original
broadcast full frame ratio, the show doesn't look
any better than it did 36 years ago. Colors are
not vibrant, and the picture is marred with all
sorts of dirt and speckle. It's not that the
transfer looks bad, but certainly I could see how
it would be a wasted effort trying to make these
badly animated shows look any better than they do
now. I can only say that those that are familiar
with the quality of the show won't find them looking
any worse on this DVD.



The show's Dolby monaural audio track is no major
improvement on its original broadcast, other than
the fact that background hiss is non-existent. The
audio still sounds very flat and there's that
annoying (for lack of a better word) lisping sound
in all the character's voices. Nothing more than
what has been there all this time.


Special Features




I'm not sure how "special" the bonus contents
of this disc are. Most of it is all text-based
material. Nonetheless, some effort was made to
give fans a little something extra. Let's look
at what is here....

Production begins by giving us some
background on Tatsunoko Productions founded
by the Yoshida brothers in 1962. It goes on to
explain their early television animated efforts
Space Ace and Mach Go Go Go (aka Speed
Racer). Next we learn about the difficulties
of U.S. Translation. Actor/Director/Writer
Peter Fernandez had three days to translate each
of the Japanese episodes into English with the
cast having a single day to dub the voices.
In Theme Song we learn why the original
Japanese version was dropped for a zippier American
introduction. You can even read the lyrics and
sing-a-long to the title song, if you wish. A
list of U.S. Cast members lets you select
from voice-actors such as Peter Fernandez, Corrinne
Orr, Jack Grimes and Jack Curtis. Click on a
name and you'll be treated with text that gives
extensive background on each individual.



Mach 5 is sort of neat. After Speed Racer
gives you an audio introduction of the car, you
come to its steering wheel with all its buttons
that operate all the nifty Mach 5 gadgets. Use
your remote to push a button and learn more about
such wonders as the deflector, underwater oxygen
supplier, TV periscope, homing robot and more!
As you learn about all these gadgets, you can
click on your remote and be brought to an actual
episode that features the use of that gadget.



A villain's gallery let's you click on
any of the eight "baddies" to find out more about
them. There's Ace Ducey, Mr. Fixer, Tongue Blaggard,
Cruncher Block, Captain Terror, Mr. Van Ruffle,
Mr. Wiley and Snake Oiler. Want to see them in
action? You can click on your remote and be
brought to an actual episode where that villain is
featured.



Speed Lives On! begins by showing us a
trailer for The new adventures of Speed Racer
(1993) and a description of Volkswagon's Speed
Racer commercial, which sadly contains no clip of
the actual commercial. Finally, you can look
at various pictures of Speed Merchandise
that includes a Mach 5 car, a tissue holder, a
racing set, lunch box and teddy bear.

Of course, being an Artisan Home Video product,
no attempt was made to include subtitles, though
closed captioning is available.


Final Thoughts



It's hard for me to judge this set for the fact
that I never was or never will be a fan of the
series. I would suppose that fans basically want
this for the shows, and they are here exactly as
I remembered them - nothing more or less. The
added bonus materials are a mixed bag, but somewhat
informative to those not entirely familiar with
the show.

For Speed Racer fans the release of this
Limited Edition set should make for a satisfying
purchase.


Release Date: April 22, 2003


All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality
 

TonyD

Who do we think I am?
Premium
Ambassador
Joined
Dec 1, 1999
Messages
20,710
Location
Gulf Coast
Real Name
Tony D.
Thirteen episodes
are included in this set: The Great Plan (1&2);
Challenge of the Masked Racer (1&2); The secret
Engine (1&2); The Race against the Mammoth Car (1&2)
and The most dangerous Race (1,2&3).
thanks ron for the review.
i was exactly like you when i was a kid. i didnt find anything about thiis show to be something i wanted to watch.
i prefered marine boy, astro boy, gigantor and the other ones you mentioned.

i won't buy this, but mostly because it's artisan.
 

Robert Floto

Supporting Actor
Joined
Jul 27, 1999
Messages
739
Thanks, Ron!

I was a huge fan of this show when I was a kid...but upon viewing it as an adult I saw how bad it really was. Still...I will be picking up two copies of this disc. One for each of my young nephews. They are heavily into cars and often attend car shows when I display my classic car. This series was made for them!

I just know they will love it as much as I did when I was their ages.

Go, Speed, Go!
 

Tom Oh

Second Unit
Joined
Jul 11, 1999
Messages
253
I love this show. I watched it when I was in Japan as MACH Go Go Go and as Speed Racer when I moved stateside. I was hoping for an original Japanese track.
I'll pick up if it's cheap.
 

Brian Kidd

Premium
Joined
Nov 14, 2000
Messages
2,552
They couldn't very well do a Japanese track for this show as it is markedly different from its original MACH GO GO GO! incarnation. The American version lost much of the violence of the original. SPEED RACER as we know it never existed in Japan.
 

Tony-B

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2002
Messages
3,768
No OSL + butchered version = NO $ALE!
I agree with Rob on this one. It is not acceptable to not include the OSL. They should have at least put it on there in addition to the dub, like most anime DVDs. Artisan probably doesn't know how to treat this release. No sale here either, and I wasn't really planning on getting it either.


I hope they come to their senses and re-release it unedited and with an OSL track.
 

Rob Lutter

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2000
Messages
4,523
Patrick... it's more like 3.5-4 hours... and being an older series, there probably isn't too much movement on screen at once (which would possibly cause macroblocking w/ so much compression).
 

Brook K

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2000
Messages
9,467
Mine shipped today. Wish it was a little higher quality but this was my favorite cartoon as a kid and though I haven't seen it since college, I enjoyed it then too.

I just find the show flat out funny. The whole concept of things like The Mammoth Car or the ep where you'll see helicopters pull up to a cliff, ramps extend, and dozens of motorcycles pour out, down the ramp, onto the cliff with each driver firing a machine gun the entire time.


Or how Chim Chim and Sprittle sneak aboard Speed's car every episode and he's always surprised to see them. Or how there's an actual sanctioned car race through an active volcano


Perhaps best of all is how roughly a dozen drivers die in every car race, but there seems to be no shortage of events or drivers. Or how Speed's family is usually short of cash even though there Dad is some kind of super genius engine designer and Speed is constantly winning races.

And I love the names, Inspector Detector, Snake Oiler, The Car Acrobatics Team, Five Fingers Klepto, Ali Ben Schemer, etc, etc.

In almost every case I am in support of OSL/original versions, etc, but the version Artisan is putting out is the only way I've ever seen Speed Racer. It is the version I have nostalgia for and the version I want to see so I have no problem purchasing it.

I just hope we get more discs as Artisan has a pretty spotty record with follow-up releases.
 

Brian Kidd

Premium
Joined
Nov 14, 2000
Messages
2,552
I have to agree that Artisan is releasing SPEED RACER and not MACH GO GO GO! People who want SR are going to be happy. It's a different experience than MGGG. The rapid fire delivery and crazy voices add a different feel to the shows. Personally, I enjoy SR much more than MGGG. Now I feel just the opposite about ROBOTECH and MACROSS. MACROSS is much better than ROBOTECH.
 

David Lambert

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2001
Messages
11,377
I have to agree that Artisan is releasing SPEED RACER and not MACH GO GO GO!
Bingo. It's not the same show. Just because footage from one was re-used on the other, doesn't make it the same show. Witness the much-more-drastic use of adult-and-Sci-Fi themed (in Japan) Sentai footage in the American children's adventure series Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.

If someone asked for an OSL soundtrack on MMPR, I'd laugh my tush off. It's just as non-applicable for Speed Racer. If you want to own Mach Go Go Go! on DVD, may I suggest you buy a Malata region-free player and import the discs from Japan (if they are released there; I have no interest so I haven't researched it).

In the meantime, my son is TORQUED for this release! I'm, uh, mildly interested myself!



Raise your hand if you noticed that they played the Speed Racer theme song during a skit on American Idol last night? :wink:
 

Richard Waller

Second Unit
Joined
Oct 24, 2001
Messages
252
Yeah, that was pretty funny (and horrible) because the contestants re-recorded the SR theme. The funniest part was having the Ford Focus beating the Formula One cars to the finish line.

Mach Go Go Go is available on DVD in Japan if you want to spend about $50 each. No subtitles, though.
 

Rob Lutter

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2000
Messages
4,523
I hope they come to their senses and re-release it unedited and with an OSL track.
Unfortuantely, IIRC... the rights to Speed Racer and Mach a Go Go are separate. So I think A) to get the proper prints and B) to subtitle the whole thing would be "cost-prohibitive" to Artisan. Plus I am sure they would redub it like most other anime for O-J6P (Otaku Joe Six Pack [damn I am creative]). Hopefully this is an issue like Robotech (ADV) where another company released the original version, Macross (AnimEigo).
 

David Lambert

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2001
Messages
11,377
The series is on 9 DVDs in R2 w/ no subtitles (as with most J-anime DVDs) The price? 5800JY each

Just to put this is USD terms... 120JY = $1... so the entire series would put you back 52200JY or $435.

Alright, who is going to pay for this set and Japanese lessons for me? Dave?
You wanna play, you gotta pay! :p)


If I were the owners of the "Mach Go Go Go!" property, I would be thinking this way: "Why exactly should we bring it out in the USA at a substantially reduced cost to an essentially niche audience, just so that the Japanese fans can import it from the States and give up a fraction of their wallet?"

What decision do YOU think they will make, Rob?
 

Don

Second Unit
Joined
Jun 30, 1997
Messages
374
Hey Speed Racer might be Speeding out of Best Buy at $12.99 this Tuesday i have seen it at suncoast on the shelf for $22.99 I'm glad i'm waiting Don,
 

Forum Sponsors

Forum statistics

Threads
345,206
Messages
4,734,244
Members
141,410
Latest member
JayGeezy