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

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Apr 16, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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

    [​IMG]

    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
     
  2. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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  3. Robert Floto

    Robert Floto Supporting Actor

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    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!
     
  4. Tom Oh

    Tom Oh Second Unit

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    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.[​IMG] I'll pick up if it's cheap.
     
  5. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Cinematographer
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    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.
     
  6. Rob Lutter

    Rob Lutter Producer

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    No OSL + butchered version = NO $ALE!
     
  7. Tony-B

    Tony-B Producer

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  8. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    How on earth did they fit 5 hours of video onto a DVD-9???
     
  9. Ed St. Clair

    Ed St. Clair Producer

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    Go, Ron, Go!
    Thanks for doing this review.
    Against, your childhood memory's no less.
     
  10. Rob Lutter

    Rob Lutter Producer

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    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).
     
  11. Tony-B

    Tony-B Producer

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    Patrick, I have one word for you. Compression. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  12. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    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. [​IMG]

    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 [​IMG]

    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.
     
  13. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Cinematographer
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    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.
     
  14. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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  15. Richard Waller

    Richard Waller Second Unit

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    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.
     
  16. Rob Lutter

    Rob Lutter Producer

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  17. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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  18. MatS

    MatS Screenwriter

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    thanx for the review Ron
     
  19. Don

    Don Second Unit

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    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,
     
  20. MatS

    MatS Screenwriter

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    now all I need is the American version of Prince Planet

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

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