English title of the Tatsunoko Production
anime series Mach Go Go Go!
, and one of the best remembered anime series for several generations of fans and detractors alike.
Speed Racer (yes, that's his English name; in the Japanese version it's "Go Mifune") is the young driver of the Mach 5, an incredible supercar designed by his father "Pops" Racer (Daisuke Mifune). Speed would race dangerous routes against dangerous people and come out on top with his "girlfriend" Trixie (Michi Shimura) trailing him in a helicopter and his little brother Spritle (Kurio) and his pet chimp Chim-Chim (Sanpei) frequently stowing away in the trunk.
It was, at its core, a Mecha Show
. The "Mach Five" ("Mach Go-Go" in Japanese, yielding the pun in the original name) had an array of gadgets more at home on Bond's Aston-Martin than on a racing vehicle, like jump boosters, a spy robot, underwater capabilities and a trunk (which even street-legal sports cars often lack).note
The show is notable for being one of the very first anime localized in English for US television, all the way back in 1967, following only Astro Boy
and Kimba the White Lion
. It was by far the most successful and well-known series for decades, and practically defined
anime in America until around the mid-90s.
This show is remembered for its goofy character designs, crappy animation and atrocious dub, as well as its memorable characters and over-the-top sensibilities. The show is both fondly remembered and reviled by many anime fans for introducing anime to a wider audience and for coloring its general image. Speed's effeminate look, the way the dubbing actors have to race through the dialogue and narration to fit in all the exposition, and the long sequences without movement all combine to create a style that defined not only this show, but the view of anime in general for generations of Americans. He's a hard man to lose. He's a demon on wheels! Ho-Hoa!
There was a American-made Speed Racer cartoon in the early '90s
that wasn't well-received.Speed Racer
was remade in 1997 with updated versions of the characters and vehicles (or at least one would think
), but the most amusing appearance of Speed aside from the anime had to have been in a series of tongue-in-cheek commercials for ESPN and Geico Insurance. One of the ads for ESPN featured real NASCAR drivers complaining about how hard it was to compete with Speed, and showed actual race footage with the Mach 5 matted in; another featured NASCAR officials trying to determine if the Mach 5 was suitable for competition. (The decision? No, it was too powerful. "NASA might accept it, but not NASCAR.") An ad for Geico involves Trixie (from a helicopter) telling Speed (driving in a race) that she saved money by switching to Geico.
American companies intended to revive the whole title into a new franchise in time for the anime's 40th anniversary. The Wachowskis
released a major motion picture
version of Speed Racer
, which was met enthusiastically by some fans, but failed to impress critics or do well in the box office. A week before the film's release, Nicktoons premiered yet another television adaptation called Speed Racer: The Next Generation
to play up the hype for the film. A second season premiered 3 years later.
The pun in the original title comes from the triple meaning of the sound "go" in Japanese — the number "five", a denotation for the number or name of a machine (Mach Go-Go
means the Mach Type 5 — the same can be seen in Tetsujin 28-go
), and the English "Ready, set, go
". Speed's Japanese name is also "Go Mifune" (hence the "G" on his shirt).
The English-dubbed episodes can be viewed on an official Youtube channel.
Speed Racer provides examples of: