Ōban Star-Racers (2006) is an Animesque racing series created by Savin Yeatman-Eiffel, co-produced by French and Japanese animation studios.Every 10,000 years, teams from all over the universe are gathered by the mysterious Avatar to compete in the Great Race of Oban, a race with much more at stake than just honor or prize money. According to legend, the winner is awarded the Ultimate Prize, which is rumored to grant any wish, from large-scale destruction to, perhaps, the resurrection of a loved one. Some want it for glory, others as a way of universal domination. However, the true nature of the Prize is shrouded in mystery, and things are not what they appear to be...Eva is caught in the middle of it all while trying to find her father, who had abandoned her after the death of her mother. Under the name of "Molly", she joins her dad's racing team to the outer reaches of space, where they take part in the Great Race. Having learned of the Prize, she hopes to win it to bring back her mother and put her family's life back together.Deciding working for another company would not give him the creative control he needed, creator Savin Yeatman-Eiffel founded his independent own animation studio, spent years raising funds and years more perfecting the animation in cooperation with Japanese studios. Yeatman-Eiffel worked hard to secure the best talent available from both France and Japan, wrote the scripts for all 26 episodes in several languages and was personally involved in every level of the project, sparing no expense and spending years polishing the final result to a mirror shine. Start to finish, almost a decade.
This show provides examples of:
A-Team Firing: Inverted; Jordan's phenomenal aim is offset by his inability to conserve ammunition.
That and his weapon is far too weak to hurt most opponents and never hits the ones who have no protection.
Amusing Injuries: Don Wei hurts his right arm in episode 3 by punching a hard surface while arguing with Molly during her first race. Said arm is in a sling later in the episode, and it's still the for the entirety of the next.
Animesque: Is it an anime with a Western director/creator or a Western animation series with a lot of anime talent? This series blurs the line.
Anime Theme Song - Actually in both Japanese and French, for the French, British English and Japanese versions. The American English release used a somewhat generic English-language song, though they left the end theme the same.
The DVD simply uses an entirely English version of the original song.
Anti-Villain: Ning and Skun, after it's revealed that they want the ultimate prize to reunite their people. The same can be said for practically any of the opposing pilots in the Oban cycle except for Lord Furter, Sul, and Kross.
Hell, the worst you could call Sul is a Jerk Ass. He isnt actually evil, he has simply done everything-except win the Ultimate Prize, that is-and wants to win just for the sake of doing it. He's actually a fairly nice for someone who's almost god.
Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Ceres constantly hurls verbal abuse at his opponents and likes to reiterate his superiority by playing his flute to make them hallucinate and probably crash. Grooor plays it similarly, focusing on humiliating his opponent and disabling their star racer. He confronts Molly after his loss with the serious intention to kill her.
Badass Biker / Biker Babe: Molly on her rocket seat, which she grafts on the the Arrow's steering column. Ning and Skun's star racers are both essentially flying motorcycles - one is a racing bike and the other's a chopper, based on the handlebars.
Bar Brawl: Molly and Jordan get into one of these with Grooor. Aikka intervenes before too much stuff gets broken.
Barrier Warrior: Sul's star-racer is pretty much just a pyramid of pure energy that, along with letting him fly, shields him from all attacks. Not even multiple direct hits from Kross's BFG, or the combined firepower of four other pilots, does anything but slow him down a bit.
Benevolent Precursors: The Creators. In short, they made everything that exists and set up a system to keep it safe before they died out
Betty and Veronica: For Molly, Jordan is the former and Aikka the latter. She's initially more attracted to Aikka, but starts to feel more for Jordan later, yet she doesn't get either of them in the end.
Big Ol' Eyebrows: Jordan gets his from his grandpa, apparently. And Satis has a pair as long as his beard!
Bittersweet Ending: Jordan Wilde becomes the new Avatar, destroying Canaletto and restoring Oban. However, he does this having just admitted his love for Eva. The last shot of him is one of him silently crying, as the chances of him ever seeing Eva again as the Avatar are unlikely. Everyone else, however, returns home to happier lives.
Eva, for her part, failed to bring her mother back from the dead, but she did finally come to accept her loss and reconcile with her father.
Also a Government Conspiracy covers up what happened which means that humanity might be even less prepared for the race in 10,000 years along with the fact that the conspiracy wanted to use "their" new Avatar for human supremacy
BFS: Crog vehicles are basically flying versions of these. Powered up, their blades are able to slice through metal.
Boring Invincible Hero: Averted quite nicely; The Earth team is not only a dark horse at best, they've also spent time at the very bottom of the rankings. When they get to the semifinals, against the likes of Groor and Aikka, they come to Oban in third place... out of three. They lose against better racers often, and are dead last for the majority of races on Oban.
Cat Girl: Para-Dice, though it's implied that she's a cyborg.
Catch Phrase: Molly uses "Here goes nothing" and "Not good" quite a bit.
Chainsaw Good: Rush's Star racer has a laser chainsaw, and his pick-axe has a similar feature.
Chekhov's Gun: Molly's belt music player. During the race with Ceres, Rick uses it to shake Molly out of Ceres' mind-influencing music. This has the added side-effect of making Ceres slam into the course wall at high speed. He is not heard from again.
Chekhov's Gunman: O, the Wandering Eye. Enigmatic. Inscrutable. Never speaks. Cruises through the grand finals with an unremarkable score. Doesn't seem in it to win the Great Prize. Could be they knew more than anyone else did.
Combat Tentacles: Muir and his bio-ship, though Muir's are also used for telepathy.
Combining Mecha: Ning and Skun's space-bikes can fuse together to form a BFG that shoots heat-seeking plasma missiles.
Conflicting Loyalty: The main source of Aikka's problems is this; he values his friendship with Molly, but his loyalty to his kingdom and his "alliance" with the Crogs keeps getting in the way.
Deadpan Snarker: Most of the main cast except maybe Aikka (unless he's talking to Jordan).
Death Course: The race track in episode 4 is this. The first trap is a series of huge spinning turbines, the second is a giant, rolling boulder that can only be bypassed via flying through a hole in its center. This is followed by tunnels with swinging blades, a guillotine door, collapsing buildings and then a whole freakin' labyrinth of guillotine doors.
Drives Like Crazy: More flying than driving, actually. Be glad Jordan only flew the ship once.
Dwindling Party: A necessity of the race format, though there are only a few casualties or fatalities in the qualifying rounds. It soon becomes much closer to a Deadly Game once everyone is on Oban, though. Only five (of nine) teams apparently make it off Oban judging by the end sequence and the remaining ships around the temple; the Earth Team, Ning and Skun, the Nourasians, Muir, and Lord Furter (and his crew, of course). Of those, only one or two still have flight-worthy racers. Sul and Kross are quite definitely Killed Off for Real. Ondai is incapacitated in the city by Aikka and likely destroyed when Canaletto crashes the Flying Temple into the city. Finally, O performs a Heroic Sacrifice so that Molly, Jordan, and Aikka can face Canaletto.
The Empire: The Crog Imperium, which (prior to the Great Race) had already plundered the resources of Rush's planet, forced Aikka's planet into submission, and attacked Earth simply because they thought humans were getting too powerful.
Ning and Skun both have these as well. They deserve some special mention, though, in that they can easily be mistaken for face paint.
Fake Ultimate Hero: The flamboyant Flint is the track favourite on his homeworld of Alwas, and, along with his gunner, Marcel, is believed by everyone there to be unbeatable. However, when Molly actually races him, she quickly learns his true secret to success: the judges fix races for him by deploying traps that only affect the challenger. When trying to play fair fails, Molly decides to goad Flint into proving his "skills" by flying into the traps; he promptly crashes.
Falling into the Cockpit: When Rick is unable to fly the Arrow, Don Wei stubbornly refuses to let Molly take his place, despite the fact that she is the only other person on the team with any hope of success. So what does Molly do? While Don's not around, she uses her Wrench Wench skills to reconfigure the Arrow's controls and hijacks the ship for the next race. She barely manages to win, but Don is still so angry with her disobedience that he wants to withdraw the whole team from the race. It takes a direct order from the President of the Earth Coalition to keep him from doing so, and another disaster with Rick to make Molly the team's permanent pilot.
Frothy Mugs of Water: Several instances of this occur throughout the series. In the first episode, Rick is holding a champagne bottle that had its color changed to blue in the US broadcast but was left unchanged on the DVD release. Likewise, the tavern on Alwas is a popular hang out for the heroes, but none of their beverages are ever referred to as alcohol (Molly's drink is "grenadine milk," Rick's drink is "o-fish soda.")
Jordan also drinks coffee a lot, but the one time he actually called his brew 'Jordan's Java Jolt', the line was cut from the US broadcast.
Gambit Roulette: Canaletto's Evil Plan involves emotionally scarring a girl with the right background, then ensuring she is the one to represent her planet during the races, and counting on her to win so her scars will cause her to reject the role of Avatar so he can steal it for himself. Even with limited precognition it counts as this troped because it is ''limited' so there are many things that he cannot account for.
Hide Your Lesbians: Ning and Skun are strongly implied to be a couple. Since they come from a One-Gender Race it makes sense but since this show was playing on Toon Disney and ABC Family, the most romantic thing we see them do is hold hands.
Hometown Hero: In the preliminaries on Alwas, the home team of Flint and Marcel are given the edge with traps activated to foil their opponent but not them.
Humans Are Bastards: Aikka gains the opinion that humans can't be trusted after the race between him and Molly. Before the race both had promised not to shoot as long as they other didn't, Aikka because his mount had been hurt in the previous race, Molly because one of Aikka's arrows could disable their ship. They go most of the race doing this, but just before the finish line Don Wei unlocks Jordan's turret (which Molly had shut down at the start of the race and locked the techs out of). Jordan immediately shoots, Aikka disables the ship, then insults Molly before finishing the race.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Don Wei is very rarely pleasant, so he's mostly just a jerk. He was a very nice man before his wife was killed. He started acting mean to protect himself from the pain, and other people, too.
I Shall Taunt You: Used a few times. Molly defeats Flint by taunting him into taking on the traps judges had been rigging in his favor. Toros defeats Rush by this method as well.
Last of His Kind: Ceres, who subverts the usual angsty portrayal by being extremely proud to be the last surviving member of one of the oldest races in the universe. The art book establishes that this is mostly a front and he's actually bitter about being so alone.
Lightning Bruiser: One of the reasons Toros and Kross are so formidable - their star racers have great cruising speed and powerful offensive capabilities.
Line-of-Sight Name: Eva chose the name "Molly" from a signed poster of pin-up model she saw in Don Wei's hangar.
Living Ship: G'dar (Aikka's giant beetle), Spirit (he IS his ship), Muir's ship, and O's ship.
Lonely at the Top: The Avatar. Being a godlike being with a 10,000 year lifespan and immense magical powers sounds cool at first, but it comes with the price of protecting the galaxy alone until a new Avatar replaces you.
Made of Iron: On top of their amazing strength, Crogs seem almost impossible to hurt bordering on them being Nigh Invulnerable. An assassin is shown completely ignoring a barrage of military-grade lasers hitting him on all sides, and Kross caught a sword strike in the palm of his hand. It took being in the center of a crushed exploding Crog Trident to kill Kross.
Magical Native American: More like "Magical Indigenous Person", but Ceres is an ancient creature designed after totem carvings and such. His star racer is propelled by planetary magnetism and he can hypnotize people with his flute or use sound from his star racer to slice things in half.
Mid-Season Upgrade: After Arrow II gets trashed during the race with Spirit, it gets rebuilt with the help of the Alwas locals... and of course gets a few upgrades in the process!
Mighty Glacier: While it might seem counter to the idea of a race, Grooor's star racer has very poor speed but phenomenal defense. This fits in nicely with his usual strategy of crushing his opponents against a wall.
Well, in a series of races where magic arrows, lasers and machine guns are allowed it helps more than you would think.
Necromantic: Molly and Muir both want to bring back a loved one with the ultimate prize. When it's revealed that this isn't possible, Muir drops out of the race completely. Muir does at least survive the finale.
Neck Lift: Grooor does this to Molly in one episode, and Kross does this to Aikka in another.
Never Say "Die": Played straight most of the time, with one notable edit in the US broadcast; in episode 14, all lines about Toros comitting suicide were cut out. Ironically, this just leads to the implication his superiors pulled a You Have Failed Me.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Molly's race with Aikka. Given that Aikka is a Glass Cannon who rides a giant bug instead of an easily repaired vehicle, he was resigned to blowing Molly away in accordance with his government's orders. When Molly approached him with an offer of a straight-up race, he was moved by her competitive yet friendly attitude and was willing to take a loss as long as his wounded mount wasn't killed. She locked down Jordan's turret as the race began, and was winning soundly - until Don Wei unlocked Jordan's turret and ordered him to open fire. Cue humiliating defeat.
Nitro Boost: Aikka uses a spell on G'dar to the same effect; the Whizzing Arrow's hyperdrive. Toros and Kross' racers could also put on a similar boost of speed.
The Noseless: The whole cast. No, they're not mutants, it's just the art style.
The artist apparently hated drawing noses.
Novelization: There is a novel adaptation that covers the first six episodes of the series, but it's only available in French and there's no word as to whether the remaining twenty episodes will be novelized.
Old Master: Satis, both in and out of his Paper-Thin Disguise. He pops in and out to advise and mentor Molly in a roundabout fashion, and her race against him is a final test. He plays up Obfuscating Stupidity when first faced with the Earth Team, mistaking their tarp-covered crafts for 'giant flying pillows'. Still wouldn't be the weirdest craft to enter the race, though.
Parents as People: Don and Maya Wei managed to subvert this while Eva was little; despite having successful careers and being very in love with each other, they somehow still had enough time to dote on their only child. Don plays it painfully straight after Maya's fatal accident, leading straight into the next trope.
Parental Abandonment: Don Wei stuck his daughter in boarding school and did his best to forget about her after the death of his wife. To his credit, he does get better in the end.
Petting Zoo People: Paradice, sort of. She's very catlike in appearance and mannerisms, but her head looks like a computer screen.
Physical God: The Avatar (that is, Satis, and Jordan after his death), Canaletto, and possibly Sul.
Redeeming Replacement: Jordan isn't a direct replacement, but his grandfather William Wilde is regarded by history as a traitor on the order of Benedict Arnold. At least in part, this motivated him to join the military in the first place.
Jordan: What are those things? They're really cute! I want one!
Rookie Red Ranger: Molly joins the Earth Team as a stowaway. Even when she proves herself as a pilot, the Chilly Reception doesn't fully wear off until halfway through the show.
Secret Keeper: Rick is the first character to figure out that Molly is Don Wei's daughter. He tells her he knows, but leaves it up to her to tell Don.
Secret Test: The entire Great Race of Oban is this. The contestants can use any tactics short of murder to win the Ultimate Prize and have their wishes granted. However, the real prize is becoming Avatar for the next 10,000 years
Shouting Shooter: Jordan has a tendency to yell at whoever he's shooting at, whether they can hear him or not.
Single-Biome Planet: Played straight with Alwas, but strongly averted with Oban. Savin says that the Innas home planet was a subversion, as the seemed to be fighting over it with an unnamed, all male race, meaning there were two races there.
Twenty Minutes into the Future: The events of the series take place in the year 2082 AD, but aside from some of the technology and making contact with aliens, Earth is exactly the same as it is now.
Underdogs Never Lose: Played with. On Alwas, the Earth Team won seven out of ten races and had the lowest points of the three playoff teams headed for Oban. After that, they won only TWO out of nine races, and both wins were due to a Golden Snitch.
"Well Done, Daughter" Gal: Eva's motivation for most of the series is to get back the love Don Wei denied her for ten years. The irony is that Don doesn't know she's his daughter at all until well into the latter half of the series.
The Worf Effect: Sul vs Canaletto. Sul is almost a god and shoots a really powerful blast at Canaletto, but Canaletto is unaffected and drags Sul into some kind of portal, never to be seen again. Before that, a number of other racers had attempted to eliminate Sul during the race, but he was not only undamaged by any of their attacks, he took them all down easily.
Wrench Wench: Not only did Molly build her own rocket-seat by herself, but she later grafts it onto the Whizzing Arrow's steering column!
You Have Failed Me: Despite making it through to Oban, Toros is implied to have killed himself for his "unacceptable" loss to Molly, the first loss of his racing career.
You Killed My Mother: Molly's attitude towards Spirit, the racer who she thinks is responsible for her mother's death. She wrecks the Whizzing Arrow when she faces him, only to learn the truth when he shows her the events of that day through his eyes. Later, however, it turns out that Canaletto was responsible for Maya's death.