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Anime / Speed Racer X

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Speed Racer X is a 1997 adaptation of the original anime Speed Racer.

Known in Japan as Mach Go Go Go: Restart, this series acts as a reboot franchise, similar to the original Speed Racer, though there are a few updates.

It was going to be 52 episodes long like the original series, but was cut down to only 34 episodes. It was originally to be dubbed by Speed Racer Enterprises (the previous owners of Speed Racer before 2011) under the name Speed Racer Y2K, but only 1 episode was dubbed when it premiered at the 1998 San Diego Comic Con. While it was positively received by attendees, Speed Racer Enterprises was unable to sell the show to a network and the project was dropped.

DiC Entertainment then decided to dub it after partnering with Speed Racer Enterprises. The dub premiered on Nickelodeon's action-focused "SLAM!" block in August of 2002, four years after the series premiered in Japan, but only 13 episodes were dubbed and aired before Nickelodeon cancelled the entire block and Speed Racer X along with it. To make matters worse for DiC, a lawsuit between them and Speed Racer Enterprises happened over contractual disagreements, which resulted in DiC losing the rights to the show, killing off any chance of them bringing the rest of the show to America.

The show was eventually released on DVD by Funimation when they acquired the license to the Speed Racer franchise, though it's only available through the "Speed Racer - The Ultimate Collection" box set, and only contains the original Japanese audio. Sadly, Funimation seems to have no plans to re-dub the series or release the DiC dub onto home video.

The show can roughly be divided into two story arcs. The first 21 episode focus on the events surrounding the Earth Grand Prix. The remaining 13 episodes revolved around time traveling adventures and stopping a would-be world conqueror.

Speed Racer X provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the new series, the role of Pops' apprentice mechanic is given to Takumi, a blond guy with glasses, whereas the character who filled that role in the original series was Sabu, a brunette. In English, these characters were both named Sparky.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Speed was known as Go Mifune in the Japanese version of the '60s series. However, in the 1997 remake, the Mifune family became the "Hibiki" family, necessitating a change in his surname. His father retained his name of Daisuke, while his mother's name went from being Aya to Misuzu. Also, while in the original series, Racer X's car was called the Shooting Star, while here, it's called the Shooting Arrow.
  • Artifact of Power: The second story arc revolves around despot from the future named Handler and his efforts to collect the four Ezekiel Wheels, ancient artifacts of incredible power, said to have been brought to Earth by an alien ship.
  • Battle Butler: Racer X is assisted by a man named Old Joe, who dresses as a butler. At various points he is shown to a be a competent hand-to-hand fighter and a marksman with a rifle.
  • The Big Race: Several, but special mention has to go to the Earth Grand Prix final. Starting at midnight on New Year's Eve as the year goes from 2000 to 2001, the race starts in New York, and the racers moves west, traversing a 30,000 km course through 17 countries, until they reach the finish line in Athens.
  • Cool Bike: In Episode 24 Takumi rolls out the White Cyclone, a bike that can be towed by the Mach 5 when traveling through time.
  • Cool Car: The Mach 5 is, as always, very cool, but here it's arguably even moreso than in the original series. It used to belong to Go's older brother Kenichi, until he crashed and was assumed dead. After that, Pops installed the Safety Seven System, seven functions, like deploying wires or cutting blades, each activated by pressing the corresponding letter on the Mach 5's steering wheel. During the second story arc, the Mach 5 becomes capable of traveling through time when its velocity reaches 555 km/hr.
  • Cut Short: The '90s remake was planned for 52 episodes, but only 34 wound up produced due to the ratings going sour and a change in directors during production. The Speed Racer X English dub by DiC would only air 13 episodes before being pulled due to a lawsuit from Speed Racer Enterprises.
  • Darker and Edgier: Episodes of this series tend to be more serious than episodes of the original Speed Racer.
  • Epileptic Flashing Lights: This technique was used in the first few seconds of the Japanese opening, though it's done with the footage cutting out with a black screen.
  • Evil Knockoff: Team Exelion built the Albatross, a car based upon the schematics of the Mach 5.
  • Expy: Of the cast of the '90s version, with the character Mai Kazami acting as a stand-in for Michi Shimua, (Trixie). Her brother Wataru is a close analogue to Kurio Mifune (Spritle). The dub of this version kept the familial connection between the two, although they also kept their "Speed Racer" names, leaving Spritle to gain the surname of Fontaine (instead of Racer). Additionally, Takumi fills the roll held by Sabu (Sparky) in the original series, and a baby gorilla name Rocky later joins the cast, taking the role originally held by Sanpei, AKA Chim-Chim.
  • Friend on the Force: Go befriends a UNPO detective named Cathy, who often asks for Speed's help investigating crimes.
  • Genre Shift: In an attempt to keep the show from being cancelled. the final 13 episode the shows turns into a time-travel action adventure as Go and friends must prevent a particular MacGuffin from falling into the hands of a time-traveling Big Bad. The Mach 5 also receives an ability to time travel as well.
  • Mythology Gag: Racer X's outfit is based on Kabala from the original anime, whom the original Racer X impersonated.
  • Opposing Sports Team: Team Exelion will do anything to ensure their favored racer is the one to take first place. This includes hiring assassins to wipe out the competition.
  • Related in the Adaptation: The young child character Wataru, known as Spritle in the English dub, is Mai's (Trixie's) younger brother in this series, rather than Go's (Speed's).
  • Running Gag: When Go needs to travel through time, he will go to an old tunnel to reach 555 km/hr. Every time he does this, he nearly collides with one particular truck driver just before disappearing, leaving the driver very confused as to what just happened.
  • Silly Simian: A baby gorilla named Rocky is introduced partway through the series and becomes a pet for Wataru. Like Chim-Chim from the original series, Rocky exists largely for comic relief.
  • Sinister Car: The Gargoyle is said to be possessed by an evil spirit, as everyone who drives it becomes violent and wrecks other cars, before dying themseleves. At one point the car even seems to be driving itself.
  • Worthy Opponent: Go meets several over the course of the series, but the most notable are World Champion Jetson, and Racer X, whose presence inspires Go to race better.