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Speed RULES!!! --- but WHERE ARE THE JAPANESE EXTRAS?!
on May 12, 2008
This FIRST set is GREAT! The first 2 episodes detail the Mach 5, it's development history, and enough character history to add much enjoyment and fun to the rest of the series. Now as an adult I really appreciate that the art and production quality for the first episode is the same as for the very last; no rough beginning that loses value after watching refined episodes later on. And the stories in this first set are the best introduction to this Great Classic racing (and adventure) series. They'll make devoted fans out of you, leave you anxiously yearning for more, and prepare you to get the most enjoyment from the rest.
Speed Racer was my favorite cartoon growing up. I would pass up an after-school KickBall game to watch Speed and the Coolest Car on Earth. I always laughed myself onto the floor watching Spritle's tears spraying out like fountains. These cartoons were crude ... but they had a unique character and spirit that made refined art, sound, and production irrelevant. In fact the mismatched mouth movements (seemingly due to more than translation) and coarse animation only added to it's unique charm. I've waited a long time for a collection like this.
These characters are beyond endearing. You just love them; even the villains! And the voices are so perfectly cliche, and in that way so uniquely Speed Racer; they're hilarious! The main characters have such great personalities and charm. And you've got to love the 60s/70s music and pop culture as well as the fun Japanese interpretation (and Japanification) of it that stands out to western audiences (like Trixie's sort-of full-bodied winking peace-sign expression and stance). And you'll never forget that great opening sequence in which Speed is frozen in that Groovy Racing/Go-Go pose that spins around in a 3D effect. And the Mach 5! It's as beautiful today as it was so long ago! To me, it's the most beautiful car EVER conceived. I Treasure this great show!
HOWEVER, I agree with other reviewers in that Lion's Gate should have included the original Japanese theme song, and it would have been GREAT to have included a whole episode in Japanese as it aired in Japan. Interviews with voice-cast members and the Japanese creators (who've got to be the Grooviest most interesting guys!) would have been nice. Such extras would have made this a much better collection. But they provided none of those things in any of the 5 sets.
Also, they should have put forth some effort to improve the video quality. I have a VHS tape that provides better image quality. It's as if they did not use original masters . . . or perhaps those masters have not been well kept (although it's not bad by any means).
I'd give the Series itself every star in the Universe, but I have to give the collection only 3 Stars. It could and SHOULD be so much better with the extras and improvements I've mentioned.