Okay, for those of you who don't know, the original "Speed Racer" was a manga series created by Tatsuo Yoshida in 1967. It was titled "Mach GoGoGo" and about a year after the manga hit stores, an anime series was produced. The anime series was directed by Hiroshi Sasagawa and around 52 episodes were made. It soon came to America under the name "Speed Racer" (which became the main character's name), heavily edited and dubbed by American producer Peter Fernandez. The series is now famous for it's "fast" dialogue and "bad" dubbing, and at least two other series (other than this one I'm reviewing) and a number of video games followed. If you want to see for yourself, all 52 episodes of the original series is legally available on Hulu (to promote the live-action movie of course). But anyway, now that I've filled you in on the basics on the series, on with the review!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Name: Speed Racer: The Next Generation
Running Time: 23 minutes
Network: Nicktoons Network
Premiere: April 27, 2008
This show is actually pretty decent to say the least. The animation in the racing scenes are pretty superb, flawlessly switching between Flash and CGI animation. And it's simple to understand. Even if you have no actual knowledge of any of the previous series or manga. The backgrounds are kinda well-done, and the characters are well designed. Fans of the original series might not like this series (which is non-canon in the franchise's continuity), but I have seen quite a few that do enjoy this series. But, I'm going to have to say that the bad qualities of this show can overshadow the good ones.
"Nicktoons Network" is, of course, a spinoff network of "Nickelodeon"; Viacom's "brilliant" answer to channels like "Boomerang" (Time Warner) and "Toon Disney"/"Jetix" (Disney). And the channel's most successful series by far was "Kappa Mikey". So Animation Collective, the animation studio (residing in NYC) that made the show, was hired to make the new "Speed Racer" cartoon. So Larry Schwarz (the founder of the studio and creator of all of their series) rounded up a nice group of voice actors, that also includes Peter Fernandez, and set off to work on the 26 episodes that make up this little season. The show is produced in Adobe Flash, and is quite stiff, with limited animation. Somewhat like the first "Speed Racer" series, expect with brighter colors. So that gets a point from me...a very slight point. But, they just had to put the whole thing in a school and make the villian so lame. So very, very lame...I mean, what villian cares about ruining the social life of his targets? Why should he even care about their socail status, if he wants them out of the darn way? That loses a big point from me...a very big point. The animation in this show could be a bit smoother, and their attempts of comedy simply fails...every single time. It doesn't even sound like the voice actor of Speed Jr. (Kurt Csolak) is actually putting any emotion into the character.
It pains me to say that this series isn't really that good. It actually pales in comparision with the 1968 series, which I truly find much better. Give me some more "Kappa Mikey"! Premiere "Three Delivery" already! But this Animation Collective show doesn't do it for me. I'm not saying this series is horrible. If it was, I would have given it a D or F. This series is completely watchable, and I get some slight amusment out of watching it. But there are few redemmable qualities, and you would have to just watch it yourself to find them. I'm giving this series a C...a B- at the most. This is likely to be the show's first and last season though. Not for bad ratings, but for the fact that the movie it was supposed to promote completely bombed at the box office. For those interested, the 66 minute pilot is on DVD, and available on the Lionsgate website.