Originally known as Mach Go Go Go in its native Japan, the animation known as Speed Racer became a cultural phenomenon when it made its way to US television sets in 1967. Despite only having 52 original episodes its stayed in the public consciousness for decades until being unearthed again in the ‘90s and becoming a cult phenomenon. In her book Speed Racer: The Official 30th Anniversary Guide, Elizabeth Moran delves into the history and the cultural significance of Speed Racer and how it would influence the anime explosion of the ‘90s.
Moran’s book is a treasure trove of information on the animated series. It breaks down all 52 episodes of the series while also going to more technical aspects of the show (mostly from the American version perspective) such as interviews with the American voice actors and how they were picked for the show and the technical specs for Speed Racer’s Mach 5 vehicle as well, among other things. The book is well researched and instrumental for fans of the series.
Even if you are not familiar with the original series itself Moran also delves into the ancillary markets that the character was used in such as the NOW! Comics ‘90s comic book series (and its spin-off series and reprints of the original Japanese manga) and the NASCAR commercials of ’96. Moran also gives a little background on the animated film The Speed Racer Show (1993), which is three of the original episodes edited together but had a huge impact on resurrecting the character into the consciousness of audiences throughout the ‘90s. The book ends by examining the Americanized The New Adventures of Speed Racer (1993). Since the book was published in ’97 it does not touch upon the more recent animated series Speed Racer: The Next Generation nor the live action big screen film from the Wachowski Bros. (allow Moran does indicate that the live action film has been in development for a very long time).
Speed Racer has been instrumental to spreading anime to American audiences and for many it was the first animated series from Japan that they experienced. Moran’s book is an excellent way to look back at the series or to learn about it for the very first time. For more info on Speed Racer visit the Official Speed Racer website at www.speedracer.com