Anime DVD Review: Speed Racer Collector’s Edition

The Speed Racer Collector’s Edition is a single DVD that includes the first 11 episodes of Speed Racer, as well as a few extras. Only the English dub versions of the episodes are included on the DVD.

Speed Racer Collector’s Edition
English Publisher: Family Home Entertainment
Format: DVD
Release Date: April 22, 2003

The series begins with Speed Racer learning that his father has quit his job at an automotive factory because the factory rejected his proposal for the design of a new engine. Speed decides to enter a dangerous mountain race to earn the money needed to build the engine. During the race, he has to deal with an aggressive racer named Skull Duggery; at the same time, a hitman named Ace Deucy is trying to steal the engine design, which is drawn on Speed’s windshield with invisible ink.

Next is the story of The Masked Racer, a mysterious driver who is considered a jinx because of fatal crashes that have taken place in previous races that he’s been in. Speed is determined to face off against him, but The Masked Racer tries to dissuade him; it turns out the Masked Racer has a tie with Speed.

“The Secret Engine” focuses on the elderly son of a deceased gangster who drives a Model T. It turns out the car contains the code for a missing haul of stolen money, and a gang leader is determined to get his hands on the code in order to get the money.

The next two-part episode sees a 600-foot-long train-like vehicle entered into a dangerous open competition race. A gangster named Cruncher Block is using the race and this vehicle to smuggle $50 million in gold. Speed and Trixie find themselves running afoul of his plans.

The final three episodes make up “Evil Acrobat Clan,” which is the three-part episode. In this arc, Speed enters The Great Alpine Race after being challenged by a belligerent racer named Snake Oiler. Both Sparky and The Masked Racer try to talk Speed out of it, but he insists on being part of the race. As he’s warned, the race is dangerous… and there’s a major cliffhanger at the end of episode 11.

Speed Racer is an anime classic. The stories themselves are interesting to watch, and the viewer finds themselves rooting for Speed in each race that he enters. The one major weakness of the series is how the dubbing was done. The decision was made to have the voice actors talk rather quickly, so at times, it can be a little hard to understand what’s being said. Also, due to this method of dubbing, there are times that the series becomes unintentionally funny. I wish there was a legal way to watch Speed Racer with the original Japanese audio with English subtitles, because I have a feeling that I would probably enjoy the series even more than I do now if I could see the original Japanese.

When it comes to the DVD itself, the special features section is labeled as, “Speed Racer Files.” The special features menu is designed to look like file folders, and you click one of the tabs of the “file folder” for the special feature you want to see.

The first tab is labeled, “Production.” Under this tab, you can see a text-only history of Tatsunoko Productions (the Japanese company that produced the Speed Racer anime), a text-only history of the U.S. adaptation of Speed Racer, a page that has the lyrics for the Speed Racer theme song (which includes a link to play the theme song, as well as a text-only history of the American theme song), and the credits and information for the American voice actors.

The next tab in the special features menu is labeled, “Mach 5.” In this tab, the viewer can see the controls on the steering wheel of the Mach 5; when you select one of the controls, Speed Racer can be heard explaining what it does. You can also choose to “see the feature in action,” which includes a scene from an episode featuring that control.

The third tab is labeled, “Villains’ Gallery.” Here, you see a brief profile and a picture of a villain (and hear a blurb of that villain’s dialogue from the series), and a link to “see the villain in action.” The villains included are: Ace Deucy, Mr. Fix, Tongue Blaggard, Cruncher Block, Captain Terror, Mr. Van Ruffle, Mr. Wiley, and Snake Oiler.

The final tab is labeled, “Speed Lives On!” There are two options here: “Sequels & Spin Offs” and “Speed Merchandise.” Under “Sequels & Spin Offs,” you can see a text-only explanation of The New Adventures of Speed Racer (and the opening credits for this series is included for viewing), and a text-only explanation for a Volkswagen Commercial that included Speed Racer (however, the commercial itself is not available for viewing). Under “Speed Merchandise,” there is a gallery of Speed Racer merchandise; however, only five items are included.  This tab also includes the DVD credits.

The biggest disappointment of this DVD is the fact that, while it may have chapter marks, they’re useless for the viewer. When watching the DVD, you cannot use the “skip” function to move ahead to the next chapter. If you want to skip over something, you have to use the fast forward button.

I wish that instead of instead of trying to cram 11 episodes onto one disc, that this DVD had been released as a two-disc set. However, if you are a fan of the original Speed Racer anime and you want to own this series in your anime home video collection, then this DVD is worth obtaining.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of the Speed Racer Collector’s Edition that my husband purchased for me as a gift.

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