Anime DVD Review: Speed Racer Volume 5

Speed Racer Volume 5 contains episodes 45 through 52 of the Speed Racer anime series.  These final episodes include the unmasking of Racer X and Speed’s world championship race.  Like with Volume 4, there are no special features, although there are only eight episodes included on the disc.

Speed Racer Volume 5
English Publisher: Family Home Entertainment
Format: DVD
Release Date: October 31, 2006

Also, like with Speed Racer Volume 4, this disc contains chapter marks that are usable by the viewer. There are also trailers at the beginning of this disc; however, unlike Volume 4, the viewer is able to skip over the trailers to get to the main menu faster. There are also fewer trailers included on this disc in comparison with Volume 4.

“The Greatest Car Wrestling Match” focuses on the sport of Automobile Wrestling. In my opinion, it just looks like the cars are crashing into each other; it’s not something I’d really describe as wrestling. Speed, Trixie, Sparky, Spritle, and Chim-Chim become involved in the story.

“Motorcycle Apaches” takes place in the desert; the narration says this is the American West. A convoy of trucks is attacked by a group of motorcycle riders. Speed, meanwhile, is racing in the Southwest Gran Prix. The storylines come together and Speed ends up getting involved with the situation involving the motorcycle riders.

“Car With a Brain” opens with a thunderstorm in Scotland, where a haggard-looking old man is trying to get a car to “wake up.” He finally harnesses all the energy he needs from the lightning bolts that touched a rod sticking up from the castle he’s in, and his monster car has come to life. He orders it to go out into the countryside and to wreak as much havoc as it can. As part of its adventure, the monster car heads to the racing circuit and appears to destroy it. The monster car goes into a nearby city, and awakens Speed and the others at the hotel they’re staying it, which is how Speed becomes involved in this story.

“Junk Car Grand Prix” sees a baron holding a Junk Car Grand Prix in memory of his daughter who dreamed of becoming a race car driver; she disappeared when she was 12 years old. This is a race for girls who are 17 years old, and each entrant must build a car from junk. Trixie decides to enter the race, with Speed as her assistant.

“The Car in the Sky” sees Speed Racer and his friends and family traveling on a plane along with some other passengers. The Mach Five is secured at the back of the plane. The plane is trying to navigate through a thunderstorm, but the left engine has gone dead and several instruments on the instrument panel blow up. The plane has to make an emergency landing, and the Mach Five comes loose. From here, the focus is on the crew and passengers being stranded on an island.

“The Trick Race” sees the surviving members of The Car Acrobatic Team gathering in the Bavarian Alps. They plot their revenge against Speed for what happened to them earlier, and they want to challenge Speed to another race on the exact same trail. Racer X tries to talk Speed out of this race.

The series ends with the two-part episode, “Race Around the World.” The focus is on the Around the World Grand Prix; the race begins in Los Angeles, and the race route basically takes the racers around the world; the ending point for the race is Tokyo. The guy sponsoring the contest is offering gold, as well as his daughter’s hand in marriage. His daughter doesn’t approve of being offered as a prize, so she decides to enter the race herself. Speed Racer and Racer X also enter the race. This set of episodes sees the official unmasking of Racer X.

While re-used footage, still images, and recycled storylines appeared on some of the earlier volumes, it was definitely prevalent on this final disc, especially the amount of re-used footage. Also, the final two-part episode is full of plot holes. While some of the plot holes were created by the American dub, a good portion of them were created by the original Japanese studio. These plot holes definitely showed that the writer of the original Japanese episode didn’t take the time to think the story all the way through.

Between the amount of re-used footage, the increase use in still images, the recycled plot ideas, as well as the plot holes in the final episodes, it’s rather obvious that the original Japanese studio was ready to “call it a day” for Speed Racer.

I would definitely recommend this DVD to a fan of the Speed Racer anime series that wants to own all the episodes in their anime home video library. With this DVD containing the final set of episodes, it is a “must get” for the die-hard Speed Racer fan.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Speed Racer Volume 5 that I purchased as a gift for my husband.

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