CULT FACTION

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Speed Racer

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with fast things. Cars in particular were so intriguing that my parents bought me a battery-operated dashboard so that I could pretend like I was driving. I was also the proud owner of a spiffy red fire engine.

Which brings me to my favorite cartoon. How I adored Speed Racer. I still love that show! Originally, Speed Racer was a Japanese cartoon in the 60s. This was one of the first anime series to gain popularity in the United States.

In 1967, the show premiered in the US after being acquired by Trans-Lux. Most of the stories revolved around him, his gal pal Trixie, his baby brother and his pet chimp. His older brother, Racer X figured prominently as well.

Peter Fernandez was the genius behind the American version of the beloved Japanese comic. He was also affiliated with another one of my favorite cartoons from that era, Marine Boy. Fernandez wrote all the Speed Racer scripts as well as voicing Racer X and Speed.  He also rearranged the theme song into the popular tune that we know and love today.

Part of this show’s appeal was the awesome Mach 5. I remember daydreaming about that car and trying to decide if I could choose between it and the Batmobile or if I could just have both of them. This was definitely a selling point.

Another thing that kept viewers tuning in was the dynamic between Speed and his family. The tension between him and Racer X was always exciting coupled with the races. It meant for an engaging cartoon.

In the 90s, the series made a comeback when MTV started airing reruns in the mornings. From there, a new program was created with an exciting logo, episode titles and closing credits. Even in the 2000s, Speed had an impact as a daily comic strip drawn by Mort Todd. This incarnation ran in the New York Post.

There are many ancillary products associated with this show. Beginning with a sweet Matchbox replica of the Mach 5. There are action figures and die casts forms of the Mach 5 and Racer X’s car the Shooting Star. Wii, Nintendo DS and PlayStation 2 all have games available. Speed Racer can also be found on Blu-ray and DVD.

 

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