Ryu’s Musings – Speed Racer: Mach GoGoGo Vol1&2

Posted on October 17th, 2010 by Ryu Sheng |

9781569707319 (vol 1)

ISBN-13: 9781569707319 & 9781569707319
Language: English
Direction: Right to Left
by: Tatsuo Yoshida
Pages: 299 & 331
Publisher: DMP
Type: Series
Genre: Action, Shonen, Racing
Synopsis:

Now in the U.S. for the first time in its complete form, DMP is proud to present Tatsuo Yoshida’s masterwork. Painstakingly restored and collected into this hardcover, 2-volume set in celebration of Speed Racer’s 40th Anniversary, Speed Racer: Mach GoGoGo introduces these beloved characters and stories to fans old and new. Included in this Platinum edition is a special introduction by the voice of Speed Racer, Peter Fernandez! Whether this is your first trip around the course, or a nostalgic return lap, the exciting adventures in this collection are sure to bring out that familiar cheer: Go Speed Racer, go!

Character Musings:

Speed Racer, our ‘hero’ for the series. Sadly there’s nothing that makes him stand out from the norm. Throughout the two volumes I found him a bland and flat character. While it’s true he has a bubbly personality, it doesn’t feel real. Towards the end I was hoping someone would beat him, just to get rid of his ego, and to add some spice to the series.

Racer X could have been the character to add the spice the series needs to make it interesting. Unfortunately he never really lives up to the build up he was given. He ends up being just as flat as Speed.

There are a few other characters I was going to mention, but they don’t appear much so I decided against it.

General Musings:

9781569707319 (vol 2) The series starts off pretty generic, but in a good way. While it’s nothing new you can feel that Yoshida has the foundations of a good story. in fact as I was reading it I was put in mind of another anime series, GPX Cyber Formula, and I wonder if GPX was based on the ideas of Speed Racer.

The first chapter is pretty awesome, it introduces the characters, the story, and perfectly sets the stage .

Pops Racer leaves his company after they refuse to let him build his super engine, but it seems that someone within the company wants the engine themselves and sets out to secure the design plans.

Naturally we get all the cliché’s  you’d expect in this sort of story, and for it’s time frame. The bad guys all look evil, walking around in trench coats, swishing their capes as they lurk and skulk. All in all it uses pretty much ever cliché under the sun, and uses them well.

After I’d read the first chapter I had this idea of what was to come. Their misadventures as they tried to gather the money needed to build the super engine. Naturally they get the money by entering races, so we get a lot of high speed events.

Sadly though this isn’t what we get. What we get is a series of repeating chapters that frankly are the shame of the mangaverse. I don’t care what anyone says, Yoshida coned his fans by reusing story over and over, just changing settings and characters.

What irked me a little was that the super engine that was the huge focus of the first chapter, and the cause of the whole story, disappears and never returns, at least not in the form it was.

Speed is pretty much the ultimate driver right from the outset. Sure he gets into scraps, and a few accidents, but when he’s on the road in the car, he’s pretty much unstoppable. Racer X, the only one who was supposed to be a challenge, was never a challenge, in fact he feel and looks like a limp lettuce throughout the series.

He’s built up as this super evil driver who does what ever it takes to win the race he’s in, and as a result people die a lot. this build up would have made an excellent character. However as soon as he arrives on the scene he becomes a limp noodle and goes out of his way to help speed. There are reasons for this of course which get revealed at the end of the series. though anyone with half a brain figures out at the end of the chapter he first appears.

And that, is where this character fails. His actions are so blatantly obvious that there’s no mystery involved. Frankly there’s nothing to get excited about, since it becomes obvious that Racer X has no intention of winning anything.

The first volume has a “race of the week” feel to it, where each chapter is it’s own mini story revolving around a certain race. This isn’t necessarily a bad way for a series to progress. However none of the chapters have depth, and none of them have any follow up, so some of them end rather bland and unsatisfying.

What I found really bad though was volume two. Manga-ka and fans get all bent out of shape over plagiarism, but apparently it’s perfectly fine when it’s their own stuff they’re ripping off. Yup, that’s right. After reading volume one there’s no need to read volume two since it’s almost a carbon copy of volume one. In fact parts of it  are a carbon copy. There’s entire pages that are exactly the same as in volume one. Most notably when Racer X reappears. Yoshida has taken the pages he used in volume one and added them to volume two, and altered the text a little. But then there’s some where there’s been no editing at all. Reading it initially I wondered if DMP had made a publishing mistake, but it’s not the case.

The second volume was a huge disappointment to read story wise, but even worse on character development wise. We go from Speed driving a decently fast car, with a few gadgets, to a car that would give both the Knight Rider and Inspector Gadget cars a run for it’s money. I mean, have a car with a jumping boost is one thing, but suddenly his car has buzz saws, remote control drone missiles, turns into a submarine and even gets wings and can fly.

We go from a racing manga into a James Bond Jnr manga (anyone remember the James Bon Jnr cartoons??).

Finally the end, when Racer X’s identity is finally revealed. The way it was done was just pathetic. It was: “yeah, I left because I was a secret agent working under cover, but it’s all over now and we can be a family again”. I had to read that a few more times because I was WTH is going on.

This was made all the more frustrating over the elements that were raised in some of these stories. One being some super secret evil group known only as QQQ (Spectre!!), who are supposedly super evil. They’re there for one chapter and never mentioned again.

Remember the super engine from the first chapter? well it re-emerges again. Only this time it’s a super engine that was designed by Henry Ford. Again it’s used for one chapter then disappears.

There were to many convenient bits in this story. From his girlfriend (who like him is a kid) being able to fly, and owns a helicopter), to his car being revamped in a way to allow him to win, despite the revamping never being mentioned before.

I wouldn’t have a problem with the way this series had gone if it had been done properly. Unfortunately Speed Racer is a directionless story that tries to go in several different directions, and fails at them all. If Yoshida had spent some time thinking out what he wanted from his story, and how to get there, it probably would have ended up as a good series.

I read this series on eManga, and I personally think if you’re interested in reading this you go there first. DMP released this as a collectors edition box set, which in the UK is around £20-30, which I think is a waste of money. You can rent it on eManga for a fraction of that. Read it there and see if you want to buy the paper edition.

Though I think the paper edition will really only appeal to fans of the series, and those looking for a trip down nostalgia avenue. DMP release a lot better (Vampire D) that you should be buying.

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