Back in the 00s there used to be a time when I was completely clueless about fandoms and stuff. When I liked a movie I'd just re-watch it 50 times on repeat in the living room or run around on all fours because I liked Balto. Or try to single-handedly write a fourth movie to Back To The Future saga and drop it after the first "chapter". What I'm saying is, it was never BIG. Until my mom bought a new cartoon for my brother. It had a car on the cover, so bound to be liked by a little-little boy, right? But instead it was me who lost hir absolute shit.

Enter Speed Racer.

I've experienced this franchise as chaotically as you'd expect from a neurodivergent teen in their first serious hyperfixation. But I'd like to try and present it to you more orderly. Chronologicaly, even.


This story has been around since the 60s and took on many variations, but the gist that stays mostly the same is:

There's a Racer family, yes that's their surname, and they're, naturally, in the business of car racing. The dad, called Pops (some say his real name is Dragon) is a genius engineer who constructs the cars, there's an older son Rex, who was a racer and died tragically, there's a middle son Speed (depending on the iteration it might or might not be hia actual name) who wants to be a racer despite his brother's death, and there's the youngest brother Spritle who's just childish mischief incarnated and his best friend is Chim-Chim, a monkey that Racers for some reason own. There's also Speed's girlfriend Trixie and his best friend/junior family mechanic Sparky. And the mysterious Racer X, who, as the original anime will tell you straight up, is actually Rex. The brother. He faked his death 'cause he's a secret agent now.

And of course there's the Mach 5, the infamous white car that can jump, drive underwater, cut through obstacles, etc etc, there are seven total buttons on that steering wheel.

Speed races in some, uh, races, faces down multiple baddies ranging from corrupt businessmen or murder gangs to wild animals and straight up cyborgs, and tries to win regardless. He's also a very clueless boyfriend and a bit of an arrogant jerk when it comes to racing, generally. That's the gist of it.


Speed Racer might've become popular abroad as the sometimes meme-worthy 60s anime, but as it is often the case with anime, manga came first. It was called Mach GoGoGo.

And Speed Racer, believe it or not, had an actual japanese name before it was so brutally localized. It's Go Mifune. Yup, if you ever looked at this guy and wondered why the hell he has a G on his shirt — that's literally why. And Trixie's M stands for Michi. And yes, the GoGoGo part is a pun both on his name and the Japanese word "five". Like Mach 5.

I digress. The manga by Tatsuo Yoshida pioneered in the 60s, almost at the same time as the anime. The latter actually explains the huge differences in story arcs between manga and anime. Because there are A LOT of those. A character who's alive in the manga is dead and impersonated by another character in the anime? Sure. A character's arc is split and half of their screentime goes to another character for some reason? Sure! A major character faces a life-changing decision and chooses the complete opposite? SURE. I will say I like the manga more in some aspects. Although I've finally read it like fourteen years after I've watched the anime for the first time.


Okay, right, so this is one of the two things an average viewer might think of when hearing "Speed Racer". The other one being the movie.

I can tell you this part in my sleep: Speed Racer, or Mach GoGoGo, was made in 1967, was the first colored work of the Tatsunoko Inc. studio and also allegedly was the first anime in spokon genre (meaning sport-based anime, basically). Wild. I've even seen it mentioned in books on animation history!

The American dub, however, is a fun thing. It was written by Peter Fernandez, the same guy that voiced Speed, he had only two days to do it (mind you the anime is 52 full episodes long), he crammed the long English sentences into short windows of original lines being said without any optimization and he hired like four other people who were his friends to voice it with him.

Combine it with the twitchy 60s animation, partial censorship and also the fact that the original Go was already somewhat unhinged, and here we have it: Speed Racer. The anime with crazy fast dialogue that makes everyone seem a little bit on crack and the main character that behaves in a way which prompts a dozen of "Speed Racer is a sociopath" edits on YouTube. And that's part of the charm, isn't it? Also, you'd never guess (you'd totally guess) by my current preferences in characters, but I loved Speed with all his 'sociopathic' tendencies. Horrific car crashes, occasional maniac laugher, prideful temper tantrums and fistfighting with people wielding guns included. Love me a blunt jerk character who'll look at a moral dilemma and go "Missed me with that shit, I've got a race to win".


After the success of the series in the West, America gleefully started making it its own. In 1991 there will be a whole Speed Racer Enterprises company made to oversee that, but NOW Comics came first.

I can't say that those comics were exactly "bad", but... I do find the quality questionable at times. The writers also went nuts with the narrative sometimes, completely going off tangent of the original story. Starting right at the beginning, aka the way Speed becomes a racer. ...Or him and his brothers being adopted.

This new American version's real name was Greg, by the way. A valiant attempt at explaining the "G", I suppose, but the whitewashing was palpable. While the movie is also guilty of that, at least they left the matter of 'real names' names alone. By the way, are you ever annoyed by reading a comic and having the artist of it change midway? Well, don't worry about that. Speed Racer comics not only were changing artists almost every issue, some of those artists weren't even given character sheets it looks like. Or were just chasing after the time's fashion - after all, why not give Speed a mullet?

There was also a Racer X comic series going on simultaneously. Who, unbeknownst to Speed, is his older brother Rex, who-- (you'll honestly only get this joke if you watched the 60s anime)


As a kid I was never much concerned with dates, so color me surprised, I was not aware this iteration came so early.

Anywho, the americanization of Speed Racer doubled down with "New Adventures". It was apparently supposed to be a prequel for a feature film that never was. This series had everything - new theme song, new character designs, more trendy for the time, a new art style which always reminded me personally of that one Jackie Chan cartoon.


Almost every version of Speed Racer tried to tweak the Mach 5 design somewhat, but none dared to vandalize it like that. There was visually nothing left of the iconic design. I'm so angry I'm ending this section right here. I'll let the fact that this only lasted for 13 episodes speak for itself.


An underrated version, in my opinion. In 1997 an attempt was made for a remake — finally actual Japanese anime industry took Speed, or rather, Go back in their hands. The Mach GoGoGo Restart, or Speed Racer X, featured cool redesigns (a lot of them recognizable only in context or by the smallest hints like a mustache or a red cap), updated cool tricks for Mach 5, a crazy storyline that at some point went into realm of time-travel...

And it lasted only 34 episodes out of the planned 52. Only 13 were ever dubbed in English. I'm totally not bitter about that. I loved this show and its artstyle when I found it! And its version of Speed is such a loveable dumbass!

Even if the writing sometimes made questionable choices. Like, why is Spritle suddenly Trixie's brother instead of Speed's?.. This series also changed the family name from Mifune to Hibiki, not that it matters much to the English dub. Still a Racer!

(There was also apparently a manga, because of course there was, but it was never even localized in English at all).


Out of all the comics you'll see on this list I loved these the most. Called "Speed Racer: Born to Race" and done in a sorta combination of Japanese and American comic styles, it presented a new version of Speed's backstory, this time one that actually translated directly into the 60s anime and didn't read like a complete re-hash (hey Greg).

They had everything — the GRX engine and certain villain characters that all show up later in the anime, the construction of Mach 5, Speed meeting Trixie (her full English name is apparently Patricia, go figure), direct segway into the first anime episode and such and such.

There was also, again, a separate storyline of issues about Rex Racer, him taking on the persona of Racer X, and a tragic, but beautiful prequel to one of the later anime episodes, The Fire Race.

Both sets of issues were breathtakingly drawn and were actually respectful towards the anime canon, so as far as that angle goes, they might be the best 'canonical' media we got since then.


There's apparently a small cemetry of projects that never took off in this title. Here's "Speed Racer Lives", also known as "New Beginning"; a series of 8-minutes long shorts with flash animation that together amounted to roughly one full episode. They were accompanied by a new toy line, and... Vanished from existence never reaching a take off. The plot oversaw story of Junior, Speed's son, whose existence would be later completely overwritten by "Next Generation".

Oh, and if you wondered what Speed himself looks like as a dad:


Now this is a piece of media I was never able to get my hands on first for geographical and now also for financial reasons. It will forever haunt my dreams with being so damn unreachable. Someone please scan the goddamn thing for me.

A new, American manga by Dwayne Alexander Smith, published by Seven Seas, featured cool new style and apparently had Speed fighting a cyborg. Goodreads reviews also warn about death and such, which... The original anime featured car crashes and explosions right in the opening. Demon on wheels is gotta be chasing after someone.


I need to check my biases towards everything pink, 'cause I was about to be snarky about how existing titles go all pink and slim to be marketed to girls. And maybe I'm actually still right on that.
Anyway though, Mach Girl was an anime with very short episodes with as much of cute posing and lipstick as you'd expect based on the way it looks, and it's sort of hard for me to comment on its plot 'cause it was never translated into English.

I do think that it's very cute that the character designs for it were made by Suzuka Yoshida, daughter of Tatsuo Yoshida, the original manga's creator.


And here we finally arrive at the second point which most people at least heard of: the movie. Bright, a bit psychodelic, and filmed by sisters Wachowski.

Today, so many years later, I can whole-heartedly admit that as an adaptation of the source material it went way overboard and off-tangent as far as wordbuilding and racing go. Although, which version didn't? (We could also talk about the whitewashing, but honestly... With SR becoming an American eterprise, half of the iterations do that, sadly.)

However, back in the day I ATE IT UP. Still do. It had the same characters, it kept their recognizable original designs, it didn't botch the Mach 5 (just added a Mach 6, which, valid), it put a heavy emphasis on family, which I always love. It kept Speed a snarky little shit (also that boy's autistic as hell and cars are his special interest, fight me).

It's my comfort movie to this day. Go Speed Go.


Boy, 2008 was THE Speed Racer year, wasn't it? Anyway, Speed Racer: Chronicles of a Racer is a fun little comic series that presents this crazy, but fun concept of history repeating itself. There was always a Racer who mastered some means of movement, be it a cart, a ship or a horse, there was always an X, a mysterious anti-hero who helps at the right time but never reveals his true name, etc etc. A destiny and a superpower of a true Racer, if you will. A fun read. Hilarious implications for the broader canon though. Pops has a batcave. Or, uh. A Racer cave.


And we're back on track with questionable production quality.
The Next Generation is honestly a fun series, but I never managed to watch it fully. The 3D scenes were... sure something. Speed's son being named Speed Jr. and not knowing that he's Speed's son despite that fact is also something. His brother being named X, just X, makes me question Speed and Trixie's sanity. A whole Academy of racing is a wild (affectionate) concept.

This Mach 6 design is... Meh. I like the movie's version better. Where's the slickness??

The amount of callbacks and returning characters is nice though. Lil kid Spritle being a middle-aged principal screws with my head. In a good way.

(I'm not gonna comment on the whole debacle closer to the end of the show, 'cause. What? Also what is it with Speed Racer and time travel?!)

Another version of an older Speed for your consideration, btw.


A comic with a cool concept which was supposed to elaborate on the whole Acrobat Team story arc (it's the one where Speed drives a car while being totally blind, you knows, as he does).

Only 2 issues out of 4 were released though. We just can't have nice things, can we.


Listen. I tried to watch this once. I did. I couldn't and my memory seems to be blocking the experience. What is it with Speed Racer and time travel, I ask the universe again. Also what is it with this art style. And the redesigns. Just, why does this exist in a way it does.



A very surprising and curious appearance of Speed happened in the anime Pandora and Akubi, which has the protagonists meet several various Tatsunoko characters. That includes Speed, who apparently abandoned his dream of becoming a racer, put Mach 5 in the garage and became... A small town's sherif, Wild West style.

I have a lot of questions, but hey, Mach 5 does eventually come out of that garage, so maybe, just maybe, Tatsunoko will work on Speed Racer again one day. It was certainly nice to see him in a new artstyle, actually looking like himself and not being as pixelated due to age as he usually is...


I don't think there's really a point in making a separate section for each of these. They're all racing games, obviously: you get in the car, you memorize the buttons for cool jumps and such, you drive.

There was a game for MS-DOS systems, Speed Racer and the Challenge of Racer X. I've played it on an emulator once and the controls were... Something! It's funny how every time you fly off the map you get brought back by a helicopter. It can be played online now.

There was a game for the first PlayStation. Never played or emulated it, but looks quite nice. A proper racing game.

Now, Speed Racer: The Great Plan, a game based on the first story arc of the anime, is a game playable on Windows (pretty sure some people built it into their websites to be playable online too, so maybe it runs on flash?). I've spent HOURS in that game and was never able to beat it. It's one race! Just one race! But the map truly makes you use all the abilities of your supercar and if you're messy with your buttons, like me, well...

And finally there was a racing game based on the movie. With all the cool tracks and flashy colors. There was a version for every console besides PC it seems (although there was a flash game!). Playstation 2, Wii, Xbox, Nintendo DS, mobile phones (remember java games?)... I convinced my parents to buy me Wii JUST so I could play this game. Never made it to the end of the championships I don't think.

I've recently emulated the Playstation 2 version on my PC. After finally dealing with all the controls the experience was... Truly nostalgic and cathartic.


There's been news of Apple TV working on new live action series based on Speed Racer. I don't hold my breath, especially since there already seem to be changes in the management (or because I don't much trust Apple generally), but promises were made to return back to the aesthetic/plot of the 60s anime.

Considering that so far almost every iteration tried to re-imagine Speed Racer instead of sticking to old canon, I'm casually curious to see where this goes, if it goes anywhere at all. The cemetry of unfinished SR projects is also still open, after all.

I promised you some goodies, haven't I? Well, FIRST (there's more below), what's the fun in reading about something without being able to partake in it yourself, should you decide to?

DISCLAIMER! All of these links lead to watch/read online kind of sites. I do not take responsibility for your experience if you're not using an adblocker (why aren't you using an adblocker?). And let me know if any of the links go dead!

Original manga, scanned
The original anime, uncensored and uncut, in Japanese with English subtitles
2008 Live action movie
Mach GoGoGo Restart/Speed Racer X 1997, subbed
Speed Racer: A New Beginning/Speed Racer Lives
The New Adventures of Speed Racer
The New Adventures of Speed Racer COMIC
Old American Speed Racer Comics
Old American Racer X Comics
Beautiful 2000s comic
Beautiful 2000s Racer X comic
Mach Girl
The Next Generation Season 1
The Next Generation Season 2
Race to the Future
Pandora to Akubi

Speed Racer in The Challenge of Racer X - Play right in your browser

SECOND. And this one goes to my fellow collectors. Go get yourself some:




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