Speed Racer: Episode 40: The Man Behind the Mask (1967)

Genres - Adventure, Children's/Family  |   Sub-Genres - Anime  |   Run Time - 30 min.  |   Countries - Japan  |  
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Technically speaking, the Japanese anime adventure series Speed Racer has yielded only one season's worth of episodes -- but it's a big season, 52 half-hours strong! The re-dubbed and reedited American version of this property remains relatively faithful to the Japanese original, Mach Go Go Go, though some of the more violent passages have been muted or excised, and additional emphasis has been placed upon "comic relief" characters Spridal (the kid brother of hero Speed Racer) and Chim Chim the monkey. The opening episode not only introduces Speed Racer and his jet-powered Special Formula Mach 5 racing car, but is also generous enough to explain the functions of each of the seven buttons on the car's control panel: Button "A" activates the jets, "B" handles the special-grip tires in case of rugged roads, "C" starts the rotating saws that enable the car to cut through heavy foliage, "D" puts into place the mechanism that deflects bullets and other missiles, "E" switches on the long-range headlights, "F" is used for underwater driving (oxygen tanks, periscope, et al.) and "G" ships out the tiny robot bird which delivers messages to Speed's friends Trixie and Sparky, and to his mom and dad. Later episodes establish the omnipresence of the mysterious Racer X, who always seems to be on hand when one of the characters whom we care about is in danger; the annoying tendency of Spridal and Chim Chim to stow away in the Special Formula Mach 5 when Speed tells them to go home and stay out of trouble; and the astonishing number of criminals: enemy, spies, and other lowlifes who seem to have but a single purpose in mind: to destroy Speed's car, and Speed with it!

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