Anime feature condensed from classic Japanese car racing ser
Brian Camp | Bronx, NY | 01/26/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Although there is nothing in the credits of SUPER GRAND PRIX or on the DVD case that would indicate it, the film contained is an English-dubbed 92-minute anime movie compiled from the Japanese animated TV series, "Arrow Emblem, Hawk of the Grand Prix" (aka Arrow Emblem Grand Prix no Taka), which ran for 44 episodes from 1977-78. The series tells the story of young Sean Corrigan, nicknamed "Crash," a cocky American race car driver based in Japan, who experiences a number of mishaps and failures and has to get his confidence back and learn to work with others before achieving his dream of winning a formula car racing championship. This version focuses on a handful of select story arcs from the original, including Sean's participation in a road rally in Japan; the building of his own car and his test run down Mount Fuji(!) in a blistering snowstorm; and his participation in the Monte Carlo Alpine rally. The racing story may not be of initial interest to many anime fans, although it's actually quite gripping throughout, not least because the focus is on an arrogant, but sympathetic American protagonist butting heads with Japanese colleagues, a theme usually only seen--and quite rarely--as a subplot in anime, but given center stage here.
More importantly, however, anime fans should check this out for the wealth of illustrative detail in the racing scenes. This is a far cry from the more streamlined high-tech racing action found in the earlier "Speed Racer" (1967) series and it's quite different from the CGI-created racing scenes in the more recent "Initial D" (1998). All created by hand-drawn cell animation, the race action in SUPER GRAND PRIX is delineated with extraordinary care. The textures of the road surfaces are quite realistic and the movements of the extremely detailed cars are quite fluid for something made for TV in 1977. Sean's car is built from scratch and it looks that way. The surfaces look like they've been driven on and the cars look like they've seen a lot of action. Granted, the character designs are more standard for the era and they do recall the characters from "Speed Racer" in deliberate ways. (There are Trixie, Spritle and Racer X counterparts here.) But, overall, the animation quality is quite a revelation for anime fans whose only exposure to 1970s anime is through some of the classic space series of that era.
The director of this series was none other than Rintaro, who went on to direct a number of major anime classics, including the two GALAXY EXPRESS 999 movies; the apocalyptic thriller, HARMAGEDDON; the ninja masterpiece, DAGGER OF KAMUI; two episodes of SPIRIT WARRIOR; X: THE MOVIE, based on the Clamp manga; and the Osamu Tezuka adaptation, METROPOLIS.
This film was also released in an earlier VHS edition entitled, CRASH CORRIGAN: ONE MORE CHANCE. (For the record, there was an actual B-movie/western actor, active in Hollywood in the 1930s-'50s, known as Ray "Crash" Corrigan, who even had his own TV series, "Crash Corrigan's Ranch," although there is no apparent relation to the character in the anime.)