Speed Racer

Updated: 2008-05-31 (completely rewritten, Trans-Lux frame added, sound clips added)

I’m not talking about the actual program, which is a classic. I’m really talking about Speed Racer Enterprises who decided to alter the series in several ways during their digital remastering of the series that makes some significant changes from the programs that fans like myself grew up with. These changes were made during the runs of Speed Racer on MTV and Cartoon Network broadcasts in the late 1990s.

Opening Titles

• The original superimposed Trans-Lux text was removed by Speed Racer Enterprises.

• Speed Racer Enterprises substituted their new logo in for the original logo from the Trans-Lux series and removed the copyright lines.

Original Series

DVD Series

Closing Credits

• The supermposed text in the closing credits uses a different font, and it is repositioned differently. It doesn’t quite fit the animation now because the digitally superimposed text doesn’t track the animated film which jitters around somewhat in the background.

• Jack Grimes name is misspelled (Jack Crimes) on all Speed Racer Enterprises episodes.

Rescaling

Notice how the car’s wheels are in frame in the original, but they are chopped off in the DVD video. The background also makes it clear that the remastered episodes are scaled up so animation on all four edges of the screen is no longer in view. This could have been adjusted during the digital restoration process.

Original Series

DVD Series

While I was watching Speed Racer in the late 1990s on both MTV and The Cartoon Network, I witnessed this transformation. I can understand why they would speed up the recording for American television broadcast which now tries to cram a 23-minute-long program into 21 minutes, but why wouldn’t the original playback speed be restored in a “collectible” DVD set?

• For broadcast, the closing credits were chopped down to a mere seven (0:07) seconds, specifically the last seven seconds of the closing credit sequence. The closing credits, although still sped up, were restored in the DVD series.

• The playback speed of the episodes was increased to just under the point where the characters sounded like chipmunks. The rate of speed increase varies between episodes. The original recording speed was not restored in the DVD series.

The audio clip is from episode 50, The Trick Race, and demonstrates the difference between how it should sound (original series) and how it has been sped up (DVD series).

Original Series

duration 0:16.295

DVD Series

duration: 0:15.519