If you’re a Speed Racer fan you’ll want to read this article to learn these 3 surprising facts. As you probably know the Speed Racer characters and story originated from the manga and anime series “Mach GoGoGo” developed by the Japanese anime studio of Tasunoko Productions. What may surprise you is the carefully crafted symbolism, storyline and characterization of the original series. The series is far from a mindless cartoon so typical today. After reading this article you’ll have the inside scoop on Speed Racer.
Anime Pioneer Tatsuo Yoshida created Mach GoGoGo as a manga series in the 1960s and it went on to become an anime series in 1967. While Speed Racer fans assume the M on the hood of the Mach 5 stands for Mach 5, it’s actually an emblem of the Mifune Motors Company, the family business of the central character of the original manga and anime named Go Mifune. This same emblem is found on Go’s helmet. The name Mifune was a tribute to the Japanese film star Toshiro Mifune. Additionally his given name, Go, is a homophone for “5”, the same number found on his race car. The final piece of this wordplay is that Go in Mach GoGoGo also obviously means “go” in English. Thus the name of the series is a triple entendre that can be translated as Mach 5, Go Mifune, Go!
The origin of the storyline in Mach GoGoGo is surprising. The storyline of Mach GoGoGo has it’s roots in the western culture of Elvis Presley and James Bond. Young Go sports a black pompadour and neckerchief like Elvis Presley’s debonair race car driving image in Viva Las Vegas. The Mach 5 car was inspired by James Bond’s gadget-laden Aston Martin in the movie Goldfinger. While traditional Japanese anime typically involves a teenager overcoming trials, the roots of Speed Racer have a more decidedly western influence.
More than the storyline of Speed Racer was influenced by Western culture. The appearance of the characters is surprisingly Western as well. The characters have fair complexions and wear western clothing. While this Westernization of the characters in Speed Racer wasn’t uncommon in anime of the time, Tatsuo Yoshida used the concept of mukokuseki (being nationless) a little differently than other producers. This surprisingly complexity is what differentiates Speed Racer from other cartoons of it’s period.
Now that you’ve learned the 3 surprising facts about Speed Racer and Mach GoGoGo you’re ready to watch the new Speed Racer movie with a different perspective. While you may be dazzled by the high-definition green screen effects you’ll be cognizant of the movie’s roots in Japanese manga and anime, and the thought-provoking symbolism of Tatsuo Yoshida. Speed Racer, GoGoGo!
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