TV Broadcast Info
(Disappointing; not recommended)
* Note 1: I've just seen the 13 episodes shown on Cartoon Network thus far. I have not seen the original mini-series and I don't know if there are going to be any further episodes past 13.
* Note 2 [6/19/06]: I just found out that they are going to be contintuing the series. The first episode of the new season starts today.
This show seemed okay at first. But after I got over the initial "Wow" of the cool visuals, there really wasn't much that kept my interest.
The story revolves around an event called the IGPX (Immortal Grand Prix) that combines Grand Prix racing with battling robots. As an idea, it sounds kind of cool, but the general concept isn't sufficiently developed. For one thing, it never goes into the kind of technical or strategic details that make other battle-oriented shows worth watching (two that come to mind are Initial D and Rurouni Kenshin). I kept getting frustrated with the coach for Team Satomi because he was supposed to be this great, experience racer, but the only advice he ever gave his team was stuff like "do your best" or "we have to win" or "you have to have heart" (although I don't know if he actually literally said any of that stuff), and while that kind of thing may give some people warm fuzzies, it just seemed to me like a way for the series writers to BS their way out of doing any actual work.
But even so, you can have an underdeveloped concept and superficial characters and still have a worthwhile anime if you have intense fight scenes. You know -- the kind of fighting that builds the tension to a crescendo and may or may not end in an explosion. You don't need technical minutiae for that kind of thing, all you need is cool, powerful weapons and driven characters. But in order to have a convincingly driven character, he or she has to be like that all the time -- ie, they can't be wishy-washy or weak-willed. IGPX characters were nothing like that. Pretty much everyone -- scar or no scar -- came off looking weak. So even in the final battle of the series when the characters are screaming each other's names in fits of rage, it was too-little-too-late.
The only thing that really made me keep watching this show was the fact that it was animated by Production I.G. And -- true to form -- the studio did make it look great. But you can pretty much watch the first two episodes and see everything that is worth seeing in terms of the visuals. After that, there really isn't anything new.
So suffice to say I was very disappointed by this series. Hopefully Cartoon Network and Production I.G will learn their lesson from this. Anime is anime and US animation ... isn't. Trying to combine the just doesn't seem to work.