|How did I get into "Speed Racer", anyway? Well....
It was the summer of 1996. I had just turned 11, and my brother and I were spending summer at my grandma's house. Anyway, we were sitting in front of the TV one incredibly boring afternoon watching Cartoon Network when this ad came on.
It was an ad for a show the likes of which I'd never seen on TV before, and it looked interesting. I was primarily interested in it for two reasons: one, it looked to be the kind of action cartoon that was actually interesting and didn't just consist of a bunch of people beating each other up; and two, I thought the guy in the commercial was cute (remember, I was 11).
So I asked my brother, who was two years younger than me and had been watching Cartoon Network more often than I had, what that ad was for and he said "Speed Racer". I thought that was kind of an odd name for a show but I was still curious anyway. I said I was curious about it and asked my brother what time it came on. He said it came on around 2 (pacific time). I said that was good, and said I wanted to see it the next time it came on. My brother mentioned that he thought it was a cool show and that he'd been watching it (although not deliberately) in the afternoons with his friend Matt.
The following day, my brother and I were sitting in front of the TV yet again. This time, though, we had a purpose. We were going to watch "Speed Racer". Anyway, it came on, and the theme song started out really cool, but then the people started singing and I remarked that I thought it was cheesy (I don't anymore--it had to grow on me, I guess^_^). But I thought the artwork for the opening credits was cool. Then the actual show started.
The episode that aired was "The Desperate Desert Race". However, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the name when I was watching it the first time. To me, a kid who had never seen "Speed Racer" before, it was just a bunch of people out in some fortress in the desert: some guy named Kim, a girl in pink, a kid, a monkey, and some other people in Arab-style clothes. It was kinda cheesy. But the cute guy from the ad was also there. I deduced quickly that the cute guy in the ad was the one the show was named after, as everybody else who was anybody on the show ran around calling him "Speed" or "Mr. Racer".
I also deduced that the car that was being lit on fire at the beginning of the episode belonged to this "Speed" guy, and that the girl in pink was supposed to be his girlfriend.
Over the course of the episode, I went from thinking that the show was kind of stupid to thinking that it was actually pretty cool. I could tell that the animation for the show was distinctly Japanese; however, I wasn't quite sure that the show was from Japan. At this point, most of the dubbed Japanese shows I had seen in my youth were from the 80s and I didn't have reason to believe that they had made anything before then. At least until now.
"Speed Racer" couldn't have been from the 1980s. Even I knew that, and I was 11. That show looked much older. It was in watching "Speed Racer" that I had my first inkling that maybe the Japanese were making stuff before the 1980s.
However, I still wasn't quite sure the show itself was from Japan. I thought that maybe it was an American show that was trying to copy the Japanese style of animation. Judging by the dialogue, this could have been the case (good dubbing!^_^). For me, the answer would come when the ending credits aired. I could watch the names go by and know for sure.
The ending credits came, and sure enough about half the names listed were Japanese. Well, that sure cleared up my doubts about the origin of the show. I was surprised that a show that old could be from Japan, but the evidence was there, in the ending credits. It made sense, though, because there were qualities in "Speed Racer" that I'd noticed in other shows that I'd watched, that had turned out to be Japanese. "Speed Racer" was a cool show.
Later on in the evening, my mother, my aunt, my grandparents, and I were all packed into a car and we were driving around, going to a restaraunt or something (the remaining members of my family were in another car), and I mentioned what I had been watching on TV that day. I was flabbergasted when both my aunt and my mother exclaimed, "Ohhh, 'Speed Racer'!" and broke into a rousing rendition of the theme song.^_^ I hadn't even said anything about the show yet! But I told them about it anyway and said I thought it was cool. They agreed, and told me how they had watched it in the 70s with my uncle.
This really drove home how old the show was for me. I'd come to find out later, through some sites on Anipike, that the original year the show aired in was 1967, and by the 70s it was already in reruns. The show aired in syndication for something like 19 years before they pulled it.
I know now that what I was watching on the Cartoon Network was actually just a recent airing of a show that has been on and off TV periodically for the last 35 years. It graced syndicated television with its presence for 19 years, starting in the late 60s and ending in 1986 (the year after I was born), and it's graced cable TV with its presence since the early 90s, when MTV first picked it up. Cartoon Network ran it from 1996 to around 2001, and it was during this airing that myself and millions of my contemporaries were introduced to the show.
"Speed Racer" is probably one of those shows that will never really ever go off TV. It has so much standing with so many people. According to the official SR website (which I didn't discover until this July...heh, heh...*sweatdrop*-_-;), millions of people love it. I am but one of them, and will probably continue to be, for all my life.^_^