Friday, April 8, 2011

IGPX Immortal Grand Prix Season 1 Anime Review

IGPX Immortal Grand Prix Season One
Ai Ji Pi Ekkusu Inmotaru Guranpun
Bandai Entertainment
Season 1 - 13 episodes
290 mins. - 3 discs
$39.98 (2006)
$24.98 (2006) Vol. 1-7/ea.
$14.98 (2006) Toonami Edition
$39.98 (2006) Vol. 1 w/t-shirt
ISBN 669198227875
English/Japanese Audio - English Subtitles
Director: Mitsuru Hongo
Studio: Production I.G

Synopsis: In 2048 the ultimate race is the Immortal Grand Prix with giant robots fighting at speeds upwards of 350mph as they hurtle down a 60-mile racetrack.  Team Satomi has just graduated to the IG-1 level after winning the IG-2 circuit.  They now face the greatest teams in the world.
The massive 60-mile racetrack for the IGPX is a city
The other teams aren't Team Satomi's only problem - they must deal with major financial issues and a constant barrage of personal strife.  The members of Team Satomi are:
  • Takeshi Jin - talented forward and practitioner of kendo.  He catches the three-time league MVP's attention (from Team Velschtein) right from the start and becomes his target for defeat
  • Liz Ricarro - spirited defender and a tomboy.  She is also an avid martial artist and practices kung fu
  • Amy Stapleton - solid midfielder and grew up as a child prodigy.  She has a special link with her co-pilot cat Luca and can hear his voice
  • Luca - co-pilot midfielder with Amy, wears a special suit while racing allowing him to communicate with her, popular and has a plethora of advertising endorsement deals
  • River Marque - back-up pilot and frustrated at riding the bench.  His goal is to become forward by replacing Takeshi
  • Andrei Rublev - team coach with a very hands off approach.  He seems to be doing nothing much, but gets the right result from his team every time
  • Michiru Satomi - granddaughter of the founder of Satomi Heavy Industries.  She is attempting to save the team her grandfather enjoyed so much in the past, but faces some major financial issues with her backers
  • Mark Ramsey - gifted chief mechanic, he's harboring a major secret, wears glasses
  • Jesse Martin - Miss Satomi's assistant
Team Satomi celebrate their victory in the IG-2 and qualifying for the IG-1.
Members from upper left - River, Andrei, Amy, Jesse, Takeshi, Mark,
Liz, and Miss Satomi (white skirt)
The competition is fierce and include these teams:

  • Team Sledge Mamma - American team with veteran racers Yamma, Dimma, and Timma.  They are tough customers and play rough, their mechs have hands attached to cables which can shoot off for distance attacks
  • Team Velshtein - last year's IGPX winners and highly skilled team from Germany.  Made up of Alex Cunningham (three time consecutive MVP), Jan Michel, and Dew.  Their mechs can use powerful wind techniques and are the team to beat.  Alex initially seems friendly with Takeshi, but plans to utterly crush him and Team Satomi in their upcoming races 
  • Team Skylark - French team and all-female.  They are made up of Fantine Valjean, Jessica Darlin, and Elissa Doolittle.  Their mechs are smaller, lighter, use drafting techniques to save energy while racing, and have very fast arm attacks.  Fantine shows an immediate interest in Takeshi and they even go on a date
  • Team Edgeraid - team from Switzerland who work efficiently as a tactical unit.  They are made up of Bjorn Johannsen, Bella Demarco, and Frank Bullit.  Their mechs use tensile cables to manipulate objects such as throwing each other around the track.  Bjorn has a dog co-pilot named Sola who is as famous as Luca.  The Team Satomi vs. Team Edgeraid race is also dubbed "Cat vs. Dog"
  • Team Black Egg - Argentinian team who use defense almost like an offense.  They are Ricardo Montazio, Grant McKain, and Glass Jones.  Their mechs use smokescreens and holograms to confuse their opponents.  

Team Satomi lines up to start a race
Can Team Satomi survive in the IG-1 against veteran racers?  Takeshi and crew must come together as a team in order to win, but personal secrets threaten to tear them apart.  River wants the #1 spot from Takeshi - what lengths will he go to in order to take it?  Coach Andrei has a few tricks up his sleeve and it's going to be an exciting first season of IGPX!
Alex Cunningham from Team Velshtein initially seems friendly to
Takeshi, but really wants to crush him!
Pros: Cat co-pilot, great voice actors including Haley Joel Osment, Michelle Rodriguez, and Mark Hammill (who should never be on camera again, but can continue voice acting forever), lots of extras including pilot for original IGPX which would have been a mecha death-match competition (thank god they changed it), interviews, likeable characters and solid story, great production values and soundtrack
Luca has a ton of endorsement deals for cat products
Cons: Team Satomi are IG-1 rookies and performed a little too well for their first season, very tame show (no nudity), eyecatch mecha renderings were less polished than regular show, weird pilot for an IGPX show featuring mecha military battles instead of racing - glad they stuck with the racing angle
Billboard for Team Skylark vs. Team Satomi
Mike Tells It Straight: IGPX breaks the final barrier of mecha shows by bringing us giant robot performance racing!  A charming, well-made show with broad appeal to any level of anime watcher.  Having Luca the cat as a co-pilot was super-cute and the competition was exciting.  The mecha renderings and racing scenes were 100% CGI (computer-generated) which took a little getting used to (although every mecha show these days is CGI).
Takeshi and River square off for a 'friendly' kendo duel
I really liked the characters and their interactions.  Each had a unique (if far-fetched) backstory which was revealed as the series progressed.  The first season was all about the racing and Team Satomi surviving their in the big leagues.  It's funny, but the dvd collections have become difficult to track down when they were so abundant when they originally came out.  It's nearly impossible to find season two at a reasonable price.
Fantine meets Takeshi for a date despite being on rival teams in the IGPX
I would recommend this show to nearly any anime fan.  It was a fun watch and fairly simple.  It seems there was an earlier version of IGPX which featured mecha battles with guns instead of racing.  A pilot was included with this first season collection and the show looks kinda lame.  I'm really glad they stuck with the racing angle for the proper television series.  I'll eventually review season two if I can get my hands on it.  
Fantine doesn't pull any punches (literally) during the match against Team
Satomi as she lands one on Takeshi's mecha

TO BUY and Recommendations: