Oban Star-Racers

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angelsreviews's avatar By on Aug 6, 2013

I’m not to clear on the storyline much, though it is rather original to a point. It’s about a girl trying to get her father to recognize her when she was pretty much forgotten. The story is actually rather strong, even creating an ending that someone wouldn’t suspect. It’s rather deep and meaningful for a child’s show.

Eva is strong headed and rather pushy, yet she always thinks with her heart and not her head when things should be rather technical. She also seems to be hot tempered as any little thing seems to send her off her seat. Probably because of the Daddy problems. She is a lot like Luke from Star Wars in that she has problems with it. She also has a little Yoda character in Satis. He shows up whenever he wishes and gives some good advice.

Unlike a lot of these shows, this one doesn’t have everything go smoothly all the time which means you never really know what is going to happen mostly. It can keep you on the edge of your seat when it happens. Normally in Race type shows, the main character wins without any really big problems or problems he can overcome right away.

I don’t much like racing shows and was about to put this on the dropped folder after about three shows but this did get much better. I urge those who don’t really like sports or racing shows to at least try it out. I think it was after the 5th I felt more like I was watching it for the show and not just to review it.

The artwork is a bit off in a sense, making the characters look like they have no nose even when in profile view. The characters also have very large ears with no detail in them at all. They feel like they are rather flat. Characters pretty much have all spiky hair. I’m not sure where Eva got all the marks on her face, a star and a line. It just doesn’t look right and is rather distracting. The backgrounds aren’t even that well textured. This show is low on artwork but it makes up slightly for it in that it’s original. The racers feel a lot like from Star Wars including the sounds as well. The track also looks like it’s from Star Wars and I can’t get the feeling that I will be seeing Skywalker at any time. Strangely, the artwork and the 3D art work perfectly together.

The English voices are alright though not really standing out to me. They all feel just a little flat. I cringed a little at Eva’s voice, a rather raspy version of a child’s voice. She also seems like she has a small lisp. The jokes make some of this feel a little hard to get into more. The opening on the other hand is actually rather cool sounding in the English dub though I know it’s not the original.

9/10 story
5/10 animation
7/10 sound
8/10 characters
6/10 overall
CaseyJewels's avatar By on Jun 16, 2013

To start off, this anime is my favorite anime ever, and probably will always be. It meant a lot to me as a teenager, and I've been going through a rough time, so I just rewatched it, and it helped me to cope. As such, I'm probably a little biased towards it. I realize this show has flaws, but I love it too much to care.

There's two different stories going on--one of racing, and one of a father and daughter trying to reconcile.

The story of the race is fun and exciting. It could very easily grow boring, but it never does. Each race is different from the last, and allowed each racer a moment in the spotlight without detracting from Eva's story.

The alien races were very creative and unique, and I loved how different each of the racing ships were. It added to the fun of the racing side of the story, and helped to keep things interesting. The variety in setting was great as well, and I never grew bored of the landscape.

However, what really draws me into this anime and makes it different from other racing shows is the story of Eva and her father. This is what the anime is truly about, and this story couldn't have been told any better. Even knowing what was coming and how it all ended, I was emotionally there with the characters, and I felt what they were feeling in the moment.

Eva's and Don Wei's characters work well together in the sense that the tension is believable and some of the greatest moments of the show is how they interact with one another. This might be a slight spoiler, but I love watching the two of them slowly working out all of their issues, and it is that, more than anything else, that continues to draw me to this anime.

I do wish there was more to this show. Not that it needs more, but I want to know more about Eva's future. Mostly, I want to know more about the romance. I know the romance was never the main focus, but it was there, and I didn't feel as if it was fully resolved. I guess it does leave room for fanfiction, but I really want to know if (what I say could be a little spoilery) Prince Aikka and Eva ever see each other again.

There are a few small flaws in the story. Though, I think most of those aren't flaws so much as I would have preferred it to be done a little differently. I can't say much without spoiling stuff, but my biggest complaint comes with a fight near the ending. The solution came out of nowhere, and it didn't fit with what I understand about the Crogs. The other flaw deals with Eva's memories, and her mother. Again, I won't get too specific, but that did bother me, the first time that is brought up.

The animation was beautiful, for the most part. The 2D and 3D animations were merged together very nicely, and I felt the style was both unique and pretty. There were a few bits, here and there, that probably could have been done a little better, but that's the same for about every show.

The music was unique as well, and I wouldn't mind getting a hold of a soundtrack, if this show has one.

I just love this anime so much. It means so much to me and has helped me cope with some rough times in my life. I feel as if I truly connect to and know Eva, and she will always be a part of me.

9.5/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
FullmetalCowboy24's avatar By on Nov 18, 2012

Critic's Log - Earthdate: November 18, 2012. Review #22: Oban Star-Racers

Hey There, name's Giovanni. You can call me the Fullmetal Cowboy if you like since that is just a little nickname based off my username. Anyway, I do these intros to my reviews because I like to and it's my kind of thing. I also number my reviews so I can keep track on how many I've reviewed so far. The whole "Critic's Log" thing is a homage to Star Trek if you haven't noticed. Well i'm running out of material to continue this intro so let's thrust those engines into Oban Star-Racers!

In the year 2082, Earth has been invited to compete in the Great Race of Oban, an intergalactic race whose winner can be granted any wish in the world, even bringing back a loved one. This invitation comes from the Avatar, a mysterious entity who ends hostilities between Earth and the sinister Crogs. In Earth, a girl named Eva has been hoping to hear from her father for years. She leaves school to find her father Don Wei, after she does find him the Earth team is off to compete in the Great Race of Oban, Eva then takes the name "Molly" and she must prove that she can win and make her father recognize her.

To be technical, this is a Sav! The World and HAL Film Maker collaboration production. Sav! The World was a studio from France while HAL Film Maker was from Japan. Oban Star Racers is one of those animes that has a rare occasion having two studios collaborate while its country of origin happens to be Japan and France. So… Should Oban Star Racers be considered an anime to begin with? Well, let’s just say that Oban Star Racers is an anime hybrid. I should note that Savin-Yeatman Eiffel (the creator of the series and one of the directors of the show) was inspired by a few anime series back in the 70’s which obviously led  to the inspiration of the series and it’s no surprise that he wanted to collaborate with a Japanese studio regarding the animation. Speaking about the animation, it was hard for me to speak my opinion about the animation in Oban Star Racers. The show does deserve praise for its integration of 2D and 3D animation when used. What is a bit hit and miss is the character designs but that is sort of a minor nitpick for me because there’s actually a small defense I have regarding character designs. The animation style in France sometimes does not include noses on its characters or so I heard in the Making of Oban video that I saw. It may look weird but I think you might get used to it after a little while unless you really have a problem with it. The animation is mostly good throughout the show and it’s done well for a kid’s anime. The integration of the 2D and 3D animation is done good that it should put Gonzo to shame. Yeah, I just brought up Gonzo… Maybe I should call this an “Anti-Gonzo Anime”. Putting jokes aside, I appreciate the animation here and I also appreciate the unique art style that Oban Star Racers has.

The music by Taku Iwasaki really sets the mood right for Oban Star Racers, there are times when the music sounds adventurous which the show has plenty of adventurous scenes and packs an emotional punch when used. I got nothing really bad to say about the music, it’s composed quite well. I should also mention that the staff somehow managed to get Yoko Kanno to compose the opening and closing songs, need I say more about Yoko Kanno? Well for this review… yes. Oban Star Racers has one of the catchiest openings from Yoko Kanno, it got me excited for an episode of Oban and I never really skipped or fast-forwarded the opening, I liked every second of it. The closing song is nice too and compliments the show well. The music department had the chance to shine and it worked.

As far as voice acting goes, I cannot state my opinion of the Subtitled version this time because The American release of this show does not have a Japanese version, and it doesn’t have a French Version either. Only the English Dub is available in the U.S. and to be honest. This is a solid well performed dub. Chiari Zanni has a charming touch while voicing Eva (or “Molly” if you prefer) well. Sam Vincent is great as Jordan. Ron Halder is terrific as Don Wei. Kirby Morrow is charming for the ladies as Prince Aikka and Brian Drummond is surprisingly good at voicing a cheery old man. Here’s a couple good tidbits about the extra performances. Alessandro Juliani (the English voice of L from Death Note) is in the show and the Dobson Brothers (Paul, Brian, and Michael) are also in the show. The dub is great for a kid’s show and it’s a good anime dub in general.

The cast of characters are quite the bunch. The human characters are relatable to some viewers and some characters are interesting as well. Eva (or Molly) is an ambitious 15 year old girl that wants her dad to recognize her. My brother once told me that when he saw the show, he told me that he thought that 15 was the right age for Molly. For a kid’s show, this does seem to be the right age for a main character for this kind of show. Jordan is fun to watch and he’s also a character that I think some male viewers can relate to. The most interesting character by far for me was Eva’s father Don Wei. His character seemed a bit dislikable at first but his character development made him a likable character for me. Rick was a cool guy and he pretty much lives up to the cool factor to his character. The character development for the human characters was done pretty well for the most part. As far as the alien racers. Prince Aikka is an interesting character that develops nicely for the most part. There are some favorites I do want to list just for kicks. I liked Para-dice because she uses a footpad to race which that footpad sort of reminds me of Dance Dance Revolution. Rush was pretty cool. Spirit was also cool but interesting (for someone who never speaks) and Ondai had a cool robot form for a Racer. That’s just personal preference, but I do like how there is a variety of design regarding these Star Racers and that’s another thing I like about Oban Star Racers.

If there’s anything that will vary your mileage is what you would expect out of Oban Star Racers. The story is a bit generic at first and almost was slightly uninteresting to begin with. It does pick up quick as it progresses and chances are if you stick to the series long enough it may have been worth seeing after all. Again, this is depending on what you would expect out of the show. What Oban Star Racers does have that does not disappoint is the racing moments, they are exciting to see and is literally the driving force that makes Oban Star Racers a fun show to watch. If you like the characters long enough, chances are you’ll like how they develop. What really gets me liking Oban Star Racers is that this is a kid’s show and it does deal with some dark themes running through it. Not a whole lot, just a little and it was effective for the most part. It starts out fine and then it starts getting interesting once the group is in Oban and then it starts twisting things around which I was a bit surprised. Then there’s the ending, I have read sources that some people did not like the ending too much and some people thought it was okay. I will agree that Canaletto was not that interesting of a villain while he looks weird at the same time. I do think that part of the ending is a bit anti-climactic, but the majority of the ending wasn’t too anti-climactic. It had an appropriate ending for what the story was giving. In all honesty, this ending could have been a little more extensive and it could’ve ended just a little differently. The ending for the most part isn’t bad, it’s certainly not A+ material either. To make a long story short about the ending. It was pretty average.

 

 

If there’s something about this anime that I would like to say before I wrap things up, I’ll say it now. Oban Star-Racers has got to be one of the most underrated kid’s anime ever made. It aired in more than 90 countries and it never got the recognition and it truly deserved. This anime got seriously overlooked. Savin-Yeatman Eiffel and Thomas Romain (The creator of Code Lyoko) sure have impressed me to some degree with this series.

Oban Star-Racers is available from Shout! Factory

With that said, Oban-Star Racers is an exciting anime series that integrates 2D and 3D animation well when used. It also had good character development during the progression of the story. It has a soundtrack that compliments the show well and even though the story isn’t completely A to A+ material. The racing is what made the show watchable and the story is good enough to go alongside the exciting racing moments. This truly is an underrated and overlooked anime.

I give Oban Star-Racers a 7.9 out of 10, it is GOOD!

Feel free to comment below and get your chance to shine

8.3/10 story
8.2/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
8/10 characters
7.9/10 overall
petfawor's avatar By on Sep 3, 2012

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5/10 story
5/10 animation
5/10 sound
5/10 characters
5/10 overall
roriconfan's avatar By on Aug 14, 2012

Well, look at that. Another Japan / Europe co-production. We know what this means, right? By mixing eastern and western elements, we always get a series that is generally better than an average cartoon and worse than an average anime. This series is basically aimed for 12 year-olds but it packs some mature themes that may attract older viewers with low expectations.

ART SECTION: 6/10 [Stands out in the crowd.]
Analysis: General Artwork 2/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 1/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 1/2


A very nice concept art was used to depict the alien planets and civilizations. Weird symbols, eerie shaped plants, rocks and buildings, interesting forms of spacecrafts. There is not much detailing but it still makes the series to look different from all others. And if it stands out from the lot, it’s enough for me.

If you like JRPGs like Final Fantasy Tactics, Makai Kingdom and Odin’s Sphere , you will immediately like the way the characters are drawn. Very simple faces, weird cloths, and occasionally body tattoos. Facial variety is very low and each character seems to always wear the same set of cloths, but they are still adorable to look at.

All backgrounds and spacecrafts are entirely computer generated. They have high definition and plenty of gimmicks to make each race to look different. But still, their variety is very low and you will feel like you watch the same set of scenery repeating over and over.

The simple-drawn characters don’t leave room for great animation. And the attention to physics during the races is generally ok but I can’t say there is great fluidity. Still images are used in plenty of occasions and some spacecraft crashes feel fake.

The entire series generally feels very poor on visual dressing; most special effects are just neon light and spot light filters.

SOUND SECTION: 6/10 [A bit better than average but that is that.]
Nothing to write about. Voice acting was ok, music themes were silly J-pop and average action-pumping orchestra.

STORY SECTION: 4/10 [An interesting premise that is ruined by the childish presentation.] (spoiler alert!)
Analysis: Premise 1/2, Pacing 1/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 0/2, Conclusion 1/2


The story is a weird mix of science fiction, sports, drama and coming-of-age. If you look at its genres individually, you will see just the same old clichés of the kind. But if you see it as a whole, it looks nice. Earth is under attack by aliens. All the races are invited to participate in a race, whose winner will receive the power to rule the cosmos. Enter your average teenager with a sad past and the wish to win the race in order to prove herself to her father. That’s right! She doesn’t care about the fate of the world; just for her daddy. Add some scheming aliens, funky racing, a mysterious lurking evil power and a lukewarm romance in the air. And there you have it; a nice blend of the best clichés. It is not great but it does trick you into thinking it’s original.

Realism suffers a lot and it is hard to get in the mood if you can’t buy the presentation. The fate of the universe will be at the hands of a race winner. Not weapons, not brains, not charisma decide. Just the fastest (and most cunning in most cases) guy in a public sport. Reason states that the races would kick the shit out of each other and scorch the entire planet in an attempt to steal the price for their own profit. Who the hell plays fair before the chance to become almighty? Who the hell has fun watching or taking part in such a thing? And who the hell sends characters with psychological issues, like revenge, maniac laughter and a teenager with a dad she hates and yet is her race supervisor? As for that mysterious power lurking throughout the series, it was just a pathetic attempt to keep the viewers interested with an otherwise generic theme. Not convincing at all.

Almost all episodes follow the same pattern. The participants talk of their personal issues during the first half of the episode, where you get to know them better (and hear a lot of cheesy dialogues about honor, justice and love). And then, they take part in a race in the other half of the episode (where you get to see some cool racing spacecrafts running, bumping and fighting each other). A few episodes feature more mystery or character coloring. But no episodes are considered great as the plot is usually predictable or leads to a very anti-climactic resolution.

Although the entire focus falls on the leading Earth girl, several secondary characters have their stories presented as well. None gets a center spot but they are there, nonetheless.

The series ends with your average “happy ending”. It’s so sappy it’s almost awful. The mightiest of beings reveals its devious plan without a reason. And yet, it’s too stupid to see a normal guy doing the simplest thing in order to stop it. What a bull of an ending that was! Totally anti-climactic. I regrettably have to say that if the ending were bleaker, the series would have a much better final impression. But no; the scriptwriters aimed at turning the otherwise sad story into a silly adventure with a fairy tale ending.

CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10 [From the leading girl to the most unimportant character, the entire cast feels adorable but also completely fake.]
Each one races for one specific goal, which is determined by some basic ideal or vague backdrop story. All motivation is just “for justice!” or “for power” or even as corny as “to make my daddy love me”. During times of stress, you will see them doing complete nonsense, like talking about their goals instead of finishing off their adversaries or leaving their antagonists win, in order to prove they are friends. It is not any different from most shonen series, where everyone simply wants to become the champion in some sport or martial art. Forget the story. It doesn’t matter; it’s just an excuse to see them race. It all comes down to race, train, cry, laugh and make dreams about the future. Personalities are nothing more than a simple demeanor or quirk in the way of talking. Development is presented only when someone drops out of the race. And even after the series ends, you will feel like nobody changed much or is worth remembering in the sea of competition casts of anime series.

VALUE & ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
The concept art makes it a bit memorable. And some races are nice to watch again. But beyond that, there is little value or enjoyment in a series with a simple story, a repetitive plot and a generic cast.

VERDICT: 4.5 / 10
Is this series about the fate of the universe or the personal issues of a teenage girl with her father? Make up your minds!

4/10 story
6/10 animation
6/10 sound
5/10 characters
4.5/10 overall