***This is a spoiler free review***
Ōban Star-Racers is an anime that at first I passed over on many occasions. When I ran out of well-known anime to watch, this show popped into my “Shows you might like” category on Netflix. After thinking it over I decided to give it a go since Funimation has a great track record of English dubbed anime.
Ōban Star-Racers at first is unexpectedly interesting and fun to watch. Our main character Molly escapes boarding school to find her father who has become a complete tool. He is asked to gather a team to race for humanities safety in a tournament taking place on a faraway planet. The whole show has a Pod Racer feel and look that somehow works (unlike in the prequels of Star Wars). This sounds farfetched but the whole tourney style racing thing actually works very well in keeping the excitement up every episode of the first arc (first half of the series). This hype however does not last the entire show. The second part of the show is to be put honestly not as exciting as the first. We lose a major character that played a critical part of showing Molly how to mature as a person and a racer. All the wacky and interesting characters from the first arc practically disappear from the show and we are forced to accept new ones for the remainder of the show. The openness of the world that the tournament’s first round is held is completely ditched for the final round. The planet the final round takes place on has no crowds and is not inhabited by other people. It just feels plain and no amount of cool racing moments makes up for it.
This is going to be a hit or miss for a lot of people as the animation is very simplistic (no noses lol). The moving scenes of the races are for the most part well done but there are some weird parts where the show tries to mix 3D animation with traditional 2D style and it comes out very bland and unattractive. Character models are well done but like I said this show looks like a cross between western cartoons and early 00’s anime.
NOTE: THIS IS REVIEWED ON WATCHING THE ENGLISH DUBBED VERSION OF THE ANIME, NOT THE ORIGINAL JAP. AUDIO.
The sound of Ōban Star-Racers is captured very well as the ambient soundtrack mixed with the English dub are one of the best combinations I have experienced to this day. The music fits perfectly with the basic scenes as well as the action ones. English voice acting is so good that when listening to the original dub, I found the English one far superior in overall emersion.
The main cast, for the most part, are pretty original and you eventually become attached. Molly is head strong and wants to do anything to please her father. Her father, Don Wei is a typical jacka$$ that puts results before feelings any day. Jordan I never really felt anything towards but becomes Molly’s comrade fairly early on in the show. My favorite character, Rick Thunderbolt is a headstrong racer that at first comes off as a showoff only in it for the fame, however we learn later on there is a lot more to Rick and he becomes a major part of making Molly ready for future races. The supporting cast are very likable and help move forward the story.
If I were to rate this show only for the first half of its story, it would no doubt receive something decent. It however receives a 6.6 because it lacked the excitement from the first half in the final episodes. The show however for what it’s worth warrants a watch. It does have a very kidish feel to it but overall you will have a blast watching it. Very well done show just wish it was more interesting all the way through.
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