Story: Oban is actually a pretty archetypical story about a girl trying to find her family, racing, love triangle, blah blah blah. While it is a pretty common basic line, the creators did a fantastic job mixing everything up and ending up with a coming of age story with sci-fi elements, romance, adventure, and lots of interesting turns.
I'll be the first to admit that it seemed to go on for a while, but it was overall incredibly enjoyable. Eva/Molly is a bit of a brat sometimes, but I couldn't help but feel for her as she realized her father didn't even recognize her, even if it had been ten years.
And then the plot twists! In the interest of trying to be spoiler free, I won't go too much into it, but the story kept me guessing but still didn't go too far out of the realm of possibility, and picked up threads I'd thought were long forgotten in time for the big finale. At the end, I really had to fight back the tears.
Animation/Art: Oban did really well in a traditionally taboo field of mixing 3D with 2D animation, something I generally detest. The 3D models were set in 2D backdrops, their toon/cell-shaded style almost perfectly matching the animation style and used in a consistent (but moderate) manner.
While the style itself is really simple, they pulled it off very well and managed to make everything incredibly expressive with so few details. I am also very impressed with the character designs and backgrounds.
Sound: The music is pretty good, although it can get a bit repetitive and in some places I thought should have added more music, but the ending and opening themes fit so well (from what I could understand) with the show that I didn't skip them as I normally do when watching an anime. I'm seriously considering buying the soundtrack myself.
Characters: Again, pretty archetypical: The best friend mechanics- one geeky and the other pretty macho, the super manly samurai-esque star racer, the controlling overbearing manager/father, the clueless irrational cuddly soldier, the gentlemanly prince, the charming spunky girl hero... However, the characters were fleshed out very well, even the side characters with little to no dialogue I found myself wanting to know and hoping they would survive.
Overall, I suppose that many people probably wouldn't like it, but I found this to be a highly enjoyable series, with characters I loved and a story and designs and art that I just can't find words to describe just how amazing they are in my opinion.
An enjoyable thrill ride that starts slow but has several exciting highlights that keep you on your toes. OBS has an endearing cast of main characters and a wide variety of side characters to keep you interested. If you give Oban Star-Racers a chance it may surprise and delight you. That being said this show does have several flaws that some people will be able to overlook while others won't.
Story OBS definiteley gets credit for having a fairly original idea, sure the star-racers look like something akin to the pod-racers from Star Wars, but they expound on the racing theme with a more unique story. Young Eva makes a minorly dramatic escape from her boarding school in order to be reunited with her father, only to find that her father doesn't even recognize her. In order to keep from being left behind again she follows her father as he creates a highly skilled racing team to race for the fate of earth. When ace racer Rick Thunderbolt is injured in a crash on the first race it's up to Eva to step up and race for earth. Haunted by memories of her mother dying in a dramatic star-racer crash she must overcome her fears and be the racer earth needs. Farther into the story she suffers from several setbacks. You're left wondering if she'll ever be able to pull everything together and claim the ultimate prize.
Animation Some people will be turned off immediately by the toonish animation of OBS. The characters have a simple design (no noses!) that sets this anime apart from the norm of most others. The animation overall feels like it is intended for a younger audience. Despite this drawback the characters are able to evince strong emotion that the viewer will be able to connect with.
Sound No complaints about the sound, good music and good sound effects, however it wasn't anything extraordinary either.
Characters This show has a great cast of characters that suffer from moral and emotional dilemas. However the characters don't have much depth other than dealing with the same dilemas throughout the entire anime. Eva/Molly has the most developed character but she has a hard time overcoming her inability to communicate with her father through the entire anime.
Overall While the story seems to slow down in several spots and it being a show intended for a young audience this show still has a lot of fun and exciting moments and characters that are fun to watch. This anime may not be for everyone, especially those that don't like anime intended for younger viewers, but for those that don't mind that you might find it worth your while.
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.
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!
***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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