It feels like every Mecha March has some connection to Toonami, so here is yet another post about that era that will inevitably show my age once again. Yet, there is something different about this one and that is me never watching it. I remember there being commercials of IGPX on television, but I was at that point in my life when I was in high school and didn’t watch Toonami anymore because I was marching band twinkie. A shame really, because watching this show was amazing. I can just say this right now that IGPX is the most unique show that I am talking about on Mecha March. Why? Despite its simplistic story and characters, it’s a sports show with giant robot racing. It’s wonderful and I love it.
IGPX is a series starts off in the near future in the year 2049 AD in a city that is built around the Immortal Grand Prix or IGPX racing. The sport is so popular that it there was enough funding spread around multiple large companies to build a high-tech city that centers itself around a 60 mile long racing track with tons of loops and tricks on it, training courses of different varieties for challenges. Also, the mecha in question travel up to 350 mph or miles per hour on these tracks. I love it so much. It’s a sport where two teams of three race each other for dominance. There is the front mecha that is based on speed, the heavier in between mecha that is the defender, and the back support mecha which has a medium body build. Each race is three laps and the battle starts on the second loop in order. All of this to see who crosses the line first. Are you not excited yet? I am.
As all sports and racing anime series do, IGPX focuses on the rookie team. This show’s rookie group is Team Satomi. A team that just won the IG-2 to make their bid for the champion of the top racing circuit, the IG-1. The racers are very detached from each other, so they have room to grow. For this cast, we have the severely talented and lazy Takashi, the tomboy who never gives Takashi an inch ever, Liz, and the calm center of the group Amy with her cuddly cat Luka. There is also the team manager who always seeks sponsorships to keep her team together, Satomi, then Mark who is the engineer who comes from a rich family that owns a company he wants nothing with, and Andrei who is the teaching director week barely says anything of value and has a mysterious past. This is the cast we root for in its two-season run. I really like them because this is a good cast with great chemistry.
As this is split into two seasons, the first season is where our newbie team Satomi is introduced into the world and eventually, a surprise to no one really, win the IG-1. This team is still made out of young adults in their late teens or early twenties and they enter the world of adults their same age or older. Each one trying to keep their place in the race while struggling with age and slightly older adults who have been in the place that Team Satomi has who want to stay that way. There is a large amount of teams, but my favorites are team Sledge Momma who are given the reputation of being dirty but actually aren’t (though their fans don’t help) and Velhstein who are the current champions. Oh, I should mention that Takashi gets the attraction of Fantine from Team Skylark and they go out for a while. Real people live out their lives outside of just racing and it’s great. Gasp, characters can live lives.
The best part of IGPX that the world is moving and breathing. There are tons of scenes of Takashi and Fantine dating in different locations across the city, there is that one hot dog man that Takashi always buys hot dogs from, the outside dining restaurant where opponents meet or Liz and Amy eat at just to reflect on what is going on, and some other places. My favorite thing is the fact that Luka the cat has his own cat food commercials you can see across the city because that company is one of team Satomi’s sponsors. I can keep going on with this because there is so many to say and talk about. I just wish I could live in this world because it’s just so fleshed out and feels warm and comfy. Plus, there are racing mechas in it. No downsides really.
I also like how important and detailed the racing world is. Parts and maintenance matter. After each race, the mecha from their teams are taking into their respective shops and over hauled. Engineers in this show work over night between races just for the drivers to destroy them again for the next race. There is that continually tension from worrying if Team Satomi has enough money to buy new parts, but the engineering and maintenance crew are given their time and due. Same with how racers thrown on the side lines act and simulator training between racing. Not to mention that the maintenance crew is able to affect the race like nascar where they have a short amount of time to fix one issue on a mecha before whatever happens happens. I feel sorry for all of the maintenance crew involved.
There is so much easy lore, relationships, and rivalries that help make the world feel like it’s been around for at least a generation or two. Manager Satomi is a young adult probably in her late twenties or early thirties struggling to keep her grandfather’s dream of a racing team in motion and somehow, she manages to do it with help and sponsors. There is also the mysterious Rocket G that Takashi looks up to as his own influence. Hmmm I wonder who that could be. Takashi also influences soon to be racers by existing, so the endless cycle of the IGPX continues. This goes alongside the already previously stated varied ages of racers in the IG-1 who start to have their own followings as well. These are only some of the examples that appear in second season. Some which aren’t as surprising as one would think.
The weak part of season one is how basic the writing is for a sports series with the rookies/under dogs taking the championship, but there is so much spectacle and team work thrown in to where it works great. This is the introduction to this world after all. The real challenge for Team Satomi appears in season two because the stakes are higher. Every single team is gunning for Team Satomi to show those rookies that they are one hit wonders while the new team, White Snow, are rookies seeking to do what Team Satomi did last year. Not to mention that Satomi has gotten cocky with their new technology and operating systems and Team White Snow is obviously a bad guy team that hacks technology. Something that is seen through their first interaction at the IGPX opening ceremony and they constantly tampered with Team Satomi’s systems from the beginning. It’s that kind of season. A season where Team Satomi re-examines how they made it in the first place and discovers team work.
The major over all theme of season two is team work vs technology because Team White Snow and Team Satomi are on different edges of the spectrum even if they aren’t at first. Satomi barely made it over the finish line in their first race and went downhill until they realized that they can rely on each other instead of arguing once again. This is the dramatic arc which leads to Liz and Takashi seeing eye to eye more and eventually going out with each other. Not to mention how Amy came to her own, the over all team working their butts off showing they deserve to be champions, and so many other things. They won against other difficult teams from last time barely because of team work and tricks that can’t be programmed in the computer. White Snow is honestly a lame villain team, but they were villainous enough to make this all happen which is why they get some credit. You know, despite their cheating and hacking ways.
The most unique thing about this show though? The dub is incredible and so different compared to many other anime out there. This show was the original collaboration between a Japanese production studio (Production IG in this case) and Toonami years, besides Big O, before Space Dandy came out and you can feel that in the dub casting. Mark Hamill is a voice actor in this and he fits his role perfectly, Takashi is voiced by Haley Joel Osement and he is pretty great if a bit stilted, and Michelle Rodriguez is Liz and she fits that role perfectly. Heck, I can even mention that Spongebob himself, Stephen Hillenburg as the race announcer. I can keep going. Steve Blum is the cooler then you pilot Cunningham from team Velhstein and the nearly limitless english talented voice actors that either played a minor role or a major role in the story. I mean, Wendy Lee plays a dog. Special mention to Cartoon Cypher for sharing this info on their youtube video.
The visuals of the mecha in IGPX are cg, but very well-done cg even if its noticeable. This is production IG at the height of their power, so why wouldn’t it be? All the other art is very good. The world presented in this city from restaurants to Team Satomi’s base to the racer’s homes is so well realized and wonderful. I also like the character designs where people from a wide variety of nationalities are racing. Each one has their own distinct design and it’s just really good. Extra points to Liz because her design is incredible and she is best character. The race track itself is a marvel to look at and it has to be because we spend 26 episodes looking at it while watching Team Satomi racing other people. The mecha themselves, though cg, are beautiful and apparent based on real racing cars which adds more to this world. There are so many mecha designs with all sorts of team colors and sponsor labels on them. It’s just so good. I love it.
When I first start writing this review, I thought I would just give it a good because of how basic the story telling is in terms of writing, but I talked myself out of that. It’s such a solid series and it’s the most fun I’ve had watching a series for Mecha March ever. If you are wondering what I replaced Fafner with, its this one because of how dour and sad Fafner is. As you can see with Bokurano, I already had plenty of that going into my Mecha March watchlist already. But back to the point, the background writing and world building very much makes up for the flaws and basic sports writing of IGPX. I also love this whole cast of characters and the fact that I wish I could live in the world of IGPX without question adds to this experience of watching this anime. Maybe I need to watch more racing series in the future to get the sense of adrenaline that I got from this series. It’s such a different sense of adrenaline then the usual but great super robot hype. I could also watch the original IGPX short series. We shall see what happens.