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Posts Tagged ‘ninjas’

Adventure’s Waiting Just Ahead!

May 9th, 2008 No comments

One of Speed Racer’s greatest challenges was posed by the Gang of Assassins, featured in the episode “Gang of Assassins.” Another ninja-themed group, they had a couple of clear advantages over the previously-seen bat boys: sheer numbers and bitchin’, death’s head cars. Also a flying dragon submarine, but more on that in a minute.

They had been hired to disrupt the International Peacemeal Conference, the name of which was probably as close to political satire as the American translators of Speed Racer ever got. The Mach 5 happened upon the scene of their next assassination attempt, but when Speed used the homing robot to give them the bird, one of the gang retaliated by throwing a million, billion ninja stars.

Speed and Trixie gave chase in the Mach 5, but the assassins’ cars proved to have an overwhelming array of weapons: machine guns, spike strips and flamethrowers.

Later, Racer X, who had been in town for the Fujiyama Grand Prix, was standing on a lake shore watching a boat full of delegates to the Peacemeal Conference when he was ambushed by the assassins. Who were buried in the dirt beneath him. That’s how kick-ass the Gang of Assassins were: they could burrow. They snagged the Masked Racer’s wrists with chains, but he gave them a spin.

Racer X learned that the attack was just a test: they wanted to recruit him into the gang. Just then, a dragon-headed submarine reared out of the water and a whirlpool sucked the delegates’ sightseeing vessel below the surface!

After a series of adventures, Speed, Trixie, Spritle and Chim-Chim all found themselves in the underground lair of the worldwide assassins’ organization.

The assassins deliberately kept their lair chilly.

Speed met their leader, Professor Anarchy, who offered Speed a job on the team. When the racer refused, Anarchy threatened to make him his 2,708th victim. (That’s right, he kept track.)

Even’s Anarchy’s eyepatch was twisted.

The conversation was cut short by the arrival of Racer X, seemingly in cahoots with the villains. Rex was put in charge of murdering Speed, Trixie and the captured delegates. Indeed, he blasted away with a submachine gun…and, in what was arguably the greatest feat of precision ever achieved by a racer-turned-secret-agent, shot off their ropes.

Not even Speed is buying it.

A fracas ensued, and, as this was Speed Racer, it involved submachine guns, and lots of ’em.

After that, it all got a bit insane. Racer X led the freed delegates out of the underground complex, then went back to blow it up with a time bomb. Spritle and Chim-Chim stowed away aboard the dragon sub. Speed and Trixie raced off in the Mach 5 in hopes of intercepting the remaining assassins before they could reach the Peacemeal Conference.

Then, because no Japanese adventure series was complete without a flying submarine, the dragon lifted off and began pelting the fleeing Speed with fireballs. Once again, Spritle and Chim-Chim saved the day by sabotaging the sub and parachuting out as it made a final, fatal power dive smack into the highway, demolishing the killers’ cars. Suck that, assassins.

“Aieeeeeee! I dishonor my ancestors!”

The fate of Professor Anarchy was unrevealed, but I believe that surely his sinister eyepatch would once again endanger world peace.

This brings me to the end of my less-than-comprehensive retrospective of Speed Racer. The movie opened today, and I’ll be seeing it this evening. While it’s being savaged by the critics, their descriptions make it sound as if it’s exactly what’s promised in the trailer: an eye-searing visual display that’s relatively faithful to the cartoon in both tone and level of sophistication. (Make of that what you will.) Fortunately for me, that’s exactly what I’m looking for.

Getting ready for tonight.

He’s A Demon And He’s Gonna Be Chasin’ After Someone

May 8th, 2008 No comments

While most Speed Racer bad guys suffered the indignity of such names as Zoomer Slick and Splint Femur, some never received so much as a proper noun. Such was the case with the unidentified ninja bat boys who bedeviled the gang in the episode “The Royal Racer.”

I was never quite sure what in the heck these pint-sized killers were supposed to be. I suppose that they were agile midgets, but their mugs were oddly monstrous.

A face only a ninja bat mother could love.

In addition to cool costumes and mad acrobatic skills, they had frightening metal claws on both hands and feet. Great for opening cans; lousy for digging change out of their ninja pockets.

The bat boys were employed by Omar Offendum of the Kingdom of Saccharin, who was out to steal the throne by having the dimwitted (and pig-nosed) Prince Sugarin crowned instead of the rightful royal heir, Prince Jam.

Prince Sugarin was the ugly stick with which the bat boys had been beaten.

Wouldn’t you know it, Prince Jam just happened to be a dead-ringer for Spritle. And before you could say “Mark Twain,” the two became mixed up. Spritle was welcomed into the palace, where he gorged himself on sweetmeats and prepared to drive in the “Baby Grand Prix.” Meanwhile, the real prince was locked in a bathroom by the Racer family as they practiced their usual “tough love.”

Over the course of the two-part episode, the ninjas went first after Spritle and then after Jam once they recognized the latter’s tell-tale royal birthmark.

Eventually, the little killers captured both the prince and Speed, but one of their own was caught by the reunited Spritle and Chim-Chim. In order to make the ninja talk, Chim-Chim went Gitmo and unsheathed his hitherto-unsuspected razor-sharp talons.

Let me repeat that: Chim-Chim had razor-sharp talons. And he would cut you.

The monkey sidekick wound up being the real hero of this story, even disguising himself as a bat boy to untie Speed and Jam while Trixie pulled out the heavy artillery.

Seconds later, in berzerk bloodlust, Chim-Chim ripped out Speed’s jugular. Stone cold Trixie.

In the end, Prince Jam was crowned and both he and Spritle raced to a tie in the Baby Grand Prix.

Still later, unknown to the Racers, Chim-Chim began a secret double life as a master ninja monkey. But that’s a story for another day.

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