Eva's birthday has just passed, and she hasn't heard from her father. Despising the Boarding School she attends, she escapes using her Rocket Bike that she just completed. Taking on the alias "Molly," Eva sneaks with the Earth team to Alwas for the Great Race because the winner of the race gets any one wish granted. Little does the Earth Team know what danger awaits them...
Story: At first I was reluctant to see what the show was about, seeing as the story was actually made in France, but then all that changed when I accidentally turned on the TV to catch the beginning of the first episode. The story is marvelous, full of everything a young girl could experience at that age. The constant secrets, conflicts, hinted love interests keep you on the edge of your seat. Not to mention the refreshing new concept of what the future could hold. What's more, the original languages it was made in were English and French so you
don't have to worry about anything being edited or changed. With that I give the story a 10.
Art: At first the art might seem strange, the main thing that would catch your eye would be the absence of noses, but once you get over the initial shock you just can't help but grow fond of the style. It deserves an 8.
Sound: Absolutely amazing! The opening and ending convey the right mood for the actual show ( Both being in Japanese with either English or French added). The soundtrack during the various scenes couln't have been more accurate ranging from the fast paced races to the hidden plans of Kanaletto and the Krogs. I was pleasantly surprised that during all of the 26 episodes very few times was the same sound used. This is especially true with the races, each of them having their own unique soundtrack. Sound gets a 9.
Character: Everything you want, they have. In addition to the predictable pace of each of the characters development, many times you will find yourself with your eyes wide open and your mouth gaping thinking 'OMG!Will he seriously do that?!' or 'SHE WHAT?!' Each of the characters have a unique personality from the sarcastic/comic Jordan to the well-mannered/secretive Aikka. They fit into the strory so well, nothing being given away too early that it might seem rushed or too late, when you might think the story is boring. They all deserve a 10.
Overall: If you like to be glued to the television, anticipating what's going to happen next then this is the anime for you.I love how the show implements the truths of life such as friendship, betreyal, deciet, loss, pain and the ultimate question of choice as an everyday person faces all of this somewhere in their lives. I don't regret watching and rewatching this series as it is definitely something to remember. A perfect 10.
I am going to be honest and say when I started to watch this show the idea of earth being saved by winning a race seemed kind of lame and I was only watching it for the futuristic alien racing action. I figured the show would have some cool races, a bad guy to focus my hatred at, and O look the earth hasn't been destroyed at the end. However I found my self pleasantly surprised to find a solid story and a great lead character.
I have already stated that I wasn't going into the show expecting much from the story; soon after getting
into the show I realized that there was a lot more here then I thought. First thing to note is that it is not so simple as if the earth team wins the “Oban Race” the earth is saved and if they lose the earth is doomed. The race is to decide who gets the “Ultimate Prize”, the thing is no one on the earth team knows exactly what the “Ultimate Prize” is. Information on it is given out as the show goes on but when the group first starts out they know next to nothing. Also there maybe more to this race than meets the eye, as a few mysterious things end up happening. There is also Molly who is the abandoned daughter of the earth team's manger(Don Wei) who ends up getting on the earth team by chance. The thing is Don Wei doesn't realize she is his daughter and Molly is trying to get him to notice her. Throw in a little intergalactic politics and you have the basics of the story.
The overall storyline dealing with the “Ultimate Prize” moves very slowly. Luckily every race is its only little mini story, and there is more than enough going on with these to keep your interest well the main storyline takes it's time. The apposing pilots are usually given some kind of back story or development before or during the race. Some pilots are bad, others are good guys that the earth team just happens to be racing against. Although later on the races are group races, when the show first starts out they are all one on one. I actually like the one on one more than the group races, so I think the later races are not as good as the early ones. For those like me looking for some futuristic alien racing action you will not be disappointed. Almost every show has a race and a race will probably take up 1/3 to 1/2 the show. The show manages to keep the races interesting. The aliens and their ships are very creative. There are the usual technologically advanced ships, a guy that rides a giant flying beetle and shoots magical arrows, and a species that actually transforms into the racer itself. Special rules come up now and again that changes the way the race is held. The earth team also loses enough that I could not always guess how the race was going to end. There are crashes and people do shoot at one another but no one ever dies from these crashes and if the pilot does get hurt they are always up and about in an episode or two.
Now we come to my favorite part of the show, MOLLY. Molly's real name is Eva but her dad(Don Wei) didn't recognize she was his daughter so she lied. She is strong willed and self reliant with just the right amount of venerability to her, and has great growth and back story to her. Don Wei also has a great growth and back story (well Molly and Don Wei have the same back story), he is kind of a jerk but you also empathize with him at times. Unfortunately the rest of the cast does not get any were near the development of Molly and Don Wei. That isn't to say they have poor development. Jordan (Molly partner), Rick (a member of the earth team), and Prince Aikka (a opposing pilot) are examples of characters that have good personalities and do get development of the the course of the show. It is just kind of sad to see something that is done so well with the main character and then done only just good enough with the rest of the cast. I love Molly and even though I wanted a little more from other members of the cast they are still good.
The animation does a great job of combining 2D and 3D. The 2D and 3D do a good job of complementing one another and not just trying to out do one another like I think happens all to often. I will have to note that none of the characters have noses. This annoyed the hell out of me, I did get use to it but I never grew to like it. One complaint aside I like the animation.
In closing I should probably point out one more thing before ending. Some people will most likely be turned off by the less mature nature of the show. An 8 year old could follow the story and even when people crash their ships into little tiny pieces the pilot never walks away with more than a few scratches. Please don't let that scare you away, there is enough substance here to keep a much older audience interested. It has a nice story, good cast, Molly is a strong lead female character that other shows should strive for, and the races are fast paced and exciting.
Oban is a criminally underrated and unknown series, which is sad since it's basically what you'd get if Miyazaki was French.
The show was about eight years in the making before it was finally put into production(which means it was well underway before Star Wars episode 1), and was created through the tireless efforts of four French artists. So it should strike a cord with all you indie artists with great aspirations out there, and the two dirt-cheap DVDs come with a great "making of" featurette.
But yeah, this series is amazing. The characters have depth and originality, the animation and CGI are seamless and amazing
to look at (adding upon the unique art style), the OP/ED are by Yoko Kanno, and the rest of the OST is just fantastic. The story is well paced and full of good twists and developments, and the competition that the story focuses on is about as real as it can get. Often our heroes will be faced with opponents they have no business going up against, and in the latter half of the show they almost die nearly every episode. Speaking of our heroes, Molly is just great. She's one of a small handful of good, endearing female protagonists in this medium. The rest of the cast pulls their weight too, as mentioned before the main characters are conflicted and well-characterized, their interactions being entertaining and very human. All the main people have an opinion of each other, causing rifts and closeness between them. The minor/non-recurring characters and opponents are always fun and different, making you wish they were more recurring.
tldr: Beautiful show. Great music. Writing that's a step above most anime. Was made well before Pod Racing came about. The whole series can be bought for less than $10 on Amazon or something. The torrents are sucky TV rips. Go for it.
Story: The story was absolutely grand. Devoid of plot holes and captivating, the story is a wonderful mix between drama and racing. Of course, it does start out slow, taking about 6 episodes to get interesting and another 4 or 5 to become as captivating as it did, but once you get interested, there'll be no putting it down. The story is great, it deserves itself a 9, just shy of a ten due to the starting slowness.
Art: The Style is definitely unique. Oban uses a mix between 2D and 3D visuals and while it works wonderfully, the 2D animation is where it seems
to fall slightly in. The animation itself, while crisp, seems somewhat lazy, the human characters don't even have noses, and are the whiskers on Jordan's face supposed to be peach fuzz? But where the 2D animation may lack, the 3D animation makes up for, being smooth and entertaining. The racing scenes seemed particularly entrancing. Overall, a good 7.
Sound: The sound quality was absolutely wonderful. The racing scenes sounded realistic and made the star-racers come to life, the sounds of the environment were very well done, so then why do I give this an 8 instead of perfect 10? Well, the answer would be the voice acting. Living in the U.S. it was hard to find the original Japanese, so I got an English version, so remember that this is strictly based on the English voice acting which was somewhat unbelievable, and not in a good way. Starting off, the voice acting sounded somewhat forced and unrealistic. Given, as it went on the voice acting got better but there were still some off-episodes. So due to this, I give the sound a good 8 for having outstanding sound effects but underwhelming voice acting.
Character: The characters are full of life. Their personalities written well and their relationships with each other are even better. The only reason for myself docking a point is due to one certain character's unbelievable folly that no good real life version would make even under the circumstances he was in. But, aside from that, the characters are vivid, have great stories, even better relationships and deserve a good 9.
Enjoyment: I enjoyed this anime very much. I first saw this as a child of 8 years old when it first aired and I heavily enjoyed it then, just for the racing parts. Now that I'm older and able to understand everything, I must say I had an even more enjoyable experience this time around. Of course, as I've stated before, it was a bit slow to start, not enough to drop it by any means but still a bit slow, but it makes up for that with everything that happens after episode 6 and for that it deserves a 9
Overall: To conclude, the anime was very well made and it's very disappointing that not many people know about it since Jetix changed to Disney XD. This anime was a childhood favorite and still a favorite now as a young adult. I'm very happy i decided to rewatch it and experience the characters, story, and amazing races that I (barely) remember watching as a child. Overall, this is a good 8 and i would recommend it to anyone who likes racing anime or drama.
Nothing gets the blood pumping like a high-intensity race, be it in a car, bike, or even mecha suit. Youthful passion and energy fuel these shows about drivers, pilots and athletes all striving for that #1 spot. As Ricky Bobby once famously said, "If you ain't first, you're last".