Back in my early college days I watched an anime called IGPX. It recently started rerunning on TV, and I thought I would do a post of my thoughts on the show, now that it has been a number of years since I first saw it.

IGPX ran for two seasons and was another take on the giant mech genre. It took place in the year 2049 when the world’s most popular motorsport is the Immortal Gran Prix, (or IGPX) in which people raced giant mechs. Each race pitted two teams of three mechs against each other, and each mech was piloted by a single person. The race took place on a 60 mile course and went for three laps. While giant mechs racing is somewhat interesting by itself, what spiced things up a bit was that the teams would fight each other during the race.

A pair of mechs go head-to-head

The story of IGPX follows Team Satomi, who have finally broken out of the lower leagues of the IGPX and made it into the highest tier of racers (called the IG-1). Season 1 of IGPX chronicled their progress throughout their first racing season and their eventual victory in the IG-1 tournament, while Season 2 took place a year later and showed Team Satomi’s next racing season where they defended their title and dealt with a number of personal issues amongst the team.

The main thing I liked about IPGX was the racing, which is a odd considering that I’m not really a racing fan when it comes to tv or movies. I’ve been told that the real reason people watch NASCAR is for the excitement of the crashes. I’m thinking the reason I liked IGPX was something similar to that, in that the races were more than just races and were full of action sequences.

At the starting line

Another thing I particularly liked about the IGPX was the distinct design philosophy of each team. While the overall outlines of the mechs were similar, each team’s mechs reflected their personalities and styles. True, the designs were quite outlandish (as is usually the case with giant mechs in anime) but each one somehow seemed fitting for the team it was a part of.

But as much as I liked IGPX, anyone who watched it would tell you the show had a few problems and can understand why it only lasted two seasons. One of the first things that comes to mind is that, in spite of how cool the races were, the rules of the race did not entirely make sense. A number of little things, most notably how next to nothing happens in lap 1 and how fighting does not begin until lap 2, pervade the show. Another major flaw with the show was that the action/storyline off the track was not always interesting. The show explored the stories and relationships of the various persons on Team Satomi, but some were less compelling than others.

This brings me to a completely off topic question: why is it so often that teenagers are piloting giant mechs? There’s always the young prodigy pilot, who is really good, but has emotional/psychological issues that inevitably almost ruin things for everyone else, (or sometimes do) but then he/she has an epiphany/experience that makes sense of it all, and goes on to right his/her wrongs and be an amazing pilot. Stop me if you’ve heard this stoyline in some form or another a hundred times already.

You might wonder why anyone would allow teenagers to pilot giant mechs. You might also wonder why one of them would be allowed to bring a cat along. In the real world these would be sensible questions, but not in anime.

When thinking of other things to compare IGPX to, what comes to mind is the original Fast and the Furious movie. Fast and the Furious was primarily about car racing and crime associated with cars, and starred Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. These two (at the time) were not know for their acting strength, but the movie still worked overall because it never went too long before there was another race or some sort of action sequence with the cars. IGPX was similar to this in that the storyline outside the races was hit-and-miss, but in each episode there was either some sort of race or at least the buildup to it.

Some interesting concept art

Despite its problems I enjoyed IGPX while it lasted. If nothing else it did give me one of my favorite quotes in all of anime, which perfectly encapsulates one of my frustrations with a few other animes that I’ve watched. In one of the early episodes of season 1, Team Satomi is racing against Team Black Egg, and Satomi’s lead pilot, Takeshi, can’t land a hit on Black Egg’s lead pilot. Takeshi does a lot of screaming as he has his mech throw strike after strike and hit nothing but air. At that point the coach of Team Satomi, Andrei, speaks through the radio to Takeshi and says “Why don’t you stop shouting at him and just hit him?”

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