The Beginner’s Guide to Anime, No. 20 – IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix


Following the news that Tokyo has won the Olympics, this piece has a bit of a sporting element to it. In last week’s column we looked at a series from Japan that looked Western in style. This week we are taking a slightly different look, as this week the anime in question looks like just about any other anime you can think of, but it was commissioned by the Americans.

This is one of many Lovefilm Instant TV shows that you can access by being a LOVEFiLM account member.  LOVEFiLM offer many other anime such as the Superman and Batman cartoons, and also many new manga programmes.  The new style of anime has increased in America and they’re growing in popularity.  There are several times where Anime shows have been commissioned by the Americans.

This has happened on a few occasions. Stan Lee, the creator of Spider-Man, has created a number of anime and manga projects. The subject of this week’s column, IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix, is noteworthy because it is the only anime project commissioned by Cartoon Network for their “Toonami” Adult Swim slot. It is also interesting because the original idea changed quite a bit in terms of how it actually ended up.

IGPX originally began as a series five-5 minute short episodes in 2003. It is a mecha series (for more on mecha, see Column No. 2 on Mobile Suit Gundam) in which various teams of mecha pilots fight each other for sport. However, following this short period the series was re-worked and instead of fighting each other using guns and similar such weapons, the teams ended up racing each other. So the Immortal Grand Prix became like our modern-day Grand Prix – motor racing with a sci-fi twist.

The much bigger 26-part series broadcast between 2005 and 2006. Set in the year 2049, the IGPX is so popular that a special city has been built so all the teams can stay and face each other on circuit that is 60 miles long. The story follows one newly promoted team taking part in the top IG-1 league called Team Satomi. Each team has three drivers each with a different role. In Team Satomi these are Takeshi Jin, the fast forward; aggressive defender Liz Ricarro, and intelligent midfielder Amy Stapleton and her pet cat Luca. During the race, not only do you have to try and be quick, but also fend off attacks from you opponents.

The story follows the team across two season of the IGPX tournament as Team Satomi battle against their various friendly rivals, while at the same time trying their best to overcome their own internal struggles.

The most noteworthy feature of the series is simply the people who commissioned it. IGPX remains to this day as being the only anime series commissioned for the Toonami slot. As a result Cartoon Network has been at least commended for trying to experiment with what was for them a new project. Sadly they have yet to do a similar project, so IGPX remains their only effort in the venture.

Another aspect to look into is that this series combines two rather different genres: mecha and sport. When the series began it was a much more traditional mecha affair with typical combat scenario most often seen in these kind of shows. However, they decided to combine it motor racing. So not only do you have the sporting aspect of it if you wanting to find out whether or not this week Team Satomi would win, but you still had the normal fighting aspects too.

The way the sport is set up and ruled is especially clever. It is a three-lap race: the first being a normal “set-up” lap, the second lap allowing combat and battling, and the third being the super-quick speed lap. So you had the fighting element followed by the speedy element, so it all escalates well, leading to a decent storyline during the race, combined with the back-stage stories too.

IGPX is a series which has its moments. It is not the most important anime ever made, but it was a worthy experiment between east and west.

IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix was formerly released on Region 2 DVD by the now defunct Beez Entertainment label in six parts. Copies can still be found online.