High Speed Etoile Ep 1 Review: Gas! Gas! Gas!

Welcome to the new season. And we start at the finish line with an introductory episode of High Speed Etoile – a futuristic racing anime series. The series will focus on the sport known as NEX racing – where racers compete to become the Etoilé of the tracks.

The majority of the episode is spent on establishing the sport as well as the current competitive landscape. We’re introduced to the literal King and Queen of the tracks – Salvatore and Alice. They are at the pinnacle of the racing scene – with Salvatore being near unbeatable. NEX racing has similar concept to Cyber Formula, where AI has enabled racers to reach speed of 500km/h safely – which transform the sport of racing. Furthermore, AI racers are also possible – as shown by multiple unmanned cars on the tracks.

We also got a peek into the general relation between the big players – we have the undisputed King Salvatore – who is pretty much a perfect racer. Then we have the Queen Alice who is pretty much an almost perfect racer (emphasis on almost). Salvatore and Alice has a pretty friendly rival relationship, where as the allegedly third-rank Falk is quite bitter about the rankings. The announcers keep calling him “the veteran” and he is also said to have been in the sport for a long time but got over-shadowed by these two supposedly younger drivers. The Queen also has a Knight – a sacrificial driver that basically “guard” her position – letting her freely compete with the King. Kinda feel bad and unfair for the guy – since he has serious skills to be able to at least keep up with Alice, but was never allowed to overtake her. He’s basically wasting his skills just to probably make some money (not ruling out he might be Queen’s admirer as well). The other drivers are basically small fries compared to the top drivers – but I think they will be milestones that our protagonist has to overcome one by one.

Alrighty, to the race now! It’s very similar to every F1 or Gran Turismo races but just with very fancy cars and much crazier speed – although it doesn’t feel too crazy. The advancement in CG really helps bringing a fresher feel compared to Cyber Formula. I’d have to compare this to IGPX if it was made with today’s technology. Not a lot of gear-shifting (this ain’t F&F) and the overtaking is quite in-line with other racing animes.

The highlight is definitely the Revol Burst function – which is essentially Trans-Am. It boosts the cars’ performance significantly while leaving a neon trail on the track. Its use is similar to NOS in racing films where the timing is very crucial. Activating your Revol Burst before or after your opponent is a game-changer. It is shown when Falk activated his first and King and Queen just do it right after and overtaking him in the end, leaving a bitter Falk at 3rd place. But well, he tried his best…

Finally, we get to see our protagonist – Rin Rindou. From the synopsis, she used to be a ballerina (which explain the title Etoile) but was injured and now is joining the NEX racing world instead. She seems to be a complete newbie at this and will be competing against other young girls. No doubt she’s going to struggle because this sport is definitely much more skill-based than CF. Let’s see how will they develop this character – with her background, I expect some crazy twist since her initial impression is a happy-go-lucky and clumsy girl. However, in terms of “mecha”-ness, the series is not very dependent on the mechanical part – at least not yet, so we might be doing a fortnightly review instead of each episode. But we’ll keep an eye on this one.

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