Why Won’t You Fit In Your Box, Speed Racer?

Posted on December 15, 2003 by Jenna

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“Here he comes, here comes Speed Racer!
He’s a demon on wheels.”

That’s from the English lyrics to the theme song of the classic imported Japanese animation, Speed Racer.

It’s about a boy—

A “speed racer”—

With a monkey in his trunk.

Now consider the matter from a classic Western Goetic ontology and assume the basic validity of the Speed Racer theme song. One can logically infer that Speed Racer was created as an angel on wheels, born to glorify God, sing his praises, and do his work. In the moment of his creation, he exerted his free will and chose to exist in darkness and isolation, cast from the sight of God, rather than surrender his pride and endure a subsidiary existence. He tempts mortals to sin, seeking to share his misery by luring them into eternal isolation and agony parallel to his own.

The world and the song then hang together, save for one niggling point.

The monkey doesn’t fit.

Look. When you’re an immortal, bitter monster going out into the world to win races, have adventures, and deprive mortals of the eternal bliss of Heaven, there is never any valid reason to have a monkey. There is never going to be a time when a mortal is going to say, “Your drugs, cash, and sex nearly convinced me. The pleasures of material existence almost justify turning away from the light of God—but I don’t have a monkey. So I’m going to go become a demon-rejecting priest.”

No, Western demon Speed Racer. The monkey is not the way.

“He’s a demon
and he’s gonna be chasin’ after someone.”

So perhaps the song would make more sense if Speed Racer were an Eastern Demon. No fallen angel, he, but a baneful spirit on wheels! Could he be some kind of hamster- or rat-spirit who defied the order of things and takes on human form to satisfy his monstrous greed and destructive impulses? Could the monkey actually be Monkey, the glorious Pilgrim Sun—that Great Sage, Equal to Heaven, who accompanied Tripitaka on his Journey to the West? His deadliest rival, Racer X—a renegade Taoist priest yearning for immortality?

It’s harder to be certain, because Eastern demons obey fewer standardized cosmological principles than Western demons. (That may be changing now that the U.S. administration rejects the Kyoto Accords that govern such matters, potentially freeing Western demons from the rigorous governance of the God-defying Lightbringing Yama King.) However, on more than one occasion, monstrous spirit Speed Racer could have dramatically improved his chances by sprouting tentacles and devouring his opposition, crunching them up bones and all in his thousand maws. Unlike a Western demon, Eastern demon Speed Racer would have no reason to conceal these powers—in the fast-track world of high-speed racing, you’ve got to use every edge you can!

So he is not an Eastern demon.

Logic is inexorable. Speed Racer is not a demon on wheels. He’s not a demon at all—the idea leads only to madness.

He is—he must be—a disco-pop dhampyr trapped in a world beyond his understanding. The monkey: a symbol of his eternal struggle, trapped between the worlds of light and darkness.

And Racer X, of course, is his brother.