Redline

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iSuckAtWriting's avatar By on Oct 16, 2014

Redline is an odd film to think about. At its very well-presented surface there are racecars with rocket launchers that seem to fulfill a base desire for wanton destruction. But with such bombast in the film, it would be easy to assume the writing is shallow, isn’t great, or is even bad. That Redline actually has solid storytelling to go along with its senseless action is as much of a surprise to me is at might be to you.

But yes, the film does indeed have racecars/mechs/boats/whatever with rocket launchers as the first few minutes will prove. But the race the contestants are in isn’t the namesake, but a qualifying event called Yellowline. The story itself follows the exploits of JP, who lives and breathes racing, but unlike the other contestants his ride isn’t armed to the windshield. As Yellowline concludes, an unfortunate event causes him to lose the race, but as preparation for Redline starts, a string of coincidences give him another chance to compete in the race.

From there, most of the film spends its time building character relationships and motivations. I would say world building, but most if it is made on the spot for whatever would be cool to happen in that situation. The titular race is going to take place on Roboworld, a planet whose rulers really don’t want the race taking place there. Somehow, they’re obligated enough to let the racing committee set up shop for the race, but violent enough to attack the racers, whether at a diner or at the race itself. Said racing committee has rules about race rigging to protect its entrants, despite all of the racers being allowed to drive what are effectively war vehicles. Yeah. Really.

Don’t mistake my facetiousness for disdain though. There’s a certain charm in knowing that flirtatious twins who command a racing stripper mech...come from the royalty of a magical kingdom planet. And the incompetence of Roboworld’s rulers makes the thought of how they run the planet humorous. Very little of the setting from its rules on racing to eligibility for racing don’t align. The racing committee has rules in place to protect its entrants, but they don’t seem to mind letting a police officer and the convict he’s chasing compete. The only consistency here is how inconsistent everything is. It’s cool things for the sake of cool things.

But back to the characters, all of them are fairly archetypical. JP is the typical cool cat who lives for glory, Sonoshee the sexy love interest, and Frisbee the manager and friend who makes the tough decisions. There’s nothing else to say about them individually, but together their naturally connected backstories give a surprising amount of weight to their relationships. These backstories don’t say much, but they unfold in a deliberate pace to give an otherwise brash film a surprising amount of heart. It’s just a shame the main trio is held back by the film’s need to try and flesh out other characters.

But that doesn’t mean all of the other characters were poorly realized. Big Robot and Crybaby Robot (seriously, you won’t remember them by name) are naturally introduced as JP and his epic pompadour go around scouting out the competition. The other characters, not so much. They’re introduced in a brief way that makes sense, but at the same time it’s easy to spot that their only purpose will be an excuse to create explosions at the Redline race. If the film didn’t waste time to pretend it cares about its other characters, then that time could be used on the main trio to make them something more than solid.

Of course, watching this film for the deeper meaning of what it means to win or for a character study on JP would be missing the point. The reason to watch Redline is for its final act, where studio Madhouse delivers on the film’s tagline to ‘WITNESS THE FUTURE OF ANIMATION.’ Instead of seeing the visuals take shortcuts to give the illusion of speed, speed is seen as racers take shortcuts within the visuals. Every vibration from their engines shifts each vehicle ever so slightly as even their hair sways with each skid and drift. It’s smaller details on top of fast-swerving objects against gorgeous backdrops.

Part of what makes the backdrops—and characters—gorgeous is the artstyle of saturated contrast. Colors that are normally dull manage to shine, colors that normally shine are brilliant, and shadows don’t give colors varying shades, but are pure black and used to highlight details for stylistic effect. It’s an artstyle of extremes that creates subtlety to be appreciated during the slower moments of the film. And even when the film gains speed, the visuals never lose their radiance and detail.

Unfortunately, the soundtrack is underwhelming—not bad—by comparison. The number of distinct pieces can be counted on one hand. They’re fun while they play during parts of each race, but the limited number of tracks makes the action slightly boring to hear (but it’s always fun to watch). I say slightly boring because character dialog thankfully picks up the musical slack, as the refreshing trash talk between contestants breaks the monotony of engines roaring. The non-action parts of the film especially rely on dialog to keeps things interesting, and for the most part it succeeds.

But it’s that non-action part of the film that I need to bring special attention to. Understandably, a film focused on spectacle still needs compelling enough characters to make the action worth caring about. And they ARE solid characters. At the same time, ‘solid’ might not be enough to hold everyone’s interest for most of the film, especially when it’s the animation—the action-packed animation—that’s the main draw of the film. For a story with characters who make split-second decisions, viewers will ironically need a small measure of patience.

Still, these faults aren’t enough to make Redline a bad or even average film. It’s uneventful moments are still energetic, the setting pulls off a casual disregard of consistency for coolness, and the character interaction believably builds backstory. Overall, no part of the film is ‘bad’ because even its weakest parts are still ‘good.’ With just enough human drama to accelerate the spectacle of racecars with rocket launchers, Redline will leave you at the edge of your driver’s seat.

7/10 story
10/10 animation
7/10 sound
7/10 characters
7/10 overall
TridentRPG's avatar By on Jun 25, 2015

Not great, but not the worst. It's an animated Fast and Furious. And that series is terrible except the first film. So this movie pretty much missed the mark for me on all points. If you find nothing interesting about cars, this will bore the crap out of you. I watched this to see if it was "kid friendly". It has ONE nudity scene that I can remember and average swearing. So, it's safe for all ages. Though I doubt  our son will be entertained much.

3/10 story
5/10 animation
5/10 sound
2/10 characters
3/10 overall
Sianeka's avatar By on Feb 14, 2015

Sianeka Super Short Review:  Redline is all about Speed and Style.  Visually amazing, it showcases amazing graphics to the point where the graphics actually ARE the entire show.  The racing and speed effects take over to the extent that one is often watching the pretty awesome display on the screen without having the slightest clue WHO or WHAT you are actually seeing.  Some souped-up hover race car is zooming somewhere at a hyper-accelerated speed, accompanied by either grand, blazing, fiery weapon/crash explosions or other pyrotechnic effects.

Graphically and stylistically, this show is just stupendous, but the shallow characters and minimal plotline fail to deliver satisfaction.  It looks great but has no style. It is tagged as a romance, but there is precious little of that to be found here, since the characters are all one-dimensional caricatures that never mature or develop in any way during the show. Each is just a different racer, and each wants to be the big Winner of the biggest, baddest race in the world: Redline.  The "romance" is just a superfluous relationship tagged on at the end to two opposite gender characters that end up racing together rather than against each other. There is no courtship, nor period where these two really get to know one another. There never are any developing relationship scenarios.

Fast and furious, for fans of things that go BOOM! it may be worth the watch to see the excellent animation but after that pales, be warned that there is nothing of any substance left over to recommend this.

6/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
5/10 characters
6/10 overall
quangvasot's avatar By on Oct 6, 2014

Really great anime, mostly for it's drawing style. Fun to watch, the animation is really awesome too. It's out of the box, brings racing animation to a whole new level.
Characters is another part that makes this anime good. Well you might hate it if you're sticked around with "moe" style, but they're just so good, especially MC and his rivals. Even the background characters are made well if you see it through.
Not sure about the story though, it's kinda lack of something. It just my common sense, don't make it affect your affection to this anime. The ending is quite a sudden cliffhanger too, imo.
Give an overall 8.5. Don't know what to say much about this. It just basically so good. I had goose bumps watching the final drag xD Well, as I said, you might hate it if you're sticking around with "moe" art style, but give it a shot, will ya? 

7/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
8/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
ratchet573's avatar By on Jun 26, 2014

Drugs are a hell of a drug, and Redline is a hell of a product of drugs. It’s a 2009 film from Madhouse that is one of the most unique and beautiful anime movies of the past ten years. It’s an obvious inspiration for the currently popular Space Dandy and any fan of Dandy’s antics will definitely enjoy the antics of film protagonist JP. It’s a simple movie, the story of an underdog entering a giant racing competition where he has zero odds of winning. There’s a romantic interest thrown in and a few bad guys for good measure. It’s rife with comedy and strangeness and enough fast racing action to keep you glued to your seat. It’s an average set-up with a very unique execution.

This comes from the style. It’s animated in a 1980′s Star Wars comic-esque way with lots of bright colors contrasting with very dark shadows. It makes the anime look dated in still-shots, but during race scenes you can feel the breakneck speed of the vehicles and it’s very pretty in an acid-trip kind of way. The characters are all very interesting and different with strange fish creatures and giant robot-battery men and normal human beings with crazy hair. It’s all very retro while maintaining a modern style. The music adds to this especially making the whole package a refreshing visual and auditory experience.

That said, the plot is basic. It starts with an exciting race, then plods along for twenty or so minutes in a boring middle act. It’s attempting to build JP’s character as well as fellow racer Sonoshee but fails miserably as they’re both two-dimensional and uninteresting. There are a few funny moments dotted in there, but mostly nothing worth discussing. As Redline (a huge race in which the universe’s best racers compete) approaches, the film gains a lot more momentum and becomes much more crazy and exciting.  That said, it’s still punctuated with moments of pointlessness as the planet hosting the race wants to kill the racers and we’re subjected to a group of leaders discussing how to do so every few minutes. It’s irritating because these characters don’t matter and add nothing. The planet could be fraught with danger without having this empirical ruling body who is just there. Nothing is resolved between them and the racers in the end so I feel they weren’t needed.

The ending is abrupt. We get our conclusion, but no epilogue. There are a few questions left to be answered but the film goes straight for the romantic resolution then cuts out. What about the Robot Empire? What about the gangsters? What happens to the two lovebirds after the race? What do the other racers think? The betters? I hate when films cut at the resolution to the main plot while leaving you in the dark about what that resolution meant. Our heroes are going to a goal for a reason and we know the goal, but we want to know that after that goal the heroes are still doing well and have been changed.

So I’m not a big fan of the plot, characters, or execution. But I can suggest this film just for the style. Even beyond the style, though, this is still a good, entertaining movie with something for everyone. I’d suggest Redline to fans of Gurren Lagann and Space Dandy. Good dumb epic fun.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
7/10 overall