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
BigDumbOhFace's avatar By on Sep 3, 2015

I first heard about this film while review videos to cure boredom.  Then one video was about Redline.  However, that just made me aware of the movie's existence.  Later, I received many recommendations for anime movies and Redline was one of the more numerous recommendations.  So, I just started watching it to finally see what it was all about


The whole concept of the show is, at it's bare bones, Mario Kart but in space and a million times more badass.  Basically it focuses on this grand space race with the hero, "Sweet" JP as one of the participants.  That's pretty much it.  Also, there's what I felt was a really forced romance that wasn't really fleshed out very well.  Actually, that's my main problem with the story.  It wasn't completely fleshed out.  The romance happens just because there just had to be one.  I don't mind there being romance but never appreciated forced ones.


This animation is by far one of my most favorites I've ever seen.  The movie puts majority of the effort into making it look as awesome as possible.  Mission Success!  The art style is so comic book and the use of color is fantastic.  The heavy amount of black in contrast to vibrant colors adds a whole lot of depth.  As for action scenes they were clean and crisp.  The execution of all the action was done extremely well.  It's a full on attack to your senses.  All pun intended, it goes pedal to the metal 1,000 mph and is balls-to the wall.  What else do you expect from MadHouse, which I believe animate the best action scenes.


The dialogue reminded me more of them having actual conversations.  Although there's the mandatory screaming in Japanese.  I actually liked that because they seemed to fit the characters then.  The music seems like it was for a video game.  It was all techno and electronic.  I usually don't listen to that stuff on my own time but it was nice here because it fit in so well with the video game like vibe the show gives off.


My main problem with this is that they were barely fleshed out.  No one's true motivations felt 100% clear to me besides a few minor characters.  The main cast just felt lacking in depth.  However, they were a fun group of people.  JP is your typical cool guy and it feels like he's not really trying and I like that.  It makes you want to BE like him.


Easily the greatest thing about this show is its stunning art style and very appealing animation.  I could just look at it all day and still love it.  However, it just lacked substance.  If they just gave more depth and give clearer motivations then I'd really love it.  They just glossed over some pasts that could've helped.  I mean the movie is 1hr 42min.  They definitely could've moved time for that.  Other than that, it was a really good movie to watch that's a feast for the eyes.

5/10 story
10/10 animation
9/10 sound
8/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
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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
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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
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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
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