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.
This movie ( which has absolutely no relation to One Piece ) is aimed at fans of racing movies, such as The Fast and the Furious. On a secondary level it will appeal dearly to anyone who loves great animation, over the top action, and not much of a plot to tire his mind while looking at the pretty lights. Anime and racing go way back as the original Speed Racer but it was only after Initial D came around that people started to care about the genre in those weird Asian cartoons. Many others tried to redo its fame but none managed to do so… until this baby came out.
The production took seven whole years just to guarantee the necessary quality and style that such a project would require. And DAMN I must say the results are rewarding you in the fullest. I mean DAMN it looks super epic gorgeous just to look at. It has this style that makes it feel like a stylish graphic novel and soundtracks full of beat. It is not a first; they did a similar style in Dead Leaves and Trava: Fist Planet but the budget alone makes this ten times cooler. Studio Madhouse once again proves that it’s the king of anime series with this beauty, and if GAINAX hadn’t made Gurren Lagann while the film was still in the making, it would have caused an unparallel tsunami of excitement worldwide in its stead. But it’s ok; I consider Red Line to be the Gurren Lagann of movies.
So, just like your typical blood-boiling racing movie, the goal everybody has in the story is to win in a race. That is all, do not look any deeper for more, these guys just live to race. Although there are some attempts to flavor it further by inserting some secondary events, such as miners trying to sabotage a military facility, which is hiding a weapon of mass destruction, which goes out of control, which causes laser satellites to fire upon the planet, which causes Katsuhiro Otomo to think about suing them for shamelessly stealing all his ideas from Akira, down to it the story is by far the least of your concerns and by far the weakest aspect of the film. You are not watching this for its substance but for its over-the-top style; end of story. Everything follows the rule of cool and thus you get these insane stunts and explosions which if the story was trying even a little bit to show realistically, would have resulted to the horrible deaths of all the competitors in just a few minutes after the race begins. I mean, seriously, don’t try to make any sense of it because you will be facepalming every 30 seconds and you will miss all the awesomeness of the action.
Just like the story, the characters are also nothing complicating. We basically have 8 cars with one or two drivers in each, and every one of them is there for fame and glory. They are all quite the crazy folks risking their lives for a silly race but then again the whole point of the movie is to bring out their idealism to heights of mount Everest, so they fit the whole thing. Plus, none of them are fakin wimps like most of modern shows are full of today. THIS IS GAR MAN! I LOVE GAR! They are walking down the street with their uber machoness and revealing sexuality, making everybody to just drop their jaws and look for their ejected eyeballs by the awesomeness. DIS IS DA SH1T YIHA!
The story focuses mostly on two drivers, JP and Sonoshee, as well as the childhood fiend Frizbee and his shady dealings with the mafia regarding fixed races. The first two are like star-crossed lovers and to be honest I didn’t like how they even tried to include such sloppy excuses for romance in this mess. I guess it’s necessary to show some sort of romance amongst all the madness for the first place. It’s still weak though. As for his friend, well, he is supposed to make things more grey but the way everything in this movie happen are so insane that it doesn’t mean much in the longrun. As for all the rest, they are there only for flavoring the whole thing and despite each one being presented as entirely different, they are eventually quite unimportant despite the epic stuff that blow up around them.
Anyways, both characters and story are eventually nothing but dressing for the action, which as I said so many times it’s superb. I am usually not fond of such shallow works but it also doesn’t drag more than it should, so I don’t think I would like it if it was a series. In this case it is awesome for the purpose they make it to be; something between Oban Star Racers, Mad Max, and Death Race 2000 all in one package and hyped to over 9000 in adrenaline. If this does not get to you, nothing will.
So that’s pretty much it, a movie you watch for the adrenaline and the oozing style. It’s not going to make you think about anything but it’s a great piece of action of a level much higher that most others out there. Take it as it is or GTFO!
Story- Okay so Redline doesn't have the best story ever, but some of the sub-plots are somewhat interesting, but unfortunanatly are kind of underdeveloped. Like who was the dude with the pink car pimping two girls at once? We can only assume a role-model for JP and the whole thing with Funky boy and the Robo world government... Yeah this anime didn't really need such a convoluted plot a nice simple race would have been fine, but I don't think it really takes anything away from the show. Maybe setting it up for more movies/OVAs in the future for explanation =/ unlikely but possible
Animation- This is where Redline shines. This anime has the best animation I have ever seen in an anime movie hands down. I would expect nothing less of 7 years of handrawn animation. The fluidity of the animation and the complexity of the character designs are captivating and the dark shadows add a nice comic book feel to it. You must see this in Bluray if you have the chance.
Sound- Great Techno and pop soundtrack that gets the blood pumping, during those exhilarating race scenes. Could have benefited a bit from some more variety (maybe some jazz or rock?) but it might not have fit in quite as well as the techno or pop did. Most of the characters even have their own theme music, which is awesome. Oh and don't forget the main theme which is kinda sappy as hell but I still love it. Its a Redline day lol!
Characters- Lots of crazy characters with exiting personalities, JP is deffinetly a likable main character and Sanoshee is a great love interest, my favourite character has to be Machine Head though, I also think his theme is awesome.
Overall- One of the most entertaining experiences of anime that I've ever seen with none of the stereotypes that plague modern day anime (thank god for no school girls with whiny voices and character designs that resemble blobs... well except that one alien dude lol). Watch this in the best quality you can, you won't regret it.
The consensus amoungst many is that this anime is simply worth watching for the animation, and the story is forgetable.
When rating or reviewing the storyline of any form of media, it's only fair and accurate to take into account certain other production factors, which severly effected the storytelling potential of the work in question. In this case, many of the ideas were impressive, unique and brimming with potential, but 101 minutes was simply not enough time for them to flourish. Compromising on two of the best racing scenes in the history of animation, would have allowed the 101 minutes of movie time to focus more on bulking the story out, and explaining certain details, however this compromise would have been a great shame. To have equal visuals, exciting action scenes and complex character and plot development, the running time would have to be about twice as long, and this film would have taken 14 years to produce instead of 7.
What I mainly intend to get accros though, is most easy to comprehend with a small change of perspective. The story came first, the visuals second. First and foremost, It is the ambition behind the action scenes, environments and character designs to praise, as well as the execution.
7 years of production for something which lasts only 101 minutes?
The effect is blocky with very vibrant, highly saturated colours. Furthermore there are certain things that appear simpler than in average animes, like some of the backgrounds, and ground textures for example.
The result however is amazing.
Many animes give me the illusion of 2d stensils moving around against a background, which for all intents and purposes look like photographs put through cartoony filters on photoshop. I often don't really feel like the characters are actually 'there'. The simplicity of the backgrounds, and intricacy of the lighting never gave me this impression. The characters shift in and out of perspective all the time, which to me is very important. I feel like most modern animes might aswell be 3d modeled, as they don't often deliver the sense of exaggeration that makes anime unique. The dispirity between the environments and characters and further detract from the feel of life and dynamism i long for in anime.
The overall artstyle along with the incredible racing scenes, make something that is really a must see for anyone enthusisat of animation as a medium.
The techno soundtrack adds to the action perfectly without becoming intrusive or distracting. The voice acting in the dub is pretty good, although some of the voices are a little flat at certain bits. Some of the music, especially the music associated with the romantic moments in the film, are pretty poor.
Critic’s Log - Earthdate: September 14, 2013. Review #58: Redline
Racing, it sure is a popular sport. There’s Nascar, Drag Racing, and whatever form of racing you can think of. There’s even video games of Racing like Mario Kart, Gran Turismo, Need For Speed, and other racing games. There are also Racing Anime such as Speed Racer, Initial D, Oban Star Racers, and other Racing Animes. There’s also the Fast and Furious series. There is an Anime movie that is set in the future, plus the elements similar to Speed Racer, Initial D, and Mario Kart. The end result is REDLINE.
In every 5 years, there is a race called "Redline". This event is held at a surprise location revealed shortly before the race begins. This time around it's being held on Roboworld, but much to the dismay of Roboworld's militant government which has no intention of allowing the race to proceed. The race has no rules—whoever crosses the Redline first, wins. Sweet JP is a rare kind of racer who prefers an old-school style and raw power over high tech gadgets and weapon inventory. Troubled by their involvement with the mob, Sweet JP and his team just want a clean shot at winning the race. Sonoshee McLaren is a skilled and highly competitive rising star in the racing circuit. She beats JP in the last qualifier and caught his eye. Up against lethal hostility from Roboworld's government and their fellow racers, JP and Sonoshee are pushed to their limits in the race for the Redline.
All I can say now is that I am perfectly okay if you don’t give a damn about the sypnosis I just gave you because if you go through 10 minutes in this movie, this film will probably will hook you in.
To be technical, this is a Madhouse production. Remember that name people. Madhouse has gotten recognition for years of high quality productions and I bet you 100% that Redline does not disappoint there. It took 7 years for Redline to be made and it undoubtedly shows in this movie. Lately, computer graphics is common in anime today. Not too bad when used right. There are some animes that use computer graphics cheaply and it does not look good in the end result. I do miss the hand-drawn cel style that Anime used to have often years ago. Here’s a fact. Redline was completely hand-drawn from the first animation cel to the last. Lately anime is using computer graphics for their animation, Redline was a rare treat. It may look like it was done by computer, but it really is hand-drawn. This movie can be a little deceiving when it comes to animation, but it payed off well. The animation is the movie’s strongest suit and undoubtedly the movie’s selling point.
The music is by James Shimoji who debuts in this movie when it comes to music composition. For starters, he really had a fitting soundtrack that is probably just as fine without the show. It has techno as the main genre. Techno music fan or not, it is a fitting soundtrack to the movie because of its futuristic settings. The soundtracks for The Fast and Furious movies had electronic and hip hop, because it had a modern setting. Electronic music and/or Techno music can be just as effective in a modern setting of a fictional racing story. The music is pretty nice and compliments the movie greatly.
The animation and music go well together. But the characters is sort of one of the problems with Redline. Sweet JP is pretty cool and that’s pretty much it. Sonoshee is smoking hot and gorgeous (even though she’s animated), and she’s pretty much just there, but she does compliment JP in terms of character personalities. There are characters like Frisbee and Old Man Mole who are nice characters in this movie. Then of course we got the racers, The President (of Roboworld) and Volton, what am I kidding? Why the fuck would you care if the movie looks fucking awesome that it’s at an orgasmic level of animation.
I have noticed that the movie mostly sacrifices substance for the extreme style that was put into the 7 years of producing this movie. The characters is not the biggest problem with the movie, it is the overall story of Redline. I will say that the amazing animation distracted me alot while watching this movie. I think most people are paying attention to the visuals rather than the story. From the get-go, I knew this movie wasn’t going to turn into a Masterpiece. And you know what? It didn’t need to be. Sure, the story is very weak and I could barely remember most of the shit that happened in this movie. The reason is because the movie is filled with crazy, bat shit insane moments that often happen in certain scenes in the movie, and it distracts the plot at times. The plot is also very, very, very, VERY STUPID. But here’s the catch… IT ALL FITS IN THE MOVIE. The animation is amazing, but even with a stupid plot. The characters are over-the-top, and even hilarious. This movie is actually pretty funny at times too. How can some guy that looks all tough and cry like a pussy not be a good source for humor. Not only the characters are over-the-top, but so is the animation. The amount of effort put in the animation is just Fast and Furiously…FUCKING INSANE. Redline is (like the lady said in the Title screen) “Directed by Takeshi Koike”. Koike-san’s debut film and he does not disappoint in this film and It seems he wanted to make this an adrenaline-pumped animated film. Redline lives up to that. This is also the kind of movie that would just shout out FUCK LOGIC. This is definitely a movie you don’t have to put a lot of thinking to while watching it. Redline is a spectacle and we probably won’t get to see something this hardcore for a long while. Keep your fingers crossed for another spectacle of an anime. This movie is simply made to entertain and it is entertaining as hell, and Redline gets the checkered flag at the finish line for doing just that.
Redline is available by Anchor Bay Entertainment. An OVA series called “Trava” which was made back in 2003 and related to this movie was never released stateside.
With all that said, Redline is an adrenaline-pumped anime film that is extremely entertaining. it has a fitting soundtrack that compliments the movie as well. It does suffer with lack of character development and a plot that is forgettable, but those factors deserve a pass because of the entertainment value this movie has and because of the incredible animation that took 7 years in the making.
I give Redline a 7.8 out of 10. It is GOOD!
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