Takeshi Koike's debut feature; seven years in the making. Redline is an anime about racing, only presented like nothing seen before. Produced by Madhouse, with second key animation from Gainax, music from James Shimoji and a cast and crew pumped with everlasting potential, this is certainly one of - if not the - most adrenaline filled anime film to date.
As a film about racing, the plot is fairly standard fare, but the larger than life presentation coupled with the sheer imagination and creativity that has gone into Redline is second to none. The story - despite cliches - is both exhilarating and incredibly well paced.
The action is, as you would imagine; fast, fantastic and full of adrenaline. The drama is at times cheesy, but it fits well with the films over-the-top attitude. The crazy antics in Redline make it clear the film isn't to be taken too seriously; it isn't a production that sets out to challenge our minds, but rather an exhilarating thrill-ride that's sole purpose is to entertain. In that respect, the story delivers and then some.
The tagline for Redline during its release was 'Witness the Future of Animation' and it's safe to say the studio never doubted the creativity of the team behind the film. Madhouse handled the production, with second key animation from Gainax - the films full development totaled seven years, with over one hundred thousand hand-made drawings. The amount of action and detail on screen at any one time is so vast the film begs for repeat viewings. The animation - in a word - is mind-blowing. The film is full of colour, detail and beauty like no other, the art style is vigorous and unique, and the character designs are fresh, exuberant and interesting.
The music - chiefly a variety of electronic compositions - is sublime. It blends seamlessly with Redline's fast-paced visuals, the sound editing is first-rate and the vocal tracks leave warm, fuzzy feelings - especially the ending song. The vocal talent is superb and particularly noteworthy; the film employs actors rather than seiyu in the leading roles. The leading man - JP - is voiced by Takuya Kimura, a member of the pop group SMAP and veteran actor who starred in Yoji Yamada's The Hidden Blade, part of the directors Oscar nominated samurai trilogy. The leading lady - Sonoshee - is portrayed by none other than Yu Aoi; an actress with many award-winning films under her belt, multiple of which were directed by national treasure and acclaimed auteur Shunji Iwai. Lastly, JP's right-hand man Frisbee is handled by Tadanobu Asano, one of few Japanese actors making a name for himself in Hollywood (recently he starred in Marvel's Thor). To quote journalist Helen McCarthy; "casting him was a stroke of genius."
The main characters all very much fit into conventional archetypes, but they're not made to be complex, deep, thoughtful beings. The characters, like the story and presentation, are themselves larger than life, quite literally. JP and Sonoshee alone make up about half the human population in the entire film; all of the other characters belong to their respective alien races, besides two other humans. The characters are written to be entertaining, to build the scale of the film and to perform as the archetypes we know and love, but that's not to say they're by any means flat; the main characters receive a sufficient amount of development, and the supporting cast is comprised of an exceedingly rich, varied, exciting and incredibly fun horde of wonderful characters.
Redline is a film not to be taken too seriously and anyone doing so has certainly missed the point. Needless to say, if you want a realistic racing film then you have come to the wrong place. However, if you want a fast, funny, eye-watering, explosive experience that will suck you into a world which words barely do justice, this is the film you're after. But, more than a film, Redline is an experience. Every element works in melody, bouncing off and complementing one another, ultimately creating a tremendous overall work that is magical to behold, completely unlike any other anime production to date.
Redline is excellent proof that you can have too much of a good thing. Especially when you neglect everything else in the process.
The first 10 minutes do an excellent job of letting viewers know what’s in store for them. It’s here that the film treats us to an intense and gorgeously animated race sequence and equally beautiful backgrounds and character models. From there on out it’s clear that the films intent is to overwhelm the viewer with adrenaline-filled races brought to life with mouth-watering animation and sound. Storyline and character development are of the lowest priority.
It’s no surprise, then, that Redline sticks closely to
the usual 3 act structure. We’re first given a taste of things to come while the personalities and motivations of the major players are established, topped off with introducing the long term goal. The second act is all about the preparation with some rudimentary attempts at character development while act 3 is the main attraction: a 40-minute onslaught of non-stop racing packed with over-the-top, high speed moments and more explosions than 3 Michael Bay films put together.
Sounds good on paper. But Redline goes so overboard with its spectacle that it somehow becomes a bit dull. It’s simply too much.
First off, there are too many characters. The main characters are pretty forgettable and the only contestant who was somewhat cool was the established champion. The film further hurts itself by introducing subplots and characters who aren’t related to the race. A sizable chunk of screentime is reserved for a b-story involving an evil government (basically space-China) that’s out to stop the race and dig up some ancient weapons or something. Ultimately they’re only there to cause tons of explosions and other kinds of destruction. This in a film that’s already filled to the brim with explosions and spectacular set pieces.
This is Redline’s second excess. There is simply too much going on in the third act. A big race alone would have made for a wonderfully thrilling climax but Redline throws in an obligatory mafia subplot as well as the aforementioned evil government. What it all leads to? Stuff getting blown up and more stuff getting blown up.
This wouldn’t have been so bad if there was a reason to care or even some sense of urgency but there isn’t. All the cars race at impossible speeds and run just fine even after taking enough damage to wreck 10 spaceships. The result is that tension is basically nonexistent in this film. Nobody of note dies and damage to the vehicle is shrugged off so easily that one gets the feeling the only thing at stake is the film’s running time.
It’s a real pity seeing as the film is brilliantly animated and incredibly stylish. The film had a production history of 7 long years and you can tell when watching it that all that time was well spent in honing the stunning visuals to perfection. It’s no exaggeration that this is a new benchmark in terms of pure animation. The film’s many characters have detailed, instantly distinguishable models and are fluidly animated, machines roar and rush over surfaces with incredible speed and there’s even the occasional use of deformed animation for stylish effect that’s very effective. The visuals in Redline are a labor of love and the best part is that it overwhelms the senses in a way that seems difficult (perhaps impossible) to replicate in another medium.
In the end, that makes it all the more tragic that these gorgeous visuals aren’t telling a story worth caring about. Worse yet, its main hook (the visuals) simply can’t be used to carry a 100-minute feature film. Some serious editing could have reduced it to have its length and it would’ve made for a better-flowing and much more enjoyable viewing experience.
As it is, Redline is a stunningly animated but overlong film with such incompetent storytelling that it cannot reach its full potential. One can only hope that first-time director Takashi Koike’s next project will be a lot more polished. As it is, the talent is there. It simply needs to be honed and guided properly.
Ah Redline, what words can I use to describe this epic adrenaline rush? To be honest words are not enough, this is one of those films that you have to see to fully comprehend its greatness. However I am going to attempt to pass on my thoughts of this film in this review of what feel is one of the best anime films I have ever seen. Period.
Now in when it comes of the plot of Redline it is short, sweet and straight to the point. The film follows our main character JP, a driver who wants to race in a tournament called Redline which
is held every five years. However he fails to qualify for it and just when he believes his dream is over, by chance two people drop out of the tournament which gives him a qualifying place.
It has been mentioned by critics and viewers, that Redline lacks a plot or that the story comes across as lackluster and while I can understand that point of the argument I can also argue against it. The film has enough of a plot to work in cohesiveness with the rest of the film and while it's not overly complex or thought-provoking it doesn’t have to be. I would like to think of it this way: Would your rather watch film with an overly drawn out plot and character development which could be potentially tedious and slow down the fast-paced nature of the film? Or would you want to watch a film with a condensed plot that has enough story and personality to make you care about what you are watching? Personally I prefer the latter.
When it comes to the visual presentation of Redline, words fail me. I mean seriously, no words can truly say how beautiful this film really is. Japanese animation studio Madhouse have crafted one of the most visually stunning animated films in existence, you really have to see it in action to comprehend its awesomeness. Firstly there's the character design, from the human-based characters to all of the other alien races and cybernetic beings that reside within Redline's world, the designs are diverse, unique and interesting. Secondly you have the vehicles which are also fabulous, coming in many different shapes and sizes, from simple to completely crazy designs, with individual quirks and weapon arsenals to be admired. And lastly there's the locations of the film that vary from the rocky crayons where races are done to spaceships floating above planets, all of which have an incredible amount of detail that draws your eyes in especially on a large cinema screen.
But I feel that the main aspect that makes Redline so great is the fluidity of the animation. The quality of the animation in this film is actually insane, with several sequences of high-octane action crafted with some beautiful choreography, nicely placed camera angles and great use of speed. Everything moves in such a smooth manner, with no moments of slowdown or inconsistencies whatsoever. The film delivers an experience like no other in the animation department and really conveys on the concept of speed, pushing you to edge of your seat and beyond.
But what is a film without a good soundtrack? Luckily Redline happens to have a brilliant soundtrack crafted by James Shimoji, which compliments the visuals wonderfully. The soundtrack is mainly composed of techno-based music, but it works well with the action on-screen, its explosive, fast-paced and it sounds so good! Also personally I felt that Redline's soundtrack really reminded me of the video-games F-Zero GX and Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom, both of which have great soundtracks with explosive music that sounds great on the highest volume level. I also have to note that the sound editing in this film is tackled perfectly as well.
In terms of the enjoyment of Redline, I say be prepared to fall in love with this film. After watching the trailers for this film you get a rough idea as to what you will be watching, however those trailers cannot prepare you for the whole film. As a lot of people know this genre of film has been done before, after all Redline is a film about guys, girls and cars. But what Redline as film does well is give us a familiar format to work with, but it's covered in such an innovative, stylised and charismatic fashion that you will be left in awe after you see it. Also throughout all of the chaos and mind-blowing visuals, Redline never feels like it's heading into unnatural territory, in fact a lot of aspects about Redline feel realistic and believable.
Overall Redline is an experience that I feel everyone should enjoy. It's a like a rush of energy that's exhilarating, fast-paced and unforgettable. Takeshi Koike, Redline's director should feel very happy about the film that he has crafted and considering his previous work before coming onto this project I'm not surprised that this film turned out to be a success. Again I feel the need to mention Madhouse's insane skills as an animation studio as they have created a film full of action, charisma and style unlike any other film. There are so many individual things about the film that's weird and wonderful and completely unexpected, but overall I say watch this film and experience the epicness that is Redline!
Someone showed the Japanese ‘Wacky Races’. They were not impressed. “They call this ‘wacky’?”, they said. “We’ll show them wacky”.
You have never seen an anime like this before.
Redline is an experience.
The story is about some punk-ass racing driver JP. He’s gotten himself into some match-fixing scandals but, due to some unforeseeable coincidences, he wound up qualifying for Redline, the worlds biggest racing event. The only rule is your vehicle must use wheels. Plus, to make things interesting, they decided to hold the race on Roboplanet, home to a warring civilisation who vow to kill any racers who dare enter their planet. Why hold the race
there? So the TV ratings for the galaxy airing of Redline shoot through the roof and so the animators have plenty of opportunities to animate pretty explosions.
Not that any of this really matters. The plot is a tedious frivolity that’s just there to justify the crazy sequences they put these characters through. You couldn’t even hear the exposition and explanatory dialogue over the explosions, revving engines and thumping soundtrack, to the point that subtitles would often appear on the screen when I couldn’t hear anyone actually saying anything. The real sign of this is the final scene, which I won’t spoil, but acts as a sign by the creators that you weren’t meant to be taking this seriously in any way, shape or form. It’s such a brilliantly corny way to end the movie that you can’t help but applaud the audacity of it all.
Redline is all about the visual experience. As little importance as they might have had, it’s really a shame I had to pay some degree of attention to the subtitles because I probably missed so many little details. Each scene is full of little eyecatches to compliment the overall picture. From the Redline champion Ironhead, a 3 metre tall fella with a head of, surprise surprise, iron, stroking his teeny tiny dog during an interview, or the hero in JP’s dream snogging two girls at once, the movie is full of these little amusing details that act as winks to the audience. I’d almost say it didn’t have enough of these, which is kinda like saying Death Note needed more Latin chanting, but I could have done with a few less explosions and a few more cars flying through the air with their windscreen wipers on. There’s only so many ways you can make an explosion look interesting. I’m pretty sure Redline used up every single method, and made up a few of it’s own, but the eccentricities with animating other incidents is what made me love this movie.
Redline is aiming to have as much fun as possible. That’s how the brain behind the series works and drives what the movie does next. Compare this to Panty and Stocking for a second. P&S uses the audacity of it’s animation techniques to provoke shocked responses of “OMG did they just do that!?!”. Redline uses it’s animation for the power of fun. You can tell how much the creators enjoyed working on this. If anything, it looks like they might have had too much fun and were forced to cut out parts of the movie to make it more manageable. There certainly appeared to be a chunk of the final race missing as it leaped from midway point to the finish line. All things considered, they probably made the right choice if they cut out some scenes from there. The movie was just the right length, anymore might have killed the fun just that little bit, but it did leave the final race feeling a little bit disjointed.
Ultimately, because of the disregard for narrative, the movie doesn’t hold much weight. Hence I don’t think it will make quite the splash some of the early reviews predicted it would make. But Redline is such an incredibly fun film that I find it hard to see how people won’t get sucked in by it’s atmosphere and intentions, grinning like a maniac right the way through the film. Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?
::Edit:: I've seen this movie 3 times now and decided to hike the score up from an 8 to a 9. If anything, it gets more fun with each rewatch
If Redline was to be described in one word, 'explosive' would be it. This off-the-wall animated racing movie is overflowing with zany antics, over-the-top characters, and logic-defying awesomeness. It doesn't have a complex story, and offers next to nothing for the thinking viewer, but that is obviously not its aim. Redline is a stunning display of visual brilliance, a reminder that the reason we love animation is that it can pull off things that are too ridiculous and outrageous to be accomplished in live action. It is the pinnacle of style over substance.
Redline took over 7 years to make, reportedly used 100,000 hand-made drawings, and
was released later than its originally intended release date. Needless to say, this was a monumental effort by the animators; something you can feel while watching this movie. Every single shot in the movie is amazingly well detailed, brimming with attitude and audacity. There isn't a moment in the movie that doesn't demand your attention, there is just so much to look at: there are strange looking aliens, outlandishly awesome vehicles, their equally as awesome operators, fantastical spaceships, legions of killer robots, crazy bounty hunters, insane speed-freaks, biologically created weapons of mass destruction, scantily clad and topless women, and thousands upon thousands of explosions. The animators took every crazy idea that popped into their heads and brought them to life in stunning detail, all for the sole purpose of making your eyes explode from the sheer awesomeness of what you are watching.
The artwork itself is something unique. Heavily lined, highly defined, and more reminiscent to western comic-books or adult aimed animation than traditional anime. It is nothing like the bishounen/bishoujo look that dominates modern anime; it doesn't have a hint of that sort of 'attractiveness'. Instead, part of the appeal of Redline's art style is how freakishly outlandish the characters can look; one of the main characters looks like a goblin with a pink streak going across his face from ear to ear, in a suit. He looks relatively normal in comparison to many side characters. Even the human (or human-like) characters have strange or exaggerated features. The animation is smooth, and under first time director Takeshi Koike, infused with frenetic energy. The dynamism of the animation perfectly compliments the unique art style; making for an insane visual thrill ride.
Redline's soundtrack is also very strong. Composed of mostly high energy electronic beats and guitar riffs with equally as enthusiastic vocals, there is nary a quiet moment in Redline's soundtrack, which is entirely fitting for the movie. The music is perfect for the movie's purposes; its crazy, often funny, and pumps up the adrenaline for the bombastic action set-pieces. In addition, many of the characters have their own themes, all of which are delightful in their own way.
Now for the plot, it's a mess. It's a crazy, fun, and thoroughly entertaining mess albeit, but a mess nonetheless. Granted, this is an animated racing movie, so it is not as if a meaningful plot is expected. Indeed, Redline has all the thematic depth of a dixie cup, but that doesn't mean there is not a lot going on. With the romantic sub-plot between protagonists JP and Sonoshee, the conflict with the militaristic Roboworld, a sub-plot involving JP's friend Frisbee being entangled with the mafia, and all the rivalries between the racers; there might actually be a bit too much going on. Of course, all if this is building up to the spectacle of the big race, however, that doesn't make this cluster of plot-lines any less convoluted. The pay-off of these plot-lines alto varies; in the worst cases they're just dropped or forgotten about, in the best cases they're resolved with explosions and violence. While this isn't a bad thing, since it means more great animated action sequences, it does show that while the animation is stellar, the writing is severely lacking.
Something the writing does succeed at is the humor. This is an outrageously funny movie, tossing jokes and silly antics left and right, and mostly hitting the mark. A lot of the humor comes from the ridiculous, exaggerated personalities of the characters. The cast is essentially a collection of caricatures, yet all are colorful and memorable. There is the egotistic cyborg who is the longstanding Redline champion, and claims to be in a league of his own because he is literally one with his ride. Lynchman and JohnnyBoya, a pair of bounty hunters who look and act like superhero parodies. The Super Boins are a hyper sexualized pop duo with a vehicle that transforms into a woman-shaped robot that has their cockpits as its boobs. The segments in the middle of the movie that introduce these characters are hysterical. Then there is all the weird situations and circumstances characters find themselves in. Not everything is comedic gold, but even when the jokes don't completely work, they are entertaining enough in their weirdness. It is all very tongue-in-cheek and in-your-face ridiculous, and that is what makes it so much fun.
Redline is a movie that thrives more on pure entertainment value than a strong plot and cast of characters. It runs on adrenaline and showmanship rather than a well crafted narrative or complex themes. While this does prove to be the movie's biggest shortcoming, it is also the best thing it has going for it. Though the plot falls flat on many aspects, the movie itself never fails to entertain. Admittedly, you might have to turn your brain off and stretch your suspension of disbelief to fully enjoy Redline. However, if exciting pop-corn munching material with a ton of passion is what you are craving, then Redline is just the thing for you.
Hey, you want to know an anime taking place throughout the far reaches of space that I recently returned to? Redline. I’ve been pruning down my favorites anime list recently, taking out things to ensure that only the best of the best stayed on, and I was curious about whether I’d still enjoy Madhouse’s visual popcorn masterpiece – as oxymoronic as that may sound. So I popped in my Blu-ray a few days ago and here we are.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, Redline is the result of Madhouse founder Masao Maruyama practically bankrupting his former studio before his move to Mappa and
the result was a visually spectacular anime remake of Wacky Races that astounded many anime fans with its “UNTZ UNTZ UNTZ” soundtrack. When I foolishly blind-bought the DVD rather than pay for the blu-ray at half the price online and watched it on my brother’s PS3, I was spellbound by just how much of an “experience” the thing was. It was like nothing I had ever seen before in anime or animation in general with anime tropes having their own alien species and sexiness leaking through every tense well-animated second of it. But most of all, those racing scenes man. I’m not a fan of racing in real-life or in video games, but watching it through an anime filter cranked up to the max was something else.
That said, the story is pretty popcorn, even in comparison to some other “style as substance” movies I can name (Drive, Jackie Chan movies, and even the live-action Speed Racer), and rewatching the film again made that fact clearer than a sculpture at Seattle’s Chihuly Garden and Glass. It’s about this guy with a giant pompadour named JP who was inspired by a young girl to take up racing, but in order to secure good parts, he and a friend got involved with an alien mafia and ended up having to participate in fixed games in order to clear their debts. Unfortunately, JP really wants to win the Redline tournament as well as impress fellow female racer, Sonoshee, so you get a bit of classic Hollywood romance thrown into the mix along with the fact that said race is apparently run by an organization that makes FIFA go “you’re fucked up, dude”.
Why? Because the race is willingly held on an alien planet run by a bunch of military nuts who make no effort to hide the fact that they are opposed to the tournament’s existence, and not just because they’re crafting secret weapons underground, although that doesn’t help. I know racing in general is a dangerous sport, but there’s a difference between evolution and holding the Olympics in Nazi Germany…oh wait. So in addition to the alien mafia stuff, JP’s two main driving (harhar) motivations for the story, and objectifying women at levels that Fast and Furious wouldn’t touch, you’ve got a potential military force planning to commit Galaxy War II and the only thing threatening them is a race hosted on their planet. Bit overstuffed for a simplistic narrative that isn’t even two hours long, isn’t it?
Said overstuffing became more of a problem for me than it did in my previous years. I found myself nodding off whenever that alien military stuff reared its ugly head because it was barely connected to the story or any of the characters that mattered, and it got in the way of their development to the point that JP’s underdog story wasn’t all that engaging. It’s a pretty simple narrative sure, but it could have been bolstered with strong character interactions rather than the serviceable Hollywood-style ones we ended up getting. The only time I ever felt the story became more than it usually would be under normal circumstances was in the last ten or so minutes when JP and Sonoshee were neck-in-neck with some giant metal jackass towards the finish line, with the determining factor for who wins coming down to an explosion and ending with a hyper version of the “romantic hand-holding whilst flying in the sky” scene that most people associate with Eureka Seven. And by hyper version, I mean there’s some actual tongue used.
So whilst I can still enjoy Redline for the visual execution alone, it’s not up there in terms of the best Hollywood blockbusters, or even the live-action Speed Racer, and I don’t particularly feel the need to watch it ever again, bar maybe those last ten or so minutes which I wish we got more of through the film. What can I say? I’m a romantic guy at heart, and whilst the main couple in Redline isn’t particularly great, it’s better than any of the romance in Knights of Sidonia. But that’s not saying much, because a romance between an ugly small person with herpes and Miley Cyrus would be more tolerable to watch than Sidonia’s
Way back at the turn of the century a short OVA series was released that went by the name “Trava”. It was a quirky series that was noted mostly for its visual style. The think bold shadows and lines were very much not unlike those of a comic book and it sported some very interesting and experimental animation. It was co-directed by Takeshi Koike, who instead of going on to direct some more anime seemingly stuck in the background and directed bits and pieces of animation here and there. More specifically, he was also behind the Afro Samurai promo, a section of the Animatrix and
Iron Man’s pilot. All of them had the same style as Trava, thick and bold shadows and incredibly stylistic animation. While it appeared that Koike wasn’t heavily involved in the industry, in reality Madhouse had went ahead and turned his work on the second set of Trava OVAs into a full feature length film. And so Redline came into existence, complete with different main characters and plot, however taking place in the same continuity as Trava.
Redline’s story won’t raise any eyebrows. What will raise eyebrows is how it’s told. Redline doesn’t aim to woo the audience with its writing; however it does use its visuals to make the plot sincere and engaging. The plot is also pretty retro and it’s a callback to anime in the late 80s and 90s with its sci-fi setting and crazy character designs. This is reflected in every aspect of the movie, from its themes to romance and even the fanservice. This isn’t by sheer coincidence either, the old-school style is there to remind people of a time when anime was built solely on the sweat and tears of the animators and staff, when anime was just taking off and was a lot less commercial than it is now. Although Redline does nod its head to its predecessors, it never completely wallows in nostalgia either. It boldly stands on the shoulders of giants saluting the past yet painting the way forward for the medium, taking risks and daring steps forward. It may not amount to anything more than a pipe dream in the end but its stride is more than enough to inspire complete and utter glee from the audience.
The single most important factor and noticeable aspect of Redline is without a doubt its animation. Anybody can tell you that after watching 20 seconds of footage. So what exactly makes Redline’s animation so special? Well for one, it’s nearly animated entirely on 1s i.e about 24 drawings/frames every second. You don’t see this in many anime movies let alone TV anime, the animation itself is on the same level as Akira, Satoshi Kon flicks and Studio Ghibli movies. However unlike these movies, the animation is VERY stylized almost to the point where the subjects can look horrendously off-model but all of it has a point. The name of Redline’s game is speed, and that’s something it portrays very well, better than any live-action movie, better than any book and better than any video game. Redline is a revelation, it shows us why 2D animation isn’t obsolete compared to its 3D counterpart and most of all; it’s a towering triumph for animation as a form of storytelling. The animation tells the story in Redline, from the visceral car/mecha porn fights to the more subtle moments of romance and characterization. This movie doesn’t achieve all of this through exposition nor monologues and not even the cast. And yes, plenty of anime have done this before but Redline really drives home the power of animation and how it can be used to really enhance the experience. More importantly, could Redline be possible as a live action work? No, it only works in the medium it was created for. It’s not really possible to brush aside the visuals for this movie nor is it possible to say its all style and no substance. The style is the substance in this case; Redline is all about the visuals as a vehicle for storytelling and in that sense you can’t really talk about Redline’s story without also addressing the animation, mainly because they are so tightly knit together. There a certain art to delivering cheesy popcorn entertainment to the audience and Redline does it the same way many landmark works before did it, by showing the audience instead of telling them, by raw energy instead of robotic puppeteering. I can’t stress the importance of what Redline is trying to do and how it’s trying to do it. It’s a visionary piece of work that restates the strengths of 2D animation and plays exclusively to its tune. It’s uniformly the Akira of this generation in terms of influence it’ll propagate over the industry. The only real difference is the environment in which both movies were released and Redline comes at a time where its presence stands out all the stronger compared to all of its peers. The audio design is fantastic as well, the cars themselves on nitro often sound like jets, which really goes a long way into convincing the audience of the speed and momentum each vehicle has. The crashes and explosions are gratuitous and glorious and the soundtrack is techno. Not the hipster kind but the UNTZ kind, the music is tailor-made to pump up the audience and like the animation, is there to enhance the experience.
The technicalities of the animation are also very impressive. The movie was 7 years in production, 2-3 in pre-production (storyboards and planning) and 4 of actual animation. The amount of care and effort into this project is plainly obvious upon viewing the final product, the complexity of the storyboard, the rich and detailed animation and the energetic audio design. The staff involved is even more impressive, ranging from talent like Gainax’s own Hiroyuki Imashi, all the way to grizzled veterans like Shinya Ohira. The animation in this movie is a culmination of the evolution Japanese animation has undergone over the past few decades and the results are dazzling. This is juxtaposed thematically in the movie as well. In the beginning of the movie, we are told that only “fools” with vanishing spirit continue to race in cars, which is acknowledged as a dying sport because of all the superior technology out there. This is commentary on 2D animation in general and the racers are very much alike to the animators who work in a medium that is becoming less and less appreciated over time. If you want to take it a step further, Sonoshee, the heroine is a symbol of inspiration and chasing dreams while the hero JP is symbolic of the audience themselves, smitten with the wonders of racing (animation) as a youngster and forever chasing a dying ideal out of romanticism and passion. This movie isn’t “deep” by any stretch of the word but if it had a message, I’d say it was simply trying to inspire the audience, daring them to dream for so much more.
Redline isn’t really the product of a bygone era, but more like the product of its immediate surroundings. It can entertain on any level and really, it’s a wonder just to behold it as the visuals and sound completely and utterly assault your every senses while you sit in awe for an hour and forty minutes. Even if you don’t really appreciate animation all that much, you can still take away a lot of enjoyment from the movie because in the end its just one hell of a ride that really needs to be experienced by oneself.
Redline, a must watch, is like the 8th wonder of the world. It's got a terrible incoherent story, boring cringey dialogue, and cliche characters, yet somehow manages to blow our minds regardless, one frame at a time.
Those familiar with my reviews know I have a soft spot in my heart for strong, creative, clever stories/dialogue, and think very little of mediums that fail to pull me in throughout the course of its plot. (and Redline's story/dialogue is none of those things) It's one of the reasons I didn't really think too highly of Kotonoha no Niwa (Garden of Words), a Makoto Shinkai short that
many consider to be a classic masterpiece for its stunning art and creative adult themes. Redline is similar in some ways, albeit with vastly different themes. Kotonoha no Niwa, however, at least had a coherent story. This much cannot even be said of Redline.
The story is a complete mess. The plot was supposed to be about racing. And when it was about racing, it was simple and sweet, and hid a lot of the creator's weaknesses. But not long into the movie, the plot began jumping between various conflicts that have nothing to do with the main story. Conflicts that the main characters don't seem the care about, and the audience certainly and definitively do not care about. And it only gets worse and worse. Throw in the constant barrage of unnecessary fan service, and I got a headache from rolling my eyes too hard. I feel cliche just saying this, but Redline tried to do too much, and the added weight sunk their story. It wasn't just the needlessly complicated filler plot, every line of dialogue in this movie was complete garbage, and could have been written by a 5 year old.
For example, romance movies in the modern age succeeds because of creativity - the main character never gets the girl (or guy) until he figures out a creative way to woo her. Instead, Redline seems content to regurgitate cliches in the most awkward and un-creative ways, of no fault to the voice actors, who did a great job (Japanese and English). The way the two romantic interests fall in love is fine, maybe even realistic for our modern world. But the mechanics are poorly executed, making the romance portions of the movie extremely cringe-worthy, which is a great word to describe all the dialogue in this movie, actually. Seriously, try to watch the movie and not cringe, I dare you. Also, try to watch this movie and not fall asleep midway through the final race when the movie suddenly turns into Battle Los Angeles (another movie with a terrible plot).
Then there's the horrible cliche characters. If any of you have seen Johnny Bravo, you will know exactly who JP, our protagonist, is. However, whereas JB is a satirical parody, JP tries to pass off a clown for a prince. Some words of advice to all you aspiring screen writers out there - characters who think they are cool, and tries to be cool... are not cool. Characters who are called cool in the movie... are not cool. That's screenwriting 101, folks.
One thing I did like about the story is that they didn't go indepth into character backstories. I actually LOVE this. Because honestly, do we need to waste yet another 30 minutes watching a sob story about some cool guy who grew up without parents because his parents were killed, or his parents were killed, or his parents were killed? Because apparently you can't be cool if you have parents. The story doesn't really tell us this, but it's not a stretch to imagine that JP's parents were killed. And that's enough. That's efficiency.
The rest of the characters are, likewise, minimally fleshed out, and that's for the best. It's not just because it distracts from the main course action, but even in a non-action story, writers try too hard to make us care about their characters using their past rather than their present, and I hate that. It's cheap and uncreative. Every person under the age of 40 in the modern world has ADHD, nobody's got time for that. Anyways, my point is that Redline is efficient in its characterizations. In fact, Redline's hyper-efficient unsaturated sucker-punch (another movie with a terrible plot) way of characterization was by far it's strongest story-telling aspect, and it is the one reason the movie had moments that were so sweet. That, and well, the art and music, which brings me to my next point.
Up till this point, all I've done is bash this movie. Yet, I scored it an 8 out of 10. You must be wondering why. Well, the answer to that question is better shown than told. And humble reviewer like myself is not equipped do it justice. The only way is to watch it for yourself. My bet is that it won't take you even 5 seconds into the film to realize why this movie is so great, as every frame is meticulously hand-drawn over the course of nearly a decade to make this movie. Needless to say, the art is absolutely gorgeous, and definitely not the level of detail we're use to seeing from anime. I personally have never seen anything like it, and I've seen hundreds of animes, movies, and TV shows. The art was enough to overpower the terrible story and dialogue. That, and the fast-paced dub-step arcade music and background effects that knows when the shut up, really helps the movie hit home.
All in all, watching this movie is like watching the Mona Lisa. Mona Lisa doesn't talk to you. She just smiles. And that's enough.
"Redline supposedly took 7 years and ~100,000 individual drawings to create, all hand-drawn, limited computer work, and it shows." which results in Brilliant Masterpiece.
Plot- Redline is about the biggest and most deadly racing tournament in the universe. Only held once every five years, everyone wants to stake their claim to fame, including JP, a reckless dare-devil driver oblivious to speed limits with his ultra-customized car—all the while, organized crime and militaristic governments want to leverage the race to their own ends. Amongst the other elite rival drivers in the tournament, JP falls for the alluring Sonoshee McLaren.
- This movie is a gem 1 hour 40
minutes long. I enjoyed every second of it, even the credits because of the beautiful song in the end. I never felt this good watching a racing movie, since "speed racer" times. This movie has everything, what I wanted in a racing movie "Osts, Pump up moments, romance, beautiful explosive artwork, no CGI shit everything is hand drawn". It is a futuristic sci-fci racing movie, it might remind you of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace racing scene.
Genres- Action, Cars, Sci-Fi, Sports, Romance
Story- 9.5/10 (Not a unique story, if you have seen Speed Racer everything seems bit predictable but I still enjoyed it a lot. Every other character perfectly blends into the story. Since, it's just a movie, I won't spoil anything else)
Characters- 10/10 (JPXMcLaren is what steals the show, they both have this unique chemistry from the start, that reveals in the near end)
Artwork- 10/10 (2nd best thing about the movie, everything is beautiful. The colorful artwork,Cars and Characters looks so damn good and we are talking about Madhouse here and make sure you watch this movie in 720p nothing below that. It will just destroy the beauty of it with pixels)
Sound- 10/10 (The music that starts right at the pump up moments, feels the best not just that, character's voices are so good. You can feel the effort, I highly recommend you to watch it in Jap Dub and English Sub!)
Enjoyment- Over 9000 (This movie sure made my Sunday. If only this movie had a sequel or 12 episodes long T.V series. I would have enjoyed it a lot more than with more character's development)
Redline is the pinnacle of what every racing movie inspires to be, fast paced, high octane, absolutely insane, and stunningly beautiful. It does this while all being set to one of my favorite anime soundtracks, so good that it rivals those of FLCL, Cowboy Bebop, Madoka, Attack on Titan, Kill la Killa, and the Monogatari Series (as well as anything else that I missed).
Before you watch Redline, there are a few things that you must know, chief of which is that this movie is not being made for the intellectual. The story is simple and understated, but never aspires to be anything compelling on its
So why watch it? Despite Redline's lackluster story, it excels is practically every other area to the point of perfection, far over shadowing any of its lacking elements. Chief among these perfections are Redline's visuals. Made with over 10,000 hand drawn key-frames, and an absolutely unique style to boot, Redline is the single most visually stunning thing I've ever seen in all of anime. Of course that's simply my opinion, and while it might not be your favorite looking anime (assuming that you, the reader, have seen it), it is undoubtedly a visual masterpiece.
As I mentioned before, Redline also boasts an absolutely fantastic soundtrack. The different character themes are unique and catchy, and the movie's title tracks, Yellow Line and Redline, offer up wonderful techno beats that perfectly accompany any fast paced ride. Great to listen to in the car, though you may wind up speeding for some unknown reason.
The final thing that Redline does well is its world building. Redline takes the "show don't tell" approach to world building and it really does show just how effective that strategy is when it's done right. It's so chalk full of interesting planets and people and sceneries that you can't really process it all in one viewing. I notice new things about the world every time I rewatch the movie. I actually feel like the many vibrant side characters in Redline help to add to the world. Between the different species, personalities, attitudes, and appearances, these characters do a lot to flesh out the rich universe that Redline inhabits. The world is full, yet Redline never feels the need to explain to you how awesome it is, it simply shows you how awesome it is.
I gave Redline a 10, not because it is a perfect movie, but because it does so many things so well that it doesn't deserve anything less. Redline is just pure fun, shooting into your heart on a gold-nitro blast of awesome. Don't miss out on this fantastic movie.
I really don't know what to say. It's spectacular!
This movie makes no sense and blends so many genres that people will always find things they love and hate about it. From the gore-filled violence to a completely original and atomic art style. All of it's elements are very different compared to other anime but they are right where they should be in the best way possible. Even where it doesn't shine as bright I would say it's way past average. If I had to make a recommendation for this I wouldn't know where to start. When you recommend something you almost always look for something
with the same genre. In this case the overall focus is "spaceracing," I would recommend Redline itself already at this point because there really isn't anything quite like it. Or maybe Cowboy bebop is similar because it takes place in space and has quite high ratings, much like this one. The main character Spike is kind of similar to JP except for his dark background story and militarised job description. So there we have it. If you enjoyed Cowboy Bebop, go to Redline. I kind of lost the seriousness in this review but just shortly, I'll say something worth reading. Don't watch it because the genres add up with what you usually enjoy. Watch it because 1.40 minutes of your life are worth it and are given priceless at "gogoanime.tv"
Did I enjoy watching Redline? Yes, this is the type of anime where you will spend more time looking for something just as good than the runtime of the movie.
I give Redline a strong 8.5/10 and close my review.
Before I write my review, I guess it would be fair to inform that I am a sucker for racing movies. Cars is my passion and hobby which I place even above my passion for anime. That being said I was biased in my ratings because I felt the movie deserves higher score than it currently does however I will try to be fair in my review and give my actual scores throughout.
Simply put Redline was a blast. The story couldnt have been more fun and enjoyable. The plot was simple enough, taking place in a universe were space ships and travel through the
air is the main means of travel there is league of over the top metal heads who aspire to the glory of winning the Redline, a huge spectator race done on wheels. Amidst the mixed species of racers are two humans a woman and a man who have a dream of winning said race. The male mc nicknamed sweet JP who is very entertaining to watch. He reminds you of that old school rocker who underneath it all is a big softy and actually quite mature. Our main heroine is also very appealing. She is hardcore racer on the outside but still very much a girl on the inside. The movie is filled with many pleasant moments such as calm interactions between characters smoking cigarettes, self meditations/evaluations. In fact if you stop to think there is only really 2 huge race scenes in the entire movie. Granted the last race takes a huge chunk of time but youll realize that all the quiet moments are enjoyable too. The races themselves will be everything you expect it to be, with huge over the top action and adrenaline filled with sometimes bizarre but fun moments. There is some romance although its not really present for most of the show but its done very well. Again it was simple and not complicated and ended quite nicely. Some things to note about Redline is that it tries to steer clear of a lot of the present day anime tropes. The main characters are adults not over-dramatic school boys/girls. There isnt any over bearing fanservice, there is a scene of nudity but its innocent enough. All in all I would rate Redlines story with a solid 8/10.
Here is where there shouldn't be any dispute. Redlines production time took several years and a good chunk of it was spent on the art. I may be wrong here but everything was hand drawn and it turned out perfect. The art was beautiful, very fluid and bright and pleasant to look at. If anything everyone should watch Redline to appreciate the art. 10/10
This another area that Redline excelled at tremendaously. The music was brilliant. Everything from the fast paced races to the calm and quiet scenes was amazing. When it needed to get you excited and pumped the music did its job. When it needed you to soak in the situation it did. It really was true bliss and will have you listening to the sound track later. 10/10
Ive already briefly described the characters so I wont go into to much detail here but like I said the characters were very enjoyable to watch. There wasnt huge leaps of character development but this show wasnt intended to do that anyway. The characters do their job and will be quite memorable for you. 8/10
Do I have to say anything here? 10/10
At the end of the day Redline is just one of those movies youll leave with a huge smile on your face. It doesnt leave anything more desired. As the credits start to role you may be like me and try to get your freinds to watch it just for an excuse to re-watch it yourself. I seriously doubt anyone can watch this movie and leave less than satisfied. Its a very innocent and charming experience that I would recommend for any anime lover. 9/10
The Story for Redline good and simple and some for a movie like this I don't really need and super deep story especially when you know the what the entire plot is. It isn't anything deep but like I said it doesn't have to be for a racing anime movie I thought it was good enough.
Art and Animation (10/10) Outstanding
The is probably the best thing about this movie, the art style and animation are outstanding some of the most unique and best I've ever seen. Everything is so damn colorful, vibrant and full of life. How everything movie was
so unrealistically amazing.
Sound (10/10) Outstanding
For sound effects along I have to give this a 10, I watched it in english dub and the voice actor was very good nothing to complain about and not BGM music really stood out and I'm not saying just because it didn't stand out it's bad. I think it's because the sound effects on literally everything in the movie was so damn good it overpowered everything else when it came to enjoyment and authenticity on how a vehicle sounds and the fictional sound effects on the alien effects to the explosions everything sound effects related blew my mind.
Characters (9/10) Great
For an anime movie with only 1 hour and 42 minutes it really made me enjoy majority of the characters in the movie from the main character JP to the side characters just acting like fools in the background. It probably had something to do with the way they presented all of the characters they were going to be racing in Redline it gave me this Wacky Races feeling and I haven't felt that feeling since that classic show. This anime movie definitely captured that essence perfectly if that's what it was going for and the characters benefited from it.
Enjoyment (9/10) Great
This anime movie knows what it wanted to be not focusing on anything other than the main things it should have and needed to focus on and that's the world they live in and how crazy and over the top the racing in the movie can be. They start you off with the crazy race of Yellow Line the basically the rest of the movie is hyping up the race that is Redline itself and from an outside perspective it sounds simple which is probably when it came to story I only gave it a 7 but it as far as execution of that story I don't think they could have done a better job. No censorship in the version I was watching either I'm glad the held no punched blood, guys, nudity it was all there and I was actually surprised by it, I just didn't see it coming is all. The movie like I said earlier hypes of the final race that is Redline itself and I think the payoff was worth it as it was one of the if not the craziest race I've ever seen. Fast and Furious ain't got shit on this.
Overall (9/10) Great
Man I have no clue what took me so long to watch this movie and usually I like to go in blind not knowing anything about an anime movie before I hop in there so that might be the reason. But I was recommended this movie years back and finally sat down and got taken for a ride. This movie was great. The animation director Takeshi Koike and everyone else at Madhouse did their thing with this one I was blown away by it's hype and animation alone.
I'll give credit to Redline that it made for quite the impressive achievement in animation as it was completely animated by hand, which is unheard of these days with computers essentially being used to create all of the animation used for modern anime titles. The movie was brimming with plenty of detail and depth in depicting the violent races that took place in the movie and showing off the scenery of Roboworld as the racers prepared and raced on the planet's surface. The animation depth was slick enough to create the illusion of speedy movement depicted with the racers and any collateral damage coming from
the manic action that took place in the movie. Character designs are definitely out of the norm for an anime title as well where many of the aliens and robots seen in this movie are made to be quite bizarre and out-of-the-ordinary, with only JP and Sonoshee appearing to be designed like typical human anime characters.
In terms of plot, Redline is quite simple focused mostly on JP's efforts in trying to win the Redline race and the militaristic robot armies of Roboworld trying to sabotage the race. It is mostly dependent in depicting Redline's manic races and over-the-top characters who are either trying to win the race or wipe out the racers thus feeling mostly stylish in its premise. Those who look more for style over substance in their anime movies will get a definite kick out of how crazy the racing and characters are in Redline while those wanting a bit more depth to their anime will find this movie to feel like a novelty. Sadly though, I have to go along with the latter opinion as Redline relies entirely on its gritty premise and presentation to hook in viewers and it doesn't have much else memorable for me to want to come back for more viewing.
While definitely a great visual treat and a decent manic romp while it lasts, I feel quite indifferent towards Redline as it oozes mostly in style and doesn't have any worthwhile substance to make me dive in for seconds with the movie. I guess your mileage will vary on whether or not the movie wows you more than my experience with it.
It's sad when you think about it. Redline had been in development for a few years, and for reasons I don't remember had been constantly pushed back. There were rumors that it was eventually being scrapped. It's very unfortunate this gem almost didn't see the light of day, when one takes under consideration the usual unimaginative tripe that for some reason not only finds an actual release but also numerous re-releases. Thankfully, there are production companies out there such as Studio Madhouse that still kick out decent to above average anime titles once in awhile. Redline directed by Takeshi Koike, is a sci-fi racer that
for the most part is style over substance, but it's actually done right in delivering a high-octane, fast paced, and exhilarating anime experience. Titles like these make being an anime fan worthwhile.
Koike has indeed been around the block, most notably working around Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Wicked City,Cyber City) and it does show. Redline bares many different influences but it has its own unique flair to it. I really don't like using this line, but I really haven't seen anything quite like it before. This anime is indeed something different in terms of style. It doesn't even feel like traditional anime, and for some of the more well rounded fans that will be a bad thing, but I doubt the fans who go ga-ga over everything anime will even notice it.
The production values are the talk here for sure; the animation which appears to be hand-drawn and completely free from CG has a very beautiful, yet zany look that kind of reminds me of Dead Leaves. The character designs possess a detailed variety you don't normally see in anime. There are literally thousands of different species from aliens to anthropomorphic animals, with very little reuse of character designs and they are well integrated into the backgrounds with a good amount of movements. The only human looking characters would be the two leads, Sweet JP and Sonoshee. JP's retro look is also one of the cooler features as his beefed up Trans-Am reflects his personality. The animation can probably best be described as chaotic-awesomeness. The races and battle scenes are so incredible and they're moving at a break neck speed with great fluidity. It's like watching a cross between F-Zero and Wipeout. This anime is exploding with so much style I can't even think of anymore words to describe it. The techno-dance soundtrack compliments the madness perfectly, and I was gripped from the very beginning when these super-powered monstrosities for cars were first introduced. I also have to give credit to the voice acting for the English cast which I enjoyed the most. The small amount of profanity tossed out there meshed very well with the personality of the anime.
I found the initial story that sets off the chain of events to be interesting in regards to the brazen sponsors of the Redline race. Completely without permission, they're broadcasting the race on the authoritarian military planet of Roboworld, despite the President's promise that if they race there he's going to blow them away. The plot is rather thin but not as bare-bones as some would have you believe. It seems to focus a lot more on character development, and Koike tries to develop too many characters in which I think he does succeed; along the way, he also fits in the usual government conspiracy in regards to Roboworlds president whom is hiding a weapon of mass destruction. The character interactions, development, a couple of brief fights, and superb visuals makes the plot fairly easy to digest in preparation for the next race. The movie only has two real races, and when looking at the length and just how good they are, I believe two was enough. The only real issue I can think of is this being kind of predictable.
Redline has its share of fan-service that never gets out of hand. It manages to maintain a consistent tone, which isn't the least bit serious. This anime was put together to be exciting and fun, and in that regard it doesn't fail. The years of experience gained working around other heavyweights indeed worked to Koike's benefit. I hope to see more from him later on.
Highs: Production values, an all around great time
Lows: Plot may feel weak to some, somewhat predictable
Let me be frank: No automotive film will ever surpass the experience you will have while watching this. Not even if Top Gear released a movie (although it'd be funnier).
While the story may be very dull, again lets be frank; you don't watch the F1 Grand Prix in Monaco for the commentary therefore this area of the film is unimportant.
The artwork is quite stylised and very retro Japan animation looking which suits the completely over-the-top mood the film has. It's like Speed Racer meets Gurren Lagann. The colours are bright, lines are thick and shadows are black giving it very punchy visuals.
The soundtrack is excellent
- all arguments are redundant
Very heavily overdriven guitarwork coupled with nightclub beats for the main part. Then there are the softer more melodic pieces for those wonderful character development scenes that relate to the average plot.
Characters, are very interesting as in completely ridiculous and hilarious but they have no depth to them. JP the main character has the classic Japanese gangster hairstyle, the 'Japanese' team in the race look like otaku and every other male are heavily muscled. The girls are of course sexualised beyond what any ecchi anime could achieve.
As you can tell, this is a 90% positive review so of course its enjoyable and this wont be just my opinion. It's like the movie generates kinetic energy on-screen and shoots it straight at your eyeballs electrifying your whole body keeping you on edge throughout the film.
Overall, if you can (and you will) overlook the story, you'll find that this masterpiece of animation will lock you mind and body and take you on a very wild ride across the racetrack. As Wiki nicely puts it: "Speed racer on crack" and he'll be giving you some too.
"Redline" is a film of style. It is a simple story that doesn't take itself too seriously. But this piece is truly art, you could watch it for that reason alone.
It's reminiscent of something Gainax would produce, but with a little extra kick of spice added.
The story of a racer who just can't turn down any race, along with everyone else in this film.
This film makes me think of a film version of an uncensored F-Zero.
For the art department. This movie should win an award. This is seriously the reason to watch this film. The execution, character design, machines, action, SPEED! Everything is done with
excellent detail, and you really feel like you're apart of these races. Just beautiful.
Takeshi Koike should direct more anime features.
As for characters, most are very obvious. Mainly all characters are adrenaline junkies who want more speed and want to WIN!
Many plot points are quite obvious and cliche, and you will know all of them as soon as you watch the film. Does this take away from the experience? Not. At. ALL!
JP is an old fashioned racer, with the help of his mechanic, an old friend Frisbee, he can win. If it were not for Frisbee fixing the races because of his deals with the mafia.
Sonoshee is one sexy babe, and she's the :Spoiler: love interest for JP in this picture (It's no spoiler). Her dream is to win the Redline.
There are many other quirky supporting characters that enter races, qualify for the Redline, and get in JP's way.
But, it's all in the execution.
The sound department in this production. The SFX should get an award as well, especially with the well executed explosions and vehicle sounds.
All the seiyuu are excellent.
The music is very good as well, it reminds me even more of F-Zero.
If you are interested in any way in speed, animation, execution, and style, you're at the right place.
This is quite a beautiful film!
This film deserves my 10, because it does what it is trying to do perfectly.
Beautiful art, fast paced story with some well executed down time, and a perfect experience!
Another great Madhouse production has hit streets.
As I said before, Takeshi Koike should direct more anime features!
I can see a Hollywood exec being wowed by the elvator pitch you could make about this "It's Fast and the Furious meets Guardians of the Galaxy" This could be adapted into a popular summer Hollywood movie. It's got great action, unbelievably good character designs, an easy to understand plot, fun characters and it's filled with fun.
That said, a Hollywood adaptation would probably add unnessecary subplots, cut down on the action, make it less weird and cut the topless scene - so let's be happy that this is what it is- a near perfect anime action masterpiece!
Also, the bluray picture and sound are magnificent.
Watch it with your sound system cranked for maximum pleasure.!
Redline, an animated production by Madhouse Studio, is nothing short of breathtaking. Beautifully hand-drawn, every frame masterfully composed, every character full of life and movement. This movie defines adrenaline fueled action; it will totally engross you with its style and wild, unthrottled momentum. I can easily recommend this to anyone. Even though this is far from perfect, if all you’re looking for is a recommendation, then this is it: go and watch it now. But even though it may be the most beautifully animated movie I’ve seen in quite a long time, there is so much “mehhh” that may keep me from watching it again
watch any given ten minutes from this movie and you’ll see why it deserves its score. The animation is fluid, the drawing shows amazing attention to detail, and the overall sound design is top-notch. The animation itself, not just the scenario and setting, has a sense of internal-logic. There are visual motifs that present themselves at times, and a sense of movement in everything. I’ve heard complaints that it’s too much, but I think that just adds to the charm and gives astute viewers something to look for on later viewings. But watch it all the way through, and you’ll be rolling your eyes whenever there isn’t racing going on. The plot is paper-thin, all of the characters are static and frankly, boring. The only character that changes at all throughout the film is probably the most boring. And while this obviously doesn’t keep it from being enjoyable, I really can’t tell if the studio had actual literary aspiration, or if they simply needed to pad out a 50 minute film.
We follow JP as he prepares for, and eventually races in Redline, a semi-underground race with no rules. He meets and befriends another racer, Sonoshee McLaren, who is the only other racer worth remembering. The others at best are silly and fun, and at worst completely forgettable. The film opens with the Yellowline race, and the final 50ish minutes are of the Redline race. The creators filled the rest in with so much and fleshed out so little, it makes me wonder if they had a plan at all.
We have a love story… between people who the audience barely knows.
We have a story of what inspired JP to race…that is cryptic and doesn’t add much substance to the movie.
We have an evil government… that is a simple antagonist that doesn’t have any meta-commentary or anything else of note to offer.
We have some smaller side-stories… that are as forgettable as the characters that populate them.
The only story that really hit home was that of JP's crooked Frisbee. It did a great job of portraying a man in a tough position who, above all else is most concerned about his friend.
But in total, it is less than the sum of its parts. The sheer amount of pure adrenaline being pushed through the screen is undeniable. A beautiful atmosphere, at times visually oppressive, that is hampered not by a premise that is bad per se, but can be described best as half-hearted. This could have been a much better film if these parts were either expanded or cut, but as it stands, it just leaves the audience rolling their eyes. It’s like Gurren Lagann, but the story is sacrificed for more awesome animation and situations. It’s almost wrong to criticize this movie for that reason, and if it didn’t try to set up these sub-plots in the first place, there wouldn’t be anything to criticize. But because it attempts, and ultimately fails, to grasp the audience on a “deeper” level than the visual and visceral level at which it excels, it lessens the experience. So while it is unfortunately just short of a great movie, it is still a really, really good movie.