Every five years, an exhilarating race called Redline is held, and the universe's most anticipated competition has only one rule: that there are none. Racers are pushed to their absolute limit—a feeling that daredevil driver JP knows all too well. Having just qualified to participate in Redline, he is eager to battle against the other highly skilled drivers, particularly the beautiful rising star and the only other human that qualified, Sonoshee McLaren.
But this year's Redline may be far more dangerous than usual—it has been announced to take place on the planet Roboworld with its trigger-happy military and criminals who look to turn the race to their own advantage. However, the potential danger doesn't stop the racers; in fact, it only adds to the thrill. Relying solely on his vehicle's speed, JP prepares for the event to come, aiming to take first place in the biggest race of his life.
Redline took a full seven years to create and used more than 100,000 frames in production. When finally complete, it made its debut at the 2009 Locarno International Film Festival, more than a year before it came to Japanese theaters.
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
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