Redline – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Redline

 

Similar: Space Dandy

Initial D

 

Watched in: Japanese and English

Genre: Racing Action Sports Science Fiction

Length: 1 hr. 42 min. movie

 

Positives:

  • Exquisite hand drawn art.
  • Sense of speed.
  • Heart-pounding action incorporated into racing.
  • Weird cast of characters.

Negatives:

  • Plot misses a few opportunities for depth.

What a ride! Redline may just be the most exhilarating anime ever made. If you can imagine F-Zero meets Wacky Races you will have an idea of what Redline holds in store. It centres on a race known as Redline, where anything goes – missiles, harpoons, ramming, whatever you want, resulting in a hectic and riveting battle to the finish line.

We meet JP, the greatest Elvis impersonator, in the qualifier race Yellowline, and straight away the pedal is to the floor. Vehicles blitz through the desert, firing at each other, dust trails everywhere, engines roaring, tires screeching, and it is glorious. What drew me into the action is the sense of speed and acceleration. Rarely do racing games and films capture that feeling of a car accelerating at full power; in Redline, the cars are high tech, so it was more important than ever to nail this aspect. The artists couldn’t have done better. The rattling frames, tire distortion, slipstream, phenomenal – such attention to detail.

As the racing is hyperactive, so too is the world design in Redline. We have many alien races from ducks to dogs, and the cast is a collection of weirdoes – in the good way. JP keeps a switchblade on him at all times, expect it’s a comb for that sweet hairdo of his. Another guy grows stronger the more he cries. Then there’s the alien granny midget that runs the cigarette stand – she’s…crazy, mouth foaming, bipolar, rabies-infected kinda crazy. The crowds and the press are like a hive mind, all hyperactive, all desperate to watch races, in love with the crashes and worship the drivers. Every scene presents some eccentricity or another.

It is fortunate that the writers knew how to create lively characters, for they experience little in the way of development. How they are when you meet them is how they will be by the end, for the most part. Similarly, the narrative is light on drama. For example, during the Yellowline race, JP is forced to throw the race at the finish line as part of a deal with the mafia – same plan in Redline. However, though his match fixing history comes to light, the plot does nothing with it in terms of drama. JP is never challenged, never forced to face his actions.

Another instance. During Redline, the host planet sees the race as an invasion, for it takes place near military secrets (against the galactic treat), so they go to war with the race itself. And yes, the mixture of war and racing makes for thrilling action, but there is no drama behind it, no politics. I feel it wouldn’t have taken much to elevate the single-note conflict to multi-faceted drama.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Redline is still thoroughly enjoyable and I wouldn’t hesitate to load it up when a friend asks to watch a good anime film. What Redline does right, and there is plenty of right, believe me, is perfect – the speed, the action, the energy. Watch Redline for those if nothing else.

Art – Very High

The team took seven years to produce Redline, and it shows. Smooth, hand drawn animation, full of life and vibrancy to match the action’s energy and pace. There is so much motion that one needs to watch each scene several times to notice the small details. I love the sense of speed, the use of motion tear when accelerating – the fact that the artists achieved this by hand blows my mind.

Sound – High

Like the art, the music gets your heart racing, pumped up as the cars flash across the screen to rock and techno. Engine sounds are perfect. The acting is good in either language – pick your preference.

Story – Medium

An exhilarating thrill ride in sci-fi racing. However, the overall plot is too straightforward, though without glaring flaws and is enjoyable.

Overall Quality – High

Recommendation: A must watch for its artistic achievement and fast-paced excitement. Even with the simple story, Redline is engaging and kept me riveted to the end.

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive:

Fluid AnimationRiveting ActionStunning Art Quality

Negative: None

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