Tag Archives: Racing

F-Zero: GP Legend– Anime Review

Japanese Title: F-Zero: Falcon Densetsu

 

Similar: Redline

Initial D

Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040

 

Watched in: Japanese

Genre: Racing Sports Science Fiction Action

Length: 51 episodes

 

Positives:

  • Some good design elements.

Negatives:

  • The art quality!
  • Surprisingly low energy for the fastest racer ever.

(Request an anime for review here.)

I want you to look at the screenshots below and take a guess at the year of release for F-Zero: GP Legend. Or at least think of anime that you believe came out around the same time.

Have an answer in mind? 1992 alongside Sailor Moon? 1997 with Pokémon? You’re thinking far too early. F-Zero: GP Legend came out in 2003 – late 2003… It blew my mind when I realised this, which was only after I had finished the series. The whole time I thought I was watching something that would have been wedged between Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z during my morning cartoon block, had it ever been localised.

To give you context of how bad this looks for the time, know that Fullmetal Alchemist, Gungrave, and Planetes came out in the same season. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex came out a year earlier and looked great even with CG animation. What happened? Did they make GP Legend ten years earlier but forgot about it until an intern, charged with clearing the archive room, found the reels caked in dust below a shaft of musty light? He blew off the years of neglect and back rushed memories of his favourite racing game? I’d love to know the answer.

Speaking of forgotten for many years, Ryu Suzaku (Rick Wheeler in English) enters cryo-freeze for 150 years after an accident during a car chase with the villain Zoda. Jody Summer wakes Ryu from his slumber to join her special police unit comprised of pro racers. In the future world of Mute City – formerly New York City – lightning-fast racing dominates the entertainment and gambling scene and the special unit must keep the prize money out of villainous hands. You could focus on getting into the villains’ lair instead, but whatever.

Ryu adjusts and functions surprisingly well for a guy who just woke up after 150 years. (Shame they didn’t look to Demolition Man for inspiration. I love that movie.) The story quality matches the early 90’s art. Early episodes are a villain of the week format that incorporates racing, pitting Ryu against/alongside one of many racers from the games such as Samurai Goroh. The plot goes deeper after that, though not by much. The characters are a varied and unusual bunch, which does make events a tad more interesting. One guy looks like Mario auditioning for the fifth Tellytubby in white.

You’ll notice that I’ve made no mention of Captain Falcon, the character everyone associates the games with even if they have never played them. In GP Legend, he is the legend and therefore isn’t part of the story very much. Ryu is firmly the protagonist.

With 51 episodes of this artistic quality and bland story, it takes an iron stomach or being a super-fan to complete F-Zero: GP Legend.

 

Art – Very Low

I cannot believe this was made in 2003. Take an N64, increase the anti-aliasing, and you have yourself F-Zero: GP Legend. It looks better elsewhere, but this is a cheap anime. The world and cars have good design intentions.

Sound – Low

F-Zero’s electronic music is present, yet a pale imitation of the games’ soundtracks. The acting is typical morning cartoon fare.

Story – Low

A police detective wakes up 150 years in the future after an accident and works with an elite task force to stop villains through racing. F-Zero: GP Legend is more a low-energy villain of the week series than a racer to boring results.

Overall Quality – Low

Recommendation: Skip it. Unless you are the biggest Captain Falcon fan, F-Zero: GP Legend has nothing for you.

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

Positive: None

Negative:

Ugly Artistic Design

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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