Redline! Review – too cool for a pun
Extras: Trailer, Perfect Guide to Redline, Quick Guide to Redline, English dub and Japanese with English Subtitles
Due to a house move, I had managed to miss almost all the promotional material for Redline, as I was literally living out of a box (or rather, lots of boxes). I had managed to get it into my head that it was a series, and whilst I knew it was about racing, I was dubious as to how it would manage to maintain my interest, as I’m not really a fan of sporting anime.
I settled down to watch it and realised an hour later that it was a movie, not a series. That’s the first thing you need to know to realise that this is something special. Redline is so involving and slick that I didn’t notice that we hadn’t had a credit break.
We open on the final leg of the ‘Yellow Line’ race, a qualifier for the titular redline, and we’re quickly introduced to two of the main players – ‘Sweet’ JP, in his buttercup yellow TransAm, and Sonoshee, in her famous car the ‘Crab Sonoshee’. All is not as it seems though, and we see JP’s mechanic, Frisbee, in cahoots with a cocaine-licking alien ganglord. They’ve fixed the race. JP will never be able to win, as Frisbee has set up a bomb to take out the TransAm if JP loses sight of the goal.
JP ends in hospital, the TransAm is totalled, and Redline has never seemed further away.
Suddenly the doors to the hospital room burst open and the room is flooded with reporters – JP’s made it into Redline, because two racers dropped out when the venue was announced. The venue? Roboworld. An isolated, militaristic planet where living creatures have modified themselves beyond recognition into cyborgs of various grotesque visualities, and they don’t want Redline, and they’ll use their full combat might to stop anyone racing. That seems to only make the challenge more exciting, and the racers rise to it with gusto.
In the opening sequence, I was dazzled by the high quality animation – the art style and animation are both absolutely stunning, with wonderful linework and dynamics that seem to me to owe a lot to anime like Outlaw Star and Cowboy Bebop – classics, with styles slightly more mature than the norm, slightly more rugged character designs, and darker content. I noticed the similarity in the animation first in the way the characters use their hands, little touches which show the school this film is coming from. The cars go so fast, noses start to bleed and faces contort with the G-Forces – the blood and gore is minimal, but rendered with gusto when it appears, and there are some cracking explosions and race sequences that just blow your mind. The soundtrack is mostly fast beats and with a techno twist and catchy ‘yeah yeahs’ over the top, but it really enhances the fast pace of the race and gets the you invested.
It has some cracking lines as well. One of my favourites? “They’re going to violate our airspace using navigational technology that only exists in theory? The nerve of those vermin!”
I think what I loved most was the whimsy of the whole thing. It takes as much from F-Zero and Wacky Races as it does from anime before it – each racer has their own character, and their own car with a catchy name. Soneshee drives the Crab Sonoshee, an amphibious car in bright orange, for example. JP’s car looks like a traditional TransAm, beefed up with Nitros, and compared to some of the other behemoths racing in this strange contest it is miniscule. It would have been so easy to give the main character the biggest car, the sleekest car, but the fact that he’s given a Rockabilly quiff and a yellow classic American racing machine just brings home the full force of the ridiculous and joy behind the film. There are a pair of bounty hunters who make Batman and Robin look butch, there’s a duo of sexy racers with their own pop single out and a car that transforms into a busty pink lady, and a cyborg who gets stronger the more he cries. It’s crazy, it’s fantastic and it’s brilliant fun. It was a project of love and you can really tell in the final cut.
One of the Extras – ‘A Perfect Guide to Redline’ – reveals that this film took 7 years to make, and it was entirely hand drawn, with 100, 000 drawings used. The sheer dedication to it is obvious all throughout, and certainly the end product is something they can be extremely proud of. The dub is so well done as well, to complement the original animation and style, I couldn’t really pick a fault with it.
I loved Redline. I honestly did, and I wasn’t expecting to be as blown away by it as I was. Even thinking back to it now, I find myself buzzing with the adrenaline rush just watching it gives you. It is, at its heart, a feel-good film. And it really really made me feel good. Usually I will weigh up the pros and cons of a production, but I can’t find any cons. It’s fast paced, just under two hours so it doesn’t feel long, beautifully animated, there’s a love story, there’s a bit of boob, there’s a lot of action and it’s just an all round feast for the eyes and treat for the senses.
Rating: 9 on the richter scale, and 5 out 5.