DVD Blu-ray Review: Redline
“Something very special, very different, and insanely exhilarating!” Anime News Network
The crazy inventiveness and fun of Hanna-Barbera’s “Wacky Races” meets the kinetic thrills-and-spills dynamism of the Podraces from “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” in Redline, a stylishly animated sci-fi feature set against the backdrop of futuristic interplanetary auto racing.
The story is about daredevil driver “Sweet” JP and his dreams of winning the fabled Redline race. But for JP to qualify he must win the Yellowline race. All seems to be going well for the boy racer until his car suffers a strange malfunction and crashes out spectacularly. Whilst in hospital recovering from the crash, he discovers that due to two drivers pulling out of the race he has qualified to compete in Redline. The Redline race is to be held on Roboworld, a military state which is none too pleased for the event to be happening on their planet and expresses its intent on giving the drivers a less than warm welcome…
After being in development for what seemed an age Madhouse finally release Redline, directed by Takeshi Koike (The Animatrix). But were the seven years it took to make this film justified? The simple response is a giant yes. You get to feel that whilst you’re watching Redline you are seeing a labour of love and the reported 100,000 hand-made drawings used in development are totally warranted.
As soon as Redline opens you realise that it is a film which is unlike any other which is no mean feat on its own. You can draw comparisons from films like Star Wars to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or comic books such as 2000 A.D as much as films from the same genre like Akira to describe the feel or look. However this doesn’t mean that what you are seeing is not a unique piece of animation.
The film centres round JP and Sonoshee; his love interest and part inspiration for driving. These two seem to be the only purely human characters and they are animated in a traditional anime fashion. The world which Koike creates is filled with the most imaginative and crazy looking creatures you will see in any film anywhere. The characters are not only wonderfully imaginative but are also equally brilliantly named. We have “Machine Head” the reigning champion, “Super Boins” a pair of magical princesses, “Gori-Rider” a gorilla-like alien cop and so on.
We are also introduced to the scene for the race which is Roboworld which is populated by a kind of Nazi -ish race of machines intent on destroying the racers before they reach any parts of their world that would divulge too many of their secrets to the watching galaxies. The planet, vehicles, buildings and weapons of Roboworld are also part genius and part insane in their design and fit in with the rest of the amazing animation. The leaders of Roboworld also have a secret bio-weapon with the name “Funky Boy” that gets unleashed on our poor drivers to spectacular effect.
You might think that because of all the time spent on this strange world, we as an audience would be overwhelmed by it all, but it certainly never feels that way, because at the heart of it all is a rather simple story. It has elements of love, dreams, sacrifice and betrayal, and Koike uses this well in order to ground the film and make you believe that these events are happening in a real sense and in a real world; something Koike should be applauded for.
Overall Redline is a film that will excite and amaze you in equal measure. However, it might not please all the pure anime fans out there. Furthermore, the soundtrack can be a bit too heavy in places, but this doesn’t take anything away from this remarkable film. When it’s good it is verging on genius, not only in the world it creates but crucially in the driving sequences too – those scenes are bursting with invention, tension, humour and excitement. When it comes down to it, a film about speed racing needs to deliver all those things. Redline does this… and a whole lot more!
‘Quick Guide to Redline’ (24:09)
Label: Manga Entertainment
Release date: 14th November 2011
Running time: 101 mins
Director: Takeshi Koike
Stars: Takuya Kimura, Yu Aoi, Tadanobu Asano
Review written by Dean Hilliam.