Every five years an illegal inter-galactic race called the Redline takes place and the location for the race is always revealed at the last minute. The race features super-powered cars with drivers who will do anything to win, and that includes blowing away all competition... Literally. The preliminary race called Yellowline has taken place, and despite a malfunction, Sweet JP still managed to qualify for the Redline. He must race against the toughest competition, plus race against a girl by the name of Sonoshee he has grown a liking to under very hostile conditions. -summary
It's sad when you think about it. Redline had been in development for a few years, and for reasons I don't remember had been constantly pushed back. There were rumors that it was eventually being scrapped. It's very unfortunate this gem almost didn't see the light of day, instead, you have some of the more putrid anime titles like Elfen Lied, High School of the Dead, Samurai Girls, and god no, Hell Girl, being pushed off on to the public as something new and groundbreaking, and even receiving re-releases when they're nothing more than heavily derivative, juvenile, pseudo-intellectual, and poorly made pieces of garbage with absolutely no imagination. It just makes my blood boil even going there. Thankfully, there are production companies out there such as Studio Madhouse that still kick out decent to above average anime titles once in awhile. Redline directed by Takeshi Koike, is a sci-fi racer that for the most part is style over substance, but it's actually done right in delivering a high-octane, fast paced, and exhilarating anime experience. Titles like these make being an anime fan worthwhile.
Koike has indeed been around the block, most notably working around Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Wicked City, Cyber City) and it does show. Redline bares many different influences but it has its own unique flair to it. I really don't like using this line, but I really haven't seen anything quite like it before. This anime is indeed something different in terms of style. It doesn't even feel like traditional anime, and for some of the more well rounded fans that will be a bad thing, but I doubt the fans who go ga-ga over everything anime will even notice it.
The production values are the talk here for sure; the animation which appears to be hand-drawn and completely free from CG has a very beautiful, yet zany look that kind of reminds me of Dead Leaves. The character designs possess a detailed variety you don't normally see in anime. There are literally thousands of different species from aliens to anthropomorphic animals, with very little reuse of character designs and they are well integrated into the backgrounds with a good amount of movements. The only human looking characters would be the two leads Sweet JP and Sonoshee. JP's retro look is also one of the cooler features as his beefed up Trans-Am reflects his personality. The animation can probably best be described as chaotic-awesomeness. The races and battle scenes are so incredible and they're moving at a break neck speed with great fluidity. It's like watching a cross between F-Zero and Wipeout. This anime is exploding with so much style I can't even think of anymore words to describe it. The techno-dance soundtrack compliments the madness perfectly, and I was gripped from the very beginning when these super-powered monstrosities for cars were first introduced. I also have to give credit to the voice acting for the English cast which I enjoyed the most. The small amount of profanity tossed out there meshed very well with the personality of the anime.
I found the initial story that sets off the chain of events to be interesting in regards to the brazen sponsors of the Redline race. Completely without permission, they're broadcasting the race on the authoritarian military planet of Roboworld, despite the President's promise that if they race there he's going to blow them away. The plot is rather thin but not as bare-bones as some would have you believe. It seems to focus a lot more on character development, and Koike tries to develop too many characters in which I think he does succeed, along the way, he also fits in the usual government conspiracy in regards to Roboworlds president, who is hiding a weapon of mass destruction. The character interactions, development, a couple of brief fights, and superb visuals makes the plot fairly easy to digest in preparation for the next race. The movie only has two real races, and when looking at the length and just how good they are, I believe two was enough. The only real issue I can think of is being kind of predictable.
Redline has its share of fan-service that never gets out of hand. It manages to maintain a consistent tone, which isn't the least bit serious. This anime was put together to be exciting and fun, and in that regard it doesn't fail. The years of experience gained working around other heavyweights indeed worked to Koike's benefit. I hope to see more from him later on. The movie has a 102 minute runtime.
-Production values, an all around great time
-Plot may feel weak to some, somewhat predictable
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