On January 17, Anchor Bay will release their next big Anime movie, “Redline,” on DVD and Blu-Ray for the first time in America. Created by Takeshi Koike and MadHouse animation studio, this outrageous film was released in Japan back in 2009, and has taken its sweet time arriving on US shores in an official format. Is this film worth the wait, or is it best left forgotten about? Find out in our review!
The Redline is a no-holds-barred, anything-goes race with traditional non-flying cars held every five years to determine who is the best racer around the galaxy. “Sweet” JP – so named for his personality, retro style, and refusal to mount weapons on his racecar – nearly wins the “Yellowline” race against an eclectic mix of bizarre aliens and humanoids, but his Trans Am is sabotaged by an explosive device placed by his friend and mechanic, Frisbee, in an attempt to pay off a debt he racked up with the Mafia to create JP’s car. While recuperating in the hospital, the pair finds out that JP was selected for the “Redline” because two other racers withdrew.
JP heads to the Robo World, a planet that is vehemently against the race taking place on their locale since they are hiding weapons of mass destruction there and do not want to be discovered. As JP wanders around the refugee camp where the racers are being housed, he meets Sonoshee, a sensual girl who rivaled the skills of JP in the Yellowline, and the two are instantly attracted to each other. Together, they must outrun police, bounty hunters, the army of Robo World, and the other racers to not just win, but survive with their lives intact.
Take one part “Fast & Furious”, add a dash of “Death Race 2000”, and mix it up with some intense animation that is the love child of “FLCL” and “Ninja Scroll”, and that summarizes the feel of “Redline.” Comparing it to other films beyond their themes would be unfair, as Redline is a unique experience that I honestly can not judge it next to other animes. It stands out on its own from top to bottom, and is unlike anything you have seen before. The story moves at a breakneck pace, although it can get lost in the shuffle of this self-referential moments and hyper speed action of the movie.
The film was created by Katsuhito Ishii, who worked on many other animes, as well as the animated sequence from the first “Kill Bill” movie, and Takeshi Koike, who many Americans will remember from his contribution to the “Animatrix” DVD. The stylized animation is in your face, with bold lines and bright colors, and a frenetic pace that never slows down for very long. Stark blacks contrast against pastels for a striking look and feel unlike many other animes on the market.
The most amazing part of this film was that everything was hand-drawn, including the giant robots, cars, and backgrounds. Hand-drawing the film is what caused it to take seven years to produce, start to finish, but the impressive visuals will leave you in absolute shock and awe. This juxtaposition of space-aged technology inside the film, along with the traditional art of animation, makes for a highly stimulating and evocative experience that will amaze all viewers.
The music of the film was created after the animation was done, and is synched to perfectly fit every moment of each scene. The American voice-over actors also do a wonderful job of keeping up with the integrity of the original sound in the film, and while I am normally a sub-title person, this constantly-moving film benefits from the English dub so that you can keep your eyes on the action and not on the text.
Redline is a must-see for all anime fans, and I believe can transcend the narrow appeal of otakus and reach out to mainstream audiences. Extravagant and original are the two words that come to mind when I think of this product of love and obsession from MadHouse. While the plot can be a bit thin at times, you will be too enamored with the energy and visual experience of the film to worry too much about that. You will be hooked from the opening moments of the film, all the way to the final climactic race where the stakes are high, and the animation cel count is even higher!
You can pick up “Redline” on DVD from Amazon for around $15-17, and is absolutely worth it. Even if you are not a huge anime fan, this is that one exception that comes out every few years that goes beyond its genre, like “Akira” or “Ninja Scroll,” and can be enjoyed by fans of racing movies or action movies as well. Give it a watch, you will not be disappointed!