Reviewby Luke Carroll, Mar 15th 2012
A white knuckle ride to smash the senses!
REDLINE is the biggest racing tournament with the most deadly racers in the universe. Only held once every five years, everyone wants to stake their claim to fame, while organised crime and militaristic governments want to leverage the race to their own ends.
JP is a dare-devil reckless driver oblivious to speed limits with his ultra-customised wheels named “TRANSAM 20000.” Among the elite drivers, will the ultra hot Sonoshee prove his undoing or can a high speed romance survive a mass destruction race?
After an unprecedented seven years in the making, one could certainly not be blamed for expecting big things from Redline. The movie is produced by animation powerhouse MADHOUSE, is directed by long time animator turn director Takeshi Koike, and touts itself as a completely hand-drawn feature film that of the likes we've never seen before. So has the near decade of work paid off? Or is it just another long awaited film unable to match its hype?
Answering that question only takes the first few minutes as Redline throws some of its best work at you from the get go. After opening things up calmly with a look into the film's futuristic sci-fi universe where aliens appear to live abundantly, an explosion goes off in the distance that signifies the approaching racers. Things quickly go quiet, then a sudden burst of engines scream past both your speakers and the spectators on camera. The beat kicks in and you are given a front seat to a no hold bars race where the fastest are awarded a spot in the Redline championship. We meet our hero, his love interest, and a ton of wacky fast paced scenes that just ooze of coolness. All of this is wrapped up in a colourful and completely off the rails animation style that holds your eyes to the screen and never lets go. And then when the race ends and the title screen glosses over your eyes, you realise you still have over an hour of this baby to go.
Despite it's looks, the plot behind this slick race-fest turns out to be a rather simple one. After the qualifying races known as 'Yellowline' have run, the commission behind it all has decided that the championship 'Redline' race is to be held on Roboworld, a planet whose leader vocally threatens to destroy any and all competitors who decide to go along with this race. Not that would stop these gear-heads from trying their luck. And thus the race goes on ahead and we follow our hero JP as he sets out to not only win the race of his life in a modified Transam, but to also chance his arm at winning fellow racer Sonoshee's love. While there's certainly a lot more that goes on in between and during the Redline race, half the enjoyment is in watching these unfold yourself.
Visually, Redline is undeniably gorgeous. Thanks to its completely hand drawn approach, every frame from the desert opening to the spectacular night time finale is full of vibrancy and detail. Backdrops, vehicles and even the character art all reap of an inherent coolness that constantly tries to outperform itself with every scene. The influence of Takehi's previous work Trava: Fist Planet is also hard to miss, with both JP and Shinoshee sharing many looks and traits of their predecessors. With a clear crisp Blu-Ray transfer, Redline is all but solidified as one of the best looking releases around. It really is a treat for your eyes.
The audio is no slouch either. Both tracks have been given a 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby True HD treatment that sounds wonderful. The thumping techno beats that kick into gear during the heated moments are controlled masterfully, matching with the visuals in a way rarely seen in anime. The English track does however feature a fair bit more swearing and some rather choice lines than its Japanese counterpart. It doesn't spoil the experience, but it certainly gets you attention at times. The subtitles also appeared to have a niggling issue of flashing whenever another line comes on to the screen. It's a minor issue overall though and regardless of which language you listen to, Redline sounds amazing.
On the extras side of things, there surprisingly isn't very much included in this release. First up is a 2006 trailer of the film. Secondly and the meat of the lot is the Perfect Guide to Redline, an hour long making off and questionnaire documentary with the director and writer that covers everything why the title was chosen to film premieres. It's rather interesting watch if you can bear the lack of cohesion as things tend to jump around the place. Lastly is the Quick Guide to Redline, a shorter more promo-like piece that profiles the film's characters as well as some more interviews. Overall it's a decent set of extras, however one could have certainly hoped for more with the film being in production for so long.
Redline is a very special film. It's hand draw animation harks back to the pre CGI years of anime, acting as a welcome reminder of what can still be achieved with a simple pen and paper. It also acts as a wonderful statement about the use of CGI and how incredible images are still possible without the use of high-tech computer rendering. The simple fact is, regardless of your anime lifestyle, the achievement that is Redline should not be missed. It may or may not leave your jaw dropped on the floor, but it certainly deserves to be appreciated and enjoyed by nearly any fun loving adult around.
© 2010 Katsuhito Ishii, GASTONIA, MADHOUSE / REDLINE Partners
Overall (dub) : A
Overall (sub) : A
Story : B+
Animation : A+
Art : A
Music : A
+ The animation is superb. One of the most impressive openings to any film.
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