The current anime pouring out from Japan is all the same. Small school girls with large assets and some lucky otaku kid getting all the love. They existed in the past, but now they have infested, leaving little room for anime that keeps things cool. The days of Cowboy Bebop, Evangelion and Akira seem long gone. But Redline drives on by to show that there is still hope. And it drives on by so fast it feels like your eyes just may pop. And like your ears are about to fall off. Not painful.
Redline is a film about racing in the future, a future in which aliens congregate with humans and vehicles are packed with hover jets and homing missiles. It’s a punk version of Wacky Racers, but about one hundred times more insane.Sweet JP, a racer with a rather fetching pompadour is racing the Yellowline but loses due to a deal he and his partners have made with the mafia to fix the outcome. But despite all this he ends up on the Redline due to his potential and because two racers dropped out. The reason for the drop-outs is because of where the Redline race is set to take place. Roboworld. The rulers have demanded for the race not to take place there and will use force if necessary. But that isn’t going to stop the unruly bunch of drivers which include bounty hunters, magicians and a guy who can change his shape. Because he can. The story is kept simple, though is still manages to mix the racing with mafia, government, conspiracy and romance plot lines. Everything takes place on the race track.
It isn’t the story which makes Redline a high-octane classic, it’s the design. The film is constantly visually arresting, and there is always movement going on in each corner of the screen. Seven years were spent making this hand drawn beaut and it shows, the team definitely weren’t spending most of their time playing table tennis in the lunch room instead of fixing up JP’s pompadour. Each character and location is a feast for the eyes, the thick lines shadows on the characters evoke feelings of American comic books and the thumping techno pop soundtrack only aids in delivering the perfect future world which went a little screwy as time went on. There are no clinical white rooms and tablet controllers here! It uses the old favourite of taking old technology and throwing it together with a supposed future. And seeing the hulking race vehicles going against each other with old styled car motors and scuffed up metal is the future.
The animation and insanity in what takes place is the final piece of what makes Redline so exhilarating to experience and there hasn’t been anything quite like this since the equally insane Dead Leaves. Nitro tends to cause huge screen filling explosions to propel the vehicles forward, transformations are frequent and then there is the whole army trying to take down the racers to take into account. Which leads to even bigger explosions and madness. Everything is perfect on the animation front with no hitches or off moments at all. There is a large gap between the opening race and the final race which helps showcase the world, the characters and build up the hype, but once we get to the track there is no going back. It feels like being in the thick of it yourself and as the credits roll there will be a feeling of breathlessness and the sound of a rapidly thumping heart beat. This film overloads the mind and creates a sense of ecstasy.
Though the amazing design leads to a growing desire to see more off the race track. JP and top racer of the Yellowline Senoshee are the two who get the most development, but the other characters only get a few brief snippets of screen time in comparison. Machine Head is the main antagonist on the race track, but he doesn’t have much of a presence till the final stretch of the Redline race and the other character development is left for the TV show that pops up a couple of times. The evil empire fall of the map by the end too, never posing much of a threat, and are used more as a tool to make the race appear more deadly than ever before rather than directly engaging with JP’s progression. The snippets given are typically bizarre and unforgettable at least, and the plot is merely an excuse to allow the beautiful animated madness to take place. Style over substance but sometimes that’s alright.
It’s a film which does what it does because they can. Excessive, loud and stupid. Makes for one hell of a ride.