Anime Film Review: Redline

Redline is an anime film that was produced by Madhouse and directed by Takeshi Koike and was released to Japanese theaters on October 9, 2010.

Directed by: Takeshi Koike
Written by: Katsuhito Ishii, Yōji Enokido, and Yoshiki Sakurai
Starring: Takuya Kimura, Yū Aoi, Tatsuya Gashūin, Yoshinori Okada, Kanji Tsuda, Yoshiyuki Morishita, Akemi, Takeshi Aono, Kōsei Hirota, Unshō Ishizuka, Kenta Miyake, Kōji Ishii, Chō, Kenyu Horiuchi, and Tadanobu Asano
Run Time: 102 minutes

The main character of the film is a racer named JP, who is known in the racing world as “Sweet JP.” The film opens with JP competing in the Yellowline race, where the winner will get to compete in the Redline race that takes place one every five years. Unfortunately, he ends up losing to Sonoshee after his car is sabotaged by an explosive device that was placed on it by his friend and mechanic, Frisbee. While he’s in the hospital, JP seriously considers dropping out of racing, but then finds out he has been selected for the Redline race because a couple of other racers have dropped out.

It’s revealed that the Redline race will be taking place on Roboworld, which is a militarized planet that’s ruled by cyborgs. The cyborgs are violently against having the Redline race on their planet, and have made it very clear that they will not hesitate to use their military power to attack any racers that participate in the race. JP decides to compete in the Redline race.

JP and the other racers go to a backwater moon located near Roboworld that is a demilitarized zone. Here, JP meets Sonoshee in person and falls in love; in a flashback, it’s shown that JP had seen Sonoshee several years earlier, when she was just getting started in racing and was interested in her back then. The rest of the film shows what happens once the Redline race gets underway.

The main reason I decided to watch Redline was due to the praise I had seen the film receive at Anime News Network, as well as through discussions I had been on the Internet regarding the film. Unfortunately, I ended up not being as impressed with this film as I hoped that I would be.

The strongest part of Redline is the animation; it’s obvious from watching the film that a lot of effort went into the technical aspects of the animation. According to the documentary that’s included on the DVD, the development of the film took seven years and the production used 100,000 hand-made drawings. Animation-wise, I can say that Redline is a “spectacle film” with a lot of eye candy, and I am impressed with the chances that the animators took when they animated this film.

To me, the weakest part of Redline was the story itself. As I watched the film, it felt like the film was just skimming the surface of a larger story, and tended to feel as if it was rushing through the story in order to focus more on the racing. Honestly, by the time any substantial back story was provided for the main characters, it was already at a point in the film where I had essentially quit caring about the characters. It felt like there really should have been more to the story than there was, and I think this story would have been stronger if perhaps Redline could somehow have been a longer production than a 102 minute theatrical film.

Even though the production staff spent seven years on this film, it appears that time was more spent on animation and action sequences than on developing a compelling story. In the previously referenced documentary, the director says the audience can fill in the gaps in the story with their own imagination, and seemed to be rather proud of this fact. Unfortunately, as a viewer, I didn’t think I was really given enough information in order to truly fill in the gaps the story.

The DVD release of Redline has two bonus features. First is “Quick Guide to Redline,” which is the documentary that I’ve referenced a couple of times previously in this review. When I saw this listed on the back of the box, I assumed it was some kind of a text feature or something that provided information on Redline, so I was very surprised when it turned out to be a documentary that runs around 20 to 30 minutes in length.

The other bonus feature is listed as “Redline 2006 Trailer,” and it’s a trailer that was released for the film. It was interesting to note that some of visuals in this trailer are a little different than what actually appeared in the film.

While I’m glad I can finally say that I’ve seen Redline, it’s not a film I’m going to rush out to add to my anime collection or to watch again anytime in the near future. If you enjoy anime films with spectacle and eye candy, then you might enjoy Redline; however, if you want spectacle films to have a strong story to go with it, then you may not enjoy this film very much.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Redline that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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