Cult Cinema: Redline

Resident animation freak, Michelle Kisner, tackles the awesome Redline feature.

"Dude. Man. Bro. I'm so rad
behind this wheel."
Prolific animation studio Madhouse has done it again; this time they've added their wacky and over-the-top style to the race car movie genre. Redline is like a jet-fueled offspring of Speed Racer, Akira and Ninja Scroll, and it’s one of the most exhilarating films I have ever seen. Madhouse is responsible for many iconic anime films/TV series: Ninja Scroll, Trigun, Perfect Blue, Chobits and, more recently, the blockbuster hit Death Note. Redline is so action-packed and fun that even if you aren’t generally a fan of racing films, you will find something to love about this movie.

The first thing that will smash you in the face is the incredibly smooth and gorgeous animation. Madhouse is known for their bold lines and angular designs, and that style is in full effect. Every single frame is crammed with chaotic colors and lush backgrounds assaulting your senses. It’s entirely hand-drawn and has zero CG rendering, which harkens back to the 1980s era of anime film. The amount of creativity and craft put into the character and vehicle designs is outstanding and really makes me miss 2D animation. It’s breathtaking when done well, and Redline takes it to its absolute limits. To be honest, there is so much going on at one time that it becomes overwhelming, but that just means the film will take a few viewings to really absorb all the minute details.

"...because yellow is so
much faster."
The plot takes a backseat to the action, but in a film like this it really doesn’t matter. I appreciate the simplicity, as most anime films tend to over-complicate the story; it usually ends up obfuscating the audience instead of intriguing them. You got your hot shot race car driver and his sexy female love interest. Since this is Japan, you get some cyborgs thrown into the mix. All of it is just an excuse to animate a whole bunch of awesome stuff, and I am more than okay with that arrangement. 

The races themselves are well done; if you have ever played the video game F-Zero, they look very similar with the cars leaving cool light-trails as they rocket-blast around the tracks. Each racer has his own unique car and the designs for each of them are very clever, as are their various weapons and attacks. Everything is punctuated by throbbing electronic music; if that type of music isn’t your bag then it might become grating after a while. I am sore pressed to think of another genre of music that could possibly compliment the insanity better; at least it’s good techno. I watched this film in Japanese with subtitles, but I also took a cursory listen to the English dub. It was okay, but nothing special.

" eyes are up here!"
Redline should be on every anime film lover’s must-see list, especially if you are fan of Madhouse’s previous work. The transfer on the Manga Blu-ray release is excellent as well, but unfortunately it doesn’t have much in the way of extras. If you feel like getting your face melted off, pop this bad boy into your player and buckle up; you’re in for a bumpy ride!

-Michelle Kisner