Redline

Redline

Redline anime movie cover art
Redline

Movie Overview

Redline (REDLINE) is an original anime movie created by the studio Madhouse. Those of you familiar with Madhouse probably know that they’re pretty good at animating things. And that was just as true in 2009 when Redline came out as it is today. This movie looks amazing from both the art and animation perspectives.

The movie tells the tale of JP, a racer who ends up participating in the Redline — the most extreme motor race in the galaxy. The only rule in the Redline is that there are no rules. Well, except for the rule about all the vehicles needing to be powered by standard engines, not hover engines.

But as we learn early on in the movie, the Crab Sonoshee Sea is a hovercar, so I guess even that rule isn’t enforced.

JP's TransAM20000 from the anime movie Redline
JP’s TransAM20000

Because there are no rules, that means the racers can do anything within their power to win. There’s no set course, so they can take whatever route they please to get to the finish line. And weapons of all kinds are allowed, so there’s no shortage of vehicles decked out with heat-seeking missiles and the like.

However, the racers don’t only have to worry about each other. Redline is a race that only takes place once every five years somewhere in the galaxy, and this particular year, it’s taking place on Roboworld. The problem with that is that Roboworld is a militaristic planet that has taken a stance against the Redline.

But something as insignificant as the military government that rules over Roboworld declaring war against any Redline participants who make landfall on their planet isn’t going to stop the race. In fact, for racers and fans alike, that probably just adds to the excitement of the event.

Racers

“Sweet” JP is the protagonist of the movie. He’s a purist when it comes to racing and refuses to equip his TransAM20000 with weapons, opting instead to win with his raw talent and speed. Backing up JP there’s Frisbee, his mechanic who works with a mob boss to rig races, and Old Man Mole, a junk parts dealer.

The dynamic between JP, Frisbee, and Mole is one of my favorite aspects of this movie. I think the scene that illustrates this best is when Frisbee goes to visit JP after the Yellowline race. We learn a lot about their relationship just through their body language.

Sonoshee “Cherry Boy Hunter” McLaren is the female lead of the movie and JP’s love interest. Her dream is to win the Redline, and unlike JP, she’s willing to do so at any cost. Sonoshee is a cool character, and I’m almost positive she was named after Bruce McLaren so that just gives her bonus points.

Sonoshee McLaren from the anime movie Redline
Sonoshee McLaren

Boiboi and Bosbos are two female racers who make up the team SUPER BOINS. Their car is able to transform into a female-formed mech. Unfortunately, these two don’t get very much screen time, which means their theme song also doesn’t get played much.

LynchMan and Johnny Boya are two bounty hunters who make up another team. You can kind of think of LynchMan as Captain Falcon if you’re familiar with the F-ZERO game series (or Super Smash Bros., I guess).

Todoroki and Miki make up another team, as do Trava and Shinkai. These two teams aren’t really all that important, but Trava and Shinkai get more screen time than Todoroki and Miki do. And connected to Trava and Shinkai there’s an independent racer and member of the Roboworld military, Little Deyzuna.

The final two Redline racers are Gori-Rider and Machine Head, who are both independent racers. Gori-Rider is a gorilla-like police officer with an extremely violent sense of justice. Machine Head is the reigning Redline and primary rival of JP in the race.

The Good and the Bad

Let’s start this section off with the things Redline does exceptionally well. As I stated earlier, both the art and animation are amazing. I don’t think I have to say much more about that though because you can just use your eyes to figure that much out. The soundtrack is also amazing — and is one I regularly listened to long before watching the movie.

Character and world-building are two other things Redline excels at. Despite many of the characters not having all that much screen time or that many dialogue lines, we learn a lot about them through their actions, body language, and even speech patterns. The characters in this movie are built on the “show, don’t tell” foundation.

Likewise, the world(s) in which Redline takes place is built on a similar foundation. Yes, we’re told specific information about Roboworld and its moon, Europass. But the vast majority of the world-building comes from physically seeing the world and the various creatures/people who inhabit it, as well as how those people interact with the world in which they live.

Just looking at the background characters from the start of the movie, between the Yellowline race and JP’s arrival on Europass, we can learn a lot. We learn that the Redline (and its preliminary races) are a huge cultural phenomenon for people of all ages and backgrounds throughout the galaxy.

It attracts the young, old, rich, and poor. It even has casual fans, hardcore racing fans, and those who see it as a business opportunity.

JP feeling the need for speed from the anime movie Redline
JP feeling the need for speed

Now, I don’t really want to discuss the bad part of Redline too much, but I have to at least touch on it. The entire inclusion of the Roboworld military is bad.

They’re basically Robo-Nazis who don’t want Redline to happen on their planet because they don’t want the galactic media to discover their biological weapons. And that’s a pretty generic and boring plot. But it gets worse. None of these antagonists are very good characters — they’re basically just villain tropes.

Also, despite how bad the villains are, the movie always cuts to them at the most exciting moments, thus ruining the hype. If there’s one way to kill excitement in a movie, it’s cutting from edge-of-your-seat action to a bunch of boring characters talking in a dark room.

Conclusion

If you cut out all the parts of the movie involving the Roboworld military and just replaced it with more scenes of the actual Redline race, I think this movie would be a 9 or 10. But as it currently stands, I have to give it an 8/10. I definitely enjoyed it and would be willing to watch it again, but it has its issues.

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