Redline: An Underrated Animation Masterpiece

With the second season of Demon Slayer just finishing, it reminded me of how high-quality animation can enhance your experience of watching anime and only serves to increase the appeal of the show. There is no doubt in my mind that if Demon Slayer did not have the amazing animation it did from ufotable, then it probably would not have been as popular.

That is not a critique of the show itself, but more so just an understanding of how it came to be such a successful series. However, not every anime gets to follow this trend. Redline is one of these exceptions.

Redline

redline-anime-jp-with-sonoshee-mclaren-driving
  • Episodes: 1
  • Studios: Madhouse
  • Aired: Aug 14, 2009
  • Genres: Action, Cars, Sci-Fi, Sports

Synopsis

The film’s plot is pretty basic: it follows JP, a racer who sets out to compete in the Redline, the most popular race in the galaxy which only occurs every five years.

Redline – Anime Review

What did I think?

Within Redline are various subplots including a romance with one of the other racers competing against JP, Sonoshee Mclaren. Now, even though this sounds basic and cliched, then this is only because the point of the film was not to create a thematically deep, story-driven movie.

Even though the plot is simple, it complements the style that Madhouse (the animators) and the director, Takeshi Koite (in what was his directorial debut) were going for, which is one of constant action and adrenaline. Each scene bristles with electricity and the vibrant colors all come together during the racing scenes to create a unique animation experience.

Redline-sonoshe-mclaren-hand-on-jp-car

STORY

The fact that JP and Sonoshee are one of the few humans to even have importance to the story represents Redline’s emphasis on style over substance. But it is this approach that makes Redline so charming: it offers maximum entertainment in the form of an animation spectacle.

Redline-anime-sonoshe-mclaren-with-jp

However, I will add that I do have some issues concerning the structure of the film, in that the part of the film between the first race and the ultimate Redline race did feel slow at times, which affects the approach the film is going for. While seeing the characters interact with each other is fun, the prelude before the Redline does overextend its welcome, as it comprises a large bulk of the film’s runtime.

ANIMATION

Seeing as how Redline took Madhouse and their team over 7 years to make, which included 100,000 hand-drawn images, it does not surprise me that the animation is simply amazing. The creativity of every faucet of detail when it comes to Redline shines through its vibrant colors and unique character designs. Not just the characters, but the vehicles that each racer drives have their own quirks to them, and were drawn impressively by the animators. Even the characters’ movements, in particular the hand movements of the characters switching gears, are so elegant and showcases just why this film’s animation is a marvel to behold.

CHARACTERS

Redline-characters-jp-sonoshee_mclaren-with-shinkai-talking

Just as the plot fits into the film’s wild nature, so do the characters’ over-the-top personalities add to its chaos. While they are not completely shallow, the people in Redline do not serve a purpose beyond serving as pieces of entertainment, to enthrall us with the crazy universe they inhabit.

SOUND

To add to this further, the music’s use of electric beats fits in perfectly with the intensity of the racing scenes, which makes it even more exciting to watch.

Favourite moment?

The film probably has one of my favorite opening sequences in any animated film, ever. The first ten minutes pretty much sum up what the film does best: a high-paced adrenaline-filled race that was beautifully animated. Seeing the characters control their cars and the smoothness of their movements is so fun to watch.

redline-desert-race

Least favourite moment?

Probably the entire middle part of the film. Even though the character development of JP is interesting to see, as I said before I feel as if the deficiencies of the narrative become exposed here.

Redline-jp-with-mogura-talking

Favourite character?

Sonoshee Mclaren

redline-sonoshe-mclaren-smiling
Sonoshee Mclaren

What did I learn?

Now, ever since its release in 2009, the home releases of the film have made it much more noticed within the anime community and established itself somewhat as a cult film. However, despite this, the film is still not known by the majority of anime fans that I interact with on the internet. Even on MyAnimeList, the film is only 569th in popularity, way below some of the other great Anime films of the 21st century, such as Howls Moving Castle and Your name.

The reasons for this are complicated, but the way I see it, it is hard to continuously promote a film for years without the interest of it slowly waning. Which led to the film performing poorly at the box office, grossing only $8.2 million.

Would I watch more?

Overall, this film is one that I believe every anime fan should watch. If what you want to watch is a human drama filled with emotion and character development, then please seek that elsewhere. However, if you want an action-packed ride with some of the greatest animation you’ll ever see, then look no further: Redline is for you.

redline-beautiful-scene-with-flowers

What did you think of Redline? What were your favorite or least favorite moments or characters? Let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

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