Redline: An Array of Chaotic and Vibrant Frames

Information (from MAL)

Aired: Aug 14, 2009
Licensors: Anchor Bay Films
Studios: Madhouse
Source: Original
Duration: 1 hr. 42 min.

Synopsis

JP races in the Yellowline, a preliminary stage to the universe’s most dangerous race- Redline. He loses (due to a malfunction in his vehicle caused by the betrayal of his bribed mechanic) the Yellowline to a green haired beauty named Sonoshee- and he gets kicked off the bandwagon to the Redline. The location of the race is revealed- Roboworld. A disconnected world where, obviously, robots dwell; and they may or may not have diabolical plans for the race. Reading the more-than-dangerous air, a couple racers retire which makes way for JP to get a shot at the race.

Narrative

The narrative structure couldn’t be more formulaic and three-act-y: the build-up, the race (the later of which is an enjoyable climax to the race) and the resolution (cleverly and purposefully short). I am not a fan of pure action or racing movies and this movie consolidated my indifference to genre- the narrative is so unenthusiastically bland that remembering the events in this movie is a chore. Just to clarify my stance, I didn’t find anything repulsive or horrible about the story-telling aspect of this movie. This section just adds consolidation to my opinion that this movie is a good popcorn-with-friends movie rather than one which you have to actively watch. Now before I get any more disgustingly defensive here, let’s move on.

Characters

Despite the forgettable narrative- the film actually does an impressive job at the character designs, not only of JP and Sonoshee, but of the other members of the cast. But the characterization isn’t anything to applaud about but it is done in a neat and  purposeful way. JP is an intrigued racer with a pompadour, Sonoshee is a strong and passionate racer who gets impressed by JP and the mechanic is a curious betrayer. The chemistry between the two protagonists is also pretty neatly fleshed out.

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To sum it up: the character writing, though not innovative, is pretty solid despite this being an action-centric 100 minute movie.

Sound

Yeah, I am just stalling the Art & Animation section of this review. The soundtrack is fits the anime so well that it becomes ‘unnoticeably good’. The BGM tracks blend into the scene so naturally and un-distactedly that it doesn’t stand out the first time I watched it. But upon going back, I found out that the soundtrack is dominantly (and expectedly) electronic.

Art & Animation

It took seven years and more than 100,000 hand-drawn frames in production to make this film. And what they produced visually is nothing short of impressive and innovative.

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The art style is more shadow-heavy than most Japanese anime I have seen; and this reminds me of the art style of western comics (sorry I can’t be more specific because I don’t read non-Japanese comics, even though I have been meaning to for a long time). I liked this art style because it seemed complementary to the action-racing aesthetic of the film.

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The quality of the art in this anime is strikingly gorgeous and seems very organic (because the whole length of the movie is composed of hand-drawn frames). So no awkward CG-rendering (not saying that all CG-rendering is awkward) and no fluctuations of frame rates.

The art style also helped to accentuate the vibrancy of the character designs and the vehicle designs. The color schemes are very bold, diverse and, again, vibrant.

The animation style also have some interesting use of camera (like the zooming out during speeding up) and each shot seemed filled up and had purpose (until the climax, where purposefulness kind of peters out for me).

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Not to digress, I found Sonoshee’s visualization to be so intoxicating that I didn’t even mind the fan service and the quick and sudden graphic depiction of her front side. In fact, the art quality was so eye-alluring that the fan service seemed to blend into the whole aesthetic of the anime. Yeah, I guess that also explains why so many of the screenshots I took feature Sonoshee.

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I have a handful (or mouthful) of adjectives for the description of this anime’s animation: stellar, grandiose, chaotic and kind of disarrayed (as most action anime should be). The chaotic quality of the animation got more prominent in the climax when a lot of things happen at the same time frame- and I failed to completely follow all of the events. Yeah, at this time- the narrative goes down the drain and explosions flower from everywhere. It’s just beautiful to look at. Everything from that point on will either give you can adrenaline rush or just stun you in your seats.

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Conclusion

If you are looking for a neat (mostly) and straight-forwardly narrated action-racing movie to enjoy: I highly recommend this anime. The animation quality is just stunning. Unfortunately, you can’t legally stream it anywhere- but you can buy the Blu-ray for a pretty cheap price at RightStuf. Also, if you are looking for some Sakuga from this anime, click here (they are worth checking out).

This is an animation piece to marvel at and enjoy: a feast for the eyes.

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5 thoughts on “Redline: An Array of Chaotic and Vibrant Frames

  1. I really loved this movie. he visuals were bold and colorful, the music was fun, the story was funny. The romance I could do without, it felt somewhat tacked on, like it was there to show boobs and JP something to do while not racing.

    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. AGH this movie was so intense! Then again, I’m a sucker for races. To think that all of this was largely done by hand, wow, now I know why it took Madhouse like 7 years to make. I also really like the title for your post, “An array of chaotic and vibrant frames.” What an accurate caption.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Redline is not really a film that you go into for narrative. It was primarily made as a technical showpiece that focused on using older animation techniques with modern technology. It really showcases what animation can do as a medium, which is why I usually recommend it to people as something to try out (given they would be receptive to this type of film) when people are first exploring/skeptical of anime.

    Nice review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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