Redline is intense – scorching racing with scorching pacing to go with it, and a bold art style that is fascinatingly ‘not-anime’ yet also completely so.
I don’t have a lot of knowledge when it comes to the racing genre so I can’t offer much in the way of context, but I suspect that (especially around the time of release) few other racing anime look like Redline.
Now, before I get into the visuals (keen as I am to do so) I wanted to quickly talk about structure. Redline is interesting to me because it’s basically built around two races. There’s a bit of character development here and there (I’d love more) and a bit of world-building and intrigue, but mostly it’s preparing to race, hype or the actual racing.
Perhaps due to this in part, it does feel as though the large cast of drivers aren’t explored much – in terms of back-story we really only learn a little about lead ‘Sweet’ JP and fellow racer Sonoshee McLaren. On the other hand, I feel like Madhouse wanted a full-throttle action film firstly, so the focus goes on some pretty wild action sequences.
There’s a lot of exaggeration as the stakes are raised throughout the film too – and the inventiveness of the designs for people, cars and weapons means you’ll probably find yourself tempted to pause every now and then just to get a good look at everything going on inside certain frames. (And watch out for Funky Boy!).
Finally now to the visual elements – wow, the seven years and 100,000 drawings were obviously worth the wait; there’s detail and fluidity, and whiplash pacing contrasting with a really dark colour scheme. So much of the visuals feel stunning, especially when completed without any CGI, but what I most notice about Redline is the very much Dick Tracy comic style with so much shadow. It’s not just a character or object casting shadows, or buildings being dark; everything on screen seems to be as much bold black lines or shadows as much as colour.
Okay, I’ve exaggerated there, but the snaps I’ve posted throughout probably make my case far more convincingly.
Now, after all that let’s talk stars, right? Redline is more of a visual feast than a minute-to-minute gripping story, but I still think it’s one of the more impressive and interesting anime films out there.
There’s a bit of nudity and a fair amount of violence, but nothing off the charts. I was actually checking ratings and found something interesting – Canada:14A (Manitoba/Nova Scotia) Canada:PG (Ontario) Canada:13+ (Quebec) and I hadn’t realised regional rating differences were/are in effect there. To compare, Australia rates it as M (usually 15) and in the US it’s ‘TV-14’.