4.5 stars out of 5
Sonoshee McLaren, aka "Cherry Boy Hunter."
"Sweet JC" and "Cherry Boy Hunter."
MADHOUSE is particularly good at one thing: style. Redline's story provides some shallow but necessary context for the races; one would be hard pressed to find a critic who praises Redline's plot. The aesthetic of the film, however, is phenomenal. What should instantly come to mind for some is "World Record," a short film MADHOUSE produced for The Animatrix film anthology. Both World Record and Redline were direced by Takeshi Koike, and employ his distinct visual style. Shadows are heavily embellished, and colors are washed-out like photos exposed to sunlight for too long. The animation to Redline is not only unconventional, but it is also very exciting to watch. When JP uses the Redline equivalent to nitrous oxide to accelerate his car, his body elongates and his car often does impossible stunts such as skipping across a body of water. And when the Roboworld military resorts to using their Hyper-Disintegrator Cannon in order to eradicate the racers, apocalyptic destruction follows in Akira fashion.
The events that take place in Redline are nothing short of insane, and this is complimented by the equally eclectic cast that facilitate for such action. JP is a tame and extremely driven youth who wants to win Redline like every one else, but he's not too interesting in his own right. Among the notable racers are Lynchman and Johnny Boya, a pair of bounty hunters who act more like superheroes; Lynchman (who looks like a fusion of F-Zero's Black Shadow and Blood Falcon) at one point runs the Redline race on foot, keeping up with vehicles going at least 300 kph /186 mph. Boiboi and Bosbos, two exotic and erotic pop stars from planet Supergrass, make up the "Super Boins" team. Their racing vehicle transforms into a robot that eventually fends off the hundreds of Roboworld police interfering with the race. Machine Head is the reigning champ, resembling a mash-up of the DC villain Darkseid and Marvel's Galactus. His body can fuse with his racing vehicle, named "God Wing." His badass nature is offset by the fact that he owns a cute Maltese dog. The list of racers goes on to include a dirty cop who's chasing down two Japanese racers; a wolf hybrid who teamed up with the son of Futurama's Zoidberg; and Sonoshee, the racer who won the Yellow Line meet and JP's love interest. I suppose Redline is the Japanese spin-off to Hanna-Barbera's Wacky Races.
Does Redline make a lick of sense? It does, but as stated earlier, the narrative is an excuse to show audiences that motorsport racing can be fun for every one so long as MADHOUSE is handling it. If only we could make NASCAR more like anime...
* Redline was animated by MADHOUSE and directed by Takeshi Koike.