In a world that has already perfected space travel, there is still a deep-seated love for using wheeled vehicles for sport. Redline is the biggest underground race in the universe and takes place every 5 years.
JP is a young man with a super-cool retro style and a love for racing along at reckless speeds. He’s earned a large following thanks to his sense of fashion and a habit of crashing spectacularly before he can finish a race. As well as his reputation for dangerous wrecks, he is also on bail for a previous incident that may have involved match-fixing. After losing a race to "Cherry-Boy Hunter" Sonosee and winding up in hospital, things aren't looking too great. Calamity suddenly turns on its head when a top-ranked racer drops out of the coming Grand Prix "RED LINE" out of fear of the lack of safety. Voted in by popular vote and a love for his ducktail haircut, JP is jetted off to the Miliatarian Robot Planet to be reunited with Sonosee and take part in the one race that will change his life forever.
The movie's writing is clear and concise, and largely keeps to the familiar format that would be typical of a racing film, concentrating mainly on the central characters in JP's team and the beautiful Sonosee. Exchanges and dialogue allude to some background for the other racers but it is mostly just there to give some motivations and set up some rivalries along the way. There is also a sub-plot involving the military forces trying to interfere with the event but again it is mostly an excuse for more things to explode. Centre stage is completely held by JP and the race.
The visual style of Takeshi Koike is heavily evident in this animation. Fans of the likes of Gurren Lagaan and Dead Leaves will delight in the bright and heavily-inked comic book style. A sense of the cool and outrageous is seeped into every pore of the design, from JP's ultimate pimped-out muscle car to another vehicle that resembles a giant robot woman, exaggerated is an understatement here. Thankfully, this is also coupled with cinema-quality smooth animation - even the most alien of things move naturally and the sense of speed that is often achieved is frequently mind-blowing.
Very little grey matter is required to view this film. In fact, it is probably recommended as the visuals and over-the-top action will most likely overload sensitive brain cells. The story is focused enough to be coherent and not confusing (so a little less wacky than Dead Leaves) and the 'Racing Film' narrative makes everything easy to follow for the viewer. In the end what you are left with is an incredibly exciting cinematic experience that doesn't take itself at all seriously and will leave audiences breathless come the glorious climax.
Redline was screened as part of the recent BFI Anime Weekend. You can view the Japanese trailer for the movie right here.