by Ruben R. Rosario
Now available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Anchor Bay.
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Redline is the pinnacle of Japanese animation and quite possibly the best animated film to come from Japan in the last 10 years. This is no disrespect towards Hayao Miyazaki, the Walt Disney of Japan or Hideki Anno, whose done a bang up job with his new Evangelion films. What separates Redline from those other films is how bold it is, in terms of its presentation. The film follows a group of intergalactic racers that dominate the galaxy by continuing to race with vehicles with wheels, as opposed to hovercrafts. The protagonist is JP, a human with an insane pompadour that has been in love with racing since he was a kid. His goal is to participate in Redline, the championship race that every racer like him tries to be a part of and take home the glory. After he and his alien best friend, Frisbee, get caught up with the mafia, they are forced to use his racing abilities to rig races. After a few people drop out of the latest Redline competition, due to the race being held on a hostile planet run by cyborgs, JP gets the opportunity of a lifetime to pursue his lifelong goals. JP must duke it out with the likes of bounty hunters, pop idols, aliens and even his love interest, the beautiful Sonoshee, to get to the finish line. The film took seven years to make, due to it being hand drawn by the talents of Studio Madhouse and sprang from the minds of Takeshi Koike and Katsuhito Ishii, the men behind great anime works like the animated segment in Kill Bill Vol.1 and The Animatrix.
A film like Redline is an absolute breath of fresh air in the modern world of anime, filled with tons of moe characters and cute mascots. Everything from the characters designs, to the backgrounds and the style of it all keeps Redline fresh and invigorating for every single second of the its running time. The film effectively introduces us to the style and everything that’s important in the film within the first 15 minutes. Redline follows this golden rule of filmmaking and fulfills its promises that are given to us, through the use of great action and intensity. Anime films like this just simply do not come around and kudos to Ishii and Koike for showing the world of what makes anime fun and exciting. Studio Madhouse has been the progenitor of high octane anime, with films like Vampire Hunter D and Ninja Scroll under their belts and Redline is just another notch they can add to it.
The Blu-Ray of Redline is presented in a gorgeous 1080p AVC encoded transfer, with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The sheer level of detail in this film is just fantastic to look at in the HD transfer. The color palette is all over the place, but never feels out of balance. Deep blacks and blues to vibrant greens and pink colors pop off the screen that just make this film pure bliss while watching it. The 100,000 frames used to animate the film show the level of detail placed in the film and this presentation is the absolute best way to experience it. The audio on the disc comes in two lossless forms, the Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and the English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. Both of these mixes are phenomenal and incredibly immersive through the use of music, effects and overall soundscape. It’s a bit easier to see the film in English, due to being able to focus on all of the images as opposed to seeing the film in Japanese and trying to read the subtitles. The voice talent is excellent in both version and do a great job and giving life to the characters.
Overall, this is the life breath of anime at its finest and Redline is an absolute must see. Whether you’re a fan of Japanese animation or not, you cannot deny the power and intensity this film has. Redline shows the power of the medium and really did a fantastic job at reminding me why I love anime in the first place. From the cool aesthetic values to the intensity and energy, Redline is a hell of a ride, from start to finish. Highly Recommended.
Ruben R. Rosario is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He’s an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.
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