Anime review: Redline

JP is a racer in the Yellowline circuit, but dreams of making it big in the Redline, where the vehicles drive at ludicrous speeds and there are no rules against harming the competition. Unfortunately, his history in dealing with the mafia and his partner Frisbee's constantly sabotaging JP's chances make that opportunity seem out of his reach. That is, until two racers who qualified for the Redline race drop out due to its being held on the hostile planet of Roboworld. JP seizes this window of opportunity and decks out his Trans-Am 2000 with an all new engine and extra turbo in hopes of beating the competition - most of whom drive much newer and seemingly more capable vehicles.

Redline comes from Mad House, and is a very visually pleasing film. The art style is heavily stylized, with character and environment designs appearing to hold some level of inspiration from American comic books. The ridiculous-yet-awesome race scenarios and vehicle designs, as well as the entire premise of Redline are something of a hybrid of Speed Racer and F-Zero. Each vehicle and driver takes to the track with a different tactic in mind, while the inhabitants of the alien worlds seem deeply invested in this dangerous sport. The soundtrack is super catchy and pretty kickin' throughout, even if there are only a handful of tunes, most of which are repeated at least once before the film's end.

The first half of Redline behaves similar to Star Wars: A New Hope in the sense that it balances the duties of focusing on the story while building this alien universe around it. There are a few vulgarities early on, and a couple nasty crashes, but by and large, it seems like an action-packed film for all ages. But when the second half rolls around, it takes on a much grittier and more adult tone. The film only runs a little over an hour and a half, and the shift to brief nudity, a handful of sexual references, and a few more swear words is both sudden and clunky.

Also with regards to the length of the film, Redline feels like it could spare to be much longer. JP's backstory is covered fairly well - we find out everything that we need to about his history racing and dealing with the mafia before the story's conclusion. But there is a lot of time spent covering the Roboworld government trying to stop the race from being held on their home planet. What should have been a mildly interesting subplot becomes the centerpiece for a large portion of the movie and draws away from the action. The fact that there are only two full-on race scenes in the entire film does not aid this.

Redline is a quick and easy watch. To be honest, it is a very visually entertaining experience. As far as the story is concerned, it does a decent job of staying self-contained. By the time the credits roll, all of the questions that need answering are, though there isn't any time spent on a wrap-up and the last few lines of dialogue are quite cliché. Redline is missing enough content to keep it at the level of "good", restraining it from getting anywhere near "great".

My rating: 7.25 (out of 10)

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