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Five Reasons You Need To See Takeshi Koike’s ‘Redline’ [Video]

Takeshi Koike’s Redline hits Blu-ray on January 17. It’s a racing anime that feels like it synthesizes the best parts of the Fast & Furious franchise, the destructive core of Twisted Metal, and the absurd designs of Wacky Races and some of the more out-there works of Jack Kirby than anything else. A huge selling point is the animation by Madhouse, which features over one hundred thousand hand-made drawings. It’s a beautiful film, and a wonderful way to spend an hour or two. If you’re looking for more straightforward review, we took a look at it back in 2010. Today, though, we’ve got seven clips and a list of five reasons you need to see Redline. For the finest reading experience, watch the clips first and then come back to the text if you aren’t convinced that this is amazing.

5. Soundtrack

I can think of a handful of good (or at least buzz-worthy) soundtracks in the past few years. Trent Reznor’s work on The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo comes to mind, as does the synth-pop of Drive and the incredibly well curated rock of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Tops on my list, though, is Redline‘s soundtrack. Good soundtracks must fit the movies they accompany and, in doing so, enhance the movie-watching experience. Kavinsky’s “Nightcall” and College’s “A Real Hero” definitely helped make Drive such a fantastic movie to watch, and they even serve to help place the viewer in the right state of mind (in this case, deep in the neon gutter of the ’80s, just to the left of Michael Mann’s brain).

This is true of Redline‘s soundtrack, too. As befitting the frantic plotting and animation, Redline‘s soundtrack is all over the place. Hollow pipes and quiet plinking may dominate one track, and the next will be rapidfire hip-hop-inspired techno. Another song will sound like doom and gloom, and then you’ll trip over an obscenely poppy and cheery j-pop song. Finally, a crooning singer will drop the tempo and wrap everything up in a neat bow.

Redline‘s soundtrack is diverse. There’s something here for everyone, but honestly, everything here is for everyone. The character-specific tunes are distinct and absolutely fit the characters they represent. Late in the film, a few of those tunes are expertly woven into the main theme of the film. It’s done so subtly that one moment your heart is pounding along with the driving theme and then, in the next moment, you realize that Machinehead’s theme has come in and altered the texture of the scene. It’s hard to put the effect of this into words, but the short version is that it makes that scene of the movie exponentially more fun and exciting.

4. The Cast

Normally, sci-fi is lousy with humans. You’re going to see a whole bunch of humans causing a whole lot of trouble. While the two main characters of Redline are theoretically human — Sweet JP is humanoid, but Sonoshee may just be from a humanoid race — everyone else isn’t. There are dog people, guys with two thumbs, plant people, and other things that I’d hesitate to even call people.

Redline is a type of sci-fi I want to see more often. On a certain level, Redline feels alien. Normal looking people are down to eat disgusting-looking dishes with no qualms. Aliens that wear human clothes have appendages that don’t quite make sense. The more abstract aliens don’t help any, either. Redline‘s cast runs the gamut from funny (Miki & Todoroki) to violent (Gori-Rider) to absurdly sexy (Super Boins) to ridiculous (Lynchman & Johnnyboya). It’s impossible to pick a favorite because they’re all so great.

I’m kidding. The best is obviously a tie between Lynchman & Johnnyboya and the Super Boins.

3. The Animation

Do I really have to explain this one? Click one of those youtube videos, switch it to 720p, marvel at the fluid animation, amazing details, and beautiful palette, and then just nod your head in agreement.

2. It Feels Fresh

Every minute of Redline is either throwing something at you that you’ve never seen before or taking something you know well and twisting it through a wringer. JP’s TRANSAM is familiar, but updated and warped for a brand new context. Past that, though, the cars get weirder. There are ones driven by pedals, ones that look like bugs, ones that have boobs, and cars that are actually people. The deserts are all the wrong color, fascist headquarters don’t make architectural sense and use strange technology, and hey, will you look at how the mechanic moves?

I remember being a kid and being struck by how different Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira was from other cartoons I watched. Part of it was it being foreign and aimed at a different audience, but a large part of it was simply the animation quality. Akira is a beautiful movie (still is, actually) and Redline is, too, in an almost completely different way.

The level of detail in the animation is nothing short of inspiring, and rewards repeat viewings. Every character, from the most incidental to the one with the most screen time, has these little touches of personality and humor. This movie takes place in a world that fills lived-in. It feels like we’ve just popped in to visit and check out the big race, and when the race is over, life will go on.

Redline is impressive in just how curious it made me about its world. The soundtrack, the animation, the story, all of it is realized so well that I left the theater wanting more, and if I couldn’t get that, a chance to watch the film again and again.

1. Style Is Substance

Some people will tell you to turn off your brain before you watch this movie. That’s a thing people say when they feel guilty about liking something, or look at something like it’s low art. “Don’t take it seriously!” is another. It means that a movie is stupid, or entertaining but hollow. I disagree. Keep your brain on and be fully engaged while you watch Redline.

Redline is a movie that rewards its viewers. The beautiful animation and soundtrack are just two parts of that. There are entire subplots that are barely even hinted at in the dialogue that become crystal clear once you start paying attention to the body language of the characters, or soaking in how well-animated the film is. There’s an interesting and subtle commentary about relationships, romantic and platonic, at the heart of the film. Each racer has a specific relationship to another racer or a rival.

Pay attention to Redline, because Redline was crafted with engaged viewers in mind. It’s a fun, raucous, beautiful monster of a ride, a movie that takes something very simple and enhances it until it’s something that invokes awe. You want to fall into this movie, because that’s the best way to experience it.

You know that I’m right. Watch for it when it hits Blu-ray on January 17.

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