by Tim Georgi
In a world where transportation has left the ground for the more convenient and safe air cars, there are still a select few that are still drawn to the rough and dangerous ways of the automobile. These racers have a passion for the road that is long gone from the universe.
Enter JP. He's one of the craziest race drivers out there, but keeps his vehicle really simple and classic. While the other racers have much more elaborate cars, JP drives a vintage Trans Am, souped up to be a mad, muscle machine. His dream is to race in the famed Redline, the fastest, craziest, and most deadly (and illegal) race in the universe. The Redline race is only held once every five years in a secret location that is revealed just before the race. To get to Redline, JP needs to qualify by finishing in a ranked position in the Yellowline race. His race goes well, beating out the Yellowline favorite, the sexy Sonoshee McLaren, until just before the end where his Trans Am mysteriously wrecks, flipping out just short of the finish line.
With his car wrecked and JP in the hospital, he figures that his path to the Redline is done. However, the location of the race is announced and that changes the dynamics of the participants. The race is set to be run on Roboworld, a planet that is run by the military superpower government and that is violently opposed to the Redline being run on their planet. With the announcement of the location and the potential for military opposition, two of the qualifiers have dropped out of the race, noting that racing isn't more important than being shot at and probably killed. That leaves two open spots for the Redline. Despite all the forces against him, some expected and some not, the openings give JP his ticket to the big race.
The only major obstacle to JP's racing potential is his mangled vehicle. He hooks up with his old friend and mechanic Frisbee who has been involved with the Mafia in order to find ways to keep JP racing. JP seems to choose to keep himself fairly oblivious to the source of the funds. He prefers to let the powers that be fix his machine and he can just concentrate on the racing. Unknown to him, Frisbee's mob friends have been fixing the races so JP never has a chance to finish. By guaranteeing that JP can't finish, the mobsters can place bets against JP and can clean up with their wagers.
Mobsters aside, there's something even more sinister going on with the powers on Roboworld. The military-run government is poised to do whatever they need to do in order to stop the Redline race from happening. Starting with pre-race intimidation, moving to military intervention then culminating in the potential use of highly illegal secret weapons, Roboworld pulls out all the stops.
As if JP's problems of the mob and the military aren't enough, there's the other racers themselves. In a race where there are literally no rules, JP has to practically take on the universe to even have a chance to finish the race, not to mention having a chance to beat the others to the finish line and find something unexpected along the way. You'll have to watch to learn what.
Redline has been a long time coming. It reportedly took Madhouse over seven years to produce the entire film. The film was directed by Takeshi KOIKE, who also did a lot of the character and mechanical designs for the movie. If you've seen other shows that Koike has worked on, you'll recognize the style. It was very reminicient of one of his earlier movie titles, Dead Leaves, which was also over-the-top in its animation style and character designs, using lots of bold lines and frenetic movement.
On the American side of the production, the dub is pretty solid. Michelle Ruff as Sonoshee McLaren and Patrick Seitz as JP, our main characters, work really well together. The casting for the other characters worked well for the insane, passionate nature of each of the racers and their opposers. There are times when the voice acting seems to go overboard, but with the nature of the show, that's not something to be unexpected. With a crew of crazy racers that have more possibilities to get killed racing, they're going to be over the top. Kudos to Manga Entertainment for getting a great voice acting crew together for the dub.
Redline is Speed Racer power smashed with The Venus Wars with an order of crack on the side. It's a visual assault on your senses that will get you on the edge of your seat. In the end, Redline isn't going to be for everyone though. Anime based on car racing is a mixed bag to begin with. It's not a mainstream concept, so Redline is going to appeal to a smaller set of people. The thing that it does have going for it is the amount of action and the unique visual style. The plot is rather thin as far as anime movies go, and there is little-to-no development with the characters, so the action scenes and the visuals are what really carry the movement for the duration. It does have a scene containing brief nudity and does contain some extreme language and violence. This one is definitely not for the younger ones. If that doesn't bother you though, then Redline is something that shouldn't be missed.