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Redline (2009) | Simple Story vs Stellar Animation

I’m going to start this post by telling you the right way to experience a film like Redline. Go full theatre mode. Close your curtains, hook the movie up to your TV, throw in some fancy speakers if you can, and get some snacks. Pro-tip would be to watch this dead in the night so you’re not interrupted. Trust in your resident self-proclaimed anime expert (me) and do this.

Redline was an unexpected watch for me. I’m starting to think that for someone who plans everything down to the T, I sure as hell don’t like to follow it. But I’m enjoying these random picks. It’s allowing me to explore a lot more and I’m really happy about that. Redline was a totally new experience for me, because it’s settled an internal dispute I’ve had for some time now. And that’s what I’m going to take you through today.

Redline – Setting the Scene

Redline is a story set in a weirdly dystopian time, where humans and aliens coexist. The story focuses on this worlds underground racing scene, with Redline being the grand finale of all races. Racers from all sorts of backgrounds compete with their highly modified cars, but aren’t above cheating to win. These races are set in extremely difficult settings, with Redline set in Roboworld. This time around, our racers, and protagonist JP have to put their lives on the line for the coveted title. The story is about how JP manages to pull it off despite the odd number of challenges coming his way. I’m skipping the finer details, because I’m assuming you’ve watched the film, and I don’t feel like repeating myself entirely. I’m sure you’re here expecting something else as well.

But if you’d like to know whether you should watch Redline or not, then you absolutely must. Please come back here once you’ve watched it, and I’d love to know what you thought about the film!

About the story itself

It’s fairly straightforward and not too complicated, which for once, I genuinely enjoyed. It allowed me to watch the film for what it was, and there was no reading between the lines. It’s kept interesting with the amount of problems JP encounters, on and off the race. But I found his way of tackling them even more amusing. JP himself is an interesting protagonist – he’s a good friend, with a strong positive mindset, and is radiating talent. Although his motives for racing are questioned initially, I like that his true motive was eventually realised. The other racers are just as (if not more) unhinged than JP, which was so nice! It’d been a while since I’d last seen such a colourful cast of characters. The character designs were also unique, and it was such a new experience for me overall.

Onto my dispute

I detest anime or animated films that’s mostly just flashy animation without a solid story. Some examples of these would be Kimetsu no Yaiba, A Silent Voice or pretty much any Makoto Shinkai film. But this isn’t about those films. I questioned the point of such fancy animation, if that was the only thing carrying the story and nothing else. I’ve always viewed animation as a tool used to enhance the story, and bring it to life in it’s best possible version. But I failed to see why a mediocre story deserved such incredible animation? But after watching the Redline, I had to ask myself why Redline was the exception to this opinion of mine. Seeing as the story was quite simple on it’s own, I had to think about it quite a bit. After some introspection though, the issue(s) that I had became a little more clear to me.

Set Apart

The difference between Redline and the other productions I mentioned was ultimately it’s story. Redline’s story gave me something new to look forward to. It stood out to me apart from it’s flashy animation due to all the aforementioned (and maybe even more) reasons. The story is simple but I was invested, immersed and interested in it’s outcome. It fulfils my view of animation – it takes a simple story and makes the experience of watching it unfold an incredible one. And for 2009 it was a bang on job by Madhouse. The film was in production for nearly 7 years, with 100,000 hand drawn frames – an incredible feat. When you watch the film you can so easily tell the passion that’s gone into making it. All this combined sets Redline apart by miles, and it’s sad it didn’t meet much commercial success,

In contrast, the stories of Kimetsu no Yaiba or Shinkai’s films don’t appeal to me that much, and are mediocre at best. The animation still makes these stories a treat to watch, but at the end of the day simple does not equal mediocre. The other problem I have with this, is that fans also seem to look only at the animation to determine the quality of a series these days. It’s a much bigger question of what people prioritise – “plot or animation?” but I believe this just restricts people to looking forward to and desiring flashy animation from every production. Fans end up not looking at the story and determining their opinions based on that, of their own regard, which ultimately is such a shame.

Redline was unforgettable, and I hope I can see more films like this in the future. I also hope Redline can redeem itself some day too.

Redline (2009)

Until next time,

-brainscratch.

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