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Ink & Pixel: Redline

05.22.2014

Ink & Pixel is a source of pride and joy for me as a writer and as such, Im always striving to take this column further for those who read and enjoy it. If you yourself, or anyone you know, helped to make any of the amazing feature animated films found within this column, I would love to talk to you to further my knowledge. Please contact me at steveseigh@joblo.com so we can discuss it further.

Gearheads, Grease Monkeys, Tuners; these are just a few of the slang terms used when referring to people who love cars. To be honest, I've never considered myself to be one of the these individuals. My attitude is that so long as my car is well maintained underneath the hood and can get me to where I need to go then it's all good. However, during my Junior High School years, I grew up hanging out with many of my town's local metalheads, and damn near all of them were big car enthusiasts. Their passion for building, airbrushing, and maintaining their vehicles was something to be admired for sure. Anyway, you know who else is really into cars? Hollywood.

Okay, so Scott Waugh's NEED FOR SPEED might not have been the box office smash that Touchstone and Dreamworks Pictures were hoping for, but I'll be damned if those FAST AND FURIOUS films aren't a high-octane thrill ride a and half! Say what you will about car movies, but films like CHRISTINE, BULLITT, DUEL, and even MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE have proven that when in the right hands - and when their pedals are pushed to the metal - these intricate machines can become unforgettable characters of the silver screen.

Now, you might be wondering, what is up with all this car talk, man? Well, this week I thought we would take a look at the 2009 science fiction action racing anime REDLINE. No doubt a work of passion from the artists and animators over at Madhouse Studios, the same production house that brought us such anime releases as 3X3 EYES, BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHT, CHOBITS, and VAMPIRE HUNTER D: BLOODLUST, REDLINE is an animated film that moves at a breakneck pace and features some of the slickest hand-drawn animation of recent years.

Marked as the directorial debut of Takeshi Koike, REDLINE was produced by Kentaro Yoshida and Yukiko Koike and was based on a script written by Katsuhito Ishii, Yoji Enokido, and Yoshiki Sakurai. In what is (in my estimation) the DEATH RACE of anime, REDLINE is the story of 3 very different street racers who all have two things in common: a lust for the open road and an unquenchable desire to be the very best. Redline is a race held once every five years that serves as a way of crowning the fastest driver in the galaxy. Men, women, and alien alike show up for this momentous occasion in an effort to prove their mettle in the ways of intergalactic death racing. In Redline there is only one rule: whomever crosses the finish line first, wins.... by ANY means necessary

Enter JP (voiced by Takuya Kimura). This sonofabitch rocks a mean greaser's pompadour, a cracked leather jacket, and has enough nitrous oxide figuratively pumping through his veins to power Dominic Toretto's Charger 100 times over. Behind the wheel of his retro-style muscle car, JP has vowed to win the Redline tournament on talent alone, and has therefore chosen to forgo outfitting his ride with weapons of any sort. Next is Sonoshee McLaren (voiced by Yu Aoi), a pistachio-green haired vixen of the lanes whose lightning quick reflexes give her the edge she needs to leave any man racing the Redline choking on her exhaust. Looking like a character pulled straight from Sega's Jet Set Radio Future, Sonoshee quickly becomes the object of JP's affections as the race rages on. Last but certainly not least is Frisbee (voiced by Tadanobu Asano), JP's best friend, and a competitor known throughout the racing circuit for his intense mechanical prowess. Frisbee is the kind of man who will do whatever it takes to win, including strapping an explosive device to JP's ride in the hope of taking him out of the Redline permanently.

REDLINE was conceptualized and written by director, writer, and sound engineer Katsuhito Ishii. While in the directors chair Ishii has been responsible for such films as SHARK SKIN MAN, PEACH HIP GIRL, and THE TASTE OF TEA. What's that? You've never heard of those films? Well, do you remember that totally badass animated sequence featured in Quentin Tarantino's KILL BILL? Yup, Ishii was responsible for that, too. In fact, the inspiration for REDLINE came to Ishii while visiting with a friend who lived in Sedona, Arizona. While there, Ishii noticed that the local youth would spend the majority of their days working on automobiles, therefore never taking anytime to go the movies. Ishii, wanting to reward their hard work, while simultaneously encouraging them to take a break from their labor, began work on REDLINE. His hope was that the film's car-centric theme would draw the kids away from their vehicles and into the theaters - if only for a few hours.

Described by film critic Kwenton Bellette as Speed Racer on crack, REDLINE is indeed a visual assault on the senses. The film took a total of 7 years to complete from start to finish and features a total of 100,000 hand-drawn cells of art. After crossing the finish line at the box office REDLINE was only able to recover a worldwide total of $8,267,379 of its $26 million dollar budget. However, anime fans and critics alike continue to give high praise to the film to this very day, and the film continues to reach out to more and more people each year with consistently decent sales in the Blu-Ray and DVD market.

It's my guess that with enough time REDLINE will become a cult classic among action anime enthusiasts. I admit that its DEATH RACE-like aesthetic might not appeal to everyone, but as they say, different strokes for different folks, right? Upon watching the film once again for the sake of this article I can definitely vouch for its uniqueness and kinetic energy. The film really does feel like a comic book come to life. Think of it like an homage to the work of Jack Kirby or perhaps some of the stranger titles from Marvel Comics during the 70s and 80s. It's a balls to the wall action anime with a FAST AND FURIOUS twist. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!

Extra Tidbit: What's your favorite automobile in all of animation history? Speed Racer's Mach Five? The Mystery Machine? The Homermobile? Personally, I was always a HUGE fan of Inspector Gadget's Gadgetmobile. That thing was cherry!
Source: joblo.com

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