Redline (2009 film)

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Redline (2009 film) poster.jpg
Japanese theatrical release poster
Directed by Takeshi Koike
Produced by
  • Kentarō Yoshida
  • Yukiko Koike
Screenplay by
Story by Katsuhito Ishii
Music by James Shimoji
Distributed by Tohokushinsha Film
Release dates
  • August 14, 2009 (2009-08-14) (Locarno[1])
  • October 9, 2010 (2010-10-09) (Japan)
Running time 102 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Redline (レッドライン?, stylized as REDLINE) is a 2009 science fiction auto racing anime film produced by Madhouse and released in Japan on October 9, 2010. The directorial debut feature of Takeshi Koike, it features the voices of Takuya Kimura, Yū Aoi and Tadanobu Asano, and an original story by Katsuhito Ishii, who also co-writes and sound directs.[2] The film is set in the distant future, where a man known as JP takes on great risks for the chance of winning the titular underground race.

After a total of seven years in production, Redline was intended to premiere at the 2009 Annecy International Animated Film Festival and follow Summer Wars, Mai Mai Miracle and Yona Yona Penguin as the fourth and final feature film Madhouse planned to release between summer 2009 and spring 2010. However, further delays resulted in the delay of its world premiere, pushed back a few months to August 14, 2009, at the Locarno International Film Festival and its Japanese release to fall 2010.


In the far future, when groundcars are being largely replaced by hovercars, there is one last great race known as "Redline." Held once every five years, it features the greatest groundcar racers from around the galaxy.

Protagonist "Sweet JP", Takuya Kimura, nearly wins Planet Dorothy's "Yellowline" race, one of the qualifying races for Redline, but just before the finish line JP's car is sabotaged by an explosive device placed by his friend and mechanic, Frisbee, Joshua Flathead. In the past, Frisbee and JP were sent to prison for fixing races for the mafia, and are doing so again so they can keep racing. Their method involves JP holding back until midway through the race, then move to second place to improve his odds before purposely losing. When JP abandons the plan and attempts to win the race, Frisbee detonates the bomb he rigged in order to ensure he doesn't. While recuperating in the hospital and reminiscing over his loss, JP finds out that he was selected for Redline, despite not qualifying in the last race, due to popular demand and because two racers withdrew.

The Redline race takes place on Roboworld, a militarized planet ruled by cyborgs. The Roboworld government is violently opposed to the race being held on their planet, as they have several ongoing projects (some of which have been made illegal by various treaties) that they wish to be kept top-secret. JP and the other racers are transported to Europass, a backwater moon and demilitarized zone near Roboworld, to prepare. There he meets Sonoshee, the winner of the Yellowline and one of JP's childhood acquaintances, in a restaurant. They also meet Trava, Shinkai, and Machinehead, other competitors in Redline, as well as some of Roboworld's military, who illegally entered Europass to retrieve Little Deyzuna, one of their soldiers who had gone rogue to pursue Trava. Little Deyzuna and Trava used to be in the army together, along with Shinkai, and Little Deyzuna felt betrayed that the other two would be racing in Redline. After successfully retrieving him, Roboworld's military make a few threats, but ultimately leave the racers alone and unharmed.

As the Redline race grows closer, Frisbee and JP's four-armed mechanic/junk dealer work on repairing and upgrading JP's car, a yellow Trans Am 20000 改 WR. The mechanic, Tadanobu Asano, known as Old Man Mole, is suspicious of Frisbee and frequently disagrees with his modification plans, arguing that they'll provide too much power and that "a man's gotta drive that thing." He also knows of their past race-fixing schemes, and Frisbee's involvement with the Mafia.

Guerilla forces on Roboworld, as well as the Bounty Hunter team (which consists of Redline racing partners Lynchman and Johnny Boya), sabotage a number of Roboworld's planetary defenses, including several turrets and an orbital disintegration cannon. JP, Sonoshee, and the other racers speed across the planet while under heavy attack from the Roboworld military, which have targeted each of the racers with intent to kill. During the race, the guerillas unleash a powerful bioweapon named "Funky Boy." Funky Boy goes on a rampage, destroying many of the Roboworld units and much of the landscape around them. The orbital cannon comes back online in time to fire on Funky Boy, but fails to destroy him. One of Roboworld's high ranking generals decides to merge with another Bioweapon to fight against Funky Boy while the race continues on.

In Funky Boy's rampage and the blast from the cannon, Sonoshee's car is destroyed, knocking her out in the process. JP, however, finds her alive and offers to help fulfill her childhood dream of winning by joining him in continuing the race together. Meanwhile, Old Man Mole notices the bomb planted on JP's car, which was flipped over and caught on camera. Frisbee, while watching the televised race in giant Cadillac hovercar parked on a plateau, is almost killed by a Mafia boss when he refuses to sabotage JP's car again, but is saved by Mole, who arrives just in time to shoot down the mafia and sits down afterwards to watch the rest of the race with Frisbee. The final sprint to the finish shows Machinehead, winner of the past 4 Redline races, tied for first place with JP and Sonoshee. In his haste, Machinehead uses the steamlight, a concentrated form of energy that can release an unimaginable amount of power, to give him the edge over the race. Nobody has ever mastered the steamlight prior to this- its sheer output is usually too much for any racer to control. Despite this, Sonoshee quickly reciprocates with her own piece of steamlight, given to her by her father on her seventh birthday. Both racers blaze towards the finishing line with their cars breaking apart due to the super-sonic speed.

JP and Sonoshee are neck-and-neck with Machinehead but unable to get past him. The explosive Frisbee placed earlier on is activated by a drunken Old Man Mole, with the resulting explosion giving what's left of JP's car a boost of speed to pass Machinehead. The Trans Am 20000 breaks away, finally reduced to a bare chassis before exploding completely, launching JP and Sonoshee towards the finish line. JP's duck tail hairstyle crosses the finish line a fraction of a second before Machinehead, and he and Sonoshee are declared the victors. Audiences throughout the galaxy celebrate JP's amazing victory as the other racers watch, exhausted and in awe. While suspended in the air by an enchantment placed on the finish line, JP pulls Sonoshee close and kisses her as the two victors confess their love for each other.

Development and release[edit]

Redline was produced by Madhouse[3] and directed by Takeshi Koike, who also wrote the storyboard and served as unit director and animation director. The film's producers were Yukiko Koike and Kentarō Yoshida. Masahiro Fukushima served as executive producer. The task of writing the script was shared by Yoji Enokido, Katsuhito Ishii, and Yoshiki Sakurai. The film's character designs, original and otherwise, were done by Katsuhito Ishii, who also served as one of the film's sound directors, the other being Youji Shimizu. The film's music was composed by James Shimoji.[4]

According to Tim Maughan of Anime News Network, Redline was released several years later than originally planned. Its development took seven years and used 100,000 hand-made drawings,[5] which Maughan notes is all the more unusual as it is Koike's directorial debut.[4]

Redline was initially meant to premiere at the 2009 Annecy International Animated Film Festival, where it would have competed in the Feature Film category.[6] Instead, it premiered during the Locarno International Film Festival in August of the same year.[7] Several more advance screenings were done at international film festivals during 2010.[8] In May, Redline was shown during the Sci-Fi-London 9.[9][10] In June, it participated in Annecy 2010 in the category "Feature Films out of competition".[11] During September, it was shown in Australia and New Zealand as part of Reel Anime 2010.[12] Redline was shown in Austin, Texas on September 23,[8] and in Edinburgh, Scotland, on October 15 as part of the Scotland Loves Anime film festival.[13] At the 2010 Nantes Utopiales Sci-Fi festival, the film received the special mention of jury and public.

The film opened in Japan on October 9, 2010. Coinciding with this, the film was shown in a San Francisco-based Viz Cinema theater from October 8–14, 2010. Distribution in North America is handled by Manga Entertainment.[3]


An official soundtrack to the film by James Shimoji (ジェイムス下地?) was released under GBC label on October 6, 2010,[14] and contains 42 tracks.[15] It ranked 207th on Oricon's album chart.[16]


Tim Maughan of Anime News Network describes the film as "something very special, very different, and insanely exhilarating." In particular he praises the film's director, saying that "Koike has managed to make all this chaos believable." He goes on to say that "Redline is animation not only at its best, but also largely animation for animation's sake." Although Maughan says some may dislike its techno soundtrack and "minimal plot," he calls Redline "the most insanely exciting, visually exhilarating anime film you've seen in decades."[4]

Thomas Zoth of comments that while the film does not provide "a deep plot or unique premise," it still "demands to be seen." He said that if Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was "an assault on the senses ... Redline is a declaration of war." Zoth went on to praise the film for its "imaginative creatures and clever designs", to compare Koike's work to that of Quentin Tarantino, and to compliment the film for its "soundtrack, with its memorable high-energy tracks that greatly complement the chaos onscreen." He concludes by saying that if "the life of the industry has been drained and replaced with rote, cookiecutter shows-by-committee, Redline shows a path out."[17]

Nicolas Penedo of the French magazine Animeland describes it as the "Paris-Dakar revisited à la Ōban Star-Racers",[18] a remake of Hanna-Barbera Wacky Races with arts inspired from Jack Kirby comics and know-how, rhythm and energy inherent of the best Japanese anime movies.[19] The reviewer praises the animation quality as breathtaking,[20] and declares that Takeshi Koike made an homage to comics and films of the 70s and 80s.[20] On the negative, he notes the lack of scenario stating "Don't hope to find any scenario in Redline".[20][clarification needed]

Kwenton Bellette and Peter Martin reviewed Redline for Twitch Film. Bellette describes it as a "truly out of this world experience", "Speed Racer on crack" and praised the supporting characters for being memorable and the background galaxy made of different races and creeds to be very solid.[21] Martin expresses that "it feels like every centimeter of every frame is filled with some kind of kinetic color or action or bit of business, making it an experience that is sure to overload the senses" and asserts that writer Katsuhito Ishii succeeds at making a feature-length anime as insane as his film Funky Forest.[22]

Jon Liang of UK Anime Network comments that "A sense of the cool and outrageous is seeped into every pore of the design, ... exaggerated is an understatement here", and notes that the film's "cinema-quality smooth animation" makes "even the most alien of things move naturally and the sense of speed that is often achieved is frequently mind-blowing." He remarks that "the visuals and over-the-top action will most likely overload sensitive brain cells," but concludes by calling Redline "an incredibly exciting cinematic experience that doesn't take itself at all seriously."[23]


  1. ^ Kelts, Roland (7 August 2009). "Anime with Texas roots to debut in Switzerland". The Daily Yomiuri. Yomiuri Group. Retrieved 21 November 2010. 
  2. ^ "English-language promotional film poster for Redline", Leeds International Film Festival Free Guide (24th ed.) (published October 2010), 2010 
  3. ^ a b "Redline Opens in California, Japan in Same October Weekend". Anime News Network. September 22, 2010. Retrieved September 26, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c Maughan, Tim (May 19, 2010). "Redline – Review". Anime News Network. Retrieved September 26, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Crew: Subbed Redline to Open Throughout U.S. in 2011". Anime News Network. October 6, 2010. Retrieved October 6, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Koike, Madhouse's Redline Pulled from Annecy Fest Slate". Anime News Network. May 20, 2009. Retrieved September 28, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Redline". Locarno International Film Festival. Retrieved September 28, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b "Redline's N. American Debut at Austin's Fantastic Fest". Anime News Network. August 27, 2010. Retrieved September 28, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Manga All-nighter". festivalBiz Group. Retrieved September 28, 2010. 
  10. ^ "UK Anime All-Nighter at Sci-Fi-London Film Festival 2010". Anime News Network. April 19, 2010. Retrieved September 28, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Film index: Redline". Annecy International Animated Film Festival. Retrieved September 28, 2010. 
  12. ^ "RedLine". Madman Entertainment. Retrieved September 26, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Redline". August 11, 2010. Archived from the original on November 7, 2010. Retrieved November 7, 2010. 
  14. ^ "REDLINEオリジナルサウンドトラック/ ジェイムス下地" (in Japanese). Retrieved November 7, 2010. 
  15. ^ REDLINEオリジナルサウンドトラック (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved November 7, 2010. 
  16. ^ "オリコンランキング情報サービス「you大樹」" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved Oct 24, 2010. 
  17. ^ Zoth, Thomas (September 24, 2010). "Redline Movie Review: Madhouse takes racing to the next level". Retrieved September 26, 2010. 
  18. ^ Penedo, Nicolas (July–August 2010). "Redline Les fous du volants". Animeland (in French) (163). ISSN 1148-0807. Retrieved October 1, 2010. le Paris-Dakar est revisité façon Ôban Star-Racers! 
  19. ^ Penedo, Nicolas (July–August 2010). "Redline Les fous du volants". Animeland (in French) (163). ISSN 1148-0807. Retrieved October 1, 2010. remake des Fous du volants, ce vieux dessin animé d'HANA & BARBERA, mais matiné d'un graphisme inspiré des comics book de Jack Kirby, le tout avec un savoir faire, un rythme et une énergie propres au meilleurs films d'animation nippons! 
  20. ^ a b c Penedo, Nicolas (July–August 2010). "Redline Les fous du volants". Animeland (in French) (163). ISSN 1148-0807. Retrieved October 1, 2010. 
  21. ^ Bellette, Kwenton (September 16, 2010). "Reel Anime 2010: Red Line". Twitch Film. Retrieved September 26, 2010. 
  22. ^ Martin, Peter (September 24, 2010). "Fantastic Fest 2010: Redline Review". Twitch Film. Retrieved October 7, 2010. 
  23. ^ Liang, Jon. "Anime Review: Redline". UK Anime Network. Etharius. Retrieved September 26, 2010. 

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