You will be redirected back to your article in seconds


A cavalcade of intergalactic speed demons enter a deadly car race in the full-throttle Japanese anime "Redline."

Voices: Takuya Kimura, Tadanobu Asano, Yuu Aoi, Cho, Kanji Tsuda, Kenta Miyake, Kenyuu Horichi, Monako Hisa. (Japanese dialogue)

A cavalcade of intergalactic speed demons enter a deadly car race in the full-throttle Japanese anime “Redline.” One of the most visually spectacular toons in recent years, pic is a thumping ride for fanboys, but the script’s underdeveloped central romance and the fizzling out of intriguing plot threads will impede wider acceptance of this collaboration by helmer Takeshi Koike (“Animatrix World Record”) and scripter-designer Katsuhito Ishii (director of “Funky Forest: The First Contact”). Robust biz can be expected (pic opened Oct. 9 in Japan), and turbo-charged worldwide ancillary seems assured. Manga Entertainment plans a limited theatrical release Stateside in 2011.

Produced by brand-name outfit Madhouse, pic is a triumph of design and technical execution. Showing the influence of Western graphic novels and the work of French comic artist Moebius (aka Jean Giraud), the visuals have a distinctly different look from that of traditional 2D Japanese animation. Most eye-catching is the elasticity of moving objects: Cars, buildings and hulking mechanical monsters are bent and stretched in marvelous ways.

Playing like a twisted combo of “Death Race 2000,” “Speed Racer” and a ’50s hot-rod movie on steroids, pic opens with a dazzling 11-minute pre-credits sequence showing competitors vying for berths in Redline, an illegal, no-holds-barred road race. The main protag, and one of the few human characters in a freakish gallery of cyborgs, robots and animal-human hybrids, is J.P. (voiced by Takuya Kimura), an ultra-cool Redline contender sporting a pompadour big enough to put the Leningrad Cowboys’ coiffures to shame. Once jailed for race-fixing, he’s told by alligator-skinned mechanic/manager Frisbee (Tadanobu Asano) to follow betting-syndicate orders on the big day.

Story idles long enough to establish that J.P. secretly loves race rival Sonoshee (Yuu Aoi), a crowd favorite who watches TV topless and feels “wheels are my only love.” But the hyperactive screenplay can’t commit to much more than a few longing glances and a perfunctory clinch when the checkered flag falls.

The quest for speed at the expense of story cohesion is nowhere more evident than in the lead-up to Redline on Roboworld, a military-run planet that has denied permission for the event and promised death to all competitors. At this point, a batch of new drivers is hustled through the frame with few making a lasting impression, and juicy subplots involving Roboworld’s disaffected workers are allowed to fade away. Biggest head-scratcher is Princess Supergrass (Monako Hisa), a charismatic figure who drifts in and out of the picture and seems to be some sort of spiritual supporter of Redline.

But action is the name of the game, and the final reel does not disappoint. The race to the finish line is genuinely astounding, with maniacal drivers and their heavily armed autos melding into fearsome hunks of metal and flesh.

HD rendering of candy-colored visuals is first class. James Shimoji’s crunching techno score dominates, with jazz and disco music breaking up the barrage at well-timed intervals.

Popular on Variety



Production: A Manga Entertainment (in U.S.)/Tohokushinsha Film Corp. (in Japan) release of a Madhouse, Gastonia production. (International sales: Tohokushinsha, Tokyo.) Produced by Kentaro Yoshida, Yukiko Koike. Executive producer, Masahiro Fukushima. Directed by Takeshi Koike. Screenplay, Katsuhito Ishii, Yoji Enokodio, Yoshiki Sakurai.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Riyuu Takizawa; editors, Akira Terauti, Naoki Kawanishi; music, James Shimoji; art director, Yuko Kobari; sound (Dolby Digital), Tsuneo Marui; character designer, Ishii; associate producer, Daisuke Kimura. Reviewed on DVD, Sydney, Oct. 5, 2010. (In Fantastic Fest; Hawaii, Annecy Animation film festivals; 2009 Locarno Film Festival.) Running time: 102 MIN.

With: Voices: Takuya Kimura, Tadanobu Asano, Yuu Aoi, Cho, Kanji Tsuda, Kenta Miyake, Kenyuu Horichi, Monako Hisa. (Japanese dialogue)

More Film

  • Steven Spielberg Branko Lustig

    'He Left Me Speechless': Steven Spielberg Remembers Branko Lustig

    Steven Spielberg has offered a touching remembrance of Branko Lustig, the Holocaust survivor who produced “Schindler’s List” with Spielberg and Gerald Molen and died Thursday in Croatia. “I was heartbroken to hear of Branko’s passing and my thoughts are with his family and friends,” Spielberg said. “When we first met to discuss ‘Schindler’s List,’ he [...]

  • Dylan Brosnan and Paris BrosnanGolden Globe

    Pierce Brosnan’s Sons Paris and Dylan Brosnan Named 2020 Golden Globe Ambassadors

    Pierce Brosnan’s two youngest sons, Paris and Dylan Brosnan, have been named as the 2020 Golden Globe Ambassadors, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced on Thursday evening. Paris and Dylan are also the sons of journalist and author Keely Shaye Smith. The ambassador(s), a title that typically goes to the son or daughter of a [...]

  • Joaquin Phoenix'Joker' film premiere, Arrivals, 57th

    Film News Roundup: Joaquin Phoenix Honored by Palm Springs Film Festival

    In today’s film news roundup, Joaquin Phoenix is honored for “Joker”; Legion M backs Joe Manganiello’s “Archenemy”; sales have launched on “Lev Yashin: The Dream Goalkeeper”; Warner Bros. shuffles execs and Universal launches a first-of-its-kind animation writing program. HONOR Joaquin Phoenix has been selected as the recipient of the Palm Springs International Film Festival’s chairman’s [...]

  • Danny Huston

    Danny Huston Discusses the Significance of 'Last Photograph'

    In the decades since Danny Huston made his feature directing debut with “Mr. North,” his 1988 film adaptation of the Thornton Wilder novel “Theophilus North,” he has kept busy in front of the cameras as one of film and television’s most versatile and sophisticated character players. In just the past year, small-screen viewers have been [...]

  • Rocketman

    'Rocketman': Chris Dickens Discusses the Inside Story of Editing 'I'm Still Standing'

    Endings are so important and how the viewer leaves the cinema is crucial. For editor Chris Dickens, finding the perfect ending for “Rocketman” was paramount, but it was also a challenge. Elton John’s hit “I’m Still Standing” was going to end the film with the original idea of going to Cannes to recreate the video [...]

  • A general view of the skyline

    United Media Asia Strikes Deal With Indonesian Giant Kompas Gramedia

    Newly-formed content finance, production and distribution company United Media Asia has struck a first look deal, brokered by Hollywood talent agency CAA, with Indonesian media giant Kompas Gramedia. United has also unveiled its first two feature films. The partnership provides UMA with access to Kompas Gramedia’s media network and its 100,000 pieces of intellectual property, [...]

  • Taron Egerton Fashion

    Taron Egerton's Stylist Used Elton John as Inspiration on Press Tour

    Showstopping looks: For Taron Egerton’s “Rocketman” tour, stylist Gareth Scourfield nodded to Elton John’s iconic wardrobe with bold colors, patterns and silhouettes: “We got a bit more eccentric.” May 16 “Elton is the real original showman,” says Scourfield, who met Egerton through another client, Egerton’s “Rocketman” co-star Richard Madden. “Part of Taron as a man [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content