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Monday, July 1, 2013

Redline - A Japanese Animated Movie

On Saturday night last, my buddy Rob came over with a video for us to watch... a Japanese anime flick called Redline.

Immediately my brain started formulating reasons why I wouldn't like it, but then... what the hell... let's watch it first and then provide a judgement.. you know, like a normal person... which I am not... I love a challenge.

So... I watched it.

Redline... it's an animated flick... it was released in 2009 as a Sci-Fi movie with racing as the theme. If you look at Wikipedia, you would see that it says it's an auto racing flick, but truthfully, there's only one automobile recognizable to any fan of cars, like myself.

So... as the movie begins, a voice-over shouts that Redline is directed by Koike Takashi (surname first).  

Who the hell is that? Now I'm worried. But maybe Koike is famous in Japan... it's not like I know everything about Japan. It's my goal, but I'm not there (and never will be).

Did you know that Redline is the directorial debut of Koike?

I'm not going to giveaway too much of the plot... hang-on... plot should be in quotes, like this: "plot".

Anyhow, the film is set in the far future of Earth - plenty of mutants, but at least the nice thing is that no one seems to care what others look like. Anyhow, the "plot" revolves around racer JP who wants to win the Redline race, an underground racing event.

There's the contrived love story crap, the expected racing crap, the expected sub-plot of people not wanting the race to occur and trying to stop it. And, unlike Rocky (the classic boxing movie), the guy you expect to win, wins. Snnnnnoooooorrrrrrre.

There were however many unexpected laughs in the flick - which were meant to be there, so kudos for that.

There was also suddenly unexpected swearing and brief nudity and sexuality that, to be honest, did not ned to be utilized if the plot was strong enough, because none of those things actually added a damn thing to the "plot".

Apparently this movie is considered by many to be one of the best animated Japanese movies out there.

What utter crap!

This movie is certainly well animated, if you like this particular style of Japanese art, but for my money (Rob bought the movie), the animation skills illustrated in the classic Akira movie from 1988. Beautifully rendered, I never understood it.

I understand Redline - so that tells you how simple a movie it is... and that's the main shortcoming of the movie... it's so fricking simple. There's no surprise at all in this flick - as far as plot goes.

Should you watch this movie? No.

What if you really like cars? No.

Car races? No.

Cars that go fast? Maybe. I've redlined more than my fair share of cars over the years.

Plot? No.

Good writing? No.

Good animation? Maybe. As a writer, I obviously need to see a strong story and strong writing.

I don't have a great deal of experience with anime, but I do have a great deal of experience with comic books.

Too often I have watched artists think that they can create their own stuff, and too often, they fail. In the comic book world, there are some rare individuals who can do both - and I respect and hate them for that much talent - people like Jim Starlin, Mike Grell, John Byrne 30 years ago, Hal Foster, and Carl Barks. Conversely, one of the best artists ever - Neal Adams tried to create his on line of comics... had a good idea but fell upon his own fountain pen with his inability to create riveting stories.

So, yeah... good writing is very important. Redline doesn't seem to think that is very important.

Andrew Joseph
Today is Canada Day... July 1, 2013... our 146th b-day. I once spent the day at the Canadian embassy in Japan at a party and received a gift of a watch from the ambassador - that had the flags of the 10 provinces and two territories marking the hours... it was for the 125th b-day.
Now of course, we have three territories making a proper Canadian watch difficult to create unless we go to a 26-hour day, with the extra two hours counting as sleep hours.

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