Redline (2009)

So much of the animation that aired in the 1970’s came from Japan, like Star Blazers (the Americanized Space Battleship Yamamoto), Speed Racer (Mach GoGoGo) and Battle of the Planets (Science Ninja Team Gatchaman). It had not yet become the cultural force that it is today, with people dressing up and attending conventions. It was just something that was on TV that we all enjoyed.

In the early 1990’s, finding anime wasn’t as simple as it is today. I remember tape traders all having Legend of the Overfiend and other strange fare like Battle Royale High School. As anime grew in popularity in the US, I really checked out. It all seemed like the same shows over and over, to be honest.

That’s why I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Redline.

On the planet Dorothy, our hero “Sweet” JP goes into business for himself during a fixed race, trying for the win. Instead, the gambling bosses blow up his Trans Am 2000 and nearly take him out and ensuring that Sonoshee “Cherry Boy Hunter” McLaren is the winner.

Despite losing his car, the incident pays off JP’s debts and gains him a loyal fanbase that votes him into the galaxy’s most famous race, the Redline. That’s also because people have been dropping out of the race once its location is revealed — Roboworld, a dictatorship run by robots out to hang every single racer.

Imagine Wacky Racers injected with psychedelic drugs, propelled by nitrous and then injected directly into your veins. That’ll give you some small idea of what this film is all about. There’s also a gigantic mutant named Funky Boy and Metalhead, the dapper robotic front running racer, and some true love along the way.

With over 100,000 hand-made drawings and absolutely no CGI whatsoever, Redline spent seven years in production before busting through multiple planned release dates. If you ask me, it was worth every second. It’s a frenetic blast of pure mayhem that reawakened me to the potential I once saw in anime way back in the halcyon days of 1977.

You can watch this for free on Tubi and YouTube.

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