A little over 10 years ago, one of the best high-octane, adrenaline-pumping, apace fun anime films of all time raced assimilate the screen.
Set in a galaxy far, far away, “Redline” aboriginal roared its way into Japanese theaters on Oct. 9, 2010. It starred a casting of belligerent aliens aggressive in a alternation of anything-goes contest in bizarre, over-the-top vehicles. Imagine if the pod chase in “Star Wars: Adventure I — The Phantom Menace” were its own film, and you’ll alpha to get the idea.
Despite the articulate talents of stars Takuya Kimura, Yu Aoi and Tadanobu Asano, the blur about fabricated a cavity at the box appointment — I saw it aperture weekend at a cinema alfresco Nagoya with about bristles added bodies in the theater. But through chat of aperture and able-bodied home video sales, in the amid decade, “Redline” has become article of a band classic. That was accessible during a alternation of screenings in Tokyo in backward 2020 to bless the film’s 10th ceremony — admirers braved the communicable and arranged theaters to see the blur in all its celebrity on the big screen. The aboriginal of those screenings, captivated in Shinjuku, was abounding by the film’s architect and co-screenwriter, Katsuhito Ishii, and its director, Takeshi Koike.
“It was abundant to see so abounding admirers there,” Ishii tells me a few weeks later. “They’re consistently so passionate.”
In the extensive approaching apple of “Redline,” aliens in souped-up supercars attempt in a alternation of added acute contest that culminate in the Redline, the best acute chase of them all, which takes abode already every bristles years. Our hero is J.P. (Kimura), a greaser whose best acquaintance Frisbee (Asano) has links to the mob and wants J.P. to bandy the race. Additionally amid the racers is J.P.’s crush, Sonoshee McLaren (Aoi), and a host of added acclaimed competitors, like the adult twins whose agent is additionally a behemothic robot, and Machine Head, a cyborg racer whose anatomy transforms into a car. Oh, I about forgot to acknowledgment — the accepted Redline is set on Roboworld, a planet busy by militarists who accept absolutely not accustomed permission for the chase to booty abode there and plan to avert it with acute prejudice. That’s the setup, but it’s basically an alibi for cars to go absolutely fast and occasionally draft anniversary added up.
“I already visited an aunt of a acquaintance in Sedona, Arizona,” Ishii says. “Her son was bedeviled with tinkering with cars, and wouldn’t alike allocution to me. I thought, ‘If I accomplish an anime about cars, maybe kids like this will watch it.’”
For anime admirers like me, who grew up on VHS tapes of 1980s and ’90s anime such as “Akira” and “Cyber City Oedo 808,” “Redline” acquainted like a acknowledgment to the advantageous canicule of hand-drawn sci-fi action. By 2010, the industry had afflicted in some cogent ways, with an about fetishistic accent on beautiful adolescent girls (a abnormality accepted as “moe“) and a growing assurance on computer graphics. To us old-school fans, “Redline” about acquainted like a acknowledgment of war adjoin both. But was that intentional?
Ishuu says that, as for moe, “Yes, I anticipate there was a audible activity of ‘We can’t let all anime be like that!’”
The abridgement of computer graphics, on the added hand, was as abundant by adventitious as by design.
“The blur came out in 2010, but it had been in assembly for a continued time,” says Ishii. “When we started, CG wasn’t absolutely that commonplace. But because we took so long, it was by the time we finished.”
Moreover, Ishii says, activation the absolute blur in acceptable hand-drawn appearance emphasized the appearance of administrator Takeshi Koike, whose abilities he compares to those of adept administrator Hayao Miyazaki.
“Koike is abundant at designing both characters and things like vehicles,” Ishii says. “I capital to accomplish a blur that absolutely showed off what he could do.”
Despite its old-school tenets, however, “Redline” is actual abundant its own blur and has an boldness rarely apparent afore or since. For evidence, attending no added than its casting of camp but adorable racers, abundantly abundant world, pop art beheld appearance and mile-a-minute pace. (Incredibly, Ishii tells me the blur was absolutely declared to accept one added big activity scene, but it’s apparently bigger for our aggregate claret burden that it didn’t.)
That faculty of boldness came from the altered minds abaft the camera. Ishii, while not an alien face in the anime industry, was mainly accepted as the administrator of arbitrary live-action films like “The Taste of Tea” (2004) and “Funky Forest: The Aboriginal Contact” (2005). Koike was a top animator, but additionally a motorcycle bedlamite who had ridden from Aomori to Tokyo afterwards finishing aerial academy to alpha his aboriginal job in anime.
“I acquainted Koike was the alone administrator who could do it,” Ishii says.
The brace brought a host of disparate influences to “Redline,” including archetypal anime like “Galaxy Express 999” and “Machine Hayabusa,” the ’60s Hanna-Barbera animation “Wacky Races,” and the 1982 atypical “Flanagan’s Run,” which is about a footrace from Los Angeles to New York City. Meanwhile, the attending of the blur took cues from American banana books.
“In anime, the affective elements in the beginning usually accept a altered attending than the backgrounds,” Ishii says. “I capital to breathing the foregrounds and backgrounds in the aforementioned style. I additionally capital to accomplish the caliginosity absolutely black. That would accord it a added American comic-type look, accomplish it absolutely pop.”
The alpha of the blur began in the aboriginal 2000s, back Ishii and Koike teamed up for an activated sci-fi alternation alleged “Trava Fist Planet” that tells the account of two benumbed all-embracing surveyors. “Trava” alone lasted one episode, but the brace acquainted its apple was account revisiting.
Meanwhile, Ishii helped administer the Japan-animated arrangement in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill: Volume 1” (2003), which added spurred his absorption in alive in the anime world.
All this aggressive Ishii and Koike to put calm a adventure about a wild, actionable chase set in the apple of “Trava Fist Planet.” The blow is history.
Well, almost. First, addition had to absolutely accede to aftermath the film. Easier said than done: Best studios are afraid to blooming ablaze anime films that aren’t based on accustomed properties. Ishii and Koike pitched the blur to Madhouse, the flat area Koike had started his career.
“Projects like that are usually a no-go,” Ishii says. “But the admiral of Madhouse at the time, Masao Maruyama, absolutely admired Koike’s opinion, and Koike absolutely capital to do it.”
The brace put calm an action-packed pilot film, afterwards which Maruyama gave them the OK. But clashing the film’s racers, the assembly aggregation wasn’t decidedly speedy.
“We absolutely deviated from the aboriginal schedule,” Ishii says with a laugh. “Madhouse gave us about two years, but we concluded up demography seven.”
But he credits the time spent — and Koike’s backbone — for the film’s ultimate quality.
“The box-office allotment weren’t huge, but the bodies who admired it absolutely admired it,” says Ishii. And that still holds accurate a decade later.
These days, Ishii and Koike are still authoritative anime calm — back 2014, they’ve been creating a alternation of films set in the long-running “Lupin the Third” franchise. The “Lupin” films (there are three so far) allotment abundant of the artistic agents of “Redline.” And, like “Redline,” they abandon the cuteness of avant-garde anime, aiming for a added above aesthetic.
But what about J.P. and Sonoshee? Will we anytime see added from the apple of “Redline”?
“Every so often, we do get inquiries from producers abroad, but those inquiries get filtered through anime studios here, who usually appetite to booty it in a affectionate of a moe direction,” Ishii says. “They say they appetite to do addition ‘Redline,’ but it ends up axis into article abroad entirely.”
“But,” he adds, “I would adulation to accomplish something.”
Hear that, producers?
”Redline” is accessible to beck in Japan on Hulu and Docomo Anime Store for Amazon Prime.
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