I sat. I watched. I liked.
I. A Zoo of Names
Name selection was inspired in this film. The protagonist is called JP, immediately reminding us Nippon’s web address country code. Sonoshee sounds to me like “sono” (Jp. “that”) + English “she”, therefore coming out as “That Girl” (which is what she is for JP, that girl from the arcadia of his youth, and she’s a “Crab” so she’s stuck going sideways and not ahead toward the future but she wears a 78 which is the number or cards on a Tarot deck so fortune will smile on her in the end). I bet we can tell what kind of men the Superboins go for just by looking at their names: Boy-Boy and Boss-Boss (a pedophile and a gerontophile, I guess they’ll never fight over a man). And the moniker Cherry Boy Hunter is, well, divine. Plus one can understand that the big crybaby Deyzuna is destined for the Redline race with his name resembling Daytona so much. WMD Funky Boy is like Hiroshima’s Little Boy…only funkier. Roboworld, Europas, Supergrass… I want to see an anime show set in this lush, cyberpunk universe. I know it won’t be anywhere near has highly budgeted as this, but that’s OK. Make it happen!!
II. A Wasted Chance
Check out this scene.
I love writing systems so I had to pause this as soon as I saw it. From the beginning it looked to me suspiciously similar to Devanagari script (used for several Indian languages). I zoomed in and after some checking around I can confirm that indeed it is Devanagari…extremely random Devanagari. As far as I can tell the “words” don’t mean anything in any language. Moreover, and perhaps to confuse people like me (ha! fat chance!) the letters are sometimes upside down, reversed, or both (e.g. the ubiquitous ठ). It’s as if someone had taken a box with Devanagari letters and dropped it on the floor. I wish some more effort had been put into this.
One particular damning detail is that in Devanagari very often letters do a gattai and morph into little groups that look different from the separate members. For example, व followed by ठ should morph into व्ठ, but on this screen we see वठ, where each element is unmodified. No love for gattai in an anime film??? Say it ain’t so. Someone simply randomly typed letters in, then flipped them this way and that…done. Wouldn’t it have been awesome fanservice if the opening verse of the Rig Veda had flashed on the screen or something like that??? Yes, it would have.
III. Cool Bits
I like what’s going on with the lines there.
67 minutes in, Sonoshee shoots down Sidewinders with a gun and the high-pitched battlecry she emits when she does is to die for. It totally reminded me of the sample in Daft Punk’s High Life below [and oops there’s some Leiji Matsumoto anime in that vid, I hadn’t even realized, but you know what? It’s appropriate because REDLINE‘s creator and designer Katsuhito Ishii said in an interview he doesn’t try to follow the mainstream anime designs of today because he thinks that there are so many people doing the same thing right now that a certain generation of fans has turned off, and he feels this film is a way to make these fans come back, for example, he adds, Leiji Matsumoto fans are in this group; and in a couple of other interviews he’s said he decided to bring his character called Trava (from a 2003 OVA) into the race because he remembered how as a child he got excited when he saw Captain Harlock all of a sudden pop up in Galaxy Express 999 which is a favorite of JP’s voice actor Kimura as well so yes this is appropriate]:
Sad but true: the Superboins’ mecha does better in a minute than Mazinger‘s similarly cockpitted Million alpha ever did. Maybe the lesson is that if you’re stuck piloting a stereotypically female mecha, the best strategy is to act stereotypically female.
77 minutes in a strange “aircraft carrier” shows up…it hovers in the air and releases fighters onto the ground 😀
It’s Technology (Machine Head, Roboworld) versus Magic (Superboins, Supergrass) and Love wins. Go figure.