Got the January blues? The best anime racing film around might just help you

Out of all the months of the year, January probably sucks the most, right? Sorry to people who were born this month, but it just isn’t a very good one, at least in the UK anyway. The holidays are over, it’s freezing cold and wet, and it’s a dead period for good movies or games most of the time. No wonder January blues is a phrase that exists in the first place! But, even if there’s nothing new to watch, there’s always something old – and personally, I can’t recommend a better film to pick your spirits up than the 2009 racing anime Redline.

I have to admit, I only watched Redline for the first time just the other day, so I’m a bit late, but quite honestly I’ve never come across a film that so thoroughly makes you wanna say “hell yeah” every single step of the way. For those that haven’t heard of it before, Redline is the feature film directorial debut of Takeshi Koike, who you might recognise if you’ve seen Lupin the IIIrd films like Goemon’s Blood Spray or Fujiko’s Lie. It is also easily one of the most visually distinct anime I’ve ever seen, utilising thick, deep black lines and shadows, accentuating all manner of alien designs.

Just a taste of what Redline can offer you.

The film is set in the far future, at a time where planetary space travel is no problem, aliens are a dime a dozen, and vehicles with engines as we know of are a thing of the past. Even so, there are still racers out there that have a desire to race cars with your typical four wheels and engine, resulting in a series of races where the prize is knowing you’re the fastest, culminating in one single race called the Redline.

There is just so much about this film that’ll put you in a good mood. For one, there’s its protagonist “Sweet” JP, a human racer with a pompadour so tall you’d be forgiven for thinking he was wearing a top hat. He’s mostly an archetypal character, definitely borrowing from that western greaser look, with a confident and occasionally cocky attitude to match, but he’s kind and caring enough to balance out said cockiness – plus he’s a damn good driver, too, so the confidence is earned.

He’s perfectly suited to a film that truly goes balls to the wall with its animation, doing things with cars that obviously aren’t physically possible – like one scene where JP spins his car so fast he skips across a lake like a perfectly thrown rock – yet no matter how out there it goes, you can’t help but stay locked in the entire time.

To describe the film as vibrant is probably doing it a disservice, and to describe it as only kinetic and not anything more than that is almost lying. It is a film where racing is the most important thing in the galaxy, with all of its highs and lows, and by the end you’ll be thinking the exact same thing – it’s almost enough to get me into real racing, but that doesn’t have situations where a planet of half-robot-aliens are trying to kill the racers to protect military secrets.

Oh, did I not mention that part? Yeah, while all of the racing is going on, there’s also a whole thing with the inhabitants of the planet the Redline race is taking place on not wanting it to be there because they’re harbouring some terrible weaponry that would probably constitute a war crime. Ridiculous is truly the only appropriate calendar word of the day to describe this film.

Redline is a film you really don’t have to think very hard about, it’s mostly about the ride than it is about the destination, and that’s honestly perfect for a month like January. I wouldn’t describe it as easy on the eyes, given just how rapid the animation can be at certain points, but it is absolutely easy viewing – it’s also on Prime Video in the UK, so you don’t have much of an excuse to not watch it. I promise, by the time the credits hit, you’ll have said “hell yeah” to yourself at least once.

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