Posted by psgels on 21 August 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews

Aah, apologies for the delay, I’ve been really busy for the past weeks with all kinds of appointments. I finally got the chance to check out what pretty much is the single most anticipated movie of 2011: Madhouse worked for seven years on this thing. They put their top animators on the project (to the point where its production schedule even ruined that of Iron Man’s). So, did it live up to its hype?

Well, let’s get the following out of the way first: while it perhaps did not have the best animation I’ve ever seen, I will say that it’s without a doubt within the top 10 of best animated anime of all time. Possibly even the top 5. The thing with this movie isn’t just that it has unique designs: every single shot is imaginative, and the amount of shots with really fluent animation that has characters moving in all kinds of interesting ways is amazing. This could only have been done with a tremendous budget, and they make the eye candy within this movie virtually limitless. You have the over the top action scenes, but even the quiet scenes look absolutely gorgeous due to the amount of subtle movements that are in them. The best parts was the part by Shinya Ohira: they actually gave him full freedom in creating a truly gorgeous scene.

So, the visuals are absolutely amazing. But what about the rest of the movie? Well, the setting is really imaginative, plus the entire concept of basing your movie round a race also isn’t something we’ve seen in a long while. This movie found an interesting way to still have a ton of explosions and over the top action scenes, and the amount of ideas that has been put into this movie is very commendable.

The weakest part is probably the characterization: it just isn’t as good as most of the other top movies out there, and doesn’t really seem to focus on them anyway. The characters are all interesting and likable, the main characters have a neat and down to earth backstory, but beyond that there is little that sets them apart: the cast of this movie is just too large and there are too many side-characters who are just uninteresting and seriously were in need of more depth. This is the most noticeable with the bad guys: nearly all of them are just random one-sided goons.

The ending is indeed predictable, but I didn’t find that a major issue. The build-up of the climax of this movie was excellent, and I really liked the ending for how it stayed true to itself, and how it didn’t pretend to be anything more than what it was, while at the same time having a number of interesting stories behind it. It’s a well balanced movie that knows when to pack some action, and when to just be quiet and let itself build up.

When you go into this, don’t expect the best movie ever, because it isn’t. It remains a really good movie though, and if it’s a visual orgasm you want, you really can’t go wrong here.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Simple story, but effective execution and balancing, with over the top action scenes that work.
Characters: 7/10 – I expected more of this. They just are too one-sided and there are too many one-dimensional characters.
Production-Values: 10/10 – Incredibly high budget, tons and tons of eye candy and fluid animation.
Setting: 9/10 – A ton of neat ideas were put into this, and the premise is simple, yet works really well.

Macross Frontier – Itsuwari no Utahime
Trigun – Badlands Rumble
Trava – Fist Planet

9 Responses

  1. Stephan says:

    Regarding the characters and the story, I have the impression that they were kept flat by Madhouse on purpose. They really wanted viewers to focus their whole attention to the gorgeous animation and action – a dense plot or multi-layered characters can well stand in the way of archiving that. So I can easily look over that, turn the speakers up and let it blast my eyes and ears. Got to have to mention that the soundtrack was completely rad as well – been listening to it in my car for weeks. Oh yeahyeahyeahyeah \m/

  2. Hlq says:

    This is what attracted me to anime (along with more intelligent series), not dumb girls doing boring shit for the umpteenth time.

  3. m says:

    There’s not a lot that’s original about the characters, but they are the bulk of the work outside of the visuals. The racing is a prop for different aspects of the ‘human spirit,’ which are embodied by the different parties. It’s a very sentimental work with some amusing barbs for the paranoid autocratic military state who serves as the foil for the rebellious racers’ indomitable spirits. I grant that many of the side-characters aren’t especially developed, but they are side-characters and their value is more in the aggregate.

    There’s just not enough time in a movie to spend time developing characters who aren’t that important to the point of the work. Although maybe one could prefer more time for the other racers than was spent humiliating Roboworld’s government, but I don’t think anyone can watch the movie and conclude they spent the time there by accident.

  4. brianwuzhere says:

    What would be in your top 5 best animated anime?

  5. jzar says:

    As an action/ sci-fi story it was good. I enjoyed it and thought it was fun. I thought the art and mech designs were great. The action scenes were first rate. The comedy factor was pretty good too, no outright belly laughs but lots of big grins.

    While the story didn’t have a huge amount of depth and was a bit predictable it made enough sense that you could go with it. The people had some good reasons to be there even if it was just pride. The story was concise without being too bare-boned.

    A bit predictable with the ending perhaps but in this over the top racing world I thought it sorta fit.

    Story: C+
    Art and Animation: A
    Enjoyment: B+

  6. loempiavreter says:

    Why didn’t you mentioned the similar themed Tailenders that you reviewed earlier anywhere in the review, not even even in the suggestion list?

  7. conyo985 says:

    The ending was weird. How the heck can they survive that?

  8. marktheknife says:

    Man, I cannot find the tailenders review anymore, haha.

    Relatedly, since this post references visual orgasms, I’mma add Dead Leaves for your consideration. Doesn’t seem on Redline’s level, but still. Gorgeous animation.

  9. Exanime says:

    I loved this anime… animation was awesome, story was not life-altering but it certainly kept me entertained and the characters while not the deepest were all likeable and funny…

    I particularly appreciate that 5 minutes into this movie and I was already standing on my couch, pulling my hair and holding my breath for JP to make it to the Yellow Line… I mean, by this point you hardly know what the movie is about and the tension is 110%

    I also found it is one of those animes that stick with you. I saw it a week ago and I keep singing the songs in my head and smiling back at the memory of some of the scenes I liked the most.

    Definitely one for the collection!

Leave a Reply


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  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 12:47 AM)
    anybody here remembers a PS1 rail-shooter game called Elemental Gearbolt? It was a fun game that had anime cutscenes by Rintaro. It’s one of those lost gems that was very well received but made a small splash upon release and then completely lost to time.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 12:42 AM)
    Kaiser: are you being sarcastic or did you actually enjoy Symphogear?
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 12:39 AM)
    @Masky: it’s the internet, people will construct some bullshit reason to moan about everything. As long as the game is fun than it’s good in my eyes, or the very least in needs to have an emotional impact like Valiant Hearts: The Great War. I’m deep into Bloodborne right now, so my time’s solely dedicated to that at the moment.
  • Masky
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 12:16 AM)
    @Bam: Usually people complain about realism in games in situations where it wouldn’t make sense and in games were realism is actually important they somehow seem to not notice it when they are unrealistic :’D Or maybe I have bad luck
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 12:06 AM)
    @Kaiser, Haven’t we suffered enough with three seasons?
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 07:59 PM)
    @Masky: no definitely not every game, but you made it sound as if the whole idea of realism in videogames is ludicrous. Now I haven’t played Undertake myself, but looking at the Steam pics in looks like a humorous retro pixelart indie project, in which case it doesn’t need to be realistic but it still should respect it’s own internal logic. Unless it’s meant to be all bonkers like an Xavier: Renegade Angel episode, but again very few things are like that.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 07:30 PM)
    Oh lol the Symphogear guy teased the idea of a fourth season for it, you mad mad bastard.
  • Masky
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 08:03 AM)
    @Bam: Yeah, but simulating reality applies to certain types of games. Judging EVERY game by how realistic it is is silly xD
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 02:36 AM)
    @Masky: lots of game designers aspire for realism. Now this can be done for cosmetic purposes like face textures and lighting, practical with physic engines and movement, or contextual like believable character reactions and dialogue. Now some games thrive in being ridiculous and fantastic, but some want to create a realistic setting to further the emotional impact. Nothing wrong with that.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 02:32 AM)
    @ratsgnoF: and happy Thanksgiving to you as well.

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