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.

Suggestions:
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!

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  • reaLjustified
    (Sunday, Feb 7. 2016 03:16 AM)
    Did anyone watch the Noblesse OVA? I thought the first half had rushed pacing but it got pretty good after that. Not to mention the animation is just gorgeous, they managed to get it to look like the webtoon.
  • prince
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 10:04 PM)
    I have commented on your Schwarzesmarken episode 4 review and also answered your questions so please check it out
  • wicked
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 07:26 PM)
    Fire dragon arc! Fire dragon dies in the 5th episode
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 04:06 PM)
    @Bam, Well the three games were originally supposed to be one. But it turned out that the first two were bundled together and Alternative was made a separate release.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 08:38 AM)
    Jesus I never expected that doing a myanimelist/letterboxd account thing would be so hard. I’ve seen a scarily higher amount than I thought, its insanely hard to remember everything to add.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:17 AM)
    It seems then that the future of the franchise’s anime adaptations rests a bit on Schwarzesmarken’s success, which looking at the buzz doesn’t seem favourable at all. I doubt it can regain the lost audiences.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:14 AM)
    That would suggest that the author(s) had the foresight of including seemingly useless stuff that will come into play later. That’d be impressive if they did, as these kinda series are make-it-as-you-go.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:59 AM)
    It’s difficult to put into words but essentially while the first game isn’t good, it does work as a tool for introducing and endearing you to the characters. Then Unlimited sets down the rules of the new world. And finally alternative proceeds to kick your ass into next Tuesday.
    That’s sort of why I don’t think it would have the same effect if it was an anime. VNs allow you to get a more personal connection with the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:55 AM)
    It’s not quite the same. It’s more like there are things in extra which seem insignificant but turn out to play an important role later. It wouldn’t really work the same if you did it in reverse order. Character history is a bit different too as each game is essentially an alternate universe. The character histories in extra are different from those in alternative.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:38 PM)
    And also remember how Darker Than Black had a big jump between the main series and Gemini of the Meteor. They later made a 4 episode OVA that covered the gap, and although you knew the outcome it was still entertaining; or at least more than the Gemini one. There’s merit to non-linear chronology and storytelling, but it is usually very hard to pull. The audience is intrigued by secrets that can later be uncovered, although in anime the pay-off is not always substantial.

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