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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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, May 4. 2016 06:05 PM)
    @Bam: Actually let me rephrase
    I meant that you will like: http://letterboxd.com/film/the-company-of-wolves/
    Because it is fairyrale inspired
    Because you liked brotherhood of the wolf and tale of tales.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, May 4. 2016 06:02 PM)
    @Bam: I meant tale of tales =)
    @Mario: My usual ratings are ***/***1/2 rating and ****
    Generally that indicates a film is kind good/good or great.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, May 4. 2016 04:17 PM)
    The one liner Dialogue is getting on my nerves, the lack of a great villain characterisation(Zemo is a step in the right direction but still not enough) and most of all that each movie is setup to a another movie.
    Deadpool was a step in the right direction(Yep I knew it was fox and not disney) and was as good as it was because it shook things up. At the moment marvel movies are just too…safe.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, May 4. 2016 04:13 PM)
    @Bam, I am very much in agreement. I like what the marvel cinematic universe has done but things are getting out of hand. They have prefected the superhero formula too well and it’s causing the flims to be popcorn fodder. I am walking out of their movies admiting that I enjoyed them but I don’t really think I will remember them highly. Plus the thrends of the movies are really starting to bug me.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, May 4. 2016 02:27 PM)
    Deadpool belongs to Fox, not Disney, but there are rumors circling of the two studios opening up to negotiation. The success of Spiderman Homecoming will greatly precipitate another such lucrative cooperation.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, May 4. 2016 02:23 PM)
    I have yet to see Civil War, but by every new entry their colorful feel-good flicks are starting to become too derivative and cliche. It feels like as if they’re doing the same story arc over and over again. It’s almost lazy at this point, if you ask me, and they really need to Shae things up.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, May 4. 2016 02:18 PM)
    @Aidan: such high praise. So Marvel did in a cameo what Sony failed to do in 5 movies. I hate the massive bandwagon that Marvel is steering, but I’m not the kind of hipster contrarian that hates on things just for their mainstream appeal, so I give them credit for doing things right; despite the fact that they really go out their way to please the masses. Their love and respect for the material far outshines their prerogative of their by the book fan-pleasing.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, May 4. 2016 12:21 PM)
    Also like how they differed him from the other fast talkers of the universe. Deadpool is pure insane comedy, Ant man has this sarcastic awkward thing going on and Spiderman is like the nerdy fanboy. I would love to see a movie with all three together as it would be pure comic gold.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, May 4. 2016 12:18 PM)
    @bam, I was taken back by him at first. I wasn’t used to seeing Spiderman and especially aunt May look so young. I thought he was too bumbling in the beginning but as I watched on he just clicked. He has the nerdy nature of Tobies Peter Parker and the spitfire commentary of Garfield’s Spiderman. He’s spot on perfect.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, May 4. 2016 10:05 AM)
    I was staying clean for a drug test, and during this hiatus I completely fell out of anime. Surely enough, as soon as I resumed burning again I also started getting into some of this season’s shows. I wonder if there’s a direct correlation, or just a byproduct of having some free time again. I’m interested in comparing my experience to others, but (un)fortunately nobody here seems to share my vices.

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