Precious few things get the blood pumping like screeching tires, fast cars, and exhilarating chases. Racing anime are not particularly common, so we cannot help but take notice whenever a new contender makes their way to the starting line. With Takeshi Koike acting as the director and created by Madhouse Studios, Redline is an exhilarating romp through space from behind a steering wheel.
Occurring only twice a decade, the Redline is a highly anticipated race pitting eight champions against each other. Qualifying requires winning one of the smaller contests, a feat that proves difficult for the reckless JP. Despite having all the talent in the world, JP has garnered a negative reputation due to a history in match fixing, which left the driver buried under a mountain of debt. After a lucky turn of events, JP ends up qualifying for Redline alongside Sonoshee McLaren, the girl who inspired him to become a serious racer. Illegally set on the militarized Roboworld, JP's hopes of winning are just slightly higher than his chances of survival!
Redline is an exercise in style over substance, but the former is about as good as it gets. From the intricate transforming vehicles to Roboworld's design, Madhouse's art style is jaw-droppingly gorgeous and unique. The manic animation is absolutely relentless, with the studio throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the screen. While the story does not hold any huge surprises, JP is a fun protagonist and the remaining racers are given enough screen time to develop into compelling secondary characters.
For those who love Redline’s need for speed, here are six similar anime worth watching.
Similar Anime to Redline
1. Manie-Manie: Meikyuu Monogatari (Neo Tokyo)
- Aired: Aired: Apr 15, 1989
Manie-Manie: Meikyuu Monogatari consists of a series of shorts interconnected by common sci-fi and technological themes. Individually lasting for less than 20 minutes, each film is a treat for the senses, with Madhouse changing up the animation and art style for each story.
Labyrinth Labyrinthos is directed by Madhouse founder Rintaro and tells the strange tale of a young girl who ends up trapped in a maze. From the unsettling design of the characters to the sense of mystery, this short ventures into horror territory.
Katsuhiro Otomo's The Order to Stop Construction centers around a company man who is sent to a South American country to put an end to an automated construction job. In comparison to the other shorts, The Order to Stop Construction is easier to follow and prioritizes its story over the visuals.
For fans of Redline, the Running Man short should hold the most interest. Directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri and set in a distant future where races to the death act as the number one source of entertainment, Zach Hughes is the undefeated champion who uses his telekinetic powers to defeat his rivals. The art style is considerably more grounded than Madhouse's 2009 feature film, but Running Man offers plenty of vehicular carnage.
2. Initial D Third Stage
- Aired: Jan 13, 2001
Based on Shuuichi Shigeno's beloved manga, Initial D Third Stage serves as a continuation of Takumi Fujiwara's journey to be the greatest racer of all time. Following up the events of the previous two seasons, Takumi graduated from high school and is considering his next course of action. With a professional racing team interested in his signature, Takumi challenges the Emperor leader to a rematch to try and get revenge for his previous loss.
Initial D Third Stage is not only a great sequel to Second Stage, but successfully expands on Takumi's family background. Putting aside the Emperor leader's storyline, the film's real highlight comes in the form of Kai Kogashiwa, the son of a racer who served as a rival to Takumi's father. This addition added a great deal of emotional weight to their encounter while expanding on Takumi's character and childhood.
When it comes to the actual races, Initial D has never failed to deliver. With a bigger budget and improved animation, Studio Deen's film is a noticeable step up from its predecessors. Redline is way more over-the-top, but Initial D's passion for racing is infectious.
3. eX-Driver the Movie
- Aired: Apr 20, 2002
eX-Driver takes place in an alternate reality where cars are automated. With the exception of a couple of professional drivers, nearly every vehicle is controlled by AI, a system that occasionally malfunctions. Whether the car goes berserk on its own or foul play is involved, eX-Drivers are expected to interfere and diffuse the situation. In Japan, this dangerous civil service falls into the hands of three high schoolers.
As the big finale to the short-lived eX-Driver OVA series, Actas' film sees Lisa, Lorna, and Soichi preparing to take part in an international racing competition set in the United States. Unfortunately, things get off to a rocky start; as, when an AI car loses control, the teenagers decided to lend a helping hand, a decision that is not appreciated by the American police force. Eventually, the team learns that the car belonged to Angela, the daughter of the United States' team sponsor, who is soon kidnapped by a strange man.
Actas' action film strikes a middle-ground between Redline's futuristic craziness and Initial D's adherence to reality, with the races sticking closer to the latter while the car chases benefit from a sci-fi twist. With neither film taking itself too seriously, Redline and eX-Driver are not afraid to break up the action to deliver a joke or two.
Any Anime Like Redline ?
4. Dead Leaves
- Aired: Jan 16, 2004
Redline's exaggerated animation and manic characters cannot hold a candle to Dead Leaves! Production I.G.'s action-packed comedy lasts for less than an hour, but the studio makes the most out of every single second. While the story is not completely nonsensical, the vibrant and weird animation is Dead Leaves' main attraction.
Naked and suffering from amnesia, Pandy and Retro awaken on Earth before deciding to engage in a little bit of mayhem! As a reward for their troubles, the anime equivalent of Bonnie and Clyde are sent to a prison on the moon run by some of the most vicious guards imaginable. Locked up alongside other failed genetic experiments, Pandy and Retro must try to figure out who they are and how to escape from this lunar hellhole!
While racing plays no part in Dead Leaves' plot, the majority of the action boils down to a chase across the prison's separate sectors. The hectic pacing and explosive characters are a perfect match to Madhouse's Redline. In both cases, a villainous ruler is trying to destroy the heroes as they plow through their domain.
5. Shoujo Kakumei Utena: Adolescence Mokushiroku (Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Adolescence of Utena)
- Aired: Aug 14, 1999
Just a quick disclaimer; prior to this film, it might be worth watching Shoujo Kakumei Utena. Otherwise, the narrative can be difficult to decipher. Shoujo Kakumei Utena: Adolescence Mokushiroku retells the series in 90 minutes, although certain plot points and characters are altered. J.C.Staff's anime is packed to the brim with metaphors and symbolism, but the story is well worth grasping.
Immediately after transferring to Ohtori Academy, Utena Tenjou ends up in a series of fights to decide the powerful Anthy Himemiya's romantic fate. Confused by this strange turn of events, Utena needs to quickly figure out the Academy's secrets before it destroys her friends.
Visually, Shoujo Kakumei Utena: Adolescence Mokushiroku is an absolute masterpiece. In comparison with the series, the animation is heavily stylized and colorful. Redline's Roboworld and Utena's Ohtori Academy feel like actual characters, with the latter swaying and moving on its own. Similarly to JP's toxic relationship with the mob, Utena and Anthy yearn to taste freedom by breaking away from the Academy's shackles.
- Aired: Oct 16, 2009
Released just a month after Redline, Tailenders is this list's most obvious recommendation. Flying by at a quick 27 minutes, this quirky racing film is a one-hit wonder created by Picograph studio.
In the distant future, humans have started to employ terraformers to colonize other planets. On occasion, this process leads to drastic consequences, with the machines triggering massive Earthquakes called "stampedes." On these planets, races take place with the terraformer acting as the finishing line, although nobody has been able to beat the Loser King's hundred year record. Seconds away from winning, the young Tomoe Shiro experiences a terrifying crash that leaves him immobile. Thankfully, the mysterious Mikagura shows up just in time to give him a new heart and engine.
Aesthetically, Redline and Tailenders share a great deal in common. They both contrast bright colors with thick black lines and each racer is given their own unique design. While Picograph's short cannot match Madhouse's animation and budget, Tailenders is a fun ride through a deserted wasteland. Racing fans should definitely give this a try.
Madhouse's Redline ranks among the most visually pleasing anime in history. While racing might be an integral part of the plot, the film's main appeal is the dynamic animation and unique art style. It is a non-stop thrill ride filled with likable characters and awesome cars. While not every entry matches Redline's intensity or insanity, these six recommend anime deliver experiences cut from the same cloth.
Is there any other anime that you would recommend for fans of Redline? If yes, please leave us a comment below with your recommendations.