Wacky Races (In Space)
But let’s keep talking about this. Redline deserves more than simple proclamation of its awesomitude.
Redline is a tournament story at its heart. Various characters with broadly-drawn personalities are placed into a violent competition where they vie with one another to be the last man standing– Crossing that red line is no different from being the dude that kicks Cell’s ass or being the guy that takes down Han’s criminal syndicate. It might seem odd to compare Redline to martial arts movies and fighting anime, but you know what might be the first tournament series?
The similarities with Redline are pretty obvious: They’re both about overly-exaggerated, anything-goes car races. But look at the format. Wacky Races brings together numerous characters to compete with one another. The “good guys” often band together to take down a common foe (In Wacky Races’ case, Dirk Dastardly and Muttley.). We may be missing the “I gotta train for the next fight” aspect we often see in shounen fighting series, but the only significant difference between the likes of DBZ and Wacky Races is the mode of competition. And really, that’s just a cosmetic difference.
So yeah, while I’m sure there’s stories that pre-date Wacky Races as far as the tournament format goes, I’m willing to bet that the series was a huge influence on all those dudes that went on to make all these tournament-styled anime series and the like.
And Redline is a pretty damn obvious homage to Wacky Races. Redline takes the basic premise– EXTREME CAR RACING– and adds in sexuality, ultraviolence, ridiculously-awesome creature designs, characters whose brief and broad characterizations cram in more style and personality than most “proper” styles of development, beautifully-fluid animation, and some snazzy beats to make a beautiful homage to a series that’s essentially one of the unsung inspirations for the entire medium of anime. At least it’s unsung amongst us non-Japanese fans. Japan’s been churning out Wacky Races games since the NES and there’s been homages to it since the 80’s. They know their roots.
Redline’s the culmination of a hell of a lot of shit that I absolutely love. It’s rifting off of one of those cheesy HB cartoons from the 60’s that I loved to watch in reruns as a kid watching USA Cartoon Express. It’s gritty, dirty, ugly, “used” future is right up my alley, not unlike Space Adventure Cobra. It revels in its own brand of logic, escalating a mere Superbowl of Space Racing into a full-blown military campaign with bio-weapons called Funky Boy and a general merging with a Dune-esque sandworm.
Redline’s damn perfect.