Saturday, May 16, 2009

Takeshi Koike's "Redline" for Madhouse & Ian Condry

Last week in Tokyo I had a nice chat with Takeshi Koike. Koike directed "World Record" for The Animatrix, and has worked feverishly on his first feature film, Redline. (Contrary to many published reports, Redline will NOT be premiering at the Annecy Festival next month in France.)

I reference some of our conversation in my latest column for the Daily Yomiuri, but will use more, together with a review of the forthcoming film and comments from noted screenwriter Katsuhito Ishii in a U.S. magazine feature due out this summer.

Methinks Redline will be something special, and Meknows that MIT professor Ian Condry's visit to Tokyo later this month, with his live anime show, will be spectacular.

More soon.
SOFT POWER, HARD TRUTHS / 'Redline' director Koike's otherworldly ecstasy

At this year's edition of the Tokyo International Anime Fair, Tohokushinsha Film Corp. devoted nearly its entire booth to Madhouse's long-anticipated auto-racing adventure Redline--even though it may take nearly another year for the film to be released theatrically.

Redline has been in development for six years, and has been whispered and yawped about via the Internet for at least three. Even Hayao Miyazaki's hotly pursued projects don't usually garner prerelease fanfare for half a decade.

As I noted in an earlier column, Tohokushinsha provided me a DVD prescreener of the partially completed film, which I watched during a turbulent flight from Los Angeles into a New York snowstorm--ideal conditions, it turned out, for the wildly kinetic, rough-and-tumble action on the screen, where race car drivers both human and intergalactic were competing in the most dangerous Formula One-style franchises known to man, or alien.

I found the visuals riveting, almost grotesquely so, but this shouldn't have surprised me. Redline is directed by Takeshi Koike, best known internationally for "World Record," his installment in The Animatrix, a DVD released in 2003 featuring nine animated short films based on ideas from The Matrix, the Wachowski Brothers' hit Hollywood film. The Matrix, of course, was itself something of an homage to anime and kung-fu movies, and "World Record" returned the favor with glee, combining an imaginative, elliptical narrative with exquisitely rendered graphics.

I sat down with Koike last week in Tohokushinsha's head offices in Tokyo. A slight, very youthful-looking 41, Koike fits the profile of so many artists in the Japanese industry--humble, frank about his work and utterly unruffled by either attention or praise. He smiles easily at flashes of humor and reacts with genuine surprise at the mildest of compliments. In other words: Koike behaves like a craftsman.

When I pointed out that both "World Record" and Redline feature competitive events--track in the former, car racing in the latter--Koike said he loves the expansive rawness of the physical being in motion.

"When you see it on TV, it all looks so smooth and beautiful. But if you freeze the frame, the faces and single expressions can be kind of ugly, whether they're athletes or machines. I'm interested in that tension. And the tension of competition. The pleasure of animation is about bodies in motion. And competition makes that more intense." [read more here]

1 comment:

Sauro Quaglia said...

Redline is one of the films that I attend more. It compliments for yours blog and excuse my very bad English.