Redline’s Hype Gap?

Talking to our Blu-ray pushing buddy on twitter, I feel like spinning this thought out a little more:

@muhootsaver_7:  Why do some ppl think REDLINE is “hyped”? If the worst comment about the movie is “bland storyline but still a great eye candy”…

@omonomono:  because some people say it’s the best thing ever (not disagreeing)!

@muhootsaver_7:  BUT IT IS. Jokes aside, I don’t think it’s overrated if not underrated. Haven’t felt this satisfied after a movie for a long time

@omonomono:  Anytime when someone expects to like the show they’re going to see due to “word on the street” and ends up disliking it…

Just to be clear, we’re talking about the Madhouse-produced animation flick REDLINE, or Redline, and not the 2007 live action movie. And there is strong evidence that there is hype, even if it is not very wide-spread hype.

Basically, I’m wondering if there is a hype gap. I’m thinking given the lack of dimensionality of Redline’s modus operandi, the filmmakers were likely only caring for a narrow segment of animation fans. Perhaps in 1995 that would overlap with most animation fans in the west, but certainly not by 2005 standards, let alone 2011 standards.

Having not yet watched Redline (saving this cherry until when the time is right), I can’t say if my assumption about dimensions apply or will the animation be so viscerally communicative in which it can bridge the differences between any open-minded viewer of itself: so vastly different people can come together about it. So I won’t make any assumptions about that for Redline. And it is well-given that any works of modern entertainment of big enough viewership will have its detractors.

But isn’t the obvious answer, rather, that Redline is what is commonly called an art film? Twitch compares it to Mind Games. And Mind Games is no blockbusting pleaser either. And it’s almost a shared virtue that the mainstream audience just don’t dig art house fares. I would almost say that Redline’s particular penetration in certain segments of the west is probably just as big of a testimony of Redline’s obvious qualities mixed with the nature of how that particular fandom has developed from ages ago, during the era when “japanimation” is synonymous with gratuitous sexuality and violence.

I mean, speaking of sales figures, how are we suppose to interpret it? It may be bad that it cannot sell 40000+ copies, but is that expectation even within a nautical mile of realistic? If Redline sold 4000+ copies of Blu-ray and DVDs, isn’t it good for the film? [How many units of Fractale is that? LOL? 5?] Maybe it is fair to say that a lot of good anime don’t get a fair shake at the box office or Oricon charts. But that would be making the assumption that these are good anime (by some common metric). And since I said I won’t, I won’t.

Not until I watch the damned thing, at least. You know, for something that is potentially market-transcending, they sure are doing one heck of a job burying it in terms of marketing. The hype is not very wide spread, even if it is there. And maybe that is for the best!

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10 responses to “Redline’s Hype Gap?

  • 21stcenturydigitalboy

    I imagine if magazines like Anime Insider and Animerica were still around, they’d be full of Redline ads. If Manga Entertainment was around (are they?), they’d have licensed it and put previews for it at the start of their DVDs (right after the rock dude from Ninja Scroll yells “MAYNGAAAAAAA!!!”). Point being, yeah, like you said, even if the 2005 anime fandom could’ve done something with this, it’ll go over the heads/under the noses of the 2011 fandom for the most part.

  • Corban Saezer

    I torrented it and found it worthy of being on my shelf.
    Still high off of the nitro, I went online to buy the US Blu-Ray version of it.
    “Coming 2012.”

    FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF-

    You are not making this easy for me, Japan!

  • omo

    @digitalboy
    The whole era thing is more a guess and a hunch. I mean even back then there were plenty of people reading manga and watching anime that preferred what is probably more common today. People who liked Ranma 1/2 or something. You know, people like me, who didn’t get into anime for the exploitation. But unlike me in that they don’t care as much about the animation itself.

    >> You are not making this easy for me, Japan!
    LOL true. It’s not easy for me either!

  • 21stcenturydigitalboy

    Yeah I hear a lot about the Ranma types, though the crowd I was in during my early days as a fan (2002-3) was more of the classics crowd. Primarily because my cousin and I read magazines and internets for anime research, and the most high-profile “best of” lists were always going to be the ones that read 1. Ghost in the Shell, 2. Akira, 3. Perfect Blue, etc. (or for shows, of course, 1. Evangelion, 2. Cowboy Bebop). I didn’t end up in that crowd as much just because I was introduced through Adult Swim which had Cowboy Bebop sure, but it also had Yu Yu Hakusho and Inuyasha which I loved just as much lol. (Helps I was like 12).

    But yeah, I wasn’t even close to around for the Ranma crowd, though I’d have loved to see it.

  • omo

    It’s not that different than the Inu Yasha crowd actually. Just much more Asian.

  • kiddtic

    Okay the reason why I personally think Redline flopped is because Madhouse spent a lot of money on it thinking they would make it all back. It took 7 years to make the film and it shows, it looks amazing. But, 4000 BD copies just doesnt cut it and lets not even talk about the theater attendance numbers.

  • omo

    it’s hard to say if they will ultimate make the money back, because it still isn’t done (international licensing etc). But what we don’t know is how much money is spent on it.

    Probably too much. And honestly I don’t know if they thought they will make it all back, or is it just Madhouse being awesome about animation and worrying about their bottom lines second.

  • arestica

    I think the only reason Redline could be considered an “art film” would be in that it didn’t have a marketing budget large enough to support its spectacle, whether by intention or lack of resources. It wouldn’t have “flopped” (assuming that assumption is even correct in the first place) if it had a wider release.

    As for the western markets, it might be considered a niche film given the preference for CG vs. 2D and the continuing stigma against cartoons as “mature” entertainment, but the film is so stylized that it barely looks like what most would consider “anime”, which automatically expands its potential audience, like, 300%. Once a dub is in place the only hint of its “anime-ness” is that Sonoshee’s eyes are big.

    Think about movies like Death Race, Gamer, or (maybe better), Speed Racer. All were designed as blockbusters and given due promotion. I think that if Redline got the same, the commercial results could be comparable, even with the limiting factors noted above considered.

  • 21stcenturydigitalboy

    BTW Maybe MADHOUSE’s anticipation of the movie’s costing a lot more than it would make has to do with why they did all those god damn comic adaption shows? (But are those making money? Also why do they exist? I haven’t even seen any of them come stateside yet :O)

  • omo

    Compared to other “art films” I don’t think Redline is enough of an exception to disqualify itself from it. Conceptually it is pretty much art film to a tee, though.

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