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Kickstarter Manga: Wave of the Future?

Digital Manga Publishing is trying something new by opening up the license of a manga to the public for the first time, via the Kickstarter site. The Tezuka manga “Barbara” will be translated and printed in summer 2012 if they’re able to raise $6500 in a month’s time. Considering that $4800 dollars has been raised within 24 hours, it seems like the project is a go.

With so many discontinued series, unlicensed classics, and unhappy fans, this process could be the wave of the future. Or is it best left to a few special titles? In this post, I try and game out the pros and cons of “the Kickstarter system”.

The Current Licensing System

Currently, titles are licensed behind closed doors, using educated guesses, sales and marketing data, and fan and vendor feedback. What does this system offer.

1. Streamlined process – Or at least as streamlined as purchasing the rights from a number of companies can be. Departments that are charged with licensing communicate and reach deals in both companies’ interest. There’s no need to slow down the process to gauge fan interest directly. The fewer parties there are to the negotiations, the simpler everything is to sort out.

2. Allows for investment – Especially on the anime side of things, companies can form relationships, where US companies can invest in helping to fund or co-produce certain series in return for licensing rights. More common in the bubble days with titles like The Big O II, Kino’s Journey, and Samurai 7.

3. Simulcasting – For shows to be simulcast or released shortly after the Japanese manga edition, there’s simply no time to bring fans into the equation. A company has to act early if it wants timely rights. In this age of piracy, there’s simply not a month to spare.

4. Realism – Companies know what their budgets are, and what’s reasonable and what’s not. Fans have no need for facts.

What are problems with this system?

1. Struggling market – With Bandai leaving the US market in January and Media Blasters in trouble, it’s clear the anime and manga markets aren’t out of the woods yet. Countless companies have gone under because their estimations of what customers wanted to buy did not line up with what customers were willing to spend.

2. Lack of transparency – Why was a show not licensed? Was it the creator? The rights holders? Did the US company stupidly pass up a great series? Did the Japanese simply want too much money? We never know, so all fans can do is guess.

3. Expectation mismatch – Anime right now is in an awkward place where we’re seeing multiple models trying to make money off of shows. Some companies stream series online. Others release mass-market DVDs with dubs and subtitles. Others produce barebones box sets with only subtitles. Other companies still are releasing premium collector’s editions at outrageous prices. Many fans are unhappy with how their favorite series get treated. Is the market truly giving the most fans what they want in the right way?

4. Discontinued series – Sometimes a company gambles on a series, and that series fails. The series is discontinued part way, but not without getting a vocal fanbase along the way. In many cases, it seems it would be better for the companies or the fans had the series not been brought over at all. A way to finish discontinued series would be appreciated by many fans.

The Kickstarter System

Let’s consider the benefits of using a system like Kickstarter. A system of pre-orders to judge how many fans would actually buy a series would work as well.

1. Cuts down on guesswork – People will often say they will buy things, but when it comes down to it, goods may be unsold. This system lets a company know up front whether a license is a good idea or a bad idea. If Bandai had such a system for Haruhi Suzumiya’s release, they might not have produced as many copies that they did due to internet buzz.

2. Transparency – Why didn’t my series get licensed? Well, that’s because it was unable to raise more than $200 in a whole month. Both fans and companies can see exactly how much money a certain series will raise.

3. Die hard fans matter more – In the current licensing system, every person has one vote. A series has to have a certain amount of mass appeal to even be considered for a license. There’s also no way for a big fan to contribute more to a series – is he or she just supposed to by 10 or 20 copies of volume 1? Kickstarter would allow that fan to pay more for bonus content, and his or her extra contribution would allow titles that appeal to a smaller audience get a license.

4. Bypass retail – No need for stores or vendors to get involved and perhaps veto titles. Fans front the money, and can get exactly what they want. More controversial and niche titles can be licensed this way.

5. Reduced risk – Companies don’t have to take a chance on a title. They know whether or not the fans are there for it. Similarly, fans don’t have to worry about a title not getting published midway. The title is either brought over, or it isn’t. If the goal is not met, a fan is not charged any money.

Potential problems

Moving to a Kickstarter/preorder system could cause problems. Let’s consider these:

1. Slows the process down – It adds more time to the process of bringing a title over. There’s no sense in adding months’ delay to the licensing of a popular Shounen Jump title. If it’s a sure hit, there’s no need to delay the process.

2. Licensor participation – The property owner has to agree to the process, so even Kickstarter will not be 100% transparent. Even if the money is raised, if the licensor doesn’t agree to the process, the series won’t be licensed. Some artists and companies might not be too fond of the idea of their property being humiliated and unable to raise enough money for a license. Perhaps if more titles are licensed this way, it may become more popular an option.

3. Production problems – When pledging money towards a future goal, it’s always possible that the end product won’t meet your expectations. There’s a different kind of risk involved when not directly exchanging money for goods.

4. Long series and large costs – Barbara and Swallowing the Earth were only one volume, so paying ahead of time is no problem. But how would a kickstarter work for Kochikame? Would backers need to front $10 for each of the 176 volumes? Even with smaller series, though, there are issues about how much of a contribution is needed. Backers would need to pay for the whole series up front to avoid any series discontinuation.

5. Concentrated power – There’s always the risk that those with the most money would be able to have the most influence on which series are picked. Will those with limited budgets be able to meaningfully contribute and purchase titles licensed this way?

6. Market flooding – Once there’s too much to buy, sales suffer. Imagine all of the anime and manga series you ever wanted were kickstarted tomorrow. Which series do you pick to contribute to? Kickstarting would need to be used sparingly to prevent funds and interest from being spread too thinly between too many different projects.

7. Goodbye forever – A kickstarter failing to meet its goal would be the last hurrah for any hope of a given series being licensed. No company would take a risk on a series that couldn’t even raise enough money from its most dedicated fans. Even if the economy was bad, or it was a flooded market, any series that wasn’t successfully kickstarted would be consigned to the scrap heap.

Test Case: Garden of Sinners

First, a hat tip to Chris Kirby for this example. In February of last year, Aniplex released a $400 box set of the Garden of Sinners, a 7 movie series Blu-ray box set. Only 100 were offered for the US market, and they sold out very quickly. Since then, Garden of Sinners has only been made available to rent in standard definition on the PlayStation network. No plans for a reasonably priced DVD or Blu-ray box set have been announced.

In this situation, the die hard fans got a premium product, while casual fans or curious onlookers got nothing.

Imagine instead this project was Kickstarted, with variable price points:

$500 for the premium box set, plus some bonus content from ufotable

$400 for the premium box set

$200 for a barebones blu-ray box set

$100 for a DVD box set

This could have been used to gauge interest in the series and let Aniplex know whether the limited release was sufficient, or whether a wider release would have been successful. The most fervent fans could have subsidized the less fervent fans, and everyone would have received the product they were most interested in.

Currently, it seems the Kickstarter system is ideal for shorter, older series that have a die-hard fanbase, and have passed out of the “window” for usual licenses. Titles that most have all but given up hope for. If the money/pre-order goal is met, fans can have the series they’ve begged for, and if not, they’re no worse off than the status quo.

I’ve tried to think this through, but I have likely missed something. Please leave any additional thoughts in the comments.

Who Cares What I Think: The 10 Best Manga I Read in 2011

This year, like many years, had good stuff. I pick 10. In no particular order:

Best Manga That Doubles As an Artbook:

bridestory

She also owns a plain, white dress. Ha ha, no she doesn't.

Bride’s Story

Plot is still kind of an afterthought, taking a backseat to rich atmosphere and evocative art. But who can complain about this?

bridestoryart

She missed a thread. For shame.

Best Sports Manga That Hasn’t Been Canceled Yet But Might Be:

crossgame1

Wakaba means "young leaf"

Cross Game

So, Slam Dunk and REAL are awesome too, and I can’t imagine they’re selling much better, but Mitsuru Adachi is a legend. It’s not Touch, but it may be the closest we get. I wrote on this earlier, and we also had a MMF about it. Read why you should read it here: http://thepanelists.org/2011/05/manga-moveable-feast-cross-game/

Best Manga I Didn’t Even Have to Read To Put on This List But I Will When It Arrives

wanderingson1

It's even hardcover!

Wandering Son

I have read volume 1 of this, so I am half joking. It moves very slowly, but from the bit of the anime I saw, when it starts moving, it’s pure gold. Topical and heartfelt, there’s really nothing I can add that others haven’t covered elsewhere. Buy it so we can get the rest: Fantagraphics is still new to manga, and there’s nothing keeping them here.

Best Drug Propaganda Manga That Has Shaped World Markets But Still Only Has Five Volumes Scheduled for English Release and Miyabi Isn’t Going to Get to Be on the Cover

drops1

His good looks will only sell so many copies.

Drops of God

I didn’t really get into Oishinbo, partially because it was just snippets from a huge manga that had run for decades. But for some reason I could get into it, even though the plot’s driving element, the death of the main character’s psychotic, emotionally distant father and the trials he’s putting his son through, is shounen melodrama at its most cheesy. But it’s fun, educational, it demonstrates the cultural power of manga, and it’s a unique title that shows the US manga market can still take some risks.

Best Needlessly Gross and Offensive but Still Incredibly Compelling Scatterbrained Exploration of Death, Mental Illness, and Schoolgirl Fetishism

Velveteen-Mandala

The comic shop person warned me that, despite the cover, this was not related to Sailor Moon.

Velveteen & Mandala

One of the year’s more controversial titles, V&M was met with a good deal of disgust and outrage, all of it justified. But as I find it hard to look away from a trainwreck, I couldn’t help but read it, even though I knew I’d likely be horrified. And I was. But this was also the extremely rare title where I read it cover to cover, twice in a row, in one sitting. It’s a tangle of fascinating ideas, though I really wish Matsumoto had toned down the scatology and rape. As statements of nihilistic despair go, it was funny, depressing, and compelling. It claws all the way down.

Best One Piece

one piece

Big surprise.

One Piece

A surprise to no one, but still the best adventure shounen. While Fishman Island had its detractors, it was still good, and the English release of volume 59 and its important contents means that this year was an important one.

Best Franchise Resurrection

sailormoon1

Her secret powers are sewn into her.

Sailor Moon

I’ll have more to say for the Sailor Moon MMF, which is happening this week. But it’s good to have you back.

Best Series Resurrection? At the Very Least, It’s Been Two Years and We Got a New Volume.

buy eden

Buy me!

Eden: It’s An Endless World

This series has gotten more readers of late, which is driving up the price of older, out of print volumes. It’s hard to say whether it’s back for good, or still just limping around. Thirteen isn’t the best volume, but fourteen is great, and I hope to see it again in another two years. Or sooner. Preferably sooner. I love this series, for all its indulgences. Helena 4Ever.

Best I Missed the Boat on This One and The Boat Sunk and the Series Ended a Year Ago and I Doubt Scavengers Will Raise This One Anytime Soon. Thanks For Nothing.

jojoVolume_01

A series that truly lives up to its title. It is about a character named Jojo.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

It’s too late for anything I say here to save the fate of this series in the US. It ain’t gonna happen: A cult hit forever it will be. Its busy artwork might be alienating for some, and others might be put off by its general weirdness or plot retcons. However, if you’re in the mood for weirdness for weirdness’ sake, you will indeed get bizarre adventures. Also, the fight between Polnareff and J. Geil may just be the finest fight in manga history.

My New Favorite Obsession

Dorohedoro_01

The cover really does not do this series any favors.

Dorohedoro

I’m saving this for last, because this is the new title I won’t be able to shut up about. Fabulous fun I struggle to put into words. You can read the two reviews I’ve managed to write here and here. I’ve read the four volumes I have six or seven times each, which is getting into One Piece and Redline obsession territory. Wow. Just so much wow.

 

Please support the manga you love, as that’s the only guarantee you’ll ever see more. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to leave comments below.

Horror MMF License Request: Franken Fran

frankenfrancover

Someone put this out in English and I will, indeed, be your best friend!

There are plenty of great horror series others are writing about, but I can never get enough. So I will spend my first entry in a probably vain request describing why an American licensor should bring over Franken Fran in English.

So why should we see a release of Franken Fran?

Because it’s basically a horror-comedy version of BlackJack. The end.

franlikeblackjack

This is how the first chapter of BlackJack went, too.

Alright, so maybe you’re not familiar with Osamu Tezuka’s classic outlaw doctor series, which is a shame. Vertical has put out all of the last volume out so far, and it should be finished up next year. There’s really no excuse not to read it. BlackJack is a iconic Japanese superhero, sort of a Batman figure who rights wrongs through medicine. But Tezuka’s works always tend toward the moralistic, the humanistic, and the sometimes melodramatic.

But what if you want something more nihilistic, misanthropic, and darkly humorous? Fran is what the doctor ordered!

Assistant to an unseen master, Fran is kind of a deranged Pinoko. Devoted, noble, and with the best of intentions, her attempts to right wrongs and cure disease through Franken-science tends to go kind of awry in ironic, twisted, Twilight Zone-esque ways. Sometimes villains get their comeuppance. Other times innocents get caught up in her enthusiasm, but it’s all part of the twisted fun. Fran’s assistant Okita always tries to talk her out of her more hair-brained schemes, but she rarely listens. Perhaps it’s because he’s a talking dog.

okitadog

The world-weary voice of reason. Good boy!

Still, horror manga has had a mixed reception in the US, and Franken Fran lacks vampires. The best selling horror manga currently is probably High School of the Dead, a raunchy mix of ultraviolence and fanservice. While Franken Fran can be gory, it lacks fanservice. However, that’s where the covers come in!

frankenfranv2cover

Sales numbers show this will succeed despite quality. Fortunately, it's also good.

While female fanservice doesn’t seem to quite have the pull in the manga world as yaoi and male-fanservice do, it might pull in fans of otaku series like Raingun, Haruhi, Spice and Wolf, and Highschool of the Dead. If it’s too much of a turn-off, the covers can easily be replaced, and you’re still left with a clever, darkly humorous horror series.

caterpillargirl

What could possibly go wrong?

Franken Fran is by Katsuhisa Kigitsu, and its 7 volumes (so far) have been published by Akita Shoten.

Now, onto currently-licensed manga…

Redline: The Universe is Fun Again

The universe of Redline is fun, surprising, and unpredictable. There’s a glimpse of a whole new universe of creativity for Koike and Madhouse to explore. I wanted to share a few of my favorite animated moments, in GIF form if one is available, and still shots otherwise. Special thanks to 4chan user yellow, who made many of the GIFs showcased on this blog.

Without further ado.

splitscreen

Two screams when the grappling hook missiles hit Sonoshee. The only time a split screen is used.

engineshot

This shot comes over the front of the car, first focusing on the engine...

hotrodwomen

and onto the nitro and steamlight woman in the back.

secretarytitan

Secretary Titan consoles the president from the background.

stretching

We watch Lynchman and Jonnyboya stretch to warm up, but not their attack.

sidewinderspot

Threatened by a sidewinder missile, Sonoshee does what any woman would...

ridenshoot

she pulls out a handgun and shoots it down.

shinkaicry

I hope you're watching Shinkai. His mad death cry here is hilarious.

babyeye

You're not in trouble 'til baby opens his cute l'il eye.

facessayeverything

Sonoshee is proud of just having put the steamlight in the engine. JP is less than enthusiastic.

lynchrun

Who doesn't love Best Fighting Collection #7 ?

machinehead

Machinehead's Majestic Walk

zoominggears

Perhaps my favorite animated sequence from the film. Let me tell you why...

No joke, the 15 second Zooming Gears music video may be one of my favorite parts of Redline. We’ve just been introduced to the Superboins in all of their ridiculous glory, and they come out doing this ridiculously oversexed dance. But look at how it’s animated. Such wonderful symmetry, a fisheye lens giving a nice distorted effect as they extend their arms and legs out toward the camera, the ridiculously catchy song, the narrator’s silly intonation of “bun bun bun”… I could watch this animated GIF forever. Koike had a similar off-kilter dance sequence in his opening of Party 7. It’s utter nonsense, and a silly moment most likely overlooked by most Redline viewers, but it’s so absolutely stylish I can’t help but love it.

Redline: Alien Faces

A great part about Redline is that it really takes advantage of animation to create aliens and creatures that really can’t be done without complicated CGI or puppetry. But in animation, there’s no “uncanny valley” where a creature just doesn’t seem right amongst human actors. The entire world is imaginary, so everyone belongs. Here are some captures of brief moments in the film, giving you a chance to look at the creature design. There’s some real imagination here.

dancingbroccoli

Broccoliman is enjoying the Yellow Line.

grossaliens

Tentacles, veins, and fangs. But they're still having fun.

spacebikers

Rowdy biker types have our alien friends.

reporters

Reporter menagerie. Note the living stick, cherubic boys, and talking skull.

typicalfamily

Your typical Japanese family.

matsuuniform

Check out the Matsumoto style in her uniform.

holdup

Quit holding up the line!

manager

Our manager, with Lobster and Toucan friends.

scumhive

A hive of scum and villainy?

celebratepre

A pre-race celebration. Comparatively humanoid.

spacepolice

The Space Police are watching.

explosionreaction

Our friends react to the big explosion.

billboard

These racing fans were literally blown away.

boiboitongue

Just because they "look" human...

More coming.

Redline: Did You Notice?

Finally, to start with my visual analysis posts of Redline. I’ve broken it up into three parts to make it easier to load, due to the heavy use of images. First, a collection of small details you might have overlooked on your first viewing, due to the overwhelming onslaught of color and motion.

Spoiler warnings for those who have not yet seen the movie.

Also, apologies for the poor formatting.

sonoshee waving

Sonoshee waves to flag over a friend.

steamlightmining

The miners uncover a Steamlight.

headpower

Machinehead: Powered by Headpower

captaininsignia

Looks the captain has an "S" insignia.

sonosheekitchen

Look at the selection of alien vegetables Sonoshee has.

fightjp

Fight!! JP

eyeflame

Flames in JP's eyes.

heartship

Heart-shaped Supergrass remote ship.

princessroses

Princess among Roses, like something out of Utena.

shinkaibackflip

Shinkai does a backflip. Keep your eyes on Shinkai when he's onscreen.

lynchbooya

It's a living eye! Booyah L J

zonexxxxxxx

Zone 7X is helpfully labeled.

smilebutton

Sonoshee has smile emblems all over her car. Note the detail on the watch.

smilemissile

Even her missiles have smiles.

inukiniceguy

Note how his two companions and the glare make Inuki look like an evil twin of Nice Guy.

little deyzuna

Little Deyzuna is in ninth place!

mysteryeye

Whose eye is that?

redlineredline

The Redline is made up of millions of copies of the word. Note JP & Sonoshee combined.

princesscrown

When the Princess's crown falls off, an attendant grabs it.

blueflame

The mystery blue flames. JP! Sonoshee!

evaeye

Looks like Unit 1's eye opening. The Power of Todoroki?

More on the way.

No One Piece This Week: Politics

one piece libya car

Photo source unknown. Any information appreciated.

No One Piece this week, so this seems like a good time to touch on a couple of things from the last month. Analyzing the action is hard, especially when you’re not any good at predicting what will happen next (as my match-up predictions show). I will say I was surprised that the Ark arrived so quickly. I figured the fights would all be over before the ship arrived, but Oda always pleasantly surprises me.

First bit of news is the picture above, found on 4chan without any sourcing. It appears to be the Strawhat Jolly Roger used as a political statement of defiance. It’s painted in the colors of Libya’s flag, says “Libya free” and “Stalingrad”. Stalingrad is of course the Russian city where the Soviets held the Nazis off, but it was characterized by extremely brutal fighting. The town of Misrata has been identified by the media as “Libya’s Stalingrad,” so it’s possible the car is there. There are street signs nearby in Arabic, which, alas, I cannot read. Of course, it’s totally possible to be a photoshop fake, but I can’t imagine why. Best wishes to the unknown fan who sees in the Strawhats a very political symbol against unjust authority.

In Japan, however, it seems this “reading” of One Piece is absolutely unheard of. The Comics Journal recently published an article about One Piece and the “Strong Words” collections of inspirational quotes. Critic Sasaki Toshinao, and NHK’s previous special, locate One Piece’s appeal in its solidarity and friendship. Japanese have few friends, the story goes, so Luffy’s nakama serve as the reader’s nakama as well. Never touched upon is the idea that Luffy represents personal fulfillment and anti-authoritarianism, unlike many other (less popular) works. In a time with revolving door prime ministers, economic recession going on 20 years, and a nuclear disaster preceded by decades of corruption, surely some of the appeal of One Piece is Luffy standing up to it all?

Perhaps I’m reading my own perspective too heavily into One Piece, but there does seem to be at least one besieged Libyan fan who sees the same message of resistance. Stay safe!

Redline Viewing Notes: 5th Time’s the Charm?

sonoshee

The readers want more Sonoshee.

I still haven’t gotten a really good setup for screencapping images from the blu-ray, so a visual analysis of Redline will have to wait until another time. But I watched it again, and took detailed notes. These are not organized thoughts yet, but they may help to flesh out other theories later.

The movie begins with the text about how wheels are being abandoned for the “air cars,” but a few crazy fools still embrace racing with tires. Nicholas Zabaly over at Keyframe Anime brought up the interesting idea that this is not unlike Madhouse themselves. In an age where people are abandoning hand-drawn animation for CGI, here are a bunch of crazy fools who spent 7 years and 100,000 pictures to create this animated film.

The opening narration reveals a lot of information. There have been two interplanetary wars. The racing circuit starts with 2358 teams initially! The Blue Line is the race just before the Yellow Line, and already with the blue line, only 1 remaining slot is open for the Redline. The winner will take that slot.

The racers are Sonoshee McLaren, named after the famous McLaren racing family. Next, we have Captain-2 Block, a previous Redline champ in his Captain-the-Classic. From Supergrass, but presumably not a member of the Royal Family, we have Deguon in her Firebird. Lynchman and Johnnyboya’s archenemies, Psychoman and Lotton ride in their Psychorod. There’s Count Markdie and Spark in their Snakehead which is quickly dispatched by a missile. Finally, there’s Planet Dorothy’s own Bons in his Bons Missile. As Anime Kritik notes, he’s from his own Madhouse series, Hal and Bons, similar to the Trava series.

Brian Smith has found that a Redline artbook identifies the stylish man in the purple suit is identified as “NICE GUY”. This doesn’t mean he’s not also Inuki, but it may reinforce the idea that they’re just doppelgangers representing conflicting ideals of competitive sport. The two women at the back of the car have gold and silver hair – the same as the colors of metals for 1st and 2nd place, or is it the two colors of nitro, gold and platinum?

The venue is announced on Roboworld, and two racers resign: Kurukuru-Daza and Shoto-o-jin. I remember Kurukuru being identified as a former solider in the subs I watched at Fantastic Fest, but I don’t see that year. Anyway, he doesn’t want to dodge bullets, whether he did in the past or not. Shoto-o-jin quits because Roboworld is a client of whatever his Kingdom produces.

In the conveniently titled “Roboworld Propaganda”, the president addresses the people of the M3 nebula. It is the M3 nebula federation with which they have signed a peace treaty, banning bio-weapons and declaring the satellite planet of Europass to be a demilitarized zone.

Who is the bizarre squiggly family? It has to be a reference to something, surely, as no other art in Redline has this same look.

The president and his cabinet reside in Dest Tower on Roboworld. Could this be a reference to Destination, since this tower is where the Redline finish line will be? Or Destiny, perhaps? The smug, always content secretary who I theorized might be aiding the guerrillas is named secretary Titan, and he seems to hold the whiny, drug-addicted president in contempt.

Europass is covered in slums, and Mogura complains about how nobody there has any idea of customer service. It’s a “hive of scum and villainy” much like Mos Eisely in Star Wars, and it’s very much like the cantina scene. Unlike the bloodless prequels, the cantina scene is so famous and beloved in Star Wars because it shows us that aliens are weird! There’s value in peace and understanding, but it’s so much more exciting to be confused and bewildered by alien customs. From the living currency of Europass to the hoverbike, JP is introduced to a new world of experiences.

When Sonoshee tells her life story, we’re introduced to the first of the 7s that appear throughout the story. Sonoshee was given the steamlight on her 7th birthday. At the conclusion of the restaurant scene, JP has 7 guns pointed at him.

I find Little Deyzuna’s super-powered crying hilarious, and the face-off between Machinehead and Deyzuna is especially hilarious. I’d love to do a frame by frame of the repeated kicks to the head.

I heard Colonel Volton described as an “evil captain America” and he does look the part. His helmet is also shaped like JP’s hair, a good and an evil ducktail. I’m curious what JP’s riposte was going to be about why it was good 7 guns were pointed at him.

The scene between when he’s knocked out and when JP drvies Sonoshee home is a big mystery to me. What happened then? If Machinehead is Sonoshee’s father, did they have a talk? Did Machinehead leave immediately afterwards? JP was blacked out, and it is his story, so we may never know.

In the flashback, young JP has no ducktail, as he has not yet been inspired by Sonoshee’s tenacity. Also worth noting is that she has naturally green hair. Is the pink hair part of the natural Oceanic-race maturation, or is it a very complex dye-job?

I forget who made the comment, but JP’s superpower is that he can survive any crash and he can light a match on any surface.

Sonoshee, Trava, and JP are the only ones racing out in the desert. The other teams are rich or famous enough to be able to afford private tracks.

Roboworld’s “coolies” or immigrant workers appear to work in Steamlight mines.

The man at the underground casino claims that Gori-Rider always comes in 5th. Is this a pun? Go-ri rider? Get it?

Perhaps the most controversial scene is where Sonoshee watches TV topless. It’s somewhat of an odd joke, as Sonoshee notes how the TV is showing her butt, and then she sits down with no top. I timed it, and the nudity lasts only 5 to 6 seconds. It’s hard to believe that this will keep so many people from seeing Redline.

According to the TV, Machinehead won the 4th Redline 20 years ago. Does this mean it’s the 24th Redline this time? You’ll notice you’ll see him become more and more machine-like in the clips. Near the beginning, his head is almost human-shaped.

I’ll cop to being a Superboins fan. They’re absolutely ridiculous, but I always saw them as a tribute to Go Nagai, with his love for magical girls and breasts. They’re like twin Cutey Honeys who pilot Aphrodite A on a planet ruled over by Sailor Moon. They’re actually members of the Royal Family, which is why they have magical powers, although they have promised to seal those off for the race. The current Supergrass princess is the last heir to the magical powers. What crisis has befallen Supergrass?

From Alsatia you have the Mad Brothers, Lynchman and Johnnyboya, who are like (as the Dynamite in the Brain podcast also says) Beavis and Butthead as Batman and Robin. They’re marketing their number 7 best fighting collection, although it features some kind of evil sailor rather than their foe, Psychoman.

JP survived a 300 mph crash, making me wonder if he isn’t a cyborg. He’s listed as human (presumably), but he seems awfully indestructible.

We learn Miki and Todoroki were supposed to be at the Yellow Line, but Gori Rider beat them up and probably detained them. They almost missed their chance at the Redline, except they were voted in as replacements with JP. I’d be pissed at Gori Rider, too.

Mogura sees explosions across Roboworld, and wonders if it’s a pre-race party. Under that martial law? Unlikely! It must be some kind of guerrilla uprising, as we soon see the miners attack the power station. Titan figures out what’s going on awfully quick. He has an earpiece, but again his smug attitude makes me suspicious.

Another favorite scene is seeing Lynchman and Johnnyboya stretch before their attack, which is never shown.

When JP crashes (again – is JP actually a good driver, or just lucky?) and lands in the field of flowers, he looks up at a rainbow in the sky and his eyes flash with fire. More cyborg evidence? Or perhaps some other mystical race to explain his pointy ears?

The scout ships from Supergrass are heart-shaped. They’re never shown from the angle to reveal that they’re hearts, but they are, making Supergrass completely magical girl themed. It seems like the entire planet is populated by women, as well.

Always keep your eyes on Shinkai when he’s on the screen. He moves like crazy.

Machinehead hooks into his car much as Volton’s troops do. Is his lost humanity making him like the people of Roboworld?

The announcers for Redline are “Rattle King” Void Do and previous Redline champion Minerva Harness.

Sonoshee seems to get attacked far more than JP ever does, and her wits on her toes is just impressive to see. It’s hard not to think that Sonoshee is a better racer than JP.

The Superboins’ whiny cries of “iyaaaaaa” every time they get picked on is totally hilarious to me.

Had Roboworld just let the race go without any fanfare or fighting, would the television ratings be so high?

Funky boy is sleeping in zone 7X, with the number 7 again making an appearance. Sonoshee’s shirt lists the numbers 78, which apparently have some significance in Trava as well.

Besides Little Deyzuna, Big Deyzuna is the one who looks like a cyclops, and Dr. Sabose is the man with the moustache and monocle. When Little Deyzuna decides to join the race, he’s actually listed in the news as a contestant: look for it!

How did the guerrillas know that funky boy would attack Roboworld’s troops and not the racers? Was Titan working with them to make sure Funky Boy would malfunction?

Lynchman attacks a robot, runs across the minefield, and gets shot several times, unscathed. OVA spin-off when?

Funny and ironic that Gori-Rider, the cop, stumbles into the illegal bioweapon facility.

Right before Funky Boy screams and attacks, his little eye opens. I find his little eye and teeth terribly amusing, and kind of cute, unlike the gross giant baby from the end of Akira.

When Sabose gives the situation report after Funky Boy is vaporized, is that his EYE on the dashboard?

Sonoshee helps JP quite a bit, grabbing the wheel, pushing the pedal, and even throwing the Steamlight in. JP looks utterly horrified when she burns off the steamlight.

Near the end, after the car explodes, when JP cries “Sonoshee” two blue flames appear. When Sonoshee cries “JP” two more blue flames appear. Are these blue flames related to the flames in JP’s eyes? Do these just represent passion, or is there something more?

I try to avoid Freudian interpretations, but it’s hard to not get a sexual vibe from the ending. Supergrass is all women, and Roboworld (as a searcher on this blog suggested to me) is all men. Of all the team racers, only JP & Sonoshee are mixed gender. Everyone else is two men or two women. Is this the proper mix of magic and technology? When they cross the finish line, nobody’s mad. Everyone’s sweaty, smiling, and happy (and in the Superboins’ and Supergrass audience’s case, partially undressed), basking in the afterglow.

The ending has its fair share of criticism for being too abrupt, but everything important has been wrapped up. Why slow down the pace and tie up little loose ends when you can leave in a triumphant high?

If you want answers to questions about what happens next, buy Redline when it’s out in your territory. A sequel will give you more adventures than a 5 minute denouement ever could.

More on the way, once I get the books, documentaries, and screenshots I need to dig further.

The Travaverse Expands

I’m happy to see that other people are plugging away on exploring the universe of Redline. Here’s a great post for those interested in filling out the backstory.

Eden: It’s An Endless World volume 13

buy eden

Buy me!

Seems like Eden: It’s An Endless World volume 13 is actually coming out. After two long years. I’m guessing if this volume doesn’t sell we’ll never see the rest of this. We’re just 5 volumes away from the end now.

Also, the new series from the author of Hellsing! Exciting.

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