Michael Potts | 1/11/2019
Overflowing with style and adrenaline, Promare marks a stunning debut onto the big screen for Studio Trigger and reunites director by Hiroyuki Imaishi and head writer Kazuki Nakashima, previously responsible for hit series Gurren Lagann and Kill la Kill.
The film is set in the city of Promepolis 30 years after the emergence of the Burnish, humans with the ability to create and control fire, who caused worldwide blazes and are now treated as dangerous. Galo Thymos (Kenichi Matsuyama), a young member of Burning Rescue, a high tech fire-fighting team, and respond to fires created by a Burnish terrorist organisation, Mad Burnish. This brings him and his team into contact with the group’s leader, Lio Fotia (Taichi Saotome), and they capture him after an intense battle. Despite their victory and public recognition by Governor Kray Foresight (Masato Sakai), not all is well in the city, and with Lio’s escape from custody greater revelations and increasingly insane battles await.
Visually, Promare is represents a refinement of the Studio Trigger style, with several character designs reminiscent of past works. These designs are highly expressive and create a unique and interesting cast, with each design helping to give each a clear sense of identity and personality. Liberal use of bright colours complement the upbeat optimism of the film, and work well with the various concepts at play. Most importantly, as a highly action oriented movie, the animation is crisp and the story boarding and choreography is a thing to behold. A notable feature of the Promare is its mixing of 2D and 3D animation techniques in many of its scenes. The 3D is certainly noticeable and can at first detract from the experience, but it ultimately blends into the artistic style so well that it stops being a problem.
It cannot pass without mentioning, as well, the contribution of the soundtrack to the film. Powerful, energetic and engrossing, the tracks and main songs are pitch perfect for their scenes, whether high action or in quieter moments. Studio Trigger has been well served by picking up Hiroyuki Sawano, one of the biggest composers in the anime industry of the last few years, for this production.
Story-wise, Promare is sheer power fantasy in the best possible way. It espouses the value of unity, justice and the power of the human spirit, even in the face of the literal impossible. It’s undeniable that it indulges in rank silliness, but instead of being a negative this in fact is the entire point, and in fact it can be easy to miss some of the depth of meaning underlying the surface craziness. The plot and dialogue are so crazy and over the top that it will likely lose you at points, but without fail it forcibly drags you back and wins you over with the sheer force of its hype. On top of this, there are plenty of references and nods to the prior works of the studio and the directing/writing team which are sure to get smiles out of those with some familiarity.
Lastly, the characters of Promare represent a great strength for the movie, but are in a way its greatest weakness. Galo as the protagonist is endlessly likeable and Lio a rival and sympathetic sometimes-antagonist who is a perfect foil for the hero. Alongside them are Galo’s team of five other firefighters, Lio’s Burnish allies, Governor Kray and his entourage as well as a number of others. All are brimming with personality and energy and are all a joy to watch. The downside is that it feels like there’s barely enough time to appreciate a number of them, which is a shame given how striking many of them are.
Loud, proud and unforgettable, Promare is pure excitement and is sure to leave breathless anyone willing to suspend their disbelief.