Director: Akira Amemiya, Hiroyuki Imashi
Production: Studio Trigger
Platform: Viewed on Blu-ray with both English and Japanese Audio
Release Date: Out Now!
Ridiculous, fun, and determinedly deep, Promare is a thrill ride of sight and sound that doesn’t relent throughout the near two-hour runtime. Such traits are not unexpected from Studio Trigger, the company behind the gloriously over-the-top Kill la Kill (which I just finished watching)!
Promare maintains the appeal of outfit transformations so prominent in Kill la Kill (as well as the delightfully in-your-face typographic intros), albeit in a more mech/Gundam situation. We are shown that in the not-too-distant future some humans start to spontaneously combust, causing worldwide catastrophe. The Burnish, as they are called, are treated with disdain by others, partly due to the destructive Mad Burnish faction. In the city of Promepolis, we meet Burning Rescue, containing multiple main cast members. Think of them as a mix of firefighters and Power Rangers – no, really!
We see Burning Rescue respond to a Mad Burnish attack, and immediately apparent are the striking visuals of Promare. It employs bold, vibrant animation with palpable 3D depth and a fast pace; lines are defined, colours are bright, and the direction embraces both detail and exaggeration. The film format allows Trigger to refine every frame, resulting in a cathartic sensibility unlike anything else I’ve watched.
Subsequent to the opening, Promare starts showing that the apparent sides of right and wrong are not as they initially seem. Focus soon moves onto the hot-headed but endearing Galo Thymos (Ken’ichi Matsuyama/Billy Kametz) of Burning Rescue and Lio Fotia (Taichi Saotome/Johnny Yong Bosch) of the Mad Burnish, and how their different trajectories meet in a way where each can learn from the other. Amidst all the bombastic action, there is a poignant story here. However, whilst the leads are well-developed, many side characters end up taking too much of a back seat. In particular, the rest of Burning Rescue are sadly reduced to bit-part roles, with maybe one exception in calmly confident pilot Aina Ardebit (Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld/Ayane Sakura) and her dynamic with mysterious scientist sister Heris (Ami Koshimizu/Erica Lindbeck).
One aspect that must be talked about is the audio. Trigger knock it out of the park, weaving together lyrical and instrumental music that impressively matches the joyously intense visuals; it gets the blood suitably pumping without descending into noise. Furthermore, sound design is clear and hard-hitting whether it be a sword strike or ignited flame, and voice acting is emotionally raw without being condescending – note that I actually preferred the extra level of intensity in the English dub compared to the Japanese track.
Rip-roaringly stylish, Promare is pure entertainment without losing an emotional core. Even as the plot somehow gets more and more over-the-top, it remembers it needs engrossing characters to keep us invested in the varied, exceptionally choreographed action. The focus on certain characters disappointingly pushes lots of others into the background, and I’ll add that the climax wraps up a bit too quickly given the scale of events prior. Indeed, Promare does not completely stick the landing, but the ride there was riveting and oh-so-entertaining.