Theatrical Impressions: Promare

Bombastic and ambitious describe Studio TRIGGER’s latest film hit: Promare. Directed by Imaishi Hiroyuki and written by Nakashima Kazuki, it’s a film that oozes the absurdity of Kill La Kill and coolness of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. As a fan of Imaishi’s previous works, I knew I couldn’t miss its nationwide screening and immediately booked a seat at the nearest movie theater. 

GKIDs’ description of the film says:: 

Thirty years have passed since the appearance of the Burnish, a race of flame-wielding mutant beings who destroyed half of the world with fire. When a new group of aggressive mutants calling themselves Mad Burnish appears, the epic battle between Galo Thymos, a new member of the anti-Burnish rescue team Burning Rescue, and Lio Fotia, the leader of Mad Burnish begins.

Imaishi’s works are often wacky and out-of-this-world, but the one thing that stays consistent is his slew of inspiring yet endearing characters. You start off with Galo, the brawns-for-brains protagonist whose courageous heart rivals Kamina’s soul from Gurren Lagann, but who also has an underlying kindness and consideration that paints him more accurately as a rescue member than an iconic hero. Then there is Lio, the stoic and slightly tsundere adversary who is not only Galo’s foil but also a rather complex character who goes beyond his initial position in Promare. It’s such a joy to watch Lio grow from this embittered leader of the Mad Burnish to someone who understands the stakes of the world, making him one of my favorite characters in the entire film. 

The bombastic Galo vs the stoic Lio via GKIDS

Of course, Promare’s side characters also deserve special recognition; Imaishi has a special way of making them all quirky or memorable, even if they only have about half-a-minute’s worth of screen time. You’ll immediately like the mad scientist Lucia’s obsession with new mechas, the hyena-esque Meis and Guiera, whose undying loyalty to Lio is unparalleled, and best girl Heris’s surprising amount of character growth. Take my word for it — they will all leave a strong impression on you, no matter how small their role is in Promare

Unlike TRIGGER’s more recent animations that can be janky cool but awkwardly static at times, Promare’s visuals are much more polished. Every scene transitions smoothly into the next without missing a single beat. The opening act of Burning Rescue fighting against the Mad Burnish is full of riotous energy, accompanied by bright neon colors and CG’d geometric shapes that depict special abilities and actions. But when the film winds down to its exposition and somber scenes, the colors become muted, and the geometric shapes begin to flicker and waver until they become the shadows of Lio’s flames. There isn’t a single moment where the momentum is lost, which ensures that you’ll be on an exhilarating ride from start to finish. 

Stunning visuals via GKIDS

Even with its stellar characters and fantastic visuals, Promare isn’t without its soulful soundtrack. With Sawano Hiroyuki behind the film’s music composition and Superfly leading the movie with Lio’s theme song, the vocals will pack a powerful punch that slowly stirs up the embers in your heart and ignites your own inner flame. No matter how mundane driving to work or working on your essay may seem, you are struck with this sense of motivation and dedication to do it all. It’s without a doubt one of Sawano and Superfly’s best works as of late. I recommend getting Promare’s soundtrack album and adding it to your playlist as soon as possible.  

All in all, Promare is an absolute masterpiece that’s worth seeing on a big screen, complete with an enthusiastic anime audience and a stellar sound system. For those who are familiar with Imaishi’s work or have seen various TRIGGER/GAINAX productions, a few Easter eggs and puns are sprinkled throughout the film. Rather than reveal them all in this review and taking away the fun of it, I encourage all fans to look at Promare more critically and enjoy the film as a whole! 

Special thanks to GKIDS for making this distribution possible in the United States! Tickets are now on sale for the theatrical release on the official website

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