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Promare: Fire Fighting Action Extravaganza

It was just over two years ago now that Studio Trigger announced Promare, a feature-length film from the creative duo behind Gurren Lagann and Kill la Kill.

Now that it’s finally out in theaters, it’s safe to say that Promare definitely delivers on the hype it promised.

First, the synopsis. Thirty years have passed since the Burnish, a mutated race of humans who can create and control flames, appeared on Earth. Now, a terrorist group called Mad Burnish threatens peace on earth. The ones who stand against them are the Burning Rescue team, a group specially trained to handle Burnish-related fires.

When rescue rookie Galo Thymos comes face-to-face with Mad Burnish leader Lio Fotia, a battle of epic proportions begins.

Lio Fotia shows off his powers as a Burnish.

A nonstop ride of insane action

Right out of the gate, this film is an absolute explosion of energy. The opening battle is intense, vibrant, and filled with great choreography played out by immediately lovable characters. Once this movie gets going, it simply does not stop. This is a runaway train with no brakes and practically every minute is jam-packed with at least a couple things that’ll get your blood pumping.

That being said, I suppose this is also a “too much of a good thing” scenario to some degree. The way this movie paces itself so well that you don’t even feel the transition between scenes is incredible. However, there were a few points where I wished that the story would just be allowed to breathe, especially in the second half.

A thematic buffet, though not an easily digestible one.

There are a lot of themes and concepts presented in Promare. Some are obvious, like this studio’s ever-present obsession with fascism and its downfall. Some are surprisingly subtle, like how far a person will go to save a loved one.

Either way, most of them went by so fast that I could barely ponder their importance before the next big idea hit. This is a film that merits at least two, possibly three viewings to really let its message sink it. Fortunately, it’s such a fun and engaging watch that this would hardly be a chore. I just wish it could have dialed it back just a hair to really let its main ideas sink in.

In typical Trigger fashion, Promare is also a celebration of everything that’s come before. References to Gurren Lagann, Kill la Kill, and other Trigger shows pervade Promare‘s visual language. Yet, none of these references feel out of place or overly self-aggrandizing. Most of these allusions fit neatly in with whatever theme Promare is conveying in that moment, as expected from Trigger.

Galo’s Kamina-esque personality does not go unnoticed.

Promare’s approach to characterization is a bit off the beaten path. I wouldn’t really say any of the characters “grew” per say. They’re most useful as tools to discuss the intricate theming of the story. That said, these characters are far from boring. From Galo’s bombastic manly optimism to Lio’s stoic idealism and everyone in between, this cast is full of endearing characters.

Animation-wise, this is easily one of Trigger’s best works.

The news that this would be a primarily-CG work was a bit worrying, but this is by far one of the best looking CG anime I’ve seen so far. Explosive and vibrant colors make every frame a piece of eye candy, and the character designs have that classic Trigger goodness.

Moreover, the camerawork is absolutely stellar. Every shot focuses on maximizing energy and intensity, and the sense of constant movement keeps the hype building constantly. And, of course, the mech designs are incredible, drawing from a wide array of influences, yet still feeling unique and exciting.

Trigger mechs are always good mechs.

With the soundtrack, Hiroyuki Sawano is back for another endless stream of hype and exhilaration. While I wouldn’t say this is his strongest soundtrack, it does exactly what’s expected of it. Sawano’s work continuously builds on the film’s pure hype base and just keeps on building indefinitely. His insert songs in particular are quite impacting, often rather moving at times to truly highlight the most emotional moments.

Promare is a Trigger work through and through. Hype, dense theming, more hype, explosive visual presentation, and even more hype make this a film I’d love to come back to in the near future. Despite being a bit too dense at times, it’s certainly one to add to your list.

Score: 8/10

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