Promare is a new movie from the anime studio “Trigger,” which produced the TV shows “Kill la Kill” and “Gurren Lagann,” both of which were met with wide acclaim. Promare is their first venture into making a standalone movie. The movie is strong in many of the areas that Studio Trigger is known for — art direction, editing, and fight scenes — but lacks in pacing, character, and plot.
The plot is nonsense. I didn’t understand it, nor did I figure that it was worth my time to attempt to try and understand it. The protagonist is a firefighter, and the evil terrorist group has fire powers. They were born with the fire powers and are currently being hunted down by the government as to contain this power. Later, we find out that this is a lie, because actually the government wants all the fire-powered people to use their abilities to power a machine that warp drives a space vessel that can only hold a limited number of people. It’s exhausting trying to work your way through this, much less attempting to find a theme under it all. What is this story telling us? Not to trust the government, and that climate change is happening with or without warp drive technology? That’s not exactly interesting or new.
The characters work better than the plot. The main firefighter good guy is relatively bland, but his squadron is fun to watch, though they get so little screen time I was left wondering why the movie even felt the need to include them. There is an immensely powerful villian with straight, light green hair that is immediately likeable. During the duration of the movie, the two characters find out that they’re not really enemies and begin working with each other. Watching them learn to like each other is fun, and the characters have a lot of chemistry with each other.
This movie has its two main male characters kiss, but not in a romantic way, in a ‘the plot needs this or someone dies’ way. Of course this will be great for the social media marketing for this movie, especially in the long run. There will be a ton of young girls who become superfans of this movie just because of this scene. They will draw fan art and make doujinshi, and the characters aren’t even gay.
In general, what the movie does right, it does amazingly– and that’s its visual style. It has its own sense of style that is bright, colorful, and daring. The movies sweeps through action scenes, never restraining the animation style. The use of bright contrasting colors alongside a heavy use of black never feels grating. The animators manage to make colors pop without being ugly. This is the main event of the movie, watching all these strong visuals come together and just work.
The music is mostly awesome. It adds intensity to the fight scenes. During these high-action scenes,there is a combination of pop songs and original background music. One pop song that stood out was Superfly’s “Kakusei,” used during the second fight. I found “Inferno” by Hiroyuki Sawano, used in the last fight and as the ending song, to be less interesting. This song felt more like an early 2000’s Disney pop star song. Rather than adding intensity to the action scenes, it distracted me with its boring sonic palette and obvious chord progressions. In a movie bursting with chaos, this song was just too clean to work.
There are three main fight scenes in the movie. The first is how the movie opens. In my opinion it is the weakest and goes on a little too long. This fight establishes that the heroes use advanced firefighting mechas, and the villains have fire powers. It shows the general weakness and hotheadedness of the main good guy. The second fight scene is by far my favorite. It focuses on the main villain creating a huge dragon out of fire and wrecking the city. The animator’s ability to move the camera around landscape in fast and free ways is impressive.
This movie is a lot. It doesn’t come in a tight, clean package. Its editing is that of lightning-quick intensity that is only understandable because it’s animated. This movie is chaos, but it creates its own language from that chaos. Where so much of art and entertainment is taking an approach of minimalism and subtracting elements, Studio Trigger has adopted a maximalist style that they are on the way to mastering.