Promare Review

Originally published on The Fandom Post
What They Say:
Thirty years have passed since the appearance of 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.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Few works reflect their creators’ style with the clarity that Promare reflects director Hiroyuki Imaishi and writer Kazuki Nakashima’s collective tone and style. Imaishi and Nakashima previous collaborations in Gurren Lagann and Kill la Kill established their collective love of high-energy action that’s unafraid of being silly if it means entertaining the audience, a love that’s on full display in Promare.

The first thing that stands out about Promare is its distinctive visual style, which makes every scene practically pop off the screen. The entire color palette is made up of bright neon hues that synergize perfectly with its energetic animation style. Rather than focusing on crisp artwork that’s always on model and realistic, Promare emphasizes energy and impact in every frame without a care for realism. Every color, from the Burnish’s blue flames to the Galo’s vivid blue hair, is designed to leave an impact and boy does it ever. Even still shots pop like nothing else, and it only gets better in motion. Action scenes are packed full of energy and momentum, always moving thanks to some excellently integrated CGI along with Trigger’s usual top-tier 2D animation. The two blend together so seamlessly that it’s sometimes impossible to even recognize where one ends and the other begins, allowing the film to take full advantage of both without it becoming a distraction. Sometimes it even drops detail to show brightly colored silhouettes of Burning Rescue’s mechs facing off against Mad Burnish’s flaming motorcycles (which are just as cool as they sound). Promare practically bombards you with streaks of color during its fights, all while keeping the actions clear enough that you never lose track of what’s going on. This is set to a similarly bombastic rock and roll soundtrack with an awe-inspiring number of insert songs that only make things feel even more epic. All in all, Promare is an aesthetic marvel with a style that perfectly complements the story itself.

Promare’s story essentially starts out with a single question: what if Kamina from Gurren Lagann was a firefighter? Galo is the answer to that. His similarity to Kamina is striking, and not just because their designs are almost identical. Galo possesses the same hotheaded spirit as Kamina, always charging in to fight for what he believes is right, usually with a bombastic speech about his burning soul. He’s not the most original character, true, but he won me over pretty quickly with the sheer force of his personality and all around likable nature, which is a fitting metaphor for Promare as a whole.

Promare’s plot is paced like everything’s been set to 1.5x speed; the world is barely established before it moves into one action scene and twist after another, constantly moving with only a few quiet moments here and there to hold things together. There’s easily enough plot here to take up a full TV season, so its nothing short of awe-inspiring that the staff was able to cram so much into one movie while still remaining coherent. Rather than annoying, Promare’s rapid pacing ensures that you’re constantly engaged, constantly excited to see what comes next and how things are going to change once the other shoe drops, since it’s obvious from the start that there’s more to its world than what we see on the surface. By the end, it’s escalated from fighting fires to fighting for the future of the planet, all without losing sight of the characters at the heart of it. Galo and Lio have great chemistry as our leading duo, far outshining most of the supporting cast. To go back to the Gurren Lagann comparison, it has a similar feel to Simon and Viral, while still maintaining enough originality that the two don’t feel like total clones of their predecessors. That said, Promare does take certain ideas and elements from Gurren Lagann, sometimes blatantly so. It’s noticeable, but not a huge problem since there are enough original ideas to make Promare stand on its own, and it’s so damn entertaining that it’s easy to let those slide.Indeed, the entertainment value is Promare’s greatest strength. Though it doesn’t quite have the emotional depth of Gurren Lagann, it more than makes up for that in sheer spectacle. Fight after fight, hot-blooded speech after speech, with all sorts of cool mech designs. This is what Promare promises, and boy does it deliver. Promare is well aware of its own silliness (how could it not be when Galo literally starts talking like a kabuki actor in the middle of one fight) and embraces that with everything it has. Combine this with its striking visuals and soundtrack, and Promare is liable to leave you grinning the entire time at how cool everything is. Promare’s cool is the “kid playing with action figures” type, where everything is big and epic and all around awesome to watch. I realize how redundant that sounds, but that’s the exact feeling you get watching it, particularly if you’re in a huge audience of excited fans like I was.

In Summary:
Though it’s heavily derivative of Gurren Lagann (and Kill la Kill to a lesser extent) and not especially deep, Promare is still one of the most entertaining anime I’ve seen all year. It’s the same type of heart-on-your-sleeve hot-bloodedness we’ve come to expect from Imaishi and Nakashima, and is perfect for fans of their earlier works. If you’re looking for a movie that’s an all around fun time, then you owe it to yourself to watch Promare.

Grade: A-

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