Co-produced by Trigger and XFLAG, PROMAREsees a limited cinema release in the Netherlands from the 20th August. Receiving a huge buzz around the world, before and after the release, it has seen across the globe. Particularly as Trigger studio alone have become renowned for their style of animation in the previous series such as Kill La Kill, Gurren Lagann, etc. This leaves a big question, does PROMARElive up to such a legacy?
PROMARE is set 30 years after the “Great World Blaze”, a strange phenomenon where some humans gained the ability to control a strange coloured fire. However, for some this power was too great which led them to combust and these events caused the annihilation of half the population around the world. Named Burners, these pyrokinetic people were labelled terrorists and fire fighting units had to step up their game to ensure no-one else became lost to their flame. The plot of the film follows the events after our hero, Galo Thymos who is also the number 1 idiot firefighter, happens to confront the leader of the Mad Burners terrorist group, Lio Fotia. This fated encounter sets a series of events into motion as a civil war looms between Burners and the Government.
Smaller details of the film provide a heavy amount of evidence about the sheer amount of thought and effort which went into building the plot and the characters. Even smaller characters who don’t have much feature time are packed with a personality from their lines and even visible from the slightest of details such as their locker. Although an issue is it is all a bit too much for a two-hour film. Despite all the character design, a lot of characters get pushed to the side with no real screen time or development. It is a real shame as even 5 minutes more for some of these characters would have been enough. On the flip side of this, there are some great pieces of writing across the film stemming from the fully thought out characters. Taking the form in plenty of fun and deep interactions between them, from small moments that break up the tension to the bigger ones that develop the characters further. Particularly the interactions between Galo and Lio which grow with the progression of the film. PROMARE really has flawless character design.
Although there is a slight problem with the pacing of the plot as everything happens one thing after another. Sure it creates a fast pace, yet the film tries to have some quiet moments to reflect on the deeper issues of the plot and break it up. These moments last about 2 minutes before something else happens and the deeper messages of the film get left undeveloped. It is a real shame as the film touches upon the theme of racism, reflecting how people are treated in real life, albeit on the extreme end, to how people treat the Burners isn’t something you expect going into the film. Individually the few moments exploring this are good and make you reflect about the outside world, yet they are ultimately small and brushed aside. Overall, sure the plot is good, despite being somewhat predictable due to various tropes, and is still pretty satisfying. However, in the end, it feels there were too many ideas and it needs to be more spread across either a tv series or at least two films as the ambition was at the cost of pace. Still, as it was Trigger’s first full feature-length you can understand why they went for making PROMARE a standalone film instead of risking a set-up to a second.
With Trigger’s name on the film, everyone is looking to see if PROMARE has that trademark flare. Opting for a brighter colour palette compared to other anime films, it is simply beautiful to look at and even more so when the world is quite miserable right now. Colour in this film is very significant and used in artistic ways such as having past moments displayed in black and white with splashes of colour on a key element to show the significance and giving it more impact. It also serves a clever function of blending in the 2D and 3D animation styles. If you look closely it is noticeable when 3D animation is used, a common problem with anime films, but for the most part, it does a good job of creating a sense of consistency across the different styles as the colours blend together easier.
Not only that, it really works with the flashy nature of the dynamic moments of the film like the special backgrounds with characters names when the main ones are introduced. Certain attacks also get this treatment when they are used, bringing up the energy of these moments. It even acts as a joke in the film whilst not detracting from the intensity of the fight scenes. Indeed, the few action scenes have fluid sequences, making the most of 3D animation, to make it gripping and interesting. Though to say these are the best parts of the animation would be doing PROMARE an injustice. There are some interesting techniques to overcome some of the drier moments like during an explanation the characters float across the screen showing their reaction listening to it. Really, animation-wise there are some interesting techniques and this film is set to be a game-changer, maintaining the Studio Trigger flare.
Let’s just get straight to the point and say the soundtrack is great. Each piece manages to hit the atmosphere at the right tone and have a consistent feel to them. It is one of those rare instances where it feels like a natural part of the film which is a feat in itself. To describe it would honestly be to say it has a PROMARE feel, being what you imagine the style to be like. This is topped off by two great themes by Superfly that encapsulate the film completely and adds a great amount of energy to the vital moments of the film. This is matched with a great voice acting performance by all the cast that help bring their characters to life. Main and support characters have a unique and distinctive feel to them, it could not be casted better on that front. It’s hard to say much more than that as the sound production is on par with the animation, making it solid all round.
All in all, PROMARE is a great film. Where there may have been a bit too much ambition regarding the plot, it still holds together quite well. With such a solid production, the sound and animation side of things makes it truly worth going to the cinema for the experience. Between the colours, the flashy nature and the animation, on the big screen, it will truly be a marvel to behold. Hopefully it sparks off a franchise to explore some of the details that get brushed aside in more depth. Still for a first full feature film, Trigger have done themselves proud. If you get the chance don’t miss out on seeing PROMARE!