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.
Promare reunites the creative team of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and Kill la Kill, specifically director Hiroyuki Imaishi and screenwriter Kazuki Nakashima. The film had been in development since 2013 and was first announced at Anime Expo in Los Angeles in 2017.
While Gurren Lagann used drills and Kill la Kill used thread, Imaishi and Nakashima`s new “Burning passion” storyline takes the symbolism to the next logical step, using fire itself (and shapes) to drive the story forward. It`s both boldly new in appearance with it‘s bright colours and liberal use of CG yet immediately recognizable as an Imaishi work. While many haven’t been blown away by the studios output as of late, I think it’s important to realize how little this resembles your standard Trigger release.
This film is their first in the almost 8 years the studio has been
running and a similar affair to Darling in the Franxx in that it is a collaborative work. How it isn’t similar, though, is that it isn’t shit and their collaborative studio, Sanzigen, are a CGI studio who work in the field of revolutionizing CGI use in anime. While some of collaborations mainly focus on background armies and mechanical parts, their standout title Bubuki Baranki from 2016 received praise across the internet for being the best looking use of CGI in anime to date and many claiming it to be the future of CGI anime. It’s clear with Promare they are wanting to take their highly praised CGI/cel shading anime aesthetic and combine it with the stylings of Imaishi and Nakashima to create the most traditional looking anime CGI project to date, and here I believe they succeed.
On the quality of the CG and integration, I personally found it fantastic. There were a small number of times the frame rate seemed only slightly off, but in the grand scheme I'm only making this criticism to be fair. For my personal enjoyment of the film it had very, very little impact. After seeing the film and following the discussion online, I want people to understand that enjoying or praising this film doesn't mean the individual is a fan of or sympathizer of CG integration in anime, but can appreciate a well animated, piece using it. For example, even though they are stylized vehicles, I love the cuts in episode 6 of Panty and Stocking with Chuck and Fastener fighting in their cars. It’s easy to dismiss CGI outright without actually analyzing what works and doesn’t in a scene, and with Promare, I’d say it almost always works. Also, even thought there is a lot of CG integration, there is a ton of purely 2D cuts as well. The conclusion to the fight between Galo and Lio among many others is entirely 2D and there are some seriously awesome cuts that people are going to see in .webms for a long time to come.
Concerning the story itself, it is a Nakashima Kazuki story through and through hitting all the right Imaishi notes. It begins setting up a very familiar chaos vs order story line but quickly begins to focus mainly on discrimination and instead of breaking apart order with progress and chaos, the idea of unity and rebirth. It's a very familiar story, but with just the right variation to the tale to make it feel fresh and relevant. It definitely moves very quickly, as it's covering a story that could easily have been expanded and made into a longer series, but as is, it works. I was all in, but can also immediately see where a lot of the backlash for this film is going to stem concerning the themes and criticisms of society present. This film is apparently going to be getting a more global release, and I implore you if interested to catch this film on the big screen. The visual story telling at play was fantastic and the film had my blood pumping from beginning to end.
Touching briefly on the music, I enjoyed Sawano's soundtrack but a few tracks were a bit repetitive. He has a recognizable sound.. And the soundtrack of was most remenisent of Kill la Kill, albeit a weaker Kill la Kill. All things considered however, Kill la Kill is one of my favourite soundtracks of all time, so this is barely a criticism. The music wasn't a highlight of the film for me but still very enjoyable.
Six thousand people sat and stood in wait for twelve hours for this movie. They got more than what they came for.
When the movie started I remembered just how good Kill La Kill was; not overall, but at the beginning. You know, the first five minutes where the entire setup and exposition of the show just blows the skin off of your face and you fly backwards down a giant obsessively beautiful mountain of detail all to fly forward on the ground into a close up of Ryuko's face...
Ryuko: "So this is Honouji Academy..."
Audience: *gargling noises*
That was pretty good... Promare made
me feel like that again about 20 seconds into the movie... then it kept going... wait what do you mean "keep going" you already have me hooked. I'm interested. I like the premise you just established you wanna move on from OKAY SO YOU'RE GONNA SHOW ME THE COOL THINGS HAPPENING OVER THE ENTIRE WORLD THAT'S NICE WE'RE 50 SECONDS IN NOW YOU THINK IT'S TIME TO LET OFF THE GAS A BIT AND LET US TAKE THIS SHIT IN?!
Hiroyuki Imaishi: "... Nah bro check this out--"
– and so fourteen minutes later, the entire audience sat there, mouths agape, vocal chords sore, eyes dry; contemplating when, if ever in our brief existences, we had ever witnessed a work of visual media with a higher "awesome per second" ratio.
We had not.
My friends, the movie industry has lost its way. I think the anime industry has also lost its way.
I know that's a bold statement to make.
I believe that this is the best that animation has ever been in every sense of the word "best." The average animated television show is better than it ever has been, and the best shows of each year are almost always better than the best shows of the previous year. The size of the anime consuming market in the US and around the world is growing at an unclear but certainly substantial rate. Who the hell am I to claim that this artform is doing ANYTHING wrong?...
... I'm a dude that just saw a single 90 minute movie have more fun than every show and movie in the last three decades combined.
Fast forwarding to about six hours after the movie ended, I realized that this feeling was one I had felt before. When the videogame "Doom (2016)" came out, everyone kind of had a "come to Jesus" moment. We realized that we didn't need a philosophically engorged cutscene to tell us why we were going to be shooting demons, we needed some demons to terrorize, enough ammunition to out-lead-poison the most illiterate US state, and a soundtrack to keep the blood seeping from our eyes from running dry. A videogame... that's "fun" first... good idea... when exactly did we forget about it? I don't know, but the fact that it was a big deal to remember it is proof that we did, right?
Well... here we are. Promare felt fun like nothing I'd seen in years, if ever, and that's proof that we MUST have forgotten what it means to be "fun" first.
I didn't like this thought. There's no WAY that that can be right. OF COURSE anime movies are "fun" I thought to myself.
I mean just LOOK at all these anime movies I can think of that are fun from start to finish that were critically acclaimed.
Let's go down the list:
- Your Name
- A Silent Voice
- Night is Long Baby Walk On Girl
- In This Corner Of The World
- Liz and the Blue Bird
- Anthem of the Heart
- Giovanni's Island
- Boy and the Beast
SEE! SURELY ALL OF THESE MOVIES ARE "FUN" RIGHT!?...
... I... no they aren’t... At least not first?... Beautiful, serene, provocative, inventive, colorful, cathartic, sympathetic, heart-wrenching, 'moving'; absolutely, but "fun"... I don't know.
Fun is going down a waterslide.
Fun is throwing a water balloon at someone then circle strafing around a picnic table with adults at it so they can’t hit you with theirs.
Fun is that thing that we're supposed to have had surgically removed at the age of 17 to be hopefully replaced with concerns about the economy and thoughts of financial independence.
I think I thought that Art, if it wanted to be taken seriously, couldn't JUST “Put Fun First.”
I don't think that anymore.
Promare is the most fun I've ever had in a movie theater. This movie pulls you through a seven-year-olds imagination at speeds that would pull the skin from your skull, but sometimes it stops, jarringly To methodically contrast something important to you and to the characters. The film goes fourteen minutes before hitting you with the concept of moral relativism. It hammers that gong HARD and meaningfully over the course of the film. It goes half a movie before ripping the proverbial carpet out from under the universe that it built for you. By the time the movie is over, it's committed so many narrative faux pa's that I'm surprised nobody in the theater laughed at any of them. Until something absolutely fucking glorious happens.
The movie exhibited a level of self awareness that I'd only ever seen rivaled by other anime also directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi, AND THOSE HAD BUDGETARY CONSTRAINTS THAT PREVENTED HIM FROM SEIZING THE MEANS OF KITCHEN SINK PRODUCTION, AND LIFTING AN ENTIRE KITCHEN SINK FACTORY TWENTY THOUSAND FEET INTO THE AIR AND DROPPING IT ON A THEATER FULL OF UNSUSPECTING FANS.
There is a "noun" that will not be spoiled here that is canonically named "Deus Ex Machina"… that leads us into the final God Damn act. Every man, woman, and (man)child that made this movie must have been having the times of their fucking lives. This is Studio Triggers first movie, y'all. I didn't really realize what that meant until after the movie had ended and Imaishi rolled onto the stage from underneath a table.
Imaishi said "This is the first thing I've actually fully owned and directed since Gurren Lagann, and I don't even know how many of you really remember that one."
... The entire crowd cheers loud enough to not need a translator for him to get the point. About half that cheering came from me but this isn't the point. The POINT is that this man has been waiting twenty some odd years to have complete, unhinged, unfettered creative freedom. He finally got it, and all we got out of it was the most spectacular looking movie I've ever seen.
It's not just pretty. It's optimally pretty. The aesthetic of this movie optimized the studios ability to pump as many frames and as many details into every single frame as possible. Studio Trigger has always had some of the best animators in the world do some of their best work on their products, but this is the first time I've seen an art direction be this considerate of what actually matters; GETTING RID OF DETAILS THAT CAN'T BE FUCKING "ANIMATED." LOOKING AT YOU, COMIXWAVE!!! YOUR LANDSCAPES ARE BEAUTIFUL BUT THEY DO NOT DANCE A JIG FOR THE CAMERA!!
In the hands of ANYONE ELSE, this art style could have been viewed as "ugly" or "stilted" or "other negative adjective here" but these fuckers decided to go PEAK modern art on our asses and take animation back to geometry 101 and high school art and English classes.
One side of the conflict is made up of squares, the other by triangles. One side is blue, the other is pink. One side is cold, the other is hot. Every silouette is optimal. Every character design, robot design, vehicle design, and their corresponding color palates are unrivaled in their simplicity and their clarity, which I imagine only happened naturally as WHEN YOU NEED TO ANIMATE TEN MECHS SUMO WRESTLING WITH A FIRETRUCK, A HELICOPTER, AND A BATON WIELDING MAN MADE OF FIRE, THEY PROBABLY HAD TO ITERATE ON THINGS UNTIL LESS THAN HALF THEIR FOCUS GROUPS WERE FROTHING AT THE MOUTH FROM EPILEPTIC BRAIN ANEURISMS AFTER THE FIRST THREE AND A HALF MINUTES.
I'm writing this review the day after I saw the movie. I could barely sleep because I was still thinking about it.
You see, I had to miss this day at the convention anyway because I had to go home and check on my apartment because there WAS A FUCKING EARTHQUAKE YESTERDAY!!! OH YEAH, GET THIS. In the movie, and sure spoiler alert but you could have basically assumed this would happen from the rest of the review so not really. There's a time in the movie where a giant robot punches the ground and causes the earth to shake. Fifteen mintues later, there was an actual fucking earthquake in los angeles. Hiromi Wakabayashi, Hiroyuki Imaishi, and Masahiko Otshuka are on stage talking about the development process at this point where the lights on the ceiling start swinging like pendulums and the entire audience goes silent; naturally a bit concerned about the 7.1 earthquake that just happened. After a few seconds, Imaishi giggles a bit and says something to Wakabayashi. Wakabayashi smiles and nods his head a little bit and then goes back to talking. If I was a betting man, I'd bet that Imaishi made a joke about how their movie caused a fucking earthquake... to me, it may as well have.
I give this movie an unreadable Babylonian symbol out of ten.
To compare this film to other films that have the vaguest concept of giving a shit about what academics have to say about it is an insult to the intent of the creators.
I will woefully depart from the opinions of the masses here. I will throw myself into a clown costume and proselytize until tranquilized. This is a hill I will die upon. I pray for a future where this is the most influential movie made in the last ten years.
Buy it. Watch it. Gift it. Listen to it.
Tell me what you think about it.
The story is just 2 hours of studio Trigger clowning on themselves. With this movie, it's like they've become completely self aware. They're all but parodying themselves more and more with each subsequent work they put out, and strangely, they're better off for it. Yes, that's right. Studio Trigger is at its best when it's not taking itself too seriously. Remember Little Witch Academia and Darling in The Franxx? Remember how miserable and boring they were to watch? Yeah. Promare is the antithesis to all that. It's Imaishi's wake-up slap to Trigger, showcasing what made Gurren Lagann such a timeless classic. "Hey, you remember
that?" He said. "Let's make more of THAT." He suggested.
That said, Promare's story is not exactly "Gurren la Kill" as some call it. It does come pretty damn close, though. It does just barely enough to differentiate itself from big bro Gurren Lagann and big sister Kill la Kill. Trigger knew comparisons to those two shows would be inevitable, and what did they do? They embraced the meme harder than anyone expected them to. And the result? A drug-addled haze of a movie. A cranium-busting roller coaster of pure fucking adrenaline and hype, but not much else. And you know what? That's all I ever asked for from Studio Trigger. As is standard Studio Trigger fare, the story is extremely over the top and convoluted - hopelessly so for a movie. This is the stuff that 24 episode anime series are made of, not a 2 hour flick. As a result, the story moves at an unbelievably breakneck pace. There is not a single moment to blink or look away. In every shot, there is always something going on, something flying across the screen as the camera pans 360 degrees. Anything that is explained is rushed through without a moment's pause, and anything that is not explained is brushed off in a very flippant and nonchalant manner. Actually, I'm making it sound worse than it actually is. When you're watching the movie, it just works. There is just enough plot for you to actually care about what's going on. There is just enough characterization for you to care about the characters, to want to see them triumph. In exchange for cutting some of these elements a bit short, the movie moves the plot forward and resolves things at such a rapid pace that our attention is held captive throughout the entire movie. And last but not least, this speed demon pacing paves way for the two most powerful ingredients in the Gurren la Kill formula: unending hype and escalation.
In Promare, anyone who's even half familiar with Trigger's and by extension Gainax's storytelling chops should theoretically not bat an eye at anything. But we do anyways. We cannot help but be drawn in. It's everything we've all come to know and love, cranked into maximum overdrive. It's no understatement to say that hype and adrenaline are the glue that makes the underwhelming story and characters stick. There's something strangely hypnotic about a shirtless man with spiky hair screaming about how he'll put fires out with his "burning spirit" as he smashes a button that makes his mech transform into optimus prime but with 6 arms and a giant firefighting umbrella. Escalation is the name of the game. The scale of the story and fights just ramps up and up into absolute pandemonium. That is not to say, however, that the story is bad, or that it relies too heavily on hype as a crutch. But let's just say that, if this movie was made by any other studio, it would have been laughed out of the theaters. However, because this is a Trigger animation, directed by the based god Imaishi, magic happens. Only Trigger can make something both so mediocre and so amazing at the same time.
Promare was one of the most visually and aurally intense anime movies I've ever experienced. It makes 99% of all other anime movie look like they were drawn on an Etch-A-Sketch by a dyslexic Parkinson's patient. Every single action scene was so hyper-kinetic; so dynamic but clear-cut and satisfying, that even if you think the story is shit, it's damn worth watching for just the animation alone. Imagine episode 12 of One Punch Man but stretched out to 2 hours. The camera has a will of its own and will change angles once every other frame when it's not doing overhead 360 degree pans around a giant robot flying across the map, smashing through 12 buildings before leveling a mountain as it kicks off said mountain to fly straight towards the space ship it was fighting. The best part is that you can always tell what was happening. Never did Promare lose or confuse me as to what I was looking at. Every single shot transitioned into another so seamlessly and coherently that I really felt like I was moving along with the action, felt every punch, heard every scream from inside the cockpit. In other words, the animation always put me at the heart of the action, a very subtle thing that can make or break action sequences. A lot of shows have amazing sakuga fights but tend to make a clusterfuck of them. Promare, however, never once dropped the ball on that front.
Also, I have not seen this much seamless and clever use of 3D CG since Houseki no Kuni. This is some of the best looking CG animation I've ever seen, and it unarguably enhances the experience in every way, allowing for some camera angles and choreographed movement that would not have been possible to convey with just traditional animation alone.
Many major action sequences in Promare played out like an AMV, in that the action and music were synced perfectly to create a synthesis of the senses that was fun to experience. However, for AMVs to work, the songs had to be good. Preferably, really good. Did Promare's OST fit the bill? Yes and more. It was composed by the same guy who composed tracks for Kill la Kill. If you thought Blumenkranz or Don't Lose Your Way was good, look up "Inferno" and "Kakusei" on Youtube. At least, that was what I immediately did after I finished watching this movie. I'm still humming them as I'm writing this review right now.
There was not a single track that did not fit the mood or did not enhance a scene in any way. Every single track was in top form, especially the ones that played during the major action scenes. Remember the finale of Gurren Lagann with Sorairo Days blasting in the background, or that fight with the huge kaiju with a lot of guns from FLCL to the total bop that is Blues Drive Monster? Yeah. Same energy.
The only way my night could have ended better was if I also got to snort coke off the buttocks of an Amsterdam hooker while getting a lapdance from an actual anime girl. I also have a friend who waited 4 hours in line to get into the premiere and he said it was completely worth it.
Trigger is like that one loose cannon drunk friend that we keep hanging around because in his lucid moments he can be genuinely brilliant and awesome guy to hang around (i.e Kill la Kill, Space Patrol Luluco, Inferno Cop) but when he's drunk he's vomiting subpar material like it's stomach flu season (i.e Darling In The Franxx, Little Witch Academia). His latest flash of sober genius turned out to be Promare and once again we are reminded of why we keep having this love-hate relationship: all so that someday he would shape the fuck up and remind us all again of what made anime such a special medium in the first place, to allow such brilliant works of kinetic art to grace our eyeballs and such passionate screams of men vibrate in our eardrums.
So, Trigger is back at it again with another action series. However, this time on the big screen in collaboration with XFLAG most known for the creation of the mobile game "Monster strike", which took Japan by storm a few years back.
As a big Trigger fan I was excited to finally see this film. So much hype surrounding this film and the interesting cast and characters.
The soundtrack is really great and is one of the big highlights of the film, which is perfectly combined with the extreme over the top action and mechs as one would expect from trigger. To further elevate the action, an
extremely fitting art-style and good use of 3d cgi animation further immersed me into the world and Promepolis. (I'm glad Trigger is one of the very few studios that can properly use 3d cgi, as seen with last year's Gridman as well).
As much as I like the above aspects of the film there were some things that left me slightly unsatisfied. Firstly, leading up to the premiere of the film, Galo's group was very hyped up to play a bigger role than what they actually did in the film. I would also have hoped to learn more about Lio's group and the Burnish as well. I really wish that Trigger took the chance to do more character building instead of leaving most characters with little to no screen-time.
I understand that it was not possible to do for a mere 2 hour film, but it makes me imagine how much further potential the story and world-building could have had if it were a 12-24 episode anime series instead. The story is seriously great, which is why I wish I could get more of it.
Then again, I seriously doubt that an anime series would maintain the standards that the film had. The budget would be way much larger and I don't think there is any way that Trigger would be able to break even if they had the same level of quality as the film had. I guess my dreams will remain dreams...
Nevertheless, being Trigger's first full feature animated film I'm seriously impressed and I really hope that we will see more cinematic experiences from them in the future. So anyone who loves Trigger or action-packed over the top mechs, fighting and a seriously nice story please check it out!