Published Oct 02, 2019Studio Trigger announcing their development of a standalone feature film put many an anime fan familiar with their "Style is the Substance" approach to storytelling into an excitable agitation. After splitting from the reputable Gainax, director Hiroyuki Imaishi sated his audiences' desire for flashy visuals, outlandish character designs and vibrant colour palettes with such landmark series as Kill la Kill and Little Witch Academia, but with Promare, Studio Trigger cranks its unabashed penchant for gorgeous visuals and head-spinning action to levels of excess bordering on self parody… in a good way.
Set after a cataclysmic world event where half the world's population has been eradicated, due to a sudden outbreak of spontaneous combustion, the futuristic metropolis of Promepolis becomes the final battleground between the surviving human race and the Mad Burnish, a slice of the population who survived the Great World Blaze and were granted the ability of pyromancy, which they use to sow chaos in the urban sprawl.
The film follows an elite team of super firefighters known as Burning Rescue, who wield ostentatious freezing weaponry and mech suits in their never-ending fight to keep Promepolis from being razed into embers. Through fighting their foes, leader of the team and archetypal hotheaded protagonist Galos Thymos uncovers the irrationally convoluted truth behind the Burnish and the Great World Blaze, and stirs the plot into a crazed mad dash towards a sugar-rushed showdown of improbable scale.
Narratively, Promare suffers from the same affliction that all Studio Trigger productions fall victim to, in setting up a simple premise and tripping over themselves to overcomplicate it with more expository facets then sense. Yet, what saves and elevates Promare from its narrative shortcomings is its steadfast commitment to pulse-pounding action and its beautiful cel-shaded aesthetic. The two elements merge wonderfully into intricate deluges of colour and momentum that overwhelm the senses with style and excess.
After the introductory standoff scene between Burning Rescue and the Mad Burnish atop a blazing high rise, you already feel exhausted from the dazzling animation and the breakneck action, which moves at a pace rendering it barely recognizable.
The film manages to maintain this unbridled sense of propulsion for all of its 111 minute runtime. While many may find this refusal to decelerate headache-inducing, Promare hits a euphoric level of excess with its design that makes its ruthless tempo and overpowering aesthetic experiential in nature. Even if its slightly inane story fails to grip anyone unfamiliar with Trigger's previous narrative stylings, Promare is at its best when you just let its exceptional visuals wash over you.