Promare Review: A Studio Trigger Contender Which Burns the House Down

Studio Trigger is one of the most influential studios producing anime today. After breaking off from Gainax years ago, founders Hiroyuki Imaishi and Masahiko Otsuka quickly left their stamp on the anime world with critical darlings like Little Witch Academia, Kill la Kill, Space Patrol Luluco, and more series that you'll certainly find on many fans' "Best of" lists. That's why there's been so much curiosity for their first major film effort, Promare. Could this fan-favorite studio put their trademark flair on a full-length feature? Absolutely.

Reuniting the fan-favorite duo behind one of the most widely successful Gainax hits of the 2000s, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Hiroyuki Imaishi and Kazuki Nakashima's Promare is an incredible experience to behold. Literally setting fire to screens, Promare is a must-see film for any anime fan.

After Earth succumbed to a mysterious event dubbed the "Great World Blaze," which caused much of humanity to spontaneously combust, select humans evolved to the point where they were able to control this fiery power. Known as "Burnish," some of these pyrokinetic people broke off into a group -- the Mad Burnish -- and started causing incidents all over the world. The Burning Rescue, a special firefighter organization, was formed to combat this growing threat.

The film follows one of the more eager recruits who's out to put his heroic stamp on the world, Galo Thymos, who soon finds things are a lot more complicated than they first appear. When he comes face to face with the leader of the Mad Burnish, Lio Fotia, Galo ends up in the middle of a bigger fight than he had ever anticipated.

It should be immediately apparent through trailers and promotional materials that Promare is pure eye candy. Not only do the characters move with a stunning fluidity boosted by how the film bends and contorts its characters in order to deliver a more dynamic action sequence, but there's also a great deal of attention paid to how these action scenes are staged. Intelligent camera work makes the exaggerated character moves pop even more on screen, and these pops are further emphasized by the film's color palette.

A blend of pleasing hues highlighting character designs in fun ways, Promare is almost always jumping out of the screen. This is even further demonstrated by the sequences utilizing CG animation, which somehow maintain the funky and fun movement of hand-drawn animation but with the fidelity granted by a smoother presentation. It'll be hard for someone watching to decide when to blink, for sure.

Promare is a love letter to Imaishi and Nakashima's past works, and dedicated fans of Studio Trigger and Gainax releases are sure to find little hints and Easter eggs that feel reminiscent of those past works without overpowering the original narrative being delivered. There are more noticeable elements such as Galo's character design and personality strongly resembling Gurren Lagann's Kamina, but also smaller elements such as particular poses or faces, though it's not necessary to be familiar with those past works to fully enjoy everything that's being offered here.

There's a strong emotional through-line that also sets the film apart from many of Studio Trigger's works. Galo and Lio's connection throughout the film is an incredible narrative thread as the changes to their tenuous partnership in certain moments do indeed light a fire of one's spirit. While things do build up in a way fans have come to love from their past anime productions, the climax of the film somehow exceeds any expectations one might have.

In fact, that's just Promare in a nutshell. Constantly upstaging itself with each new scene, each performance, and twists and turns in the plot, ensuring Promare is going to go down as one of Studio Trigger's finest projects, if not its best.

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Rating: 5 out of 5

Promare is now out in theaters with an English subtitled and English dubbed release for a limited time. Theater location and ticket availability will vary.