‘Promare’ is a Master Class in Japanese Animation

Hands down, Promare is one of the most stunning animated films I have had the pleasure of watching. From the hybridization of cell-shaded CG with traditional 2D animation, to the film’s incredibly well-choreographed fight scenes, to the amazing color palette used throughout, this film always has something beautiful to look at in every single frame. And while the story isn’t the most sophisticated and ends up being far more black-and-white than I had initially hoped, it never distracts enough to hurt the film in any major way. And at a length of one hour and 51 minutes, Promare is a long film that feels like it passes by in seconds.

Promare takes place in a future that doesn’t and never will exist. Thirty years ago, a worldwide event occurred in which a whole lot of people around the world started to spontaneously combust, killing half the world population. Now, there are two types of humans: Those with pyrotechnic abilities (the Burnish), and those without. Galo Thymos (Kenichi Matsuyama; Billy Kametz in the English dub), one of the latter humans, is a member of Burning Rescue, a firefighting group created in the wake of said destructive event. While putting out a fire, he is bombarded by another group called the Mad Burnish, a group of Burnish who like to start random fires, led by Lio Fotia (Taichi Saotome; Johnny Yong Bosch in the English dub). After a long fight, Galo captures Lio, but little do they both know, there is something far more sinister set to destroy the earth in six months.

If my above summary feels light on information, that’s because it is. There is a lot of plot in this film, maybe too much for how threads are left unexplored. Allegiances change, there’s literal deus ex machina, and the third act reveals a surprise villain you really cannot see coming. If a strong story is your only reason for watching this film, look elsewhere. This is a fun story, a frantic story, but it’s never much more than skin deep. That may sound like a negative, but I assure you, there is a lot more fun to be had when you just let go and allow the film to tell the story it wants to tell.

Okay, so lets talk about the animation now, because that’s the magic of this film. Animated by Trigger, the Japanese studio which created popular anime Kill La Kill, this is the studio’s longest feature production to date. Every frame of this film is art. Even the opening credits are heavily stylized in a way that simply pumps you up for the feature ahead. And once the action starts, everything feels so fluid. Fight sequences, while frantic, are never hard to follow. The Transformers franchise could learn a thing or two from this film. As for the character designs, they are all fantastic. Instead of outlining everyone in black, characters are outlines in the respective color of what they’re wearing. A character with blue hair will have said hair outlines in a darker blue, whereas red pants call for an even darker shade of red to outline them. It reminds me of early Disney, before they got a bit sloppy and cheap in the later years.

If this were a lesser film, I would have a spoiler section to talk about some of my nitpicks, but I truly believe everyone should go into this film with as little knowledge as possible. This is a film you need to get lost in, like I did. Please, bathe in the beauty that is Promare. You will not be disappointed.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Slices of Bacon

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