Like many other anime fans in the UK, on Tuesday 26th November, I ventured to the cinema for a screening of Promare. I had seen screenshots of the gorgeous art, and I knew that others had enjoyed it, but other than that, I really had no idea what the film was about or what I was letting myself in for. Fortunately, it turned out to be a most enjoyable experience.
Thirty years prior to the main events of the film, half the world’s population is destroyed by a planet-wide outbreak of spontaneous human combustion. In the wake of that destruction, some humans, known as Burnish, gain pyrokinetic abilities .
Flash forward to the present day, and we meet Galo Thymus, a member of the firefighting squad known as Burning Rescue. A typial anime hero, Galo believes in justice and righteousness, and sets about capturing Lio Fotia, leader of a Burnish terrorist squad. But the truth behind Lio’s actions is more complicated than Galo could ever have imagined, and he soon has to re-evaluate the morality of hunting and capturing down the Burnish.
When it comes to story, Promare takes a straightforward approach – hit all the expected narrative beats, and hit them well. Even with no prior knowledge, we can pretty much work out exactly where the story will go. All the standard pieces are in place – the righteous hero, the conflicted but ultimately sympathetic anti-hero, even the man who we know will turn out to be the morally bankrupt final boss. There’s nothing deep or unexpected here, but we can appreciate the form of a solid story, presented well.
And speaking of presentation, this is where Promare really shines. If there were a Platonic ideal of anime style, it would essentially be this film. Everything is gloriously bright and over-the-top, from the initial battle between Mad Burnish and Burning Rescue, to a finale in which a massive giant robot punches the entire Earth. If you like fancy poses, overpowered attacks, and a riot of colour, then you’ve come the right place.
As I mentioned at the start, Promare’s art style is a treat for the eyes, with bright, clean lines, and no expense spared on flashy effects. The soundtrack is appropriately stirring and emotional, working well both within the context of the film and as a standalone experience.
If there’s one criticism to be levelled at Promare, it’s that the supporting characters barely get a look-in. This is really Galo and Lio’s story, and everyone else – even the main female character – takes second place. Given the time limitations of a single movie, this is hardly surprising, but it’s still a little disappointing to be teased with the promise of potentially interesting characters at the start, and then have them fade into irrelevance by the end. It almost makes me long for a Promare TV series that could tell the story in slower time and flesh out all the supporting characters a little more.
A feast for the senses, Promare takes a standard story and elevates it to two hours of delightful flashiness. If you enjoy the standard ingredients of an anime movie, you’ll love the spectacle that is Promare.