Promare film review: like mecha anime on speed

Here’s our review of Studio Trigger’s latest animated adventure, Promare

The opening of Promare establishes that the sudden combustion of various people across the globe caused severe damage to the world. This was the first appearance of the Burnish, a race of hitherto unknown mutant beings with the ability to wield flames.

Thirty years later, a firefighting mecha service, Burning Rescue, has been created to put a stop to similar catastrophes. The arrival of a new group of aggressive mutants known as ‘Mad Burnish’ sets up a conflict between its leader, Lio Fotia, and over-eager firefighter Galo Thymos, but all is not as it seems and the fate of the planet is at stake.

Launched in 2011, Japanese animation house Studio Trigger have developed a passionate following among anime fans, with their body of TV series work including Little Witch Academia and Kill la Kill. The latter, in particular, was well received for its over-the-top absurdity, with a review by IGN referring to that show as a “magical girl anime on speed”.

To flirt with the same territory of that Kill la Kill review, Promare, Studio Trigger’s feature film debut made in collaboration with studios XFLAG and Sanzigen, is like a mecha anime on speed. But it’s also like X-Men on speed. And, somehow, like Ron Howard’s firefighting drama Backdraft on speed. Or at least Ritalin.

A worthy contender for the most hyperactive feature animation ever made, Promare, directed by Kill la Kill and Gurren Lagann veteran Hiroyuki Imaishi, cumulatively feels like watching about 17 different films at once. Its animation design and storytelling simultaneously operate in modes of explosive maximalism and abstract minimalism. It frequently doesn’t make sense but rarely pauses long enough for that to matter. None of this should work but it all hangs together.

To convey a sense of Promare’s tone, a giant robot in it is literally called ‘Deus X Machina’. Miraculously, the sensory overload high consistently lasts its almost two-hour runtime. See this beautiful, creative chaos on the biggest screen you can.