Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Promare, from GKIDS and Studio Trigger

Evidently, the futuristic megalopolis known as Promepolis is a lot like today’s California. Fires can break out anywhere without warning and the agencies responsible for fighting them are more apt to fight among themselves. Fortunately, stout-hearted Galo Thymos never flags in his duties as a member of the elite Burning Rescue unit. Unfortunately, he is dumb as a post, but he is still the best hope for saving the Earth in Hiroyuki Imaishi’s Promare, produced by Studio Trigger, which opens this Friday in New York, following special nationwide Fathom Events screenings tonight and Thursday.

Initially, the catastrophic fires were the result of spontaneous combustion brought on by society’s collective rage. Three decades later, humanity has cooled off considerably, but we are still plagued by incidents of terrorist-arson deliberately caused by the fire-wielding “Mad Burnish” mutants. They are convinced the fire speaks to them and it wants them to unleash it. The thing is, that turns out to be largely true. In fact, there is much more to the Mad Burnish outlaws than government propaganda suggests, as Thymos learns when he is forced to team up with their youthful leader, Lio Fortia, naturally to save the world. This is an anime film, after all.

Promare has a lot of splashy colors and some hard-charging mecha action, but the characters are mostly broad stock-figures, including Thymos and Fortia. Frankly, there really isn’t a Burning Rescue team-member or Mad Burnish rebel who you would really want to spend time with in the real world—and Thymos is probably the only one most viewers will remember after screening Promare.

One the other hand, Imaishi does some nifty world-building and he drops some genuinely game-changing revelations on multiple occasions. This is definitely a film for fans of mecha-hardware fighting and crashing. Stuff definitely goes boom in this film—often. Still, it inevitably calls up comparisons to established mecha franchises, like Evangelion and Mazinger Z, which is probably to be expected, since character designer Shigeto Koyama is a veteran of the former.

Imaishi never lets up on the action and his animation is appealingly bright and bold. Promare will never bore anyone, but it lacks the sophistication of other science fiction anime released by GKIDS, such as Patema Inverted and Napping Princess (a.k.a. Ancien and the Magic Tablet). It is fun, but light-weight. Recommended for serious anime fans, Promare opens this Friday (9/20) in New York, at the Metrograph and screens nationwide via Fathom Events tonight (9/17) and Thursday (9/19).