Promare (2019) Review – The Studio Trigger Formula

Promare is a Studio Trigger animated film that despite its flaws, I love a lot. I have liked a lot of Studio Trigger’s work, a lot of which, some would say all, follow the general rule of style (visuals) over (story) substance. But Studio Trigger does style so well that the weaker story elements can be looked over, in favour of the spectacle.

The movie’s world is like our own but much cooler with much better technology basically, with a group of people called the Burnish, they cannot control their urge to exude/emit flames, its a natural thing, they need to do so, but because of their nature of destruction, they are discriminated against, hunted down, etc. Firefighters work to put the fires out and arrest Burnish that lose control usually handing them to the maybe-not-so-good police.

The movie’s story follows a firefighter who are needed a lot in that society considering, called Galo Thymos (sort of invocative of the word…thermos?) and his interactions with the Mad Burnish (burnish revolution group) leader, Lio Fotia, and how even though they are from totally different sides of the problem, how they go about resolving the plot’s problem together against the odds/corrupt government, etc. With the help of the firefighter gang and the Mad Burnish gang (is it really a gang if its like only two other people).

If all that sounds good to you and you love well animated works, then stop reading the review here and go give it a watch. If you don’t mind more visual style over plot substance, you will be in for a wild ride. Just turn off your brain a bit.

Spoiler Warning For Promare

I last watched this for the 2nd time with friends, last August and it still holds up really well, the animation is so amazingly done as expected from Studio Trigger, the story…was a bit heavy handed with elements of discrimination, privileged and unprivileged, global warming/climate change (kind of), “oh noooo, he was the bad guy the whole time”, literal plot tropes named after said plot trope. However, it still holds up in its own terms, like it present its own laws/terms of the world and sticks to that. The story is decent, again, if you take the style over it, the story is definitely decent. If you really peer and analyze the story though, it kind of falls apart.

Promare is such an unabashed Studio Trigger work that it follows their usual formula of:

1) Be so stylish that the story’s weak points or plot-holes are (hopefully) glossed over/forgotten.

2) Involve a twist in the story somehow (“good guy” turns out to be the “big bad” etc.)

3) Have an emotional element such as love/friendship that the protagonists rely on to overcome all obstacles.

And despite all that, the spectacle still wows enough, the characters are handled properly and never feel out of character. It is not the most egregious example of all style no substance as there is a decent serviceable story under all the flash and shine. Now about some plot points/scenes of the film.

Image result for promare kiss

The Kiss in the film is not instantly erased by cover ups/excuses to escape what it was. As it was between two male characters, I was totally waiting for the backdown and pullback of “Oh ew, I had to gay kiss you to save your life” But instead it became a “ahhh I had to use flames against my firefighter code to save you” which was nice. This is one plot point that was nicely handled.

Another was the obviously red herring love interest that you would also expect to end up with the main character in the end to offset the perceived homosexuality. That doesn’t happen as well. The ending of the movie can be interpreted as the male-male lived together ever after. There was no fake gaybait insinuation at all.

The main villain’s double twist of oh the political leader is bad AND he’s also a Burnish that happens to really suppress and control his need to exude flames was…the first part was predictable, the last one was like a twist you catch/thought about just before the reveal. Both are…ok. Not the most “wow” twist ever but it serves the story.

The literal too coincidental Deus-ex-Machina was really a Studio Trigger tongue-in-cheek of lets move the story along, finish it up, get the action going. So I am ok with not really digging into it as a lazy thing. And it is a little lazy of a plot thing but in this context its humorous and excusable.

The whole Burnish are actually like a mirror alien life force going wild and thus affecting human beings that is connected to is…novel, I think its a convenient explanation to get rid of all the natural arson implications, leaving no more Burnish in the world being the way to solve the rather complex social problem of people not just wanting but needing to burn things seems a cop-out just a tad. But the Burnish in general don’t want to have that urge/need and want to be normal/acceptable anyway so yeah.

The whole literally killing/burning the Burnish for the energy needed for the top 1%/the “right” people to escape to another world to let the rest burn is rather indicative of the privileged using/exploiting the underprivileged as is often the case. A bit heavy handed like I mentioned but still rather acceptable for the story as its…true.

Anddddd that about covers it for most of what I want to say about Promare. In the end like my pre-spoiler sentiment, turn off your brain a bit to watch this film and you will be in for a wonderfully animated ride of action and general fun times.

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