While Gurren Lagann used drills and Kill la Kill used thread, Imaishi and Nakashima`s new “Burning passion” storyline takes the symbolism to the next logical step, using fire itself (and shapes) to drive the story forward. It`s both boldly new in appearance with it‘s bright colours and liberal use of CG yet immediately recognizable as an Imaishi work. While many haven’t been blown away by the studios output as of late, I think it’s important to realize how little this resembles your standard Trigger release.
This film is their first in the almost 8 years the studio has been running and a similar affair to Darling in the Franxx in that it is a collaborative work. How it isn’t similar, though, is that it isn’t shit and their collaborative studio, Sanzigen, are a CGI studio who work in the field of revolutionizing CGI use in anime. While some of collaborations mainly focus on background armies and mechanical parts, their standout title Bubuki Baranki from 2016 received praise across the internet for being the best looking use of CGI in anime to date and many claiming it to be the future of CGI anime. It’s clear with Promare they are wanting to take their highly praised CGI/cel shading anime aesthetic and combine it with the stylings of Imaishi and Nakashima to create the most traditional looking anime CGI project to date, and here I believe they succeed.
On the quality of the CG and integration, I personally found it fantastic. There were a small number of times the frame rate seemed only slightly off, but in the grand scheme I’m only making this criticism to be fair. For my personal enjoyment of the film it had very, very little impact. After seeing the film and following the discussion online, I want people to understand that enjoying or praising this film doesn’t mean the individual is a fan of or sympathizer of CG integration in anime, but can appreciate a well animated, piece using it. For example, even though they are stylized vehicles, I love the cuts in episode 6 of Panty and Stocking with Chuck and Fastener fighting in their cars. It’s easy to dismiss CGI outright without actually analyzing what works and doesn’t in a scene, and with Promare, I’d say it almost always works. Also, even thought there is a lot of CG integration, there is a ton of purely 2D cuts as well. The conclusion to the fight between Galo and Lio among many others is entirely 2D and there are some seriously awesome cuts that people are going to see in .webms for a long time to come.
Concerning the story itself, it is a Nakashima Kazuki story through and through hitting all the right Imaishi notes. It begins setting up a very familiar chaos vs order story line but quickly begins to focus mainly on discrimination and instead of breaking apart order with progress and chaos, the idea of unity and rebirth. It’s a very familiar story, but with just the right variation to the tale to make it feel fresh and relevant. It definitely moves very quickly, as it’s covering a story that could easily have been expanded and made into a longer series, but as is, it works. I was all in, but can also immediately see where a lot of the backlash for this film is going to stem concerning the themes and criticisms of society present. This film is apparently going to be getting a more global release, and I implore you if interested to catch this film on the big screen. The visual story telling at play was fantastic and the film had my blood pumping from beginning to end.
Touching briefly on the music, I enjoyed Sawano’s soundtrack but a few tracks were a bit repetitive. He has a recognizable sound.. And the soundtrack of was most remenisent of Kill la Kill, albeit a weaker Kill la Kill. All things considered however, Kill la Kill is one of my favourite soundtracks of all time, so this is barely a criticism. The music wasn’t a highlight of the film for me but still very enjoyable.
A Review of Promare:
Six thousand people sat and stood in wait for twelve hours for this movie. They got more than what they came for.
When the movie started I remembered just how good Kill La Kill was; not overall, but at the beginning. You know, the first five minutes where the entire setup and exposition of the show just blows the skin off of your face and you fly backwards down a giant obsessively beautiful mountain of detail all to fly forward on the ground into a close up of Ryuko's face...
Ryuko: "So this is Honouji Academy..."
Audience: *gargling noises*
That was pretty good... Promare made me feel like that again about 20 seconds into the movie... then it kept going... wait what do you mean "keep going" you already have me hooked. I'm interested. I like the premise you just established you wanna move on from OKAY SO YOU'RE GONNA SHOW ME THE COOL THINGS HAPPENING OVER THE ENTIRE WORLD THAT'S NICE WE'RE 50 SECONDS IN NOW YOU THINK IT'S TIME TO LET OFF THE GAS A BIT AND LET US TAKE THIS SHIT IN?!
Hiroyuki Imaishi: "... Nah bro check this out--"
– and so fourteen minutes later, the entire audience sat there, mouths agape, vocal chords sore, eyes dry; contemplating when, if ever in our brief existences, we had ever witnessed a work of visual media with a higher "awesome per second" ratio.
We had not.
My friends, the movie industry has lost its way. I think the anime industry has also lost its way.
I know that's a bold statement to make.
I believe that this is the best that animation has ever been in every sense of the word "best." The average animated television show is better than it ever has been, and the best shows of each year are almost always better than the best shows of the previous year. The size of the anime consuming market in the US and around the world is growing at an unclear but certainly substantial rate. Who the hell am I to claim that this artform is doing ANYTHING wrong?...
... I'm a dude that just saw a single 90 minute movie have more fun than every show and movie in the last three decades combined.
Fast forwarding to about six hours after the movie ended, I realized that this feeling was one I had felt before. When the videogame "Doom (2016)" came out, everyone kind of had a "come to Jesus" moment. We realized that we didn't need a philosophically engorged cutscene to tell us why we were going to be shooting demons, we needed some demons to terrorize, enough ammunition to out-lead-poison the most illiterate US state, and a soundtrack to keep the blood seeping from our eyes from running dry. A videogame... that's "fun" first... good idea... when exactly did we forget about it? I don't know, but the fact that it was a big deal to remember it is proof that we did, right?
Well... here we are. Promare felt fun like nothing I'd seen in years, if ever, and that's proof that we MUST have forgotten what it means to be "fun" first.
I didn't like this thought. There's no WAY that that can be right. OF COURSE anime movies are "fun" I thought to myself.
I mean just LOOK at all these anime movies I can think of that are fun from start to finish that were critically acclaimed.
Let's go down the list:
- Your Name
- A Silent Voice
- Night is Long Baby Walk On Girl
- In This Corner Of The World
- Liz and the Blue Bird
- Anthem of the Heart
- Giovanni's Island
- Boy and the Beast
SEE! SURELY ALL OF THESE MOVIES ARE "FUN" RIGHT!?...
... I... no they aren’t... At least not first?... Beautiful, serene, provocative, inventive, colorful, cathartic, sympathetic, heart-wrenching, 'moving'; absolutely, but "fun"... I don't know.
Fun is going down a waterslide.
Fun is throwing a water balloon at someone then circle strafing around a picnic table with adults at it so they can’t hit you with theirs.
Fun is that thing that we're supposed to have had surgically removed at the age of 17 to be hopefully replaced with concerns about the economy and thoughts of financial independence.
I think I thought that Art, if it wanted to be taken seriously, couldn't JUST “Put Fun First.”
I don't think that anymore.
Promare is the most fun I've ever had in a movie theater. This movie pulls you through a seven-year-olds imagination at speeds that would pull the skin from your skull, but sometimes it stops, jarringly To methodically contrast something important to you and to the characters. The film goes fourteen minutes before hitting you with the concept of moral relativism. It hammers that gong HARD and meaningfully over the course of the film. It goes half a movie before ripping the proverbial carpet out from under the universe that it built for you. By the time the movie is over, it's committed so many narrative faux pa's that I'm surprised nobody in the theater laughed at any of them. Until something absolutely fucking glorious happens.
The movie exhibited a level of self awareness that I'd only ever seen rivaled by other anime also directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi, AND THOSE HAD BUDGETARY CONSTRAINTS THAT PREVENTED HIM FROM SEIZING THE MEANS OF KITCHEN SINK PRODUCTION, AND LIFTING AN ENTIRE KITCHEN SINK FACTORY TWENTY THOUSAND FEET INTO THE AIR AND DROPPING IT ON A THEATER FULL OF UNSUSPECTING FANS.
There is a "noun" that will not be spoiled here that is canonically named "Deus Ex Machina"… that leads us into the final God Damn act. Every man, woman, and (man)child that made this movie must have been having the times of their fucking lives. This is Studio Triggers first movie, y'all. I didn't really realize what that meant until after the movie had ended and Imaishi rolled onto the stage from underneath a table.
Imaishi said "This is the first thing I've actually fully owned and directed since Gurren Lagann, and I don't even know how many of you really remember that one."
... The entire crowd cheers loud enough to not need a translator for him to get the point. About half that cheering came from me but this isn't the point. The POINT is that this man has been waiting twenty some odd years to have complete, unhinged, unfettered creative freedom. He finally got it, and all we got out of it was the most spectacular looking movie I've ever seen.
It's not just pretty. It's optimally pretty. The aesthetic of this movie optimized the studios ability to pump as many frames and as many details into every single frame as possible. Studio Trigger has always had some of the best animators in the world do some of their best work on their products, but this is the first time I've seen an art direction be this considerate of what actually matters; GETTING RID OF DETAILS THAT CAN'T BE FUCKING "ANIMATED." LOOKING AT YOU, COMIXWAVE!!! YOUR LANDSCAPES ARE BEAUTIFUL BUT THEY DO NOT DANCE A JIG FOR THE CAMERA!!
In the hands of ANYONE ELSE, this art style could have been viewed as "ugly" or "stilted" or "other negative adjective here" but these fuckers decided to go PEAK modern art on our asses and take animation back to geometry 101 and high school art and English classes.
One side of the conflict is made up of squares, the other by triangles. One side is blue, the other is pink. One side is cold, the other is hot. Every silouette is optimal. Every character design, robot design, vehicle design, and their corresponding color palates are unrivaled in their simplicity and their clarity, which I imagine only happened naturally as WHEN YOU NEED TO ANIMATE TEN MECHS SUMO WRESTLING WITH A FIRETRUCK, A HELICOPTER, AND A BATON WIELDING MAN MADE OF FIRE, THEY PROBABLY HAD TO ITERATE ON THINGS UNTIL LESS THAN HALF THEIR FOCUS GROUPS WERE FROTHING AT THE MOUTH FROM EPILEPTIC BRAIN ANEURISMS AFTER THE FIRST THREE AND A HALF MINUTES.
I'm writing this review the day after I saw the movie. I could barely sleep because I was still thinking about it.
You see, I had to miss this day at the convention anyway because I had to go home and check on my apartment because there WAS A FUCKING EARTHQUAKE YESTERDAY!!! OH YEAH, GET THIS. In the movie, and sure spoiler alert but you could have basically assumed this would happen from the rest of the review so not really. There's a time in the movie where a giant robot punches the ground and causes the earth to shake. Fifteen mintues later, there was an actual fucking earthquake in los angeles. Hiromi Wakabayashi, Hiroyuki Imaishi, and Masahiko Otshuka are on stage talking about the development process at this point where the lights on the ceiling start swinging like pendulums and the entire audience goes silent; naturally a bit concerned about the 7.1 earthquake that just happened. After a few seconds, Imaishi giggles a bit and says something to Wakabayashi. Wakabayashi smiles and nods his head a little bit and then goes back to talking. If I was a betting man, I'd bet that Imaishi made a joke about how their movie caused a fucking earthquake... to me, it may as well have.
I give this movie an unreadable Babylonian symbol out of ten.
To compare this film to other films that have the vaguest concept of giving a shit about what academics have to say about it is an insult to the intent of the creators.
I will woefully depart from the opinions of the masses here. I will throw myself into a clown costume and proselytize until tranquilized. This is a hill I will die upon. I pray for a future where this is the most influential movie made in the last ten years.
Buy it. Watch it. Gift it. Listen to it.
Tell me what you think about it.