Stunning TRIGGER Animation
Studio TRIGGER has become something of a household name in Western markets desperate for anime. Everything they do is eagerly anticipated by fans these days for their innate appeal to Western sensibilities and unquestioned animation chops. The anime studio behind such beloved hits as Kill la Kill and Little Witch Academia brings us their first feature-length movie and it’s a real doozy.
From director Hiroyuki Imaishi (Gurren Lagann) comes the electrifying Promare. Featuring blistering action and brilliant animation, Promare is like nothing seen before by anime lovers. The PG-13 movie sets new standards in anime for breakneck pacing and cel-shaded art design. Nothing about Promare and its groundbreaking style is timid.
TRIGGER pushes the limits of art design and animation, delivering a heady rush of wildly energetic, futuristic mecha action. Promare’s visually intensity is relentless, chopped up like a music video with constant cuts and a fiercely unique color palette. The battles are a pure adrenaline rush. Director Hiroyuki Imaishi’s love of constant movement and punchy direction shine in Promare. Throw in characters ready-made for merchandising and you can already hear cash registers going off in Akihabara.
… visually potent and fun, Promare is incredible anime eye candy
… visually potent and fun, Promare is incredible anime eye candy
Thirty years have passed for the citizens of Promepolis and the global event known as the world blaze. The Burnish are a new race of flame-controlling mutants who consume fire to survive despite looking human. Branded as terrorists by the government, a gang known as the Mad Burnish appears ready to fight for a place in the new world.
Galo Thymos is the new hotshot member of Burning Rescue, the firefighting rescue team that ends up battling Mad Burnish. He’ll clash with Lio Fotia, the courageous leader of Mad Burnish. Both heroes in their own way, the two men clash as a troubling secret emerges from the government that may throw the whole world in jeopardy. It’s a solid story even if the villains end up being a bit one-dimensional.
Galo and Lio are tailor-made protagonists with solid character development. Their opening battle in mech suits is jaw-dropping and mesmerizing. Promare’s success mostly comes from the tour de force visual storytelling and its incredible animation. Nothing about the premise or plotting is particularly out of the ordinary for action and adventure.
What Promare does is push the boundaries of cel-shaded animation, testing its limits. TRIGGER is already known for being one of the most progressive anime studios in the world and Promare is the feather in their cap. Visually potent and fun, Promare is incredible anime eye candy.
Sublime. Transcendent. Dazzling. Promare looks glorious with tour de force visual storytelling. Studio TRIGGER has pushed their animation to new heights in Promare. Prepare for your eyes to melt with the utterly bold and original color palette, highlighted by pastels and neon inks in blinding saturation. My biggest complaint is that no UHD is available. A true HDR color grading would be absolutely spectacular.
Pushing traditional animation to its limits with director Hiroyuki Imaishi’s intense style, I suspect Promare’s cel-shaded aesthetic becomes wildly influential over the coming years in anime. The angular character designs and movement are seemingly derived from contemporary manga influences, while taking full advantage of the animation medium’s better sense of space and fluidity. The only drawback to the impressive animation is the presence of lesser CGI elements, largely limited to a few background objects.
Promare’s Blu-ray presentation by GKIDS and Shout Factory is nothing less than perfect. Its reference-quality 1080P video delights the senses from start to finish. The 1.78:1 presentation receives a flawless AVC encode encoded at generous parameters on a BD-50. This is a technically perfect transfer straight from the master source. The black levels are deep and inky while the contrast sings.
The catchy soundtrack can be heard in a fantastic English dub led by veteran anime voice actors. I rarely say this for anime but the English dub is more successful than the original Japanese audio. Starring Billy Kametz as Galo and Johnny Yong Bosch as Lio, it’s a sublime dub cast that also features legendary voice actor Crispin Freeman. There’s nothing overly wrong with the Japanese dub, it just lacks something extra compared to the dynamic performances heard in English.
The surround mix for both languages are presented in 5.1 DTS-HD MA. Promare’s sound design has wonderful separation and a spaciously discrete array of elements placed all over the soundstage. Aggressive with the low end and a match for the kinetic visuals, flames shoot past you. This is a booming, energetic soundtrack with crystal-clear fidelity and strong dynamics.
Four sets of different subtitles are offered in a white font, all optional for both soundtracks. English SDH is intended for the English dub soundtrack, while English subtitles reflecting the Japanese audio properly translate the actual Japanese dialogue. Spanish and French subtitles are also on the disc.
GKIDS offers two different Blu-ray editions for Promare. While the contents are the same, a limited Steelbook version is available. It was originally a retail exclusive for Best Buy but due to the Covid-19 pandemic should now be available from all retailers.
The regular Blu-ray combo pack from GKIDS and Shout Factory includes a DVD and embossed slipcover. A limited edition lithograph was included with early ShoutFactory.com pre-orders but that is now sold out.
It’s a nice package of supplements, including a couple of essential short films that feel like extended scenes that were cut from Promare due to its already long length. The Blu-ray is Region A.
Side: Galo Short Film (10:26 in HD; 5.1 Dolby Digital in English) – The short offers Galo Thymos’ introduction to Burning Rescue and his break-in as a rookie on the team. This is a fully realized and completed short that feels like it was part of the movie until final edits.
Side: Lio Short Film (10:08 in HD; 5.1 Dolby Digital in English) – Less focused on Lio Fotia than the Galo short focuses on that character, this extended short offers more character development for Mad Burnish as a gang. While it fills in some background, it’s easy to see why it could have been cut from the movie.
Interview With Director Hiroyuki Imaishi (02:27 in HD; Japanese w/ English subs)
Studio TRIGGER Roundtable (07:30 in HD; Japanese w/ English subs) – An interesting discussion with the director, animator, and lead character designers on Promare’s animation, conception and music.
Behind The Scenes With The English Cast (10:34 in HD) – Most of the lead cast for the English dub appear in this breezy and topical featurette, including Billy Kametz, Johnny Yong Bosch and others.
Promare Trailers (05:46 in HD) – Both Japanese and English Trailers for the movie are included in this batch of trailers and teasers.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.
Studio TRIGGER delights the senses with an incredibly expressive cel-shaded anime adventure.
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