Studio Trigger's new movie, Promare, made its international premiere at Anime Expo 2019. The movie is the theatrical debut for the studio behind the hugely popular original anime series Kill la Kill, featuring the same director, Hiroyuki Imaishi.
Promare is set in a world where a mutation has caused hundreds of people to develop pyrokinetic abilities. Labeled as the Burnish, these mutants are discriminated against by normal humans. The movie stars two protagonists: Galo, the newest member of the special firefighting team responsible for suppressing Burnish-created fires and ensuring the threats are subdued so they can be arrested, and Lio, the leader of the terrorist organization fighting for civil rights for the Burnish. Between the two, Promare is told primarily through Galo's point-of-view, seeing him learn that the Burnish are still human beings and deserving of the same rights as everyone else.
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During a group interview at Anime Expo, GameSpot asked Studio Trigger about the reasoning for telling a story mostly through the eyes of an oppressor, albeit an unwitting one. Creative director Hiromi Wakabayashi answered, "The main objective of the film wasn't to depict an opposition between the minorities, which is the Burnish, and the majority, which is the human race. We thought it would be easier to present the story if we made Galo the actual main protagonist even though he's on the oppressing side. He's in the middle ground. He's not intentionally oppressing. If we were to make Lio the main protagonist, Promare would become a story about the oppressed overcoming their oppressors and that's not what we were trying to go for. Who Galo is is really hard to depict in real life. A lot of people have strong opinions but don't act on them."
"In real life, everybody's pretty much contradicting themselves," Promare character designer Shigeto Koyama added. "Activists want to save the earth. They want to try to keep the ozone layer. But they also want air conditioner at the same time. They want to protect the ozone layer, but they don't want to walk and would rather use their car. A lot of them can be hypocrites. Everybody has some kind of fault in their philosophy, and Promare ends where we don't know how Galo is going to continue on with his. That's where the story kind of stops. That's the same with us. What are [we each] going to do?"
Despite releasing over half a decade after Kill la Kill, Promare possesses many similarities to the 2013 series, including character design, soundtrack, and narrative themes. The origin of these similarities extends beyond both anime sharing the same director though. During the group interview, Studio Trigger revealed that production on the movie began before Kill la Kill even ended, so the ideas behind both were formulated very close together.
The major difference between Kill la Kill and Promare is the latter's much brighter color palette which utilizes a lot more reds, oranges, and pinks. These colors were used in Promare because the movie uses so much more CG. "We knew that we were going to be incorporating heavy use of CG from the beginning, so we needed to make the designs and the colors as simple as possible," director Imaishi said during the group interview. Promare manages to blend together traditional 2D and 3D CG animation styles better than many anime have done previously. Imaishi believes "CG will become more and more prevalent in the animation industry" going forward, ultimately normalizing a hybrid style that combines both 2D and 3D.
Promare is scheduled to release publicly in US theaters on September 17. In GameSpot Universe's Promare review, I wrote, "Promare's plot does stumble, most notably when it comes to how it builds its world and fleshes out the main cast, but it takes enough cues from what made Kill la Kill such a hit to then go out and tell its own take on why discrimination is bad and why everyone should learn to love their fellow person. Galo's origin story of becoming a firefighting superhero is framed with over-the-top action pieces, comedy, and well-timed pieces of music, and though he delivers an incredible finishing blow in the epic final battle, it's his evolving rivalry with Lio that gives the movie its satisfying ending."