If you're familiar with fandom communities on the internet, then chances are you've probably already heard of Promare, one of this year's most anticipated releases from animation distributor GKIDS. The first feature-length title from Studio Trigger (the production studio most known for creating fan-favorite anime series like Kill la Kill, Little White Academia, and Darling in the Franxx) was originally released in American theaters earlier this year in September, but since then, anime fans have been going absolutely crazy for anything having to do with the film, especially the ship between frenemies Galo Thymos and Lio Fotia.
Combining balls-to-the-wall action, stunning 2D/3D animation, timely political/social messages, smart humor, giant mechs, and queer sensibilities that actually get explored on-screen, who can blame them? There's a lot going for Promare that would entice even the most casual anime fan—so much so that the film just got re-released back in theaters this week due to popular demand.
Warning! Some minor spoilers ahead!
Taking place in the not-too-distant future, Promare tells the story of a dystopian vision of the world where half the population of mankind has a special mutation that makes them pyrokinetic. These fire-bending humans (wow, Avatar: The Last Airbender's impact!) are called the "Burnish," and because their abilities are seen as freakish and a nuisance, they are often looked down upon, discriminated against, criminalized, and segregated by mainstream society. Galo Thymos, the film's main protagonist, is an over-confident, flamboyant, blue-haired, shirtless hero who is part of a motley crew of quirky firefighters called Burning Rescue. Burning Rescue often finds themselves at odds with Mad Burnish, a Burnish terrorist group who like to start fires throughout the city of Promepolis, and it's during one of their encounters with the arsonist sect that we meet Lio Fotia, Mad Burnish's leader who becomes the face of hope for the entire Burnish community.
Without giving the entire plot away, one of the strongest themes Promare explores is that of the discrimination of an entire group of people by the government—an extremely timely, familiar, and relevant story, especially for viewers who live in the States and are aware of the current political climate. Though Galo and the Burning Rescue team knows that the vast majority of the Burnish are harmless, misunderstood, and are still just regular humans being like the rest of the world, when it comes down to it, they have little legal control over the way the bureaucracy of Promepolis (lead by the eerily goody-goody Kray Foresight) and their menacing police entity (the Freeze Force) treats them. After learning the painful, gut-wrenching truth about WHY the Burnish are being rounded-up by Foresight and the Freeze Force, Galo (who used to idolize Foresight) finds himself working with Lio to help rescue and free many, many innocent Burnish lives.
On a lighter note, the fangirl in me would be remiss if I didn't mention that another thing I liked most about the film is the delicious tension between Galo and Lio. If you're an unashamed fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope (like myself), then you'll definitely love the palpable chemistry between the two, who are always arguing with each other in the beginning (they were literally battling each other in robots during the first act) but gradually open up and become an unstoppable team.
Although it's fairly brief, there's also a queer moment between Galo and Lio in the end that quickly cemented the duo's icon status in many shippers' hearts—a moment that The Geekiary's Angel Wilson points out is very significant because the Promare writing team absolutely did not have to include at all, but decided to anyway, giving queer anime fans the (very short) on-screen representation in media they so rightfully deserve after years and years of going without it. (A lot of gay AF fanart also sprung up from this moment, btw, and that just makes my heart swell with happiness.)
Stans (both longtime and new) who want a fun, flashy, classically-structured anime film, but with enough of a queer, prescient twist to stay relevant, should look no further than Promare!
Promare returns to theaters for the Promare: Redux event on December 8, 10, & 11. Watch the trailer below and grab tickets here.