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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Promare -- the first feature-length film from Japan's popular Studio Trigger -- is a fast and furious action adventure that's sure to appeal to anime fans. Expect lots of death-defying action sequences, particularly between the fire-wielding Burnish and the Burning Rescue team (and the mechs in which they fight). Human combustion results in countless (non-gory) deaths. There are also plenty of one-on-one or two-on-one fights that leave destruction in their path. Many characters are injured, and a couple of deaths make an impact. Occasional strong language includes "s--t," "a--hole," "bastard," "damn," etc. In a couple of scenes, it looks like people are about to kiss, and there's simmering romantic chemistry between two of the main characters. With themes of courage and teamwork, the film encourages recognizing the humanity in all people, even if they're nothing like you.
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What's the story?
PROMARE opens with unknown events triggering human combustion in certain people around the world, leading to the population-devastating Great World Blaze. It then fast-forwards to 30 years later, when these fire mutants are considered the armed and dangerous "Burnish." The Burnish are kept in check by an elite team of firefighters called Burning Rescue, whose main rivals are the Mad Burnish, a group of Burnish vigilantes who want to let their flames burn and free their kind. The Burning Rescue's arrogant, fearsome young firefighter Galo Thymos (voiced by Billy Kametz) confronts Mad Burnish leader Lio Fotia (Johnny Yong Bosch), who explains that the Burnish aren't evil fire-starters and that Governor Kray Foresight (who, naturally, owns a tech lab) experiments on the Burnish in inhumane ways. As both young men learn to tentatively trust each other, they must work together to save Primeopolis -- and the world -- from being destroyed.
Is it any good?
This adrenaline-packed anime adventure isn't just for established genre fans -- it's a substantive story about prejudice and teamwork. It's also just a blast to watch, with death-defying battle sequences, colorful animation, charismatic protagonists, and enough humor to keep audiences engaged for the full 111 minutes. Galo and Lio are fabulous foils, opposites who claim to despise each other but have an obvious chemistry that permeates all of their scenes together (they often look like they're on the verge of either fighting or kissing). Younger viewers may not pick up on that tension, but adults will see it straightaway, adding to the humor of their dialogue.
The animation is vibrant and thrilling, with a pace that's fast but not confusing. The only downside is that viewers don't get to know the entire Burning Rescue team as well as Galo, because they all seem like compelling characters. There's also not quite enough exposition to explain the circumstances and conditions in which the Burnish live. But considering this is Studio Trigger's first feature, it's likely that they'll return to this universe in future films, which would be welcome.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the amount of violence in Promare. Is it necessary to the story? Does animated violence impact audiences differently than live-action violence?
Anime films often depict women in a hypersexualized way. What do you think of the women characters in this movie? What role do they play? How are they viewed?
What do you think about the romantic tension between Galo and Lio? Is it obvious or subtle? How does their enemies-to-allies connection drive the plot?
Who, if anyone, is a role model in the movie, and what character strengths do they display?
- In theaters: September 20, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: May 19, 2020
- Cast: Steve Blum, Johnny Yong Bosch, John Eric Bentley, Billy Kametz
- Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi
- Studio: GKIDS
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Character strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 111 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some violence and language
- Last updated: July 27, 2020
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