Promare: Self-Aware and Allegorical

Logan Boehm

Studio Trigger is one of the bigger Japanese animation companies, despite having much less of a portfolio when it comes to their series and movies. Working since 2011 after the founders broke from another animation studio, they’ve come out with some big names, most of which being originally made. Kill La Kill, Little Witch Academia (Both the movies and the series), and the one we’re focusing on today, Promarea movie based around firefighters in crazy but cool mechs fighting against… well, fires, that are caused my what are essentially mutated humans, labeled as Burnish.  

The movie follows Galo Thymos, one of the star firefighters, and his main enemy, Lio Fotia, leader of the Mad Burnish, a seemingly evil group of Burnish that, due to their actions, as labeled as terrorists, and detained immediately upon capture. The problem is, though, that all Burnish are labeled as dangerous, and the moment one is rumored to be around, one of the main antagonists of the story, the general of the firefighters, along with his team comes and captures them, even if they’re not doing anything wrong and just cooking pizza. The repeated stories and examples of what happen to the Burnish paint a solid, but dark, allegory with the story. One about racism. 

The movie is, on the surface, just about a thick-skulled firefighter and his team trying to stop the Burnish, but it quickly becomes apparent that that is not what this movie is about. Repeated harsh treatment and discrimination up until the very end of the film makes an extremely apparent allegory to racism. The Burnish can’t control that they were born this way, that they were able to produce fire and had to unless they risked borderline self-combustion, but they’re discriminated against anyways because some are just destructive. Yes, there was a whole event involving the potential burning of the world that happened, but that was set many years before the movie takes place, so you’d expect society to have evolved by then and gradually accepted them, or at least didn’t do all of this to them no matter what they were doing with their lives. Nobody was safe, not children, workers, or even the elderly.  

But even if you don’t look at that, the movie itself is a great one. The action is wonderfully animated (as you would grow to expect from this Studio, as they’re well known for their amazing animation for action), the story is great, and there’s a lot of comedic moments. The movie is incredibly self-aware as well, with the Deus Ex Machina (an item, power, or event in a movie or series that suddenly appears as soon as a seemingly otherwise unsolvable problem or event comes around) of the movie being aptly named Deus Ex Machina, as well as loaded with all sorts of references to their other projects, creating for a fun “spot the reference” throughout the film.  

Overall, the film is a very good experience with a lot of solid messages and themes. If you’re willing to sink about two hours into watching it, which you should because it’s a movie, then I absolutely recommend watching it. Plus, there are some great LGBT themes throughout it, so there’s another plus! Trigger is great with those, so if you want to see more of them, check out their other works!