Promare (2020) [Blu-Ray/DVD]

There’s nothing I hate more than a movie that has so much going for it, but has no idea how to deliver a great narrative. “Promare” is a movie that, by all accounts, should have blown me out of my seat. But by the middle of it, I was counting down the minutes, and waiting for it to get to the point. It’s so sad that a movie that looks so amazing could be so lacking in originality with government corruption, clandestine organizations, and an evil politician who has plans for the world, yadda, yadda. It’s all so old hat for such an epic looking animated movie.

Set in the distant future, a evil force known as the Burnish destroyed half of the entire world’s population 30 years ago. Flash forward and events are becoming “heated” once more: there is a new group that are calling themselves the “Mad Burnish” and they are seeking to pick things up where Burnish left off. Mad Burnish leader Lio Fotia goes up against the brash young hero Galo Thymos, a brave soldier a part of the “Burning Rescue”: a fire-fighters like organization which aims to stop new events from the Mad Burnish. Things are tense as epic fights for mankind go underway with loyalties splits, and some giant mecha suits at play.

“Promare” (the first film from Studio Trigger) looks and sounds amazing, there’s no arguing that. Creative producer Hiromi Wakabayashi pulls off a great feat here, while the sound design is superb. I dropped in to the movie just watching in awe at the wonderful color palette, and spectacular action. The opening of the movie even successfully establishes the entire conflict, as there’s an army of super powered beings that act more as pubic service workers. They’re about as under appreciated as regular Firefighters, despite their immense power and stature, and must deal with endless politics and power plays that muddy up the ultimate goal for the world.

At almost two hours, though, “Promare” tends to overstay its welcome with overkill of action, and so much exposition that’s dropped left and right. Everything from the mythology of both super powered factions is never as complex as the screenwriters think they are, all the while hero Galo is not fleshed out enough to root for. There is something to be said for the overtones about climate change, and manufacturing chaos for control, but “Promare” just never took off for me, in the end. I loved so many of the ideas it put forth, but I was so put off by the execution and long in the tooth running time.

The release from Shout! and GKIDS comes packaged in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, with the inclusion of a slipcover for the first pressing. FYI for fans, “Promare” also arrives in separate Steelbook and Collectors Editions. Extras include five minutes of Promare Trailers with the Japanese trailer, the U.S. trailer, the dubbed U.S. trailer, and U.S. trailer with a 45 second spotlight on dub cast. Side: Galo is the first of two ten minutes prequel short films set within the Promare universe. Side: Lio is the second of two prequel short films connected to the main film. The eight minutes Studio Trigger Roundtable is a creative discussion featuring Promare creative director Hiromi Wakabayashi, character designer Shigeto Koyama, designer Superlog, and director Hiroyuki Imaishi. They discuss the style of art from Studio Trigger, the production of Promare, the themes of Promare, and the music of Promare.

There’s a two minutes Interview with Director Hiroyuki Imaishi featuring the filmmaker discussing the story of the film, the goal of the production team to make Promare into an exciting and action packed film, the references in the film (including to Kill la Kill), et al. Finally there’s the eleven minutes Behind the Scenes with the English Cast featuring interviews with dub voice cast members including Billy Kametz (Galo Thymos), Johnny Yong Bosch (Lio Fotia), Neil Kaplan (Vulcan), Erica Lindbeck (Heris Ardebit), Yuri Lowenthal (Meis), and Matthew Mercer (Gueira). They’re asked about what drew them to being involved in Promare, what scenes were their favorites to voice, and what their favorite kind of pizza is (because of the pizza scene). The behind the scenes footage also showcases some footage from inside of the recording booths, with the voices are brought to life by the cast.