Promare is a 2019 Japanese animated film co-produced by Trigger and XFLAG, and is currently celebrating its 3rd anniversary with a bunch of different events – new merch has been released, there was an online watch party and Promare is now playing in select theaters in Japan. Promare is also currently streaming on HBO MAX in America. Hiroyuki Imaishi directed the film while Kazuki Nakashima wrote the script.
Toho Animation released the film in Japan on May 24, 2019. Promare was nominated for Best Animated Feature – Independent at the 47th Annie Awards (Annecy International Animation Film Festival) but lost to Jeremy Clapin’s I Lost My Body.
Promare is filled with hippie tropes that set it apart from other anime movies with its psychedelic colors, 1960s character designs, upbeat music with positive love and peace vibes, and a cyberpunk dystopian setting. There are several moments in the film that were obviously inspired by the Hippie Movement. In this list, I will explain why Promare is the ultimate hippie movie for fans of Austin Powers, Scooby-Doo, and The Beetles.
10. Our hero Galo is rockin Elvis Presley’s wild hairstyle
In the world of Promare there was a calamity known as the Great World Blaze where fires from unexplained mass spontaneous human combustions ended up killing half of the world’s population. During and after the event, certain humans developed pyrokinetic abilities and became known as the Burnish.
Thirty years later, we’re introduced to the heroes of our story – the firefighting group known as Burning Rescue, who are living in the dystopian city of Promepolis. Galo Thymos is the rookie on the team and sports a hairdo very reminiscent of Elvis Presley. This should come as no surprise since hippies were known for having wild, unkempt hairstyles.
9. Lucia and Aina are dressed like 1960s go-go dancers
Many 1960s club-goers wore colorful, striped shirts, mini skirts, and knee-high high-heeled boots, which eventually came to be called go-go boots. Upon noticing this trend nightclub owners decided to hire go-go dancers to entertain crowds at their clubs. Go-go dancing originated at the French bar Whisky a Gogo in Juan-les-Pin. The two girls on the Burning Rescue team, Lucia and Aina, wear outfits that are very similar to what you’d see a hippie go-go girl wearing in the 60s on stage as they danced.
The other members on the team – Remi (the vice-captain), Varys Truss (a meathead), and Ignis Ex (their commander) wear more understated outfits, although Ignis does sport a giant mustache. It’s easy to deduce that Shigeto Koyama was inspired by these looks as he did the character designs for Promare and also the mecha designs.
8. All hippies need a dog or mouse mascot that eats all the time
One of the most popular cartoon franchises in the 1960s was titled Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? (1969), which featured a dog that could communicate with its owner Shaggy, and had an enormous appetite. In Promare, Burning Rescue’s inventor, Lucia, has a pet mouse named Vinny, who seems to be able to communicate with her and has a huge appetite. Lucia and Vinny are usually seen hanging out inside of a fire engine, which looks mysteriously like the interior of a Volkswagen Bus. It is a known fact that all hippies have a “hippie van”.
7. Mad Burnish is really just a hippie commune
Burning Rescue is in charge of putting out fires around the city, but most of the time the terrorist group composed of “radical Burnish” known as Mad Burnish are the ones starting those fires. The members of Mad Burnish are accused of being terrorists, but they’re really just trying to send a message to the people in charge of the city (The Man) that burnish are people too.
In the 60s, the younger generation of hippies would leave home and congregate into groups they called “communes”. Mad Burnish probably considers itself to be more of a “hippie commune” than a “terrorist organization”. The society in Promepolis is treating the Burnish like “horror hippies” – hippies that were portrayed as Ax-crazy and not to be trusted.
6. Psychedelic, kaleidoscope battles featuring upbeat, positive music
At the beginning of the movie, Galo has a fierce, epic battle against the leader of Mad Burnish, Lio Fotia, and manages to defeat him and his two cohorts. The visual effects and neon colors during the battle are very unique with the 3DCG animation by Sanzigen used for the “living fire”. The swirling rainbow colors made me think of the Beatle’s song Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds because of her “kaleidoscope eyes”.
The Japanese rock band Superfly performs the film’s theme songs Kakusei (Awakening) and Kori ni Tojikomete (Imprisoned in Ice). Hiroyuki Sawano composed the soundtrack. On May 24, 2019, the movie’s soundtrack album was released by Aniplex.
During the battle scenes and any other epic moments, the movie’s upbeat theme song Kakusei starts to play. This movie’s songs instantly reminded me of songs from The Beatles (All You Need Is Love, 1967) with Kori ni Tokikomete being especially romantic and we all know hippies are all about “love and peace”. Folk music and the psychedelic rock genre were very popular with hippies, as well as “Three Chords and the Truth”.
5. Hippies dig pacifism and so does Lio
Freeze Force, a police force owned by the city governor, Kray Foresight, escorts Lio and his cohorts to prison. Luckily, Lio planned to get captured so that he could infiltrate the prison and break out his fellow imprisoned Burnish. After escaping the prison and making sure not to kill anyone because Lio is a pacifist, Lio and the other Burnish hide in a cave that is next to a frozen lake. Galo and Aina were at the lake “cooling off” when Galo stumbles upon Lio’s hideout.
Galo is so shocked to see wounded Burnish children that he is easily knocked out cold by one of the Burnish. When Galo wakes up he ends up witnessing Lio trying to save the life of a mortally wounded Burnish girl using a mouth-to-mouth flame transfer technique. Lio explains to Galo that Kray has been capturing Burnish and running human experiments on them. Galo doesn’t believe Lio since Kray saved his life several years ago and sees Kray as his hero.
4. Blaming “The Man” a.k.a Kray Foresight is what the Burnish do
Galo immediately goes to confront Kray over these accusations and Kray immediately tries to defend his actions by revealing that the Earth will soon be destroyed by an uncontrollable surge of magma from the earth’s core (that will be caused by the Promare going out of control).
Kray’s plan is to use the abilities of the Burnish to create a warp drive that will open a portal to another habitable planet. Kray has already prepared a ship and plans to take 10,000 “chosen” citizens with him to this new world. When Galo objects to this plan and says they should concentrate on stopping the magma from erupting, Kray finally shows his true colors and throws Galo in jail for “treason”.
Promare has Kray Foresight with a warp drive that will end up killing the Burnish that are used to power it and Austin Powers had Dr. Evil and his “lazer”. “The man” is the arch-nemesis of all hippies, you dig?
3. Hippies embrace multiculturalism and so do the Burnish
Meanwhile, Freeze Force tracks down the Burnish and finds their hidden sanctuary that is close to a volcano. Lio and his two friends fight Freeze Force and try to protect the Burnish to no avail. Lio’s friends end up launching Lio into a giant volcano in order to save him from being captured. Lio manages to use his flames to break free from the “freeze bullet” that he’d been shot with, and is so enraged by the atrocities that are being done to his people that he turns into a giant flaming dragon.
As Lio heads towards the city intent on confronting Kray he sets fire to it. In the ensuing chaos, Galo is able to escape from prison and with Burning Rescue’s help, they are able to subdue Lio. Aina takes Lio and Galo in her ship, and drops them off at the frozen lake so they can “cool down”. These two boys need to like totally chill, man.
2. The Burnish are really just “nature lovers”
When Lio and Galo land on the icy lake they end up melting it entirely and revealing a hidden laboratory that is being run by a holographic projection of Deus Prometh – a scientist who was killed by Kray. Dues reveals that the flames that the Burnish control and can communicate with are actually inter-dimensional flame aliens that reside in the Earth’s core after a dimensional rift opened shortly before the Great World Blaze. The Promare desire to burn because that is how they live and naturally the Burnish inherit this instinct.
Deus Prometh reveals that Kray’s experiments on the Burnish using incomplete stolen technology that resulted in the Burning feeling pain caused the Promare to feel pain as well, and a side effect is the surging magma accelerating in growth. Dues explains that if the Promare-powered warp drive is used the collective pain that will be felt by the Promare will cause them to blow up the Earth.
Getting back to nature and protecting planet Earth is a huge part of the hippie/flower children movement. Galo and Lio decide to team up in order to save the Earth. They use a mecha known as Deus X Machina that was designed by Dues to return to the city and confront Kray. During their battle against Kray, Lio and Galo are able to destroy the warp drive and disable the ship, but that’s when Kray reveals that he’s been a Burnish all along.
Kray also reveals that he was the one that started the fire that he pretended to save Galo from all those years ago and that he wanted Galo to become a part of Burning Rescue so that he’d get killed in the line of duty. Kray manages to throw Galo off a bridge and captures Lio with the intention of using him to power the warp drive.
1. Make Love, Not War as the hippies say
Lio’s flame manages to save Galo’s life and after that Galo uses a drill to make it to the core of the ship in order to save Lio. Galo defeats Kray using Lio’s flame, but Lio is in bad shape due to nearly being killed by powering the warp drive. Galo decides to try and save Lio by using the mouth-to-mouth flame transfer technique. (If that’s not using the Power of Love and Friendship I don’t know what is).
Because Lio is temporarily connected with the Earth’s core he realizes what must be done in order to save the planet, and convinces Galo to combine the drive with the mecha. Together by combining Lio’s will to burn and Galo’s will to protect everyone, they allow the Promare to envelop the surface of the Earth with flames that protect people and flames that burn.
Once the Promare’s urge to burn has been satisfied the rift in the core is closed and the Promare burn out completely. The Burnish are “Burnish” no longer and Lio and Galo decide to team up in order to rebuild the city together. Free Love was a big part of many hippie’s utopian beliefs. They believed you should “make love, not war”, and apparently Lio and Galo are on the same page. Love is selfless. Love is free. Love is love, love, love, love.