“Promare” is the closest Imaishi has ever come to making a straight-up Michael Bay movie. In the opening minutes, Galo the firefighter and Lio the pyrokinetic do battle across Promepolis. Lio drives the wheel of his motorcycle right into Galo’s forehead, sending him flying. Hurtling through the air, Galo grabs onto the side of a skyscraper and opens a water valve, blasting himself along Promepolis’s skyline. He rams straight into Lio, sending the two of them spinning right back where they came.
During these sequences the characters seamlessly transition between 2D and 3D models as they fall down corridors and through exploding glass windows. These scenes are just barely legible, but hold together due to color coordination and simple character designs. In their speed and sense of depth they are the height of what Imaishi has been working towards over the past several years.
Michael Bay’s style isn’t just about scale or speed. It’s about making blockbusters with only other blockbusters as a reference. One of Bay’s most reliable references is, of course, Michael Bay movies. As “Every Frame a Painting” says, “Bay cannibalizes himself just as much” as he does films made by other directors. Bay rebuilds scenes from his earlier films as bigger, faster and more complex versions. The resulting mutations grow grotesquely into horrors otherwise only found these days in Zack Snyder movies.
Frankly, Imaishi is just as prone to cannibalizing his own work as Bay. His comedy series “Space Patrol Luluco,” meant to commemorate Trigger’s anniversary, sends his heroine Luluco and her friends through the worlds of his previous anime. Even “Promare,” which is set in an original world, shouts out “Gurren Lagann” and “Kill la Kill” in key scenes.