The Shape of Queer Liberation: On the Geometry of Promare
(Warning! This piece contains major spoilers for Promare. Read on at your own risk!)
The first image of Promare is a triangle constrained inside a rectangle, distorted and maimed as the walls close in around it.
There’s a place for subtlety in art, but there’s also a place for distilled simplicity. And the more I think about Promare the more I feel a burning need to shout from the rooftops about the sheer elegance and power of the visual symbolism of shapes. Triangles — the burnish flames, sparks, broken glass, Lio’s earring, the sharp edges of Lio’s Mad Burnish suit, the triangle mosaics on Lio’s burnish sword, triangular ash floating upward in the triangular firelight, the triangular peaks of a volcano looming. Rectangles — lawns and buildings and city blocks of Promepolis, blocks of ice, the barrel of a freezing gun, cubical elevators, cubical cells, cubical restraints, tiled rectangles of windows and doors, rectangular barriers. The moment I knew I was watching a masterpiece was when I noticed that even the lens flare effects of the sunlight in the rectangular city of Promepolis are rectangular. This is not a world in balance.
Life is complicated, and there’s a tendency in art to want to mirror that complication by adding on further layers. What if what seems bad is actually justified? What if there’s no right answer? It’s trendy to take moral questions that may seem straightforward and twist them around, looking for the gray between black and white. That can be fine and all, but it’s way more difficult and way more impressive to go the other direction — to successfully strip away the muddiness and shine a clear light on something simple. Promare is so powerful because it shines with this moral clarity: Oppression — bad. Freedom to live authentically — good. Squares and triangles. There’s no self-congratulatory pretension that a story needs to galaxy-brain itself to say something important. What’s beautiful about the geometric symbolism…