After the tragic fire at a studio building of Kyoto Animation, the Fire Force anime was put on hold for a few weeks for the sake of taste and respect. After some minor edits to episode 3, the anime returned and I’ll talk about it in what is probably going to be the last entry in this season’s 3 episode rule.
There’s a lot going on in this show. We find ourselves in a relatively modern Tokyo setting except with a number of fantasy inspired overtones to the architecture and character design within the world. We follow Shinra Kusakabe, the newest member of special fire force company 8.
This isn’t your everyday fire fighting department though. In the world of Fire Force, humanity is plagued by sudden and unexpected spontaneous human combustion. However, rather than simply bursting into flames and dying, the victims become fiery demons, void of their prior reason and humanity.
The Fire Force exists to put these “infernals” to rest. Mostly through shonen style battle sequences rather your general fire fighting resources, like water for example. This anime gives literal meaning to the expression “fighting fire with fire”. Many individuals in this world are pyromancers, with later generations being more powerful.
Shinra is a third generation and has the ability to generate fire from his feet, which generally take the form of rocket engines. So his go to move for fighting fires is to launch himself at it with a flying kick. Seems about right.
The show focuses on Shinra and the rest of his squad, who seem to combine the visual motifs of both fire fighters and fantasy character archtypes, with other members of the squad looking like knights, mages and priestesses. Combined with the religious overtones of much of the style of the show, it gives everything a pretty unique look.
The first three episodes lay a lot onto the viewer right off the bat. We learn of Shinra’s tragic past; of how his mother and infant brother died in a house fire that many blamed him for given his pyromancer abilities. We’re introduced to the concept of the Infernals and then told about the apparent corruption and infighting within the different factions of the Fire Force. As well as the implication that someone within the force may have intentionally burned down Shinra’s family home.
From episode to episode it’s difficult to really tack down what the main focus of the show wants to be, be it Shinra’s past, the truth behind the infernals or how corrupt the force actually is. Although by the end of the third episode and how it wraps up, I get the impression that all three of these things are connected and after feeling like I was floating around for so many weeks, the show has set its rails for where it’s going to be going.
The tone of the show is more of a goofy shonen with dollops of hype mixed in, it’s self serious moments are extremely unsubtle, as to get the point across quickly and get back to the goofs. There’s already a bunch of silly fan service characters and archetype roles being filled. So I’m guessing this is going to be your boilerplate shonen, one that stands out through it’s fantastic visuals.
And visually, this is a very cool show. The near constant presence of flames and them being the primary light source, combined with the distinctive blue bands of the Fire Force uniforms have filled the show with some really great visual moments already. Topped off with some great action sequences that make great use of the character’s unique power sets.
So far though, Shinra himself kind of blends into the background as a protagonist by the much more flamboyant and interesting supporting cast. Although his character tick of breaking into giant, shark toothed smile whenever he gets tense or nervous is his most interesting character trait, as otherwise he’s kind of bland.
The show wants to push a duality into him, giving him the red eyes, the sharp teeth and the nickname “devil’s footprints”, making him seem like a bad guy through all these visual ticks. But in actuality he’s a good kid who doesn’t actually seem to have much of an edge to him despite his listed character design choices.
Verdict: Continue Watching
This is actually my favourite show of the season so far. While Crunchyroll is pushing Dr. Stone, and Sacred Beasts also has a pretty unique premise, Fire Force has them beat in all respects. I really like the setting, from both a conceptual standpoint and a visual design standpoint.
Already the characters have ingratiated themselves to me, and the action heavy approach coupled with the impressive animation and great looking fire in the show do all the right things for my simple shonen trash brain. This might be the series I continue doing individual episode reviews of going forward. It’s just a horrible shame that this anime’s release lined up with the tragedy that happened at Kyoto Animation.
If anyone has any more recommendations for shows this season that I haven’t spoken about, please let me know in the comments. There were a few shows I ended up not watching because I found out they were spin-off or sequels to other anime, but if someone can give a recommendation on them as a stand alone series then I’d be more than willing to give it a go.