Original Run: July 6, 2019 - December 28, 2019 Number of Episodes: 24 Genre: Action, Supernatural Based on the Series Created By: Atsushi Ookubo
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Fire Force. Reader discretion is advised.***
Twelve years ago, Shinra Kusakabe (voiced by Gakuto Kajiwara) lost his family to a devastating fire. Unfortunately, due to his abilities as a pyrokinetic – people with the ability to control and manipulate flames – and his naturally demonic-looking smile, many were quick to falsely blame Shinra for the tragedy. However, Shinra knew that the cause of the blaze that took his family was not natural, and he vowed to get to the bottom of it.
Now older, Shinra has become the newest recruit for Tokyo’s Special Fire Force and joins the understaffed Company 8. While with his squad, Shinra learns that Company 8 has its own unique mission; they must investigate the other firehouses for corruption as well as discover the cause of the mysterious phenomenon known as Spontaneous Human Combustion.
Work as a member of the Special Fire Force is dangerous. For Shinra, though, it is his chance to become the hero he has always wanted to be.
Wow, Fire Force was a lot of fun, and would you look at that, a second season appears to be scheduled for a summer 2020 release. Good times are ahead; it would seem. Or, at least, that is assuming Fire Force 2 retains the same charm, humor, story, characters, and overall enjoyability of its predecessor. That’s quite a bit to live up to, but we’ll worry about that when it’s time to worry about that.
For now, what was it that allowed Fire Force to be such a blast?
First, I want to focus on what might be considered a small detail. However, although it may be small, it was the sort of detail that vastly changed the outlook of its entire story.
Main character Shinra Kusakabe, like other shounen protagonists (Dragon Ball’s Goku, Naruto’s Naruto Uzumaki, Fairy Tail’s Natsu Dragneel, etc.) had a distinctive look whenever he was in battle. In keeping with his nickname, Demon, Shinra was often shown bearing a sadistically evil smile in even the direst of situations.
Throughout Fire Force, Shinra’s smile unnerved many who faced him, and most assumed he was enjoying the thrill of the fight. The small detail I mentioned was introduced early on in this series and then was subsequently reinforced over the rest of the story. Although Shinra’s face was often contorted to look like a bloodthirsty demon, it was actually just a nervous tick. When scared or worried, some people sweat, bite their nails, play with their hair, or do other actions that give away what they are thinking. For Shinra, he smiled.
Therefore, whenever he was fighting, Shinra may have looked intimidating and tough thanks to his smile, but that was a clear beacon of how afraid he was at that moment. That fear and that persistent presence of fear helped Fire Force stand out because it added weight to ever encounter.
Think about it. In the real world, firefighters are tasked with an exceedingly dangerous mission. Even for a firefighter with twenty years of experience, no two fires are ever exactly the same. Something, anything could go wrong in an instant, and the tiniest mistake could mean death.
I am originally from California and my home state has for decades had to rely on the bravery of firefighters to face increasingly worsening forest fires, many of which have caused millions of dollars worth of damage and, sadly, immeasurable loss of life. As I’ve seen it, firefighters are the closest there are to being real-life superheroes. Then along comes Fire Force, which made firefighters actual superheroes.
On top of that, Fire Force knew that a single person is not enough to face an inferno, or in the case of this series, Infernals, people who succumbed to Spontaneous Human Combustion. Thus, the burden of epicness didn’t fall solely on Shinra’s shoulders. To tell you the truth, while Shinra had plenty of cool moments to call his own, his entire squad, Company 8, was filled with nothing but badassery. Everyone on the team had their moment to shine, and if you were to ask me who my favorite fighter was, then I would instantly have to credit to Maki Oze (voiced by Saeko Kamijou), especially near the end.
Outside combat, Fire Force took its time to build up the personality of Company 8. It is easy to say that everyone on the team trusted one another, but I think we could do better. Company 8 was a family that did more than simply have each other’s backs during a mission. They supported their teammates when they were struggling with their pasts and whenever their friend needed someone to listen.
While at their firehouse, Company 8 would joke around, bicker, and let their silliness show. But when it came time to work, their seriousness switch wouldn’t flip on automatically. Company 8 was the same when they were at play and when they were on the job. The only difference was when they were on the job, they never forgot why they were there. The goal for the Special Fire Force was to protect and serve everyone, and Company 8 lived up to that standard no matter what the circumstances were.
Going back to that sense of fear Fire Force kept alive, I should warn you. This series was overly goofy, as well as predominately over the top and loud. Also, again, Company 8’s and not to mention other squad’s laidback personalities would remain in tack even during battle. That doesn’t mean this show didn’t go dark. On the contrary, there was a ton of disturbing imagery and actions. Fire Force was a bit like a clown; it could be super jokey-jokey and fun, but when it took a turn, oh boy, oh boy.
Fire Force kept these two extremes well-balanced.
In a nutshell, what I’m trying to get at is, this series was excellent, and I cannot wait for it to continue.
There is only one thing I have to say in this section, and it is causing me to wonder when in Fire Force’s production was it decided it would be getting a second season. I am wondering this because the last few episodes of this series, more specifically, Company 8’s showdown with the Evangelists, this show’s primary antagonist thus far, felt rushed compared to the rest of the story.
In the beginning, Fire Force took its time to establish its characters, as well as nail down what sort of team Company 8 would be. Along with that, this series took care to build the environment and setting of its story, which was a world reborn from a cataclysmic disaster.
Then we cut to Company 8 heading into the Evangelists’ hideout (and act I would argue happened incredibly fast) and facing off with what this series made out to be some of the group’s most formidable fighters. Not only that, but Shinra was also able to have a rather decisive showdown with his biggest antagonist (the identity of which I cannot say for spoiler reasons).
Now, don’t mistake what I am saying. This wasn’t a low point for Fire Force. However, it was the lowest point of the season because its pacing felt to be the most off. Granted, this was also the section of the series that had some the coolest moments of the show, but I’ll stand by my observations nevertheless.
Considering all that, though, if this ends up being a persistent problem for any subsequent installments of this series, then I think we’ll be okay.
Oh, by the way, this series had excellent animation, an outstanding soundtrack, and was also incredibly funny throughout. I thought I should at least mention those points before ending this review. However, the reason I didn’t make a bigger deal out of those details was due to them not being what impressed me the most about this show.
This series was mainly focused on its story and the characters within it, and I would say it was a mission accomplished.
Without a doubt, Fire Force has earned a recommendation.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Fire Force? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.
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