It’s been years since I last saw Soul Eater but it’s still one of the anime that turned me into a weeb and for that, it has a place in my heart. I still to this day would like to see a full adaptation of the manga — maybe ten years from now, it’ll pull a Fruits Basket — but I’ll take an anime adaptation of Atsushi Ohkubo’s next work, Fire Force.
One thing is for sure: this series isn’t carbon copying its predecessor’s plot. Set in an alternate version of Japan, Fire Force centers around the Special Fire Force, an elite firefighting team. Their job is to investigate and combat a mysterious phenomenon where people spontaneously combust and transform into fiery monsters called Infernals. In addition to normal humans, the force comprises of pyrokinectics, individuals who survived spontaneous combustion and instead developed fiery abilities. So in other words, this is an action anime about firefighters…and it’s looking to be as ridiculously awesome as it sounds.
Episode 1 primarily focuses on the show’s protagonist, Shinra Kusakabe (Gakuto Kajiwara/Derick Snow), the newest member of Special Fire Force Company 8 and a third-generation pyrokinetic who can shoot flames from the soles of his feet and fly at blazing speed (pun 100% intended). Both his mother and brother died in a fire and though Shinra spotted a culprit, he has been wrongfully accused of killing his family. Since then, he has trained to join the Special Fire Force so he can fulfill his mother’s promise of becoming a hero. I suppose Shinra’s character errs on the side of tradition but I think it works well here. The premiere does a great job alternating between the past and present, juxtaposing Shinra’s first heroic effort against his troubled past as some perceived devil. There’s also a curious quirk in which Shinra’s face contorts into a smile whenever he feels tense. It’s an interesting image that can belie Shinra’s discomfort and makes it harder to tell when he is actually feeling the way his face implies. That and it’s also just a neat way for Ohkubo to employ the Soul Eater smile in a different way.
Everyone else in Company 8 gets the basic introductions here. Right now, the team is comprised of commander Akitaru Obi (Kazuya Nakai/Jeremy Inman), second-in-command Takehisa Hinawa (Kenichi Suzumura/Chris Wehkamp), second generation pyrokinetic Maki Oze (Saeko Kamijou/Sarah Roach), and spiritual guide Iris (M.A.O./Alexis Tipton). Out of the bunch, I’d say Iris is the most curious inclusion if only because of the fact that she is a nun tasked with praying a proper sending for the Infernals. Not exactly the first profession I’d imagine crossing into firefighting but I’m curious how such an arrangement came to be. The ED also teased one hell (pun 100% intended) of a backstory for Iris too.
Really though, I have a feeling story and characters will play second fiddle to the production values. Goodness, Fire Force is gorgeous. David Production is a pretty good studio in general but they’ve really raised the bar for what passes as their A-game. You have Maki and Akitaru go toe to toe with Infernals, Shinra flying around with his flaming feet, objects getting torn to pieces and it all looks incredibly kinetic and jaw dropping. The use of colors is even more striking. The psychedelic array of colors during Akitaru’s narration regarding the combustion phenomenon perfectly captures the danger the Infernals impose. The climatic fight scene is a gorgeous mix of orange and red flames against a darkened backdrop. You can just tell someone in the staff put a lot of thought and care on how color should be added to the original black and white drawings of the manga.
The visuals are so good that I’m actually concerned that David Production might not be able to maintain this level of quality, especially if this show really is going to run for 48 episodes as reported. Can they really do it? I’d hate to see them go bankrupt and end up drawing stick figures with fireballs. Regardless of how the show will fare in the future, I can confidently say that I am sold now. I still want my goddamn Soul Eater reboot but maybe Fire Force will serve as a more than reasonable alternative.
English Dub Comments
Funimation is producing an English dub for Fire Force which feels right at home considering they dubbed Soul Eater (a dub which I’m very fond of by the way). And given that connection, this is one of those simuldubs where Funimation is working to fulfill the simul part. It sounds pretty good so far. I particularly like Jeremy Inman as Obi; he’s got the right kind of voice for a commanding firefighter. I did notice some lines differ from the sub but they carry the same meaning and they were probably changed to sound better in English so I really don’t think it’s something worth fretting over.
OP: “Inferno” by Mrs.GREEN APPLE
Brag about it, David Production.
ED: “veil” by Keina Suda
BRAG ABOUT IT!
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One thought on “Fire Force – Ep. 1 (First Impressions)”
48 eps? AFAIK, it’s going to be two cour – 24 episodes.
I think my biggest holdback is that Fire Force has all the earmarks of the bog standard shonen. Show can rise above that (think HeroAca), but they can also wallow in it. The latter doesn’t always mean they’re bad, just that I don’t usually find them interesting.