It was the summer of 2019, when I was in my room watching Girlfriend Reviews on YouTube; when, at the end of their video, for an ad read, they mentioned that they were watching the fan recommended anime Fire Force on the streaming service Crunchyroll. Me, being the gullible sucker that I am, immediately proceeded to add the show to my ever growing backlog queue on the app and called it a day. After a month or two went by, I started to hear more buzz around it and finally decided to give it a shot. Within the first couple of minutes, the visuals and sounds effects had me hooked.
The world of Fire Force takes place in a post apocalyptic era where an event known as “The Great Cataclysm” sent the entire world a blaze and its ashes a new civilization emerged. In this dystopian future, humans are spontaneously combusting and turning into infernal beings that wreak havoc in their immediate vicinity. The Fire Force are a group of specialized firefighters whose main job, on the field, is to extinguish the flame of infernals and grant them salvation, through that worlds religion, in the process. It is through this organization that we meet and follow the protagonist Shinra Kusakbe of the 8th Fire Force Squad.
Kusakabe is a third-generation fire soldier whose ability Ignition, also known as Devil’s footprint, allows him to create flames at his feet which then serve to power up his movements and combat abilities. This ability manifested at a young age when his house got caught up in flames through the apparition of a demon. It was during this tragic event that we are shown that, while gained special abilities, he also loses both his mother and brother to the blaze. After that incident, he cemented his goal to become the hero despite having to bear the alias of the devil.
When you jump into Fire Force you are immediately greeted with a large cast of characters within the first couple of minutes. In those first minutes of the first episode you will also see catch a flicker of the different abilities and roles the characters have. At a macro level, the intro will display how the roles vary from offensive, defensive and support.
The Fire Force itself is divided into eight squads, all with different missions and goals. Of those eight squads, each then align themselves with one of the four branches of government that they may report. While they all may operate independently from one another the common goal of the Fire Force is to solve the mystery of Human Combustion. It similar to how Bleach set up their 13 Court Guard squads and how each squad served its own unique role.
Each Squad is then composed of fire soldiers who may or may not poses a unique pyrokinetic ability. When a pyrokinetic awakens to their ability they are then classified into one of three generations.
-1st Generation: Individuals who were unable to adapt to Human Combustion and became Infernals
-2nd Generation: Individuals who have adapted to Human Combustion and can manipulate flame from an external source
-3rd Generation: Individuals who have adapted to Human Combustion and create flames themselves at will.
Those who are unpowered will use more traditional based weapons in combat or will offer support to the team.
The first thing I would like to mention when it comes to production is the art direction this has taken. Through out the shows first season, there where several instances where I was left in awe of the cinematics that were being delivered to my eyes. After being visually assaulted by the studio DavidsProduction, known for their work on JoJo Bizarre Adventures, they then proceeds to delivery some auditory wonders with their choice of sound effects for this show. It is this sensory combination that made me a fan of the show.
Created by Atsushi Okubo, the characters designs in Fire Force are as memorable as his other more well known work Soul Eater. Like other animes, when a character descends into madness they are drawn in fisheye like perspective, but unlike other the characters eyes due help sell their insanity. One character that really exemplifies that is the arc with the 5th squad captain Princess Hibana.
My biggest problem with Fire Force has to be Tamaki Kotatsu and her “lucky lecher lure” trait. The trait basically makes Tamaki spontaneously lose her clothing in the most inopportune of moments only for pure fan service gratuity. I will admit that there may have been a scene or two where it did made me giggle but more often than not I rolled my eyes at the TV at said scenes. The gag was over used and sometimes just interrupted the flow of the 23 minute shows runtime.
As far as Kotatsu herself goes, she offers very little to the show and is only there to attempt to provide comic relief. Her third generation pyrokinetic abilities are to manifest cat ears and prehensile tales that she can extend at will. In season one she only serves the purpose of titilating a niche market with an inter on cat “furries”.
In the area of character development, as far as season one is concerned, it is pretty shallow with most of the cast. That said, I believe that season one is set to be a slow burn in the development area and will slowly nurse the characters as the series progresses.
Fire Force is one the most beautifully animated shows to watch thanks to its lucid animation and unique character designs. The sound effects that are used when the characters start using their pyrokinetic abilities serve to tie the presentation together with a beautiful bow ribbon on an already beautifully wrapped gift box.
When it comes to character depth however you will find that, at least in the first season, the majority of them are pretty shallow. Since it is the first season, I am completely ok with that being the case as there is lots to unpack with such a large cast of characters and we do get small hints for more back story to come.