In the not-too-distant past, the Ice Witch blanketed the world in snow, starvation and madness, leading the inhabitants to seek their salvation in fire. With that, an unusual destiny unfolds for two young orphans, Agni and Luna, blessed with the ability to regenerate. But will this ability prove to be more of a curse than a blessing?
This manga is not for everybody, there is a lot of things that people describe as fucked up.
No spoliers ahead.
This might sound pretentious, but using its Distopian world Fire Punch offers a deconstruction of human life. No value is taken for granted, love, religion, society, are depicted as something to hold on to in order to be able to keep living, not something good but something necesary.
This is the author's unaltered view on what life and the human being is.
This has no commercial content, its visceral, edgy, silly and gruesome. But above it all is honest; and thats the most valuable aspect of
art, in my opinion.
Fire Punch rules. A free-wheeling psychedelic commentary on violence (all kinds--physical, sexual, emotional, etc) in media and our relationship with these stories. A manga that treats the traditional narrative and plot hooks of the medium with disdain as if they themselves are an act of opression, bearing down on the lives of its characters. An intelligent and carefully crafted work that refuses easy solutions or simple emotions. A story where a man who fights by hitting bullets with a baseball bat is confronted by a woman in a bikini (the world has frozen over in Fire Punch, a perpetual winter) riding on a katana as
if it was a hoverboard. Fire Punch rules.
It's hard to blame anyone for backing out early here despite the amazing premise and promise of real scuzzy exploitation fun in the first chapter thanks to the following volume worth of oppressive and at the face meaningless cruelty. Sure there are some jokes, but it all weighs heavy on you as bad things keep piling up on each other as if that's just the truth of the world. And most reviews or impressions of Fire Punch seem to suggest that most people did stop here. They call it out as pointlessly edgy and immoral and nihilistic. And hey, I was seconds away from quitting myself. But then a character appeared and recontextualized the preceeding pessimism. Togata, a camera wielding maniac, almost literally hijacks the manga early on. The protagonist disappears, replaced by someone whose entire life is formed through stories. Someone who can't help but see the world as a narrative. She constantly and overtly discusses the narrative beats of the manga itself, explaining like an author or a critic how each scene should fit within the overarking story. Or she would be, but things keep going wrong. The manga refuses to abide by the tired and true beats of traditional manga. From here on, the form of sequential art is twisted and played with as expectations and cliches are constantly dismantled with an infectious glee: the super special ultra technique exists for a gag, the quirky and mysterious side characters are almost immediately ignored after their introductions, fights are born and raised for the sake of the anti-climax, so on and so on. The initial darkness that turned so many off is seen in a new light now as a sort of mockery. The main character, his motivations, his personality, the very world he lives in is all so silly, like some sort of joke. Except it isn't.
Except it is.
Except it isn't.
The audience is in this way confronted with how society consumes art: that is to say, constantly and hungrily. Are we like Togata, whose life has no meaning without stories to watch to pass the emptiness of life, or are we like Agni (the protagonist) whose life is, knowingly or not, shaped and defined by the violent stories society loves. Or are we like the antagonists, who tell their own fiction so much they end up believing in it themselves. The answer is, of course, a complicated "yes".
And through that "yes" an optimistic vision of creation is formed. Fiction can, Fire Punch supposes in the midst of its chaos and confusion, allow the oppressed to be free, give meaning to the meaningless, and provide comfort to the suffering. Fire punch is, after all, a manga, created by an artist who is unabashadly in love with stories.
There's a lot to talk about with Fire Punch. There's a lot to talk about with all art. The series is extremely compassionate towards minorities in a way that is rare for manga; the ending is bold and touching, transforming the work again into something even bigger; religion plays a major role, both as a concept within the series and symbolically (the main character's name, Agni, is that of a Hindu fire god--I know nothing about Hinduism but ya'll know I'm gonna be digging deep into this now). But most of all, what Fire Punch wants you to remember is that at the end of the day, movies exist. And who doesn't love movies?
Fire Punch is set in a world covered in Ice and snow. Survival in such environment is....harsh. And whenever you find a civilization they likely have someone among them with superpowers. Our MC, Agni is one of those . He has regeneration so extreme he is basically immortal. His village survives off that ability. Since regenerating a limb or two doesn't exhaust him or seem to consume any energy (k den), he just chops it off constantly to feed the others. Oh yeah, he got a sister. That wants to fuck him. Yep, incest bait. Suddenly some mofo shows up and kills everyone. The said
mofo has a superpower too. A flame that doesn't extinguish till it burns anything it touches to ashes. Everyone dies, agni is pissed and swears revenge. Remeber that immotal part? Yeah? Well, he catches on fire, the fire that never goes out, to be more specific. Time skip 8 years into the future and he's trying to hunt down the psycho that ruined his life.
That's basically the prologue.
If you're still not sure lemme give you more info
-The superhumans are often treated as livestock.
-The story shits itself at about chapters 30-40 in or so and decides it wants to be something else
-The MC, Agni is as talkative as an average corpse.
-There is a lot of religious fanaticism, bordering on the occult.
-The ending is so cryptic, it feels like it was supposed be the Neon genesis Evangelion compressed into one short chapter, that got drunk, fell over, got a concussion and thought it was supposed to be a happy end AND got axed in the middle of it.
As you can tell, i enjoyed the first half of the manga. But oh boy did i hate the rest. Especially since i found the cast to be boring and the story somewhat mediocre. The sole reason i gave 5 in the character category was Togata, a....girl that appears later in the story. Whenever there is Togata, there is gonna be some pscho or hilarious shit happening. Sometimes both.
And oh god the movies references. Anyway, rant over. Back to more comprehensive stuff.
-STORY is mediocre, held up by it's setting. At first, an average, although
interesting revenge plot. In the latter chapters it decides it want's to do
something else. And it sucks at it. It wanted to be intelligent and/or
philosophical and usually failed at it or made it somewhat edgy.
The ending was what i would describe as an anticlimactic failure
-ART on the other hand.....I feel like it's a downgraded version of Tokyo
Ghoul's art. Which might actually be a good thing since this world, is a
desolate one. No idea why i like it so much, it just fits the setting.
My score (8)
-CHARACTERS category, was at least for me, carried by Togata, god i love
that nerd. The rest? eh.
Also, it feels like the sole drive behind Agni (MC) isn't the death of the
village, or his suffering but the death of his sister, which cockblocked his
Like, "Oh yeah, all the people i knew are dead and you made me into a
human torch, that's cool bruh. But you killed my sister! And she wanted to
bang! Now that's too far!"
My score (5)
Personal enjoyement? 5, carried by a single character, setting, and the first half of the (mediocre) story.
There are more interesting shows, manga VN, LN and books out there and UNLESS you are either running out of options, or are specifically looking for depressed x-men in an icy wasteland you're not gonna like this.
Outside of these cases, i can't recommend this show.
Seriously though, wtf was that ending.
Honestly, this manga was wild ride from start to finish, and even more so during the last couple of chapters.
The first half of this story is your typical revenge story, and then the other half is you wondering if you're still reading the same manga.
You know the story is akin to taking a nice summer walk to the super market to get some fresh long pig from your cute sister who happens to work there, until the food suppliers there break your knees caps and set the entire place on fire.
Okay, not the best way to start the day because you're
still on fire and traumatized from that whole ordeal, so you gotta go complain to the chaps who inconvenienced you.
And from there it pretty much escalates to the point where you're tripping balls and can't tell the difference from a potato to a severed hand, let alone deal with the conundrums of the universe.
To put simply, I think the story progresses fine in it's early chapters in introducing the world the story is set in, but it's later chapters end up being confusing, with everything prior being thrown out the window. It's definitely a weird manga to read, so it's understandable if you decide to drop it.
Just don't expect some really god-tier form of writing from the plot.
I still found it enjoyable nonetheless, although your experience may vary, but at least give it a shot.