Reviews

Sep 11, 2019
JackJoestar (All reviews)
Preliminary
I tend to avoid a lot of new shone anime franchises, although I was mildly intrigued by Fire Force after seeing it had been picked up by Toonami. And seeing as it was animated by Studio David, I was naturally curious to see what’s keeping us from getting another series of Jojo. So what is Fire Force?

Based on the manga by Soul Eater author, , Fire Force tells the tale of a world where people can randomly become engulfed in flames by a phenomenon known as “Spontaneous Combustion”. A young boy named Shinra, who posses the powers of fire monsters called “Infernals”, hopes to put an end to the mysterious happening of spontaneous combustion. Accompanied by another young boy named Arthur, who is convinced that he is an English knight, the two live and work at Tokyo Fire Company 8.

Fire Force has a lot of story potential. The concept of mysterious occurrences and fighting monsters are nothing new for shonen, but choosing to set the story in a near-future Tokyo with Hi-tech firehouses/cathedrals called “Fire Cathedrals” is a pretty original idea. The purpose of having Roman gothic looking fire companies with stain glass windows is to stress the show’s vaguely religious aspects. Infernals were once normal people, until their lives are changed for the worse by spontaneous combustion. So naturally, Fire Cathedrals are full of nuns who are meant to draw out the souls of the Infernals before they ate killed.

I would describe the visuals of Fire Force as being somewhere between Soul Eater and My Hero Academia, with some of the backgrounds being comparable to a pretty good visual novel. Although some spotty cgi is present, I’ll definitely say that it’s a lot better integrated than Soul Eater. It is very appealing and warm. All of the settings have a pretty smokey color palate,and most of the different fire powers they are present in the series are fun and interesting. However, what’s the story like?

An oddly paced sequence of events. The first few episodes take their time explaining the Infernals and Shinra’s obligatory dead parents backstory. But also, we get to see the company training and some character interactions. But obviously, a show about a bunch of tough guys fighting faceless nobodies will get old fast, so this is where the main conflict ensues. Rival fire companies are the solution to infernal combustion as well, but tend to overstep their boundaries when it comes to finding some sort of concrete evidence. This creates a rivalry with Company No. 5 and makes our protagonists question what they are really doing. A lot of the conspiracy subplots are pretty over done and you’ve probably seen this before. One element of the story I do find interesting though is our protagonist’s odd character trait. Shinra has a “curse” where he smiles whenever he becomes scared, and he can’t control it. This makes for some interesting story opportunities that the show actually capitalizes on, like having villains mistake his fear for confidence, or his superiors finding it disrespectful. Although I can’t say a lot of the other characters have a lot going for them. Arthur’s whole moron with delusions of grandeur stick got old pretty quick, and a lot of the female characters rely on gratuitous fan service to be of any interest. The captains of the fire companies are completely forgettable. There’s also these dog mascots (That surprisingly aren’t Dalmatians) that pop up during the always-necessary tournament arc that just take up space. You can tell that they were just dying for a merchandise-able character, and they add absolutely nothing to the plot. They are my meant to be comedic relieves, but that leads in to the worst issue of the show, the comedy.

It’s not awkward enough to be disappointing or frustrating. It’s more baffling and confusing that the directors could drop the ball with pretty simple gags. A perfect example of this is a gag in episode 6, where Arthur gets trashed by an infernal that mocks his fighting style. Arthur then notices that he is holding his sword with his left hand (as he is right handed). And then is able to easily defeat the monster when he swings with his dominant hand. It’s never clear wether this is supposed to be a joke, or just another assertion of Arthur being a dumb character, but the way the episode presents this allows the audience to take it as neither. No one subconsciously uses their non dominant hand for tasks. On occasion, the awkward humor can work. My favorite gag of the show being one episode during a hot pursuit when the show transitions to a black title card with the time and date, fading out to show the dog mascots bumbling around after the festival is over. The reason this joke works is because it calls attention to how useless the dog characters are.

Would I recommend Fire Force? It’s decent enough. If you’re down for a style over substance action show, I would recommend it. It doesn’t hurt that they’ve gone 3-0 with their choices for opening and ending themes.