Fire Force: 2019's 'Hottest' New Anime!!!
From the mind of Soul Eater, Atsushi Ōkubo, wrote and illustrated a new series about the most badass group of firefighters to ever come out of anime. This is the story of a young boy who wants to be a hero all while battling the demons of his past. This young boy’s name is Shinra Kusakabe and this series is called Fire Force. This show quickly became my favorite anime of 2019 mainly because it has all my favorite things I like to see in a Shonen show. For me this includes a modern setting similar to our world, a small cast of characters with different personality traits and quirks for me to know on a personal level and a balance of action, comedy and drama. This show is both similar and different from other Shonen titles. Its delivers the same lessons about friendship, hard work and commitment to one’s goals which you see in other manga, however what makes this show different from other Shonen is that its more grounded to real life situations people face daily, which I will discuss later.
A young series for western audiences, its first chapter was published on September 23, 2015 by Kodansha and then serialized in the Weekly Shonen Magazine. As of 2018, Fire Force has printed 1.8 million copies and as of summer 2019 a 24-episode anime (produced by David Production) has started airing on TV (started July 5).
Fire Force takes place in a world similar to our own. Prior to the start of the series, people started experiencing a phenomenon called spontaneous human combustion (S.H.C) where a person would burst into flames out of nowhere and turn into a living fireball called Infernals. It was then that specialized fire brigades called Fire Soldiers were created to combat these creatures. The main cast is very similar to other anime casts like the Soul Reapers in Bleach, the Village Leaf Ninjas in Naruto and the Magic Knights in Black Clover.
In the series, the Fire Soldiers are regarded as the top profession in the Fire Force world due to the Infernals being a constant threat to the extinction of humanity. Much like the Hollows in Bleach, the Titans in Attack on Titan and the Ghouls in Tokyo Ghoul, the goal of the Fire Force is to not only purify the Infernals and put them to rest (kill them), they are also trying to discover the source of this spontaneous human combustion (S.H.C).
Weapons and The Three Levels of Pyrotechnics
What I find most amusing and ironic about this series is how the Fire Soldiers fight the Infernals. While the Fire Soldiers use traditional weapons like actual fire fighters (such as axes and fire hoses) they also have fire base powers to combat them. This gives the phrase fighting fire with fire a whole new meaning. As of now, there’s no explanation as to why the fire from the Fire Brigade is able to hurt the Infernals; I believe though, the fire is some specialized, unique power that takes the form of fire that can hurt them.
Despite generations being the official term used when characterizing the abilities of every character, it does not mean lineage. Instead, they use the term to classify the range of abilities of these characters. In addition to the Infernals’ various abilities, those affected by S.H.C. are divided into three groups or generations:
First-generation pyrokinetics are victims of S.H.C and have turned into Infernals.
Second-generation pyrokinetics are people who were victims of S.H.C, but instead of turning into Infernals have adapted to the human body ignition phenomenon and were granted the ability to control and manipulate existing flames.
Third-generation pyrokinetics are people who have also adapted to S.H.C and instead of becoming an Infernal gained the ability to generate flames from parts of their body or an object. Third generations also have the ability to be immune from being burned.
Now some of you are probably asking what is so special about every character having fire-based abilities? Well the various abilities used by these characters range from using swords to guns to bombs to exploding feet. Much like the abilities seen in Bleach (Zanpakutōs), Naruto (Chakra), Black Clover (Grimoires) and Deadman Wonderland (Blood), the abilities here are similar, yet a fresh spin is used to demonstrate how fire powered abilities add to the hype of this Shonen series.
The series’ protagonist Shinra Kusakabe is a third generation pyrokinetic who suffers from involuntary smiling when he is feeling nervous, stressed, angered or uncomfortable. This condition however, has caused a lot of confusion and distrust among the people Shinra crosses paths with for they believe he is making light of serious situations. In actuality, Shinra is one of the more serious characters in the series, demonstrating bravery, confidence and heart.
Like any good Shonen hero, our main protagonist has a tragic back story (seen below). Twelve years prior, a mysterious fire killed both his mother and little brother. Taking the blame for it and developing his nervous grin, he was labeled a devil by his own grandmother and refused to take him in after the incident. This traumatizing event would continue to haunt Shinra, even after graduating from the Fire Force Academy. Despite being shunned and mistreated due to this incident, he is still determined to become a hero (a wish he proudly promised to his mother before her death). He is also scouring Japan to find the real cause of the fire that killed his mother and brother 12 years ago.
Special Fire Force Company 8
The other main cast of Fire Force are the members of the Special Fire Force Company 8. Company 8 is the underdog group of the series. They have the fewest members and the fewest resources compared to the other branches. Despite their shortcomings, each member of Company 8 are highly skilled fighters and each has an ability that makes them a valuable asset to the team. Company 8 is also tasked with spying on the other groups that are hiding vital information (to use for their personal gain) from the entire fire force organization, .
What’s ironic about Company 8 is that when you think of an underdog group of individuals in anime, you automatically gravitate to the Black Bulls of Black Clover. Although, the Bulls had no special importance within the Magic Knights; Company 8 differs in underdog status in that they use the moniker to relax the guard of their peers and this gives them an edge in espionage.
Members of Special Fire Force station 8
Captain Akiharu Obi is the leader of Company 8. What’s ironic about this character is that he is unique in that he has no powers at all. He is a model Fire Soldier, and understands that putting Infernals to rest is just a fancy way of saying we kill them. While usually cheerful and laid back, he can be very menacing when pushed too far. He understands the role Fire Soldiers have better than anyone and so he is very conscious of the public image within the Fire Brigade.
Sister Iris is the medic of the group; she is also the other non-powered member of Company 8. She is adamant in her faith and usually gives prayers to those turned into Infernals as a way of easing their last moments of suffering.
Maki “Witch” Oze is a muscular girl and second-generation pyrokinetic. She is also a former member of the Tokyo Military. She has the power to create living fireballs out of existing flames and also able to absorb and extinguish any form of fire. Despite having a girly personality, she becomes very violent when someone addresses her as a ‘gorilla or ogre’ due to her ‘muscular frame’.
Lieutenant Takehisa Hinawa is another second-generation pyrokinetic with the ability to manipulate flames through his firearms. He is very strict and intimidating to the other members of Company 8. In reality, he is a big softie.
Arthur “Knight” Boyle is Shinra’s rival and another third-generation pyrokinetic of Company 8. His personality and mannerisms is that of a knight; courteous and respectful. His pyrokinetic ability allows him to manipulate electricity through his weapon Excalibur.
Tamaki “Nekomata” Kotatsu is a third-generation pyrokinetic and a former member of Company 1. Her abilities allow her to generate pink flames in the shape of cat features.
As for the other characters in the series, they consist of other Fire Soldiers from Special Fire Force companies 1-7.
Special Fire Forces Branches and Responsibilities
The Special Fire Brigade is the organization every Fire Soldier serves. It’s divided into three main factions: The Fire Defense Agency, Tokyo Army and The Holy Sol Temple.
The Fire Defense Agency consists of regular firefighters charged with fighting regular fires.
The Holy Sol Temple is a religious organization formed after S.H.C first appeared. It consist of Sisters, Priests and Monks who are taught to pray for the souls of those turned into Infernals and offer the souls peace before Fire Soldiers kill them.
There are no specific details to what the Tokyo Army does within the organization, but a sub branch of the Army called Haijima Industries is responsible for manufacturing all of the equipment used by the Special Fire Force.
Other groups within the Fire Brigade consist of Fire Force Companies 1-7. Much like the Gotei 13 in Bleach, each company has their own specific duty within the Organization and answers to one of the three higher powers.
Company 1 and 6 answers to the Holy Sol Temple.
Company 1 is an elite group of Fire Soldiers who are considered the strongest Company in the Organization. Company 1 is also considered the leader group within the organization.
Company 2 is the Military group that answers to the Tokyo Military. No other details about Company 2 has been revealed.
Little is known about Companies 3 and 5 except that they work closely with Haijima Industries. Company 5 however, has an antagonistic relationship with Company 8 due to clashing ideologies about what a Fire Soldier should represent.
Fire Defense Agency
Company 4 answers to the Fire Defense Agency and supervises the Fire Force Training Academy. They are responsible for training those who wish to join the Special Fire Force.
No information about Company 7’s specific duties or whom they serve has been revealed.
Say Hello to the Bad Guys
The main antagonist of Fire Force is a man that goes by Joker and his partner Victor Licht. They have developed a powder that allows them to create Infernals. Their reasoning to why they are creating Infernals remains unclear, all that can really be said about Joker is that he knows Shinra and he knows about the Fire he allegedly created 12 years ago.
First, I have to say I really enjoy the irony of this anime. Ever heard the phrase ‘fight fire with fire’? This show takes the phrase so literal. I love how Atsushi Ōkubo makes references to his previous work Soul Eater and sticks to his best-known features here. Soul Eater was known for its horror-themed and weapon-based abilities, and following suit, is quickly seen here in just the first few episodes. I like how the characters closely resemble real life firefighters and while firefighters are heroes who are called upon to fight fires and offer support to victims of those fires; Fire Soldiers do the same thing. They are called to fight fires (in this case, Infernals) and offer support to victims of those fires (the loved ones of those who turned into Infernals). Just by watching the first few episodes, this anime shows how badass the crew is when fighting Infernals and allows us to see their softer sides as well.
As the next generation of Shonen fans look to separate themselves from the previous generation they are constantly looking for new anime and manga to call their own. If Fire Force ends up gaining the same mainstream popularity as Ōkubo’s previous work did on Soul Eater, then I believe the new generation will have another series under their belt to call their own along with My Hero Academia, Black Clover and Boruto. I personally see Fire Force becoming a big hit for western audiences.
What separates Fire Force from other Shonen shows is that it takes an already respected profession and raises the respect level to 100. Fire Force has already sold over one million copies and that number is still growing. Therefore, to call this series ‘Fire’ is a serious understatement, this series is apocalyptic!!!
New episodes of Fire Force premiers every Friday on Crunchyroll and Funimation and is up to episode 11 so you still have time to catch up!!!