From the creator of the hit Soul Eater manga and franchise comes an all new series merging the world of exorcism with firefighting.
The city of Tokyo is plagued by a deadly phenomenon: spontaneous human combustion! Luckily, a special team is there to quench the inferno: The Fire Force! The fire soldiers at Special Fire Cathedral 8 are about to get a unique addition. Enter Shinra, a boy who possesses the power to run at the speed of a rocket, leaving behind the famous “devil’s footprints” (and destroying his shoes in the process). Can Shinra and his colleagues discover the source of this strange epidemic before the city burns to ashes?
Having worked on Soul Eater from 2004 to 2013 and its spinoff Soul Eater Not from 2011 to 2014, it’s safe to say Atsushi Ohkubo has the shonen formula down to a tee. Shinra has gotten off to a good start as far as protagonists go. Whilst he has familiar traits that many leads from this genre have (has no parents, is looked down on by others, has powers he can’t control, wants to be a great hero), he still comes off as fresh. His lack of confidence and constant anxiety is never noticed by others due to a nervous tic that causes him to grin like a deranged lunatic (Ohkubo is definitely one of the best when it comes to facial expressions in manga today) when he’s under pressure which adds some depth to his character as it is often hard to read what he is feeling in most situations. It also works as a sympathy device as other members of the cast often jump to conclusions about him (particularly regarding the death of his mother) and at the same time is also used for some great comedic moments when his grin makes awkward situations even worse.
Similarly, the exorcist genre is a familiar subgenre to many shonen series, but combining it with firefighting makes for an interesting twist on it with the phenomena of spontaneous combustion being put to good use. We are introduced to most of the main cast in this volume and while they will be developed as the series go on, we get a good introduction to their individual traits and what makes them tic. Particular standouts are second-generation pyrokinetic Maki Oze – who quickly establishes herself as a star member of the team in some great battle scenes – and Shinra’s former academy classmate and rival Arthur Boyle, whose aspirations of being a knight and significant ego problem provide a great foil to Shinra’s temperament.
Ohkubo’s art is on top form with comedy, drama and action conveyed with ease whenever required. Each member of the team has a great design whilst complying with the regulation uniform and the spontaneously combusting possessed humans are particularly terrifying – taking a darker tone to the more zany approach to the supernatural he took in Soul Eater.
Fire Force 1 is a great first volume to a new series and Ohkubo has not lost his touch. Anyone looking for a new action/comedy manga will find much to enjoy and for Soul Eater fans, it’s a no-brainer.
Fire Force 1 is published 10 November by Kodansha
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Post by Leo