From the creator of Soul Eater, Atsushi Okubo, and David Production, best known for the anime adaptation of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, comes Fire Force. One of the two new shonen anime series released in summer 2019, Fire Force quickly became a fan favorite due to its compelling characters and well-defined action.
After an event known as The Great Disaster, the world was left consumed by flames with most of it left uninhabitable. Those that survived took refuge in the Tokyo Empire. As the cases of spontaneous human combustion increased, special fire brigades called the Fire Force were formed to extinguish them. The Fire Force consists of members of the Holy Sol Temple, the Tokyo Armed Forces, and the Fire Defense Agency, working together to form eight independent companies. Those that combusted turned into Infernals. As time went on, some humans started to develop pyrokinetic abilities.
The Infernals are not the only enemies the Fire Force will have to face, as they will also have to deal with the radical religious group known as the Evangelists. They wish to create more Infernals through artificial means, with the ultimate goal to engulf the entire world in flames so that it will be “reborn” under their image.
Fire Force follows third generation pyrokinetic Shinra Kusakabe, known as the “Devil’s Footprints” due to his ability to produce flames from his feet and his consistent, seemingly sinister smile. As a child, his mother was killed by an infernal and his brother, Sho, has been missing ever since. Shinra joins Special Fire Force Company 8 to prevent others from experiencing such misfortune, but also in hopes that he will find Sho.
Fire Force is at its best when it is building its world through its characters. Each company is unique with its own purpose. For example, Company 8’s job is to root out corruption within the other seven companies. Each new company introduced comes with a whole new Force Captain and secondary characters that the members of Company 8 to work with or against. However, the show would be nothing without its main cast, and the characters of Fire Force are as vibrant as the flames some of them produce.
The members of Company 8 help to forge the ideals Shinra holds towards other members of the Fire Force. These ideals manifest the most in Force Captain Akitaru Obi, who, even without pyrokinesis, can take down multiple Infernals and Evangelists at once.
A shonen would be nothing without the “rival” and the wannabe knight, Arthur Boyle, is precisely that. Arthur often challenges Shinra’s noble ideals, due to his desire to be a Knight of the Round Table. While Arthur can be a bit annoying sometimes, he is just as dangerous in battle as Shinra is, using his pyrokinesis to create a plasma sword which he has named Excalibur.
The rest of Company 8 are all interesting characters who have equally unique abilities. Lieutenant Hinawa is a seasoned soldier who can uses his pyrokinesis to change the power, speed and direction of bullets. The cold and calculating type, Hinawa has a secret soft side underneath. Maki Oze is a living tank who can absorb flames to produce fireballs. While being gentle and compassionate most of the time, Maki will flip her switch quick if anyone calls her a gorilla. No company would be complete without a priest or nun to pray over the Infernals as they are extinguished, and Iris fills that position for Company 8.
The animation for Force Force is primarily spent on the fights. Whether it be the infiltration of Company 5 or the fight between Shinra and Company 1 Captain Leonard Burns, every fight feels unique and given its fair share of incredible moments. However, the final battle between Shinra and the leader of the Evangelists was truly a sight to behold. The way each of their abilities was used throughout, combined with the speed and fluidity of the animation, made for a perfect finale for the first season.
The English dub for Fire Force was good for the most part. Justin Cook, the Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) director, who has also directed the dubs for Fruits Basket (2002) and Yu Yu Hakusho ,did a great job with casting. Derick Snow felt perfect as Shinra to me. The other performances that stood out to me were Jeremy Inman as Obi, Jason Liebricht as Company 8’s Engineer, Vulcan, and Aaron Roberts as Company 7’s Captain, Benimaru. My only real complaint is that the voice actor for Arthur did not put on enough of a show when Arthur acted on his imagination.
Fire Force, while not super unique in its story structure, has a great premise, a unique magic system, and compelling characters . These aspects combined with the animation made for a fun and engaging shonen action show. I am excited to see what direction the story will go in for season 2, which will air sometime this year.