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Fire Force, Vol. 1

Fire Force, Vol. 1Fire Force, Vol. 1
by Atsushi Ohkubo, Translation by Alethea Nibley and Athena Nibley
Kodansha Comics, 192 pp.
Rating: T (13+)

Tokyo is beset by a wave of spontaneous human combustion, but the victims don’t just burn to death, they become creatures known as infernal. To combat this threat, Tokyo puts together the Special Fire Force, a group made up of ex-military, fire fighters, and those who have manifested special abilities due to encounters with infernals. Enter Shinra, as a child he lost his mother and brother to a mysterious fire caused by an infernal, but he was left to take the blame. Determined to keep others from losing their families, he becomes the latest recruit to Fire Force Company 8! From Atsushi Ohkubo, the creator of Soul Eater, comes Fire Force, Vol. 1!

Ohkubo wants little time in getting to the action, and mere pages in we’re treated to an infernal manifestation on a crowded train. The action scene is used to introduce us to the main cast and establish the world a bit. Unfortunately the action scenes like this and a later training session are the highlights of the volume. The rest of it is spent introducing a fairly standard cast of characters. You have Shinra, who’s the plucky hero with a tragic past, his aloof and arrogant rival, a goofy girl, a serious and bespectacled pretty boy, and so forth and so on. Admittedly, this is only the first volume, but it doesn’t really do anything to differentiate itself from the sizable pack of shonen series that clog up the shelves. At least not in terms of the story.

A page from Fire Force, Vol. 1

First appearance of the incredibly creepy infernals.

Most of what’s notable about this volume is Atsushi Ohkubo’s fantastic visuals. The artwork is amazingly detailed and incredibly immersive. The character designs are eye catching, and the backgrounds are dense, giving the world of Fire Force a nice sense of weight and solidity. The action takes place in locations that feel real, or as real as an action fantasy shonen series can get, rather than white or grey voids. The sense of motion and movement is dynamic, and the action scenes are exciting and fun to watch unfold across the page. The infernals are intensely creepy, they’re essentially walking, flaming corpses, and the charred corpses of the victims help drive home the lethality of what Shinra and his comrades are battling. There’s a sense of danger, not just to the main characters, but to the world around them thanks to Ohkubo’s detailed backgrounds and the bodies of their victims.

Unfortunately, despite its fantastic artwork, Fire Force, Vol. 1 still comes off as a fairly by the numbers shonen action series. The action and designs are lovely, but the characters were so bland and generic that it doesn’t really have anything else going for it beyond the fantastic visuals.

Fire Force, Vol. 1 is available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copy provided by the publisher.

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  1. June 1, 2017 at 5:56 pm

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