Attenion all he’s, she’s, and them’s, let’s rant!
Monsters (infernals) inhabit boy’s world. Boy’s family is killed by mysterious monster person. Boy joins the force that fights the monsters. Boy wants to become a “Hero.” I’ve never heard that story before! Wow! How new and fresh! What a thrilling concept!
Ok, putting aside my biting sarcasm, there are specific elements in Fire Force that are quite original, even if the core of the story is overused as hell. The premise of worldwide spontaneous human combustion is original, I mean right? So is the nature of Infernals and the inclusion of a Fire/Sun God and religion. Also, it’s not often you see pyrokinesis paired with what’s essentially an exorcism. As well as having interesting world lore like that, the storytelling in the first episode was good, using action scenes, flashbacks, narration, and character dialogue to establish world and characters.
Characters fit into well-worn types, but I won’t find fault with that, since the same can be said of almost all other anime series. There’s Shinra: the boy with a dark past who wants to be a hero. Obi: The senpai character who is wise and experienced but also goofy. Hinawa: The aloof, cold glasses character who doubts the main boy. Iris: The cute, quiet, and serene girl that most of the guy fans will like best. And Maki: the other girl, and the boobs and buns character. But again, that’s overly negative. These 4 characters have original or endearing things about them that aren’t so unoriginal. Want some examples?
Shinra smiles when he feels nervous; he can’t help the reaction, a psychological defense mechanism. Iris isn’t as timid as I was expecting; she karate-chops Maki for being girly! Obi is surprisingly cool-headed and charismatic during a fight. Then there’s Maki. First of all, she’s my 2D type, and she’s bound to spontaneously combust soon because she’s so fucking hot! Get it? … … Ok, let’s forget I said that.
What’s awesome about Maki is that she represents the “strong woman” character. She’s physically strong, athletic, capable– and also very girly. I’ll gladly cheer for her. Not just because of her long, silky black hair, her amazing chest and butt, and her well-toned arms. I’ll also cheer her on as a lead female character whose type is underused in modern anime.
Art and Animation: 7/10
It takes me more than one episode, usually, to decide if I really like an art style, and to try to understand if it’s “high quality art/animation” or not. That’s why I’m giving it a conservative 7/10 for now– and that still qualifies as good. Action scenes were, well, very shounen. They take forever, emphasizing one or two movements dramatically at a time, rather than make things more realistic. I prefer faster, more complex action sequences to cinematic shots of “big moves,” but that’s just me. Character designs are decent, but I don’t think they stand out much from other anime characters in the way they look.
Most times, the abundant flames are CG, but they look really damn good. Scenes and shots with fire and flames are diverse, and the pyrokinetic powers of the characters are well-animated 2D. In some of Shinra’s flashbacks, the art resembles a creepy storybook, and that looks great, including the fire. Pyromaniacs will get high as fuck just watching all the blazing, fiery imagery.
Music and Sound: 8/10
The OP sounds terrific. It’s called “Inferno,” by Mrs. Green Apple. The ending song didn’t leave much of an impression on me, but it certainly wasn’t bad. The instrumental music was interesting because during big moments like Shinra’s power-up and defeat of the Infernal, it’s very orchestral, I guess? It reminds me a little what used to play on the classic music radio station my brother listened to growing up? Anyway.
The voice acting is on point, and there’s a great mix of seiyuu. Nakai Kazeya, voice of Obi, is an experienced and well-known seiyuu who has held main roles in some classic anime series. Ichimichi Mao, voice of Iris, has mostly done suporting characters, but is experienced and has a memorable voice. The seiyuu for Maki and Shinra, Kamijou Saeko and Kajiwara Gakuta, respectively, are both relatively new to voice-acting. I love Kamijou’s voice so far.
Personal Enjoyment: 7/10
My enjoyment of the first episode was lower than expected Why? Well, a) I feel tired of and skeptical about another shounen show on top of already handling Demon Slayer. And b) I’m not the biggest fan of Soul Eater, so I’m not on the hype train for another similar work by the same creator. I acknowledge Soul Eater as a good show, and I love Maka and Chrona to death, but the story and the way their world works both irritate me immensely. Anyway, what I enjoyed most was being introduced to the character of Maki.
I also like that it’s clear there is a central god (Sol) to this world, unlike in Soul Eater, where the “god” was entirely self-proclaimed, yet the show was riddled with theistic themes. I’m sure Fire Force will have similar themes, but they should be less irritating to me since there is a less disputed god with real spritual power established in the first episode.
Overall Score (First Episode): 7.6/10.0
I calculate the overall score by taking the average of those numbers from the five categories (story, art, sound, characters, and enjoyment.) It’s normal for me to have quite high or quite low ratings for new shows in the first few episodes. The score will change, and likely become more balanced, as I see more of the anime. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. Ja ne!
(Images from: Fire Force. Dir. Y Yase. David Production. 2019.)