Review – Fire Force: Season 1

Overview

Directing Yuki Yase

Writing Atsushi Ookubom (Manga Author)

Starring Gakuto Kajiwara (Japanese) Derick Snow (English dub)
Genre Supernatural, Shonen, Action

Length 24 episodes (23 minutes each)

Release Date July 6 - December 28, 2019

DISCLAIMER: This content guide primarily refers to the dubbed version of the anime and may differ from the subbed version.

Twelve years ago, Shinra made two promises: First to protect his mom and baby brother, and second, to become a hero. He couldn’t keep the first promise. A fire killed Shinra’s family when he was too young to do anything about it. Now he joins the Special Fire Force, a group of pyrokinetic firefighters, in order to keep his second promise.

Let me begin with the fact that when I first heard of this show, I thought, “an anime about firefighters?” Well, no, but also yes. In this post-apocalyptic Japan, there is something of a disease going around called spontaneous human combustion. At any time, anywhere, some people burst into flames becoming what’s called an Infernal…something like a zombie on fire. The Special Fire Force is a group created to deal with these events by killing the infernals and, eventually, figuring out the cause so they can stop it from happening.

A horned infernal

Spiritual Themes

There is a state religion that serves a sun god called Sol. They attribute the success of the nation to that god, and say “Latom” much like you would say amen and tent hands. A major character is a nun, and her job is to pray for the Infernals before they are laid to rest. She appears to have grown up an orphan taken in by the convent and is trained to be a nun, but to be honest, besides her strong faith in Sol, she doesn’t act like much of a nun.

When religion is questioned by villains, the general response seems to be that if it makes people feel better, then it doesn’t matter if it’s real.

One convent girl rejects the faith because it didn’t do her friends any good.

Infernals are pretty freaky; they’re mindless and violent. Some powerful ones can talk or take the appearance of demons. They call the main character a devil due to his creepy smile and the black footprints his burning feet leave.

The main character has frequent visions of a hellscape with blackened skeletons and fire.

The boss of the bad guys calls himself The Evangelist, and the bad guys are a bit of a cult.

Do nuns fall asleep in church?

Violence/Scary Images

The author of the Fire Force manga, Atsushi Ookubom, is also the author of Soul Eater. Though very different, the two franchises are similar in the level of creepy he seeps into his villains…and some of his heroes.

We’re initially told infernals aren’t human anymore and the person that used to be them is legally considered dead, but there are several times infernals are able to talk or restrain themselves enough to just sit there and wait for someone to kill them. Those times are difficult for the characters to stomach.

Although people get beat up pretty badly, there isn’t a lot of blood. Probably the most violent death is the guy who gets his face melted by a bad guy (offscreen).

Villains kill people by turning them into infernals, including children (although we are just told about that), and parents (in front of their children). Villains also turn themselves infernal.

Going infernal is kind of like burning to death, but the body doesn’t disappear – it’s just swallowed in flames. The only way to kill one is to crush its core, a conveniently glowing spot where the heart used to be. This is done in various ways, from a four-finger death punch to a firing brigade. Once finished, the infernal’s body blows away as ash.

Language

Da**ed/Da**, Hell, Crap, A**, SOaB, I’ll shove that sword up-, You Ffff…Faker!

Apparently weirdos attract weirdos

Sexual Themes

Unfortunately, there’s a hearty amount of fanservice, so prepare yourself.

There are two scenes with the girls in the shower. The first shows some side-boob with fog obscuring behinds. The second has the classic girl-girl boob groping with hands covering the nipples.

A girl leans over with overexposing cleavage and a boy thinks she smells good.

The first closing credits animation is about the nun character’s childhood growing up in a convent. There is an image shown of two girls kissing on the cheek. They also zoom in on her butt as she dumps water over herself and makes the white cloth semi-transparent. A moment (less than a second) is shown of the girls in the bath. Everyone is pretty well-covered and obscured by steam and water. Even if you do manage to pause in at that exact moment, only the outline of the characters is drawn (sloppily, at that). It foreshadows all her friends catching on fire.

There’s a girl in a bikini top who apparently has a ‘lucky lecher’ quirk which causes her to bump into the main and other male characters and get their hands accidentally under her bikini top, under her pants on her butt, and in other various awkward positions. She is also plagued with wardrobe malfunctions. Her entire outfit falls off at one point and she is left to cover herself up with her hands.

There’s a lady who appears to be a sadist with a large group of men following her and enjoying her abuse, and a few women who wear skin-tight suits and make weird poses (I mean legitimately weird, not sexually weird). She also wears a sexy outfit and the main character is knocked into a position that lets him nearly see under her skirt.

The main character walks in on the nun in wet, disheveled clothing.

Girls have their clothing burnt into a bikini twice.

You can see why the main character got the nickname ‘devil,’ but he has a heart of gold.

Drug/Alcohol References

People drink sake, but that’s about it.

Other Negative Content

A girl has been brainwashed/conditioned to serve her master no matter how much or how badly he hurts her. There is corruption in every organization, including the church. One character is majorly delusional. One girl wears a witch-like hat as part of her uniform.

Other Positive Content

There’s a strong theme throughout about the strength of family and the importance of protecting them, even ones that aren’t related by blood. Without any major spoilers, the main character’s mother goes to great lengths to take care of her children, the extent of which is wrapped in mystery. There are several strong, male role models who lack the annoying voices of most anime men (basically, they aren’t perverts).

Review

Okubo-sensei is masterful with his use of the creepy factor and builds intriguing characters. Unfortunately, he is not immune to fanservice and the perverted whimsey of his target audience. The animation and choreography in Fire Force are quite stunning, but it earns the rating of TV-MA mostly in language and nudity.

It is also hard for me to ignore the fictional religion. I realize religion is a tool for worldbuilding; I’ve used it myself. But I find it disrespectful to model your fiction too closely off of reality. That’s getting into Da Vinci Code territory. The sexualization of the nun character is irritating to say the least.

On the other hand, I like that Okubo does not shy away from female characters that can hold their own, but aren’t just men with breasts. Maki is a buff ex-military girl who likes to turn flames into cute pets and wants to be swept away by a prince as well as mess up anyone who gets in the way.

The main character, though immature in many ways, makes you like him with a perfectly executed scary-looking guy with a heart of gold personality.

In the end, what I really watched this show for was fulfilled: the cool factor. The finale of the season takes a strange turn (you’ll know it when you see it), but I shrugged, looking forward to another firey battle between jet-pack feet and whatever weirdo comes his way next.

  

The Bottom Line

 

It's not hot, but it's pretty cool.

 

7

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Celeste Greven

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