This was a show that was pretty big a few months ago, and while the second season is currently airing, I dragged my feet on watching the first. I’ve said this before, but I am pretty much a lapsed Shonen fan at this point. I had my shows, I had my ‘time’ and most of what I see these days just doesn’t interest me. I’m sure they are absolutely great shows, but it’s not my thing anymore.
However every now and then I’m put those feelings aside and watch a good ol shonen. Or a show will come along that really pulls me in (Demon Slayer). The show we are talking about today is kinda that, but not really. After the cut let’s get into the first season of the hit anime of last year: Fire Force.
Fire Force is..fine.
It’s good, it’s solid. Not great, but really nothing special.
This was a show that really took off during 2019, and got a lot of buzz around it. While it was eventually overshadowed by Demon Slayer and it’s top-tier animation, Fire Force wasn’t anything to scoff at either. Then of course there was the entire Tamaki debacle (which I’ve discussed here), which people got all upset about, which is also where I decided to drop the series. However recently I decided to get back on the horse and finish the first season, and like I said at the top, it was fine.
The things I enjoyed about Fire Force is that it feels very original. While it has all the trappings of a classic shonen, it’s world and powers feel really unique. Firefighters meet Exorcists is a really cool idea, and Okubo Atsushi’s ability to get some many interesting and imaginative powers just from the element of Fire is a credit to his skill. The characters themselves are quite interesting as well, and Fire Force is able to avoid the Bleach problem of having its secondary cast overshadow the central characters. Series lead Shinra is a good balanced shonen hero, not the over-the-top brat like Naruto, or the complete dumb-ass fighting addict like Goku or Luffy. Furthermore his fire powers are cool and unique, making him far more interesting that Fairy Tail’s Natsu, who was pretty much just a walking flamethrower. Furthermore Fire Force is also a show that respects the viewers time, as things move at a brisk pace and there is next to no filler at all. Arc come and go quickly, and everything feels like it is a part of a larger, well oiled machine.
However, having said that, Fire Force also feels like it is a show with the fast forward button pushed down. Okubo Atsushi, whose previous work was the popular series Soul Eater, has stated that Fire Force will not just only be his last shonen, but his last work in the manga industry. Knowing that, and being familiar with the long dragged out nature of Shonen, it it does feel that Okubo has little patience for the practice anymore and has adopted a ‘get in, get out’ policy. This made the show, at least for me, feel very rushed at time, with next to no down time between the arcs (which are always very short) and the story constantly moving. While this may be good for some fans who hated the filler/dragged out anime of the 90s and early 2000s, I felt that there was just a little too much meat removed from the bone.
Fire Force’s first season, coming back to it, was a fun little distraction. It’s a fun unique world, with effort put into the powers and abilities, and it doesn’t waste your time. However it is also a show that I think could be a just a little bit slower. A bit more time spent on the characters, a few throwaway episodes that help endear the cast. Yet even as I say that, I know that I am no longer the target audience for this kind of show. It is an anime for the next generation of shonen fans, and I am sure that they will grow up praising shows like Fire Force for getting them into the medium. I probably won’t rush out to watch the second season anytime soon, but when I was watching the series, I never felt like my time was wasted.
Also, the girls are really fucking hot. Smoking even….