Fire Force – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Tokyo is burning, and citizens are mysteriously suffering from spontaneous human combustion throughout the city! Responsible for snuffing out this inferno is the Fire Force, and Shinra is ready to join their fight. Now, as part of Company 8, he’ll use his devil’s footprints to help keep the city from turning to ash! But his past and a burning secret behind the scenes could set everything ablaze. (Official Funimation Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Fire Force looks good and it knows it, going so far as to stretch out certain panels from the manga into several seconds long sequences that flaunt the visual style and capabilities of the studio bringing this story to life. It’s sure to nab itself a good number of fans based on its vivid and smooth visuals that really bolster what is in all honesty a somewhat flawed story.
Tom: While the series is visually stylish and engaging, I agree with Linny that the basic premise flounders in its execution. A number of tropey/contrived elements make their way in, like Shinra’s, the Protagonist’s, creepy smile whenever he’s uncomfortable and how tied that is to his tragic backstory. It feels forced and cringey the more the series hypes on it for dramatic effect, easily feeling like the weakest element to its whole 1st episode. It’s frustrating that so much of the drama hinges on this element, as it never quiet feels honest, or relatable, making the whole episode feel emotionally distant even when emotional catharsis is offered up in its final moments. Honestly it’s the elements like this that make or break Fire Force; you’ll either love it, or you’ll hate it.
Linny: Fire Force really needs you to be able to accept and enjoy contrived elements such as that nervous grin tick that Shinra suffers from. It is so specifically tailored to fit his tragic story for ‘maximum sadness’ that it is sure to make colder audiences wince and groan. Not only that, a smart or well watched viewer will immediately see glaringly obvious tells of future reveals in the story thanks to lines such as Shinra’s younger brother’s corpse being ‘so burnt that they couldn’t even find it’. And as a female viewer, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Fire Force is clearly meant for the heterosexual male gaze seeing as how all the girls in it seem to be eye candy, giving us shower room shots in episode one itself, an end credit that features only female characters and the fact that the title card features a female fire fighter who for whatever reason has to be the only one with her uniform undone to flaunt her upper body. And besides visuals, the one physically skilled and capable female firefighter we meet this episode is quickly revealed to have a head that’s filled with nothing but dreams of romance. This isn’t a major offense by itself but it feels undermining of her capabilities and personality to be so obsessed with something typically mocked by media.
Tom: Overall I’m extremely mixed on this premiere. On the one hand I love the basic concept, and the visual flare, but the emotional backbone of the story feels contrived and cringe-worthy. If the series can find a more honest way to depict Shinra’s tragic backstory drama and a more relatable emotional undercurrent then Fire Force could come away as the top Shonen type offering this season.
Linny: Shonen has never really been my cup of tea, often too repetitive with male-gaze pandering content and fan service. In the case of Fire Force, as much as the visuals shine and the basic world setting look unique and appealing, the story and characters are filled with one too many predictable and hokey tropes for me to recommend this to anyone but the very exact audience it was intended for, who probably are already devouring it and don’t need my two cents to tell them to do so. However, if you’re not usually one for Shonen and were intrigued by visuals/premise like we were, it’d be best to walk away or to pick this up with very low expectations in regards to the writing.