*This is a guest article written by Laser Kid*
Toonami has recently picked up an excellent selection of new shows from Lupin the Third Part V to Food Wars. But the one that has me fired up the most is Atsushi Ōkubo’s Fire Force. I started watching this show over on FUNimationNow for its SimulDub (as I tend to do each season). And I can tell you all not only is this a fantastic show, but it’s also a perfect fit for Toonami.
Shinra refuses to be labeled as a demon. 🔥
[via Ep. 1 – #FireForce] pic.twitter.com/rYwA8k7q5s
— Funimation 🧪⚛️ (@FUNimation) July 18, 2019
Fire Force is the story of Special Fire Force Company 8. In recent years people have begun to spontaneously combust a lot more than usual. So much so, that select firefighting units have been made to deal with this problem. Those who spontaneously combust turn into monsters, known as Infernals, who ultimately lose the sense of themselves and wreak havoc everywhere. The only way to stop them (and save the trapped soul within) is to destroy their cores, which are where their human hearts used to be.
If the setting details don’t get you going, the main character Shinra Kusakabe’s story might. He is known by the code name of “Demon,” due to being blamed for the death of his family. Sadly, his house was engulfed into flames, and Shinra was the lone survivor. Many blame him for causing that fire due to being a third-generation pyrokinetic. And because of that, Shinra developed a strange quirk where he smiles when nervous causing nothing but misunderstands wherever he goes. Before losing his family, he made his mother two promises as a child. One that he would always protect his family, and the other that he would become a hero. The former having been made impossible, Shinra is determined on becoming a hero to honor his lost family by becoming a hero as a member of the Special Fire Force.
Fire Force premieres on Cartoon Network and Toonami tomorrow @11pCST! Here's a sweet promo that's been playing. Hot stuff! #FireForce#shinra #voiceactor #toonami #CartoonNetworkhttps://t.co/e2rY68URdy
— Derick Snow ☃💖 (@snoweyes) July 27, 2019
A promising start for the protagonist for sure, but the rest of the main cast are also impressive. Notably, Maki Oze who can create spirits within fire to do her bidding, and is nice until she is pushed too far. Then, due to her military training, she becomes a fantastic fighter, one of the coolest I’ve seen in ages. Other standouts include the captain of Company 8, Akitaru Ōbi, who is both encouraging towards his team but also serious about being sensitive to the families of those who become Infernals. In the second episode, he goes from his usual laid back behavior to stern and severe when it appears someone is making the situation worse on purpose.
A true knight oughta kneel…I had no choice 🤷🏻♀️ https://t.co/SYDu5Y07Es
— Sarah Roach (@SJMonsteR) July 26, 2019
Tonally, Fire Force is very apt in juggling between drama, which comes down hard with the feels, wonderfully kinetic action, and off the wall comedy. It seems to enjoy using two of those elements at once. But it also does well to give proper space between tone transitions, unless the abrupt change serves the moment. The scene mentioned above with Captain Akitaru Ōbi being a good example. For the majority of the episode, he is shown being laid back to an extreme, even taking lack of respect from another recruit, Arthur Boyle. In the heat of the action, where part of the house they are in is collapsing in upon them, Akitaru Ōbi becomes angry. It becomes apparent someone has deliberately set up the situation to be worse. He is infuriated not for the risk to himself or his crew, but that the child of the victim (man turning into an Infernal) lost a home full of memories.
The animation is gorgeous to look at using Ōkubo’s fantastic art style (he is also the creator of Soul Eater). It doesn’t get quite as surreal as Soul Eater (there are no cackling sun or moon here), but the Infernals are a nod in that direction. Several characters do borrow familial looking features from Soul Eater, but still, look visually distinct. It’s a spectacle seeing how Shinra uses flames on his feet to fight. The sound effects when flames are ignited bring some excitement to every battle. The animation itself is fluid, making an exceptionally visually pleasing experience, especially during the action scenes. An impactful and dramatic orchestral soundtrack complements many moments during fights, which fans should be ready to enjoy.
Toonami is getting one of FUNimation’s premiere SimulDubs to air on television. Which provides a great example of the two sides still willing to work with each other. It’s been a while since Toonami decided to grab a SimulDub from FUNimation, and I for one cannot be more excited at the choice the block has made. Fire Force has already become a popular series amongst fans on social media. And while I was at Anime Expo, the line to get to see the series before anyone else was capped quickly. Whether it’s because it’s a spiritual successor of Soul Eater, the wildly vivid animation, or an awesome bunch of characters, this series has picked up a lot of momentum that will benefit the block.
News: After the show was preempted out of respect of the victims of the KyoAni arson and fire, #FireForce will resume broadcast in Japanese shores this week. Barring other events, this shouldn't affect the Toonami broadcasts, which will premiere on the block this Saturday. https://t.co/wsHJrNRmR9
— Toonami News 🔥🚒 (@ToonamiNews) July 25, 2019
Of course, it is an interesting time for a series like this to make headlines in the anime world. Right now many fans all over the world are grieving over the tragic fire at Kyoto Animation, putting this series in an awkward place. The third episode was delayed a week (out of respect). With FUNimationNow being ahead by two episodes, it gives Toonami a short buffer should anything else happen with the series. And there are rumors that the series will be faced with some edits to make the fire less realistic. Rumor has it that the streaming audience will also be getting those edits which in turn would mean that Toonami would as well. It’s unclear how things will move forward for Fire Force, but for its sake, the series is lucky that it wasn’t shelved and that Toonami was able to pick it up. Jason DeMarco did state on Twitter that Adult Swim will be ready for any issues that might pop up. So fans shouldn’t worry about Fire Force too much.
Ultimately, I think Fire Force is the perfect fit for Toonami. It’s part of a new wave of show acquisitions, proving (as it often does) that the block is far from dead. It has the action that Toonami fans are used that look stunning (as I mentioned earlier). The tone of the series is all over the place that can take you for a ride emotionally. And it has many similarities in style to other veteran shows like Soul Eater and Blue Exorcist. Fire Force is a delight to watch, and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s destined to be a great staple of the Toonami lineup, and I can’t wait to see where it’s going next!
Much excite!!!!! Can’t wait for my girl Tamaki Kotatsu to bring the heat! 😻 https://t.co/oa2ftGPs29
— Jad Saxton 💪🏋️♀️🥊 (@jadbsaxton) July 21, 2019
This was a guest article written by Laser Kid. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter @laserkidprime