Fire Force, Vol. 1

By Atsushi Ohkubo. Released in Japan as “Enen no Shouboutai” by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Shonen Magazine. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics. Translated by Alethea & Athena Nibley.

It was always going to be difficult, following up on a series as popular as Soul Eater. And so Ohkubo decided to move to a bigger company (this is discussed in an absolutely hilarious afterword where he bemoans, like so many other artists who write for Magazine or Sunday, not getting into Jump) and started a brand new series. This is a bit more realistic than Soul Eater was, which sadly means a bit less gonzo background art details, but it’s still not quite in the real world. It’s a sublte first volume – I went through most of it thinking this was something of a step down from his last work, but as I reached the end of the volume I realized that I wanted to learn more about these characters. Which is all you can ask, really.


Our hero, who looks like Soul with black hair because manga artists have a style, let’s face it, is Shinra, a boy with a tragic past who has dedicated his life to being a hero, and the best way to do that in this world is to become a fireman. Why? Because all over the world people are spontaneously combusting for no reason, and turning into demonic creatures as they do. Shinra joins a squad dedicated to stopping these former humans and sending them to their eternal rest (they even have a nun/exorcist on hand). There are, of course, a few problems. He has a bad habit of grinning widely when he’s nervous or upset, something that always causes people to get the wrong idea. And he’s never done this before, so quickly has to get used to the fact that as a firefighter in THIS world, they will always be dealing with death – in fact, as is bluntly pointed out, they are murdering these people.

Did I forget to mention most of the cast has superpowers? Of course I did, because frankly, a firefighter manga is what I want. But yes, Shinra can run so fast his feet catch fire (or maybe it’s the fire that lets him run fast), and another girl on the squad can’t create fire, but can manipulate it beautifully. We also meet Arthur, who I suspect changed his name to be more apropos. He’s dedicated himself to being a knight – and has a past history at school with Shinra, so they don’t get along, as they both war as to whether knights or heroes are better. (The astute reader, of course, realizes they’re both idiots.) Probably my favorite character was the captain, who has no powers at all, but is a really good firefighter – and dispenses excellent advice.

So yes, a solid first volume, with a better plot and character but less style and moxie than Soul Eater’s first volume. There’s also some fanservice, ranging from mild (a brief shower scene with the two female firefighters) to pointless (one firefighter from another squad seems to have the ability to be constantly groped – mo, really, it seems like it’s her superpower). And we’re also meeting some villains, who no doubt will tie into the death of Shinra’s family. All in all, it’s a promising start.

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  1. Every time I see a firefighting thing, all I can think of is “is this going to be anywhere near as good as Firefighter Daigo, the best manga about hotblooded firefighting shonen action ever?” so I guess I’ll rent this one, but I feel like Daigo is a really hard act to follow up. Definitely read Daigo if you haven’t already.

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