Spontaneous Human Combustion: a chaotic phenomenon that has plagued humanity for years, randomly transforming ordinary people into flaming, violent creatures known as Infernals. While Infernals make up the first-generation accounts of Human Combustion, the second and third generations became known as pyrokinetics—people gifted with the ability to manipulate and control their flames while remaining human. To combat the Infernal threat and discover the cause, the Tokyo Armed Forces, Fire Defense Agency, and Holy Church of Sol produced their answer: the Special Fire Force. Young and eager third-generation pyrokinetic Shinra Kusakabe, nicknamed Devil's Footprints for his explosive ability to ignite his feet at will, becomes a member of the lively Special Fire Force Company 8. Upholding the brigade's duty to extinguish the blazing Infernals and lay their souls to rest, Shinra is determined to become a hero who will save the lives of those threatened by the flame terror. However, this is not the hero's game Shinra imagined. The Fire Force is a fractured mess of feuding brigades, abnormal Infernal sightings are increasing all over Tokyo, and a shadowy group is claiming to have answers to the strange fire that caused the death of Shinra's family 12 years ago. Faced with many obstacles within and outside the Fire Force, Shinra fights to uncover the truth behind the burning mysteries that have kept him in the dark. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
Fire Force was one of my most highly anticipated properties coming into this season, by virtue of its stunning previews and incredibly impressive production team. Fire Force’s director Yuki Yase has been doing phenomenal work on shows like Monogatari, and his lengthy tenure at SHAFT has demonstrated he’s a director with a passion for incorporating diverse visual styles into his productions. Those early Fire Force previews demonstrated a welcome flourishing of that passion, with intricate, SHAFT-reminiscent layouts sharing space with stained glass windows, impressionistic flames, and dynamic color contrasts. Pair all that with the show’s stunning animation team, and you end up with a show that, in visual terms, was nearly guaranteed to have both the highest floor and highest ceiling of any show this summer. So does the premiere actually make good on that talent?
Absolutely. This episode is an embarrassment of visual riches from start to finish, with its very first moments offering some evocative and fluidly animated fire effects, leading to the introduction of the show’s beautiful, quasi-steampunk city. Mangaka Atsushi Okubo’s earlier Soul Eater demonstrated he’s an artist with a clear talent for background design, and Yase’s stunning layouts elevate his world into a beautiful and mysterious concrete jungle. The illustration of protagonist Shinra Kusakabe’s first use of his fire powers is a breathtaking marvel, with the fluidity of the flames, clear sense of weight and momentum, and impactful sound design all working in jaw-dropping harmony. And all that’s before we even get to the show’s opening, which is itself one of the most beautifully animated sequences of quick action cuts that I’ve seen in quite some time.
The rest of the episode maintains Fire Force’s stunning aesthetic vision and gloriously fluid action animation, as Shinra’s introduction into his unit of Fire Soldiers is elevated through Yase’s SHAFT-influenced eye for drama and emphasis on stark color contrast. Flashbacks to Shinra’s childhood traumas are conveyed through brutally minimalist color work, reducing his world to black, white, and the devilish red of his eyes, along with those inescapable orange flames. Present-day scenes of firefighting action maintain visual coherency in spite of their frantic animation through the clean contrast of glowing blue bands against red flames, an effect which lends not just clarity, but beauty and even a clear thematic throughline to the action. Shinra’s formative memories are neatly paralleled against his current actions, and the episode’s efficient, sympathetic characterization ends on a wonderfully understated payoff, as his desire to be a hero is at last fulfilled through the tearful thanks of the first person he “saves.”
Fire Force’s first episode stands as a stunning statement of purpose, and a visual marvel you should probably check out even if the premise doesn’t particularly thrill you. If the rest of the show can follow through on this premiere will likely come down to whether Okubo’s story is the equal of this absurd production team; but as far as first episodes go, it doesn’t get much better than this. You can also free Enen no Shouboutai anime watch online and free download.