Shinra Kusakabe, a young man haunted by his past, is on a train when alarms start blaring. One of the passengers spontaneously bursts into flames, becoming an Infernal. The members of Special Fire Force Company 8 arrive on scene, quickly and efficiently handling the situation and finishing off the Infernal. However, unbeknownst to them, a lighting fixture in the station is about to fall right atop Sister Iris. Shinra, with his ability to ignite his feet, shoots forward like a missile and rescues the Sister from harm.
It turns out that Shinra is the new recruit of Special Fire Force Company 8, a team dedicated to investigating the Human Body Ignition Phenomenon and purifying the souls of humans who have become Infernals.
As you would expect from Atsushi Okubo, the mangaka who also created Soul Eater, the characters are stunning. Each character has their own style and design that make them feel cool and unique. David Production, the same company that produces the Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure series, really live up to their name with stunning animation that feels fresh and alive.
This show is nothing less than absolutely beautiful. As I first watched it, I was in awe at the animation alone which is something that rarely happens to me nowadays.
The first thing I noticed in the show is how much detail was given to the relationship each member of Company 8 has with one another when they are just hanging out at the station. Because I’ve served in the military, I can attest and relate to how Shinra is treated as a newcomer. He gets teased and taunted, a very normal thing that happens to new people when they enter join the armed forces, police officers, or fire fighters.
Another thing that caught my eye was how they deal with Shinra’s fear during his first assignment with them. He freezes up and even begins to break down a little bit, but his team is right there to encourage him, and even tease him a little, to get him back up. This is almost a perfect example of how camaraderie works in a tight knit unit. At the end of the day, we are family, and we are only as strong as each individual among us. My favorite quote from this moment (and maybe the whole episode) comes from Akitaru Obi: “Fire Soldiers do not leave their comrades behind and run away. When one of us delays, we are all delayed. The luminous blue stripes that ring our bodies are the ties that bind friends together in the world of flame and smoke. Never break them!”
Outside of those two things, what I found to be really well done was not only showing us pieces Shinra’s history, but also how that history has affected him. His nervous, sinister smile is not only a little funny to look at, but it is also a key component to his character. Since he lost his mother and brother, he can no longer smile genuinely. Instead, his face contorts and gives us this strained attempt at a smile that comes across as malicious.
All in all, I more than enjoyed this episode. It left me craving more. It is a pretty universal idea that your first episode or chapter should draw your audience in and keep them in a state similar to hunger, eager and ready to consume more of your work. Fire Force does just that.