Shinra has learned that his brother is not only alive, he’s working for the enemy! Will Company 8’s strong sense of justice turn Shinra against his own family?
It’s time to return to the world of Fire Force now that the latest volume has been released. What new things will we learn to today in this fiery world? Is it good?
Story-wise, the latest volume of Fire Force is not the most plot intensive one we’ve come across. It focuses on two things: delving into the backstory of Company 8 and the characters trying to get Company 7 on their good side to help with the investigation into the Evangelist. The story has the feel of an intermediary arc and also the beginning a smaller arc, but that’s not to its detriment. In fact, this is easily one of the best and most enjoyable volumes that the series has put out to date.
What we get here in Fire Force Vol. 5 is great backstory, worldbuilding, and excellent characterization/development for some supporting characters. We learn about how Company 8, at least in spirit and belief, was born, and consequently how Obi and Hinawa first meet; the backstory shows how the two teams up together for the first time, puts their careers on the line, and shows what they were like several years ago. It adds a good background layer to Company 8, helping to show Shinra why they are so trustworthy and the right people to confide in about what he’s learned. The worldbuilding delves into how different law enforcement agencies operate with the existence of the Fire Force, how different some communities are when it comes to dealing with Infernals, and learning more about the internal beliefs and operations of how Company 7 operates. This stuff is added in organically and really helps to make this world feel so more real and fascinating to read about.
However, what really helps the developments here is how well the pacing and storytelling comes together. One of my biggest complaints for a while was how the story was just moving way too quickly for its own good and that some scenes lack the strength they should have since we didn’t spend nearly enough time on certain points or ideas. Here, the storytelling feels more accommodating to that speed. For instance, the origin of Company 8 lasts about two chapters, but the story is tightly structured and is able to tell a lot about the past, the characters, and their motivations for scenes to matter in this time. The same goes for the Company 7 storyline (even though it has way more chapters), saying so much about the characters, their views, and their relations with one another. In the end, this felt like an even more well-crafted book more than usual.
Of course, what really shines and helps the manga is the characters and in particular, the supporting ones. Both Hinawa and Obi got a big dose of development through the backstory of Company 8, seeing what motivates them and how they came to work together. I especially like Hinawa’s backstory, seeing the subtle changes that motivated him into being who he is today through the loss of a friend and his own personal beliefs. Obi’s character is more or less the same as it was back when he was just a normal firefighter, but his determination, intelligence, and how he tackles challenges straight on is inspiring and a joy to watch. His fight against Benimaru Shinmon, captain of Company 7, is one of the highlights of the series and a blast to watch. There were also minor characterization and background reveals with Maki that I hope get expanded upon, her being the daughter of a higher up in the government. Shinmon was also a rather interesting new addition to the wide cast of characters in this series. This is a guy with a very glum, dour, and rather negative view on life and his position in the world; he has little trust for the organization he works for or any office or religion, only really a part of the Fire Force because it’s the right thing to do. He doesn’t seem to care much about the people he protects or even like his position as a fire captain. However, though his outer demeanor may imply one thing, through his actions and interactions, we see there’s far more to him. He’s a man who does care and prefers to run things his own way, seeing it as more fitting and more personal regardless of what any governmental or religious order may say. When the people he’s sworn to protect suffer, he’ll rage war and hellfire upon those who cross them. He’s also willing to listen and open up if outsiders or the establishment helps him and the people his company watches over. He’s an interesting, if blunt and rude, character, but one that I rather like. Honestly, I kind of wish Shinra was this developed and complicated since he really doesn’t compare to the rest of the cast at times.
Hey, where did your eyes go?
The artwork for the series, as usual, looks great, though there’s less action for Ohkubo to work with than usual. The characters are still drawn exceptionally well, conveying some great emotional range at points. For example, the art does a wonderful job at capturing Hinawa’s feelings and mood during the flashbacks, showing different sides to a character who’s usually straight-faced and serious all the time. The layouts are constructed well and while the backgrounds can be empty white voids at points, especially during a few more intense moments, the level of detail can be great, really bringing this world to life. The action, when it is there, is fantastically laid out and presented, really showing a sense of movement and energy that I don’t usually see in manga. The final chapters are especially good at that and are a joy to read.
Is It Good?
Fire Force Vol. 5 was one of the better volumes manga, really showing the series at its best. While it
may not have had the big reveals or grand developments in the plot like previous volumes did, it made up for it through some great characterization, good backstory, interesting worldbuilding, and terrific pacing and art.