Enen no Shouboutai Episode 1 Review
Fighting Fire with More Fire
In its first episode, Enen no Shouboutai has garnered my interest. An anime focused on fire fighters doesn’t appeal directly to me. It is the great animation and a wildly different scenario than what I expected that brings me in. I am normally not that drawn to classically standard looking shounen protagonists, but the overall look and feel of the show should hold me for a while.
The premise of the show is where it shines. Its like if the Ghostbusters fought fires and the fires are also ghosts. They both have a rundown old firehouse manned by a group of weirdos fighting an otherworldly force. In the last hundred years, people around the globe have started to spontaneously combust and turn into flame bound demons called infernals. The ingenious of it is in taking the general idea of firefighters, and making them demon fighters at the same time. Its the most unique concept for a shounen I have seen in a long time.
Maybe its sitting in a hot New York summer during the Fourth of July, but the show does an superb job of bringing the heat. Watching the show caused me to break out into a full sweat watching everything catch fire, even as my A.C. is cranked to full blast. There is something to be said about the visuals of the show from the sparking of the infernals, to the cool blue costumes of the 8th Company.
Grinning Like a Devil
Despite Enen no Shouboutai’s pilot episode’s focus is on the setup of a warped alternate world, character establishment is concise. Shinra Kusakabe is our primary protagonist in the fight against the fiery demons. He isn’t much different than them which makes him special. He is the third generation to inherit pyrokinetic powers, the power of the Devil’s Foot. Shinra is fast, established from the first scene he can essentially fly, shooting flames from his feet.
His backstory is classically tragic. Shinra’s mother dies in a house fire at a young age. What the first episode does a good job of right off the bat is setting up three scenarios for the mother’s demise. First it seems obvious she exploded as an infernal. Second the show claims she simply died of a tragic house fire, possibly caused by Shinra’s own power. Third the show presents Shinra’s belief of mystery abound. Something else caused the fire, and it wasn’t necessarily an infernal. Its simple and it gets us started on Shinra’s journey to join the fire force.
Tokyo’s 8th Company
The rest of the characters are under-cooked in the opening act. Beyond a formal introduction to the team, even their powers aren’t fully tested beyond the first scene. They immediately rely on Shinra to end the suffering of the warehouse manager’s sister who has caused calamity inside the old factory. No one beyond the main character handles much beyond suiting up.
From what little is done by way of introducing them, I do like the starting cast of characters. The captain of the 8th company is Akiharu Obi, a powerless but seemingly fun-loving leader. Takehisa Hinawa is the second in command and a wet blanket. It probably won’t be a wet blanket for long since he also has fire-wielding powers. Maki Oze is the other among the bunch that can use fire. She began to use fire in the pilot, but it is a forgettable moment to start. Sister Iris is the only other named character introduced this episode. In a show about mythological devil fighting firefighters, a nun in a habit and a fireproof coat seems out of place.
By the Grace of Sol
There is a distinct sub-theme of religion in the show. Its a feedback loop of the otherworldly force causing destruction. People of this world need a guiding hand to rescue them beyond the boys in blue. I caught Sister Iris refer to their god as Sol. It is ironic at the least that a world consumed by fire worships a literal ball of fire.
Even the force’s staging grounds look partially like a church. It seems bizarre that a firefighting group tasked with destroying living flames has a nun on hand. This first episode doesn’t make it clear how important she is to the fighting. It does make her more important to the people. Watching his own sister burn his factory to the ground, the victim of the fire is decidedly calmed by the word’s of Iris. It is an interesting direction to take a shounen anime.
Hearkening back to the the speech of Captain Obi, they are truth seekers. Their ultimate mission is to find the absolute source of the infernals. Sister Iris’s presence holds the key in my mind to the infernal’s ultimate purpose. Unless the creator is pulling an Evangelion, there must be an ulterior motive to the sub-theme of religion.
Enen no Shouboutai is slated for 48 episodes in the first season. That four cours of infernal fighting mania. I struggle to see the show’s devilishly grinning protagonist fighting infernals holding me for that long. It has me for the meantime, but with that many episodes I expect to have an end in sight towards episode 36. For now lets just site back and watch the world burn.
[Image via Official Site]