Firefighter! (Action Edition) Vol. #05 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Sunday, July 04, 2004
Release Date: Saturday, November 01, 2003
Translated by:Joe Yamazaki
What They Say
What do firefighters do when they're on vacation? Daigo and Company M take time out for a much needed vacation, but the "R" and "R" on this vacation stands for "rescue" and "resuscitation" when their hotel turns into a firing inferno. Later, Daigo is assigned to temporarily fill-in for the short-staffed paramedic team. Not having to deal with fires for a while is going to be a piece of cake... at least, that's what Daigo thinks....
Viz uses the same cover art as the original here. It's a shot of Daigo in fire emergency uniform - helmet, gloves, air filter - getting ready to go into action. The art is full of reds, yellows and shades of grey. It really does not look bad in Viz's framing but I think it looks a litle too bright on the spine (bright yellow) and the back cover. Here the a small emergency vehicle under the volume blurb is framed by bright red and yellow. Ouch!
Logo Check!! (2003 Megs).... Viz's logo is just wrong. First of all, why call it "Firefighter!"? Daigo of Fire Company M is the original title and its completely overshadowed by this large looming red shadowed techno font.
This volume also has a segment called "the Making of Firefigher! Daigo of Company M." I found it funny and very insightful as Soda-sensei explains the creation process from the early stages in bars with his editor to the influences behind his character designs. What really got me though was his admitting that Daigo's reactions would often amaze him as he was drawing the scenes up!
Soda's art is perfect for this series. The character designs are a little sloppy. Lines are a little weak. They look a little sketchy and tend to loose detail in certain angles. Characters also vary from kinda realistic to completely comical. I do not mind that in a comedy but this series has so much suspense and drama that some characters look a little out of place. Fortunately, Soda makes up for his silliness with detail in regards to fireman culture. He uses brands that are known in the business and his costumes have a decent amount of detail.
Background art is usually pretty good. Soda turns it off and on in relation to the scene. Dramatic scenes are full of detail. Every exit, every light, the items in a room if they could play a part in the drama they are drawn. It makes the reader think of scenerios that could come up in an emergency and keeps readers active with anticipation. The layout does a great job presenting these scenes. Even though the panels are often laid as simple as can be (almost always 7 to 9 panels a page, with panels always being the same size and shape.) the layout never raises the pace or slows it down. Those panels just stay back and lets the drama do it's job.
This series is presented right to left in a tall B6 book.
This title has it's SFX translated in a glossary. I tend to like this technique the best as I do not get to lose manga art but I can understand how some readers can get annoyed after having to check a few dozen times each chapter.
Viz does a decent job with this volume. I did not notice any issues with typos or poor grammar. Everything seemed to flow very well and the tension was always never compromised. Honorifics are not used at all in this series. I was a little disappointed cause I was wondering how Daigo and his former teacher address each other (there could be some romance building between those two).
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Volume four ended with what looked like certain death for the hotel patrons that followed Daigo up to the sixth floor recreation room instead of down to the ground floor exit. Everyone in this room knows they had little chance of making it through the fire that was blocking there way down but some of these people could not help but think that Daigo had lead them to their death anyway. Death was even closer when Daigo decides to risk everything when he jumps to the next building over. It was a stupid move. The risk was so high. Daigo could have not made it; he easily could have died leaving everyone upstairs. He could have gotten across and not been able to save those he left behind in time. His actions could have left everyone in a panic that would have hastened their death.
But remember Daigo just jumped. And if the first four volumes should anything, they presented something almost inhuman about Daigo. Almost everyone sees it. It cannot be explained. But Daigo has an almost sixth sense about things like this. His actions are always reckless but there is always something behind his madness and it almost always works out right. His fellow firemen and some members of the local media see him as a risk as much as a hero but to the emergency victims he has touched he can only be a hero. One that cannot do wrong.
Rescue seemed impossible when Daigo reached out with help. He sent over a bench from one building to the other. By tying himself to the bench and the building he made sure the bridge would reach and hold while five adults went across. There was no other way to do it. It was either give it a shot or die trying and everyone decided to follow Daigo's lead as they too put their life on the line. And after it was all over most people would agree that what they experienced with Daigo was almost unbelievable.
Trouble always seems to follow Daigo. First vacation and now while on duty with the EMS team. Yeah it looks like an easy job. Stabilizing victims and taking them to treatment but nothing is easy with Daigo on the job. The EMS is called out all the time. Injuries and illness need to be cared for far more often than fire emergencies so the EMS is always on the move. Nothing stops the calls from coming. But sometimes things can stop the EMS ambulances from reaching their destinations.
In typical Daigo fashion everyone present takes a chance on the kid. Even years of experience can not pass on this kid's determination. But in "Total Burnout" even Daigo almost starts to doubt himself before he accomplishes his mission.
With a job like that can imagine that those dear to Daigo must have it tough. He puts his life on the line with almost every call. Daigo tends to be in the hospital almost as soon as he is out of it. His family tends to pray a little more now. His friends tend to worry about his safety a lot more. Daigo understands this and during the moments he does have a little down time he realizes that he cannot be a hero to everyone if he doesn't put some value to his own life.
Firefighter is a tough series to put down. The stories have a lot of tension, good action and some better than average drama in them. Yeah, Daigo's results are unbelievable but this is fiction. And like most emergency situation dramas the main characters often do the unexpected and their results are often risky but life-saving.
I find it hard to compare this series to anything in North America. Quite often these type of series are found in seinen magazines, where the writing is very involved and the drama is thick. While this series as a whole is a little more light-hearted, volume 5 presented some more sober moments and some very tense near-death situations that changed my impression of this title almost completely.
For those looking for a serious action/drama with some comedy elements this is a good title for you. I kinda want to put this together with First President and Revenge of the Mouflon as recent dramatic titles that are usually very tense but can mix in humor and a little romance hear and there. I have to say Firefighter and First Prez are not very good at comedy and romance but they make up for it with interesting fantastic stories in realistic settings.
For those looking for a shonen title with a little more comedy and a some fanservice pass. This series has its funny moments but you will not find fanservice unless you like firetrucks, hose technique and fireman carries.
I tend to feel that Daigo is unbelievable I kinda enjoy the fiction and am finally starting to want more of his heroics. On the other hand, as cruel as it may sound, I think I would like to see Daigo fail soon. Daigo is just starting to realize that he is just as lucky as he is determined. He admits his skills are not nearly at the level of those he works with but he tries so hard luck just seems to be on his side too often. I need to see him fail and right now that is keeping me reading.
Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B-
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Size: Tall B6
Orientation: Right to Left