Firefighter! (Action Edition) Vol. #07 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.95
  • Pages: 196
  • ISBN: 1-59116-315-3
  • Size: Tall B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Firefighter! (Action Edition) Vol. #07

By Eduardo M. Chavez     July 13, 2004
Release Date: May 01, 2004

Firefighter! (Action Edition) Vol.#07
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Soda Masahito
Translated by:Joe Yamazaki
Adapted by:

What They Say
Firefighter Daigo Asahina's burning desire to save lives at all cost finds him on the eve of the grueling qualifying exams for the city's most elite group of danger busters - the Emergency Rescue Unit.
His brawny firefighting exploits may have yielded (marginally) positive results to date, but now he must convince everyone that he's got sound judgment and exceptional mental alertness - skills that his colleagues believe he sorely lacks - to pass the test. Will he shine bright enough to prove everybody wrong?

The Review
Viz uses the same cover art as the original here. The image is slightly larger, and it features an interesting image of Daigo with two of his closest female friends. The image is unique in the way that as of yet, neither supporting character has really appeared to be as close to Daigo as this image would imply. This is one of the better covers for this series, as it looks nice with Viz's framing. The back cover features Firefighter's trademark small emergency vehicle under the volume blurb framed in bright red and yellow (real contrast to the nice looking front cover presentation.) 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 features a page long note from editor Michelle Panglinan, along with ads for Excel Saga, and Flame of Recca.

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 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 scenarios 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. consistent sized panels) the layout never raises the pace or slows it down. Those panels just stay back and let the drama do its job.

This series is presented right to left in a tall B6 book.
This title has its 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 solid job with the translation for this series. 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.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There is a buzz amongst some of the elite circles of the Sengoku City Fire Department. Exams for the city's Emergency Rescue Unit are coming up and one name seems to be brought up when they are mentioned. Asahina Daigo has become part hero, part urban legend, part enigma in this culture - firemen, reporters, and fire survivors. Within the local news media he is nothing more than a rogue fireman. His cavalier attitude has been putting him on the front pages for all the wrong reasons. His unique technique and almost supernatural sense of finding those who need rescuing have made him a hot topic amongst his contemporaries. However, his unconventional tactics have also created a large sense of tension within the same group. Yet, in the eyes of the public he is just a fireman, therefore he is a hero who risks his life for others on a regular basis. Daigo is all of these things, but in this volume we are shown so much more.

Recently, something has gotten into Daigo. He has been motivated to levels he rarely shows at work. He wants to pass the Rescue Unit exam at any cost. Initially his motivations were clear - pass the exam to spite Rinko Station's Sergeant Kanda. But as he progressed in his training and as the negative attention and horror stories of failure increased he wanted to pass to challenge himself... and the system that said it was impossible. This will take a lot of work and effort from Daigo, but history shows that he tends to often overcome the odds.
One can train until pass the average scores, break all the established records and still not qualify, because there may be thirty others that have done better in each round. Numbers are not forgiving, but in a sense firefighting and life saving is no piece of cake either. With this in mind, Daigo really does not have much of a chance. There is never enough time to get enough training, and even if he gets in shape there still are qualitative exams to pass as well. Everything has to be perfect, but firemen can only hope for perfection in their profession. Perfection would mean weeks without an incident and situations like that are rare even for a sleepy station like Fire Company M.

Through the previous volume Daigo as a main character has been able to keep audiences entertained but has not really shown much else in personal growth or plot advancement. Up until recently Firefighter has suffered as an episodic title lacking drama or good comedy because of Daigo. All of that changed with this volume. Up until volume six Daigo was not much of a main character for me. His antics were so fantastic and over the top I could not feel attached to his personality. In fact, I really wanted to see him fail. Now that failure is looming large (its actually expected) and he is fighting to compete to better himself, he has pulled me in. Daigo's motivation, which was presented through personal accounts of those who have historically been with Daigo throughout his youth, has lifted the pace and the started to create the foundations for a plot. Considering how much of an oaf Daigo appeared to be at the start of the series, this is quite a feat.

It is really Soda's writing which has brought on this change. His decision to add competition to the realm of firefighting was touched briefly earlier, but by taking that to another level by having so much on riding on this exam Soda has created some drama that is as exciting and tense as his best firefighting action scenes.

With every chapter Soda-sensei moves Firefighter closer and closer to greatness. There was no doubt from the start of this series that he had made an entertaining story, completely fictional that uses the tension and fear of realistic situations through a fun cast of average characters. He did not use a major city for the setting cause fire can be a problem in every town in any era. But what Soda has done with that cast is what has made this title into a gem. Daigo's growth has taken some time (it possibly lost some readers in the process), but now that readers are finally shown what he has done to get to where he is in life has given me as a reader another perspective on the title. Daigo and Firefighter both tend to live up to a challenge. It takes a rare breed to do so, but they both work well in these most difficult situations. It is funny to look back and notice that Soda's best moments were once his action scenes, when now he excels at the drama and character development as well.

Firefighter as a series may often go under the radar of most readers. The concept of a shonen fire drama might not be as appealing as one for more adult audiences, but that is where readers miss out. This title is shonen only because it does not have the violence found in say First President of Japan or the adult situations of Asami ~ Chief of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. Instead we get fun comedy, a lot of character development and enough emergency response action to keep hearts racing and pages turning. The process is simple, and with the cast of characters and the research put into this series it has really made for solid entertainment. Firefighter might not find itself on many top seller lists but it really deserves to be given a chance to challenge one's reading/buying habits.

Highly Recommended.


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