Firefighter! (Action Edition) Vol. #08 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.95
  • Pages: 196
  • ISBN: 1-59116-464-8
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Firefighter! (Action Edition) Vol. #08

By Eduardo M. Chavez     November 25, 2004
Release Date: August 01, 2004

Firefighter! (Action Edition) Vol.#08
© Viz Media

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

What They Say
The qualification exams for the elite emergency rescue unit are coming up and rookie firefighter Daigo Asahina wants to take it to test his own mettle. Unfortunately, on the eve of the exam Daigo goes out on an all-night rescue and instead of waiting for next year, he decides to tough it out and takes the test. With no sleep and on the verge of collapsing from fatigue, how in the world is Daigo going to pass a grueling test of mental alertness and physical endurance?

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 and his rival Akamatsu standing back to back in their full gear. The image is perfect for this volume as it is full of dark colors and shows off the two major players in this volume. 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. Inside the printing is solid. There is a lot of tone and heavy use of inking but they all look good without aliasing problems.

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)
Daigo is down to only a few chances, and if he continues on his current pace he is doomed to fail miserably. For Daigo losing is not an option, but as he showed in the first two stages he cannot compete in his current condition. This exam is as much of a mental test as it is a physical test, but Daigo was spent mentally last night and he is still living with the effects of a nightlong battle against time. This exam is breaking him, but not in the way he imagined. He knew already that most people fail on their first try. He knew he was pushing it after working all night (and into the morning). But he thought he could handle it mentally. He did not want to have the test get in his head. Yet, now in his he head is panicking and it’s shutting down from exhaustion.

This is exactly where Daigo should not be. The competitions that are left four out of five are about pacing and body control:

- In the pull up test most people try to keep a rhythm with everyone else. Have a few seconds to pull up and take a few to release and repeat. It can be really easy if all those on the pole share that pace, as they can be on the same number and not worry about falling behind or overdoing it.

- In the balance exam, standing on one foot for as long as possible is the objective. While the body is what will be feeling heavy and tired, the mind will be busy controlling reflexes as it focuses the body into place.

- Lung capacity is simply displacing fluids in a container with a single breath blow into a tube.

- Vertical leap is entirely about timing. Getting a good start and timing one's arms to get maximum extension is critical to this test. Have one of the two off and that could mean the loss of inches.

- The metric mile run is known in the track world as one of the most prestigious events in the sport. It is about pacing and maintaining strength throughout the race. Having run the longer regular mile in competition myself, I can attest to how grueling this can be. It is a very fast jog for around half a mile but the rest of the race is a sprint. Passing people is much harder than actually maintaining speed as mentally that barrier can easily raise or ruin spirits. This is also the last in a series of events all done in a single day of work, so the body is already worn down.

Daigo might appear to be mentally and physically beat, but spiritually he is too scared to lose. In his mind losing would mean not being able to properly protect people. In his heart losing would be not saving a life in need. In his fears losing would be failing in his profession and it would mean everything he has done was a fraud. There is too much to lose and his soul may not be able to handle failure, even if it seems inevitable.

In the last volume Daigo shown his determination when people dismissed his chances without much thought. He began a program to push himself beyond the expectations of others. He worked like a machine, pushing himself to the brink and surpassing his personal records to clearly answer those who doubted him. In this volume the harsh nature of his job has taken his body and mind out of the competition. In a profession where one is on-call for long stretches of time, people appreciate the day-to-day assignments. In my job, event management/planning, I might not enjoy the hours of schematics, paperwork and meetings but I really like it more than having to handle emergencies like light and sound failure or electrical issues. Daigo is figuratively in a situation where he has to hang rigging by himself without a scissor lift with a one-day deadline after working overnight. Basically he is screwed but he has a job to do. He can give up but that might end up being more painful than failing any test. People can relate to his situation, however they can only wish to accomplish something Daigo could. What he accomplishes may be fantastic, basically super-human, but Soda makes his attitude after the event is all too real. Where Daigo from here will possibly be a greater test than a mile run.

Firefighter continues to entertain at very high levels. But what I feel makes this series unique is how the action, which is very good, often takes second place to Daigo's determination. In shonen manga I do not often run into high-tension adult drama. While I often see characters find inner-strength and grow as individuals I cannot really relate to the situations. Here characters have to overcome their shortcomings and assess their fears and responsibilities. They understand that there is responsibility to themselves, their teammates, their department and their neighborhood. There is too much on the line for failure, but some characters realize their best abilities through adversity as well. Such is life. People do not always get their way, and Soda does a good job of showing both sides of the story. The end of this high-paced volume, appears to be setting up a major change in Daigo's attitude which I have been waiting for and if my hunch is right, the writing can only get better.

Firefighter may not appear to fit the standard for shonen titles that come to North America. The cast is not full of teens, there is very little comedy and there is no fanservice or mascot characters. However, Firefigther surpasses its more popular contemporaries by consistently creating stories filled with creative action and well thoughtout drama. Reading Firefighter is part slice of life story where characters deal with their daily problems at work and home, and part reality show where time is a precious commodity with a lot at stake. There is no reason why this title should not get more play as it has to be Viz's best kept secret.


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