|Down-to-Earth and Realistic|
I stumbled across this series several years ago but it’s been a difficult task getting ahold of all of the volumes. It’s rather surprising to me that it doesn’t appear to be all that popular as it is as other titles such as Bleach, One Piece, or Naruto. This series tells the story of a rather ordinary young man known as Daigo Asahina who is a rookie firefighter. Even though he lacks superpowers, Daigo’s adventures would otherwise qualify him as one in my opinion even though he’s probably one the most down-to-earth and realistic that I have ever read before.
The plot is on the simple side, but thoroughly understandable. Daigo has a mission; to protect and save lives. Everything else; the rules, the regulations, protocol, and even common sense means absolutely nothing to him. He will do whatever it takes to save a life. And while it may seem that he’s reckless and absolutely fearless, Daigo is all too often plagued by doubts and fears. Afterwards, he questions himself and even his sanity as to why he does such outrageous and hairbrained stunts. He knows he shouldn’t, he tells himself to stay in control, but in the heat of battle, when lives are on the line—he will rush in, headstrong and headlong into danger. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen any other manga or anime character constantly self-examines himself like that and does so in such a manner that makes him appear as a complex and very real individual and not at all comedic.
Daigo’s adventures are thrilling pieces of superb action and high drama. In retrospect, it’s sometimes hard to believe that such situations might occur, but Soda is such a great storyteller and a master of suspense that a little hint of doubt creeps into your mind and says, “Maybe, just maybe…”
You find yourself believing it and you’re flipping the pages frantically, devouring each climatic scene and seeing Daigo save the day and afterwards, you think it’s not impossible just highly improbable. This is what great storytelling is about; suspending the audience’s disbelief.
I also found that the character development to be extremely well handled. The main characters get the chance to evolve and little bits of their history are unfolded and revealed to give greater insight to their personalities and what drives them and what haunts them as well.
The art is without a doubt, first rate. The characters are wonderfully and realistically drawn, the backgrounds are intricate and meticulous, and even minor items are surprisingly and sophisticatedly detailed. And it is like that in practically every single page and scene; the artist doesn’t skimp, doesn’t get lazy by giving it some sort of wacky or crude or simple lines. Soda is telling a story and it’s like he’s telling it by showing every single scene in glorious shots like from a camera or a video tape. There is no goofy hair-dos or clothing for the characters, Soda relies instead on making each person a unique individual with their own distinct face and you can tell who each one of these individuals are at a glance.
One of the only weaknesses to this series was the limited adaptation of the series. While the speech was translated into English, just about all of the sound effects were left in Japanese with pages of footnotes in the back of the book that you had to flip back and forth to understand sometimes what all of these characters were reacting to and the reference notes are minimalistic, using scene numbers instead of page numbers which increases the difficulty in keeping track.
Another tragedy to this series was the fact that was over so relatively quickly when I thought that there a lot more stories to be told in Daigo’s evolution as a firefighter. It feels a bit unfinished in my opinion.
Overall however, I found this to be one of the very best manga series in terms of action and drama and is not to be missed.
RATING: 4 and 1/2 STARS!!!!