Tuesday, January 30, 2018

REVIEW: Fire Punch Vol. 1

I often hear the term “dark” when describing anime and manga. Usually, it’s used as a deflector for something that’s actually for kids but occasionally touches upon a heavier issue, like Digimon or Power Rangers. Stories about siblings getting split up by divorce or parents kicking out their ungrateful kids aren’t “dark.” In most cases, if someone is describing something as “dark” then they’ve probably never seen something truly dark. They’ve probably never seen Fire Punch.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Fire Punch Vol. 1 courtesy of VIZ Media.
Opinions are my own.

Created by Tatsuki Fujimoto, Fire Punch is set in a futuristic world (approximately the 24th century?) where a rare group of individuals are “blessed” with superpowers. One of these Blesseds known as the Ice Witch has cursed the entire world with a harsh, endless winter. Food is scarce and settlements struggle to survive each passing day.

Agni and his little sister Luna are two Blesseds with regenerative abilities who provide meat for their village by chopping off Agni’s arms. It’s a painful system, but it keeps them alive until soldiers arrive from Behemdorg, a city that is building an army to take on the Ice Witch. When the soldiers discover the village’s cannibalistic ways, their own Blessed general, Doma, sets them all ablaze.

Doma’s special flames burn eternally until they run out of fuel. Combine that with Agni’s super-regeneration and you’ve got a living flame. Agni’s body repairs itself as it turns to ash, resulting in his body becoming engulfed in an eternal flame. Luna, whose healing powers were weaker than Agni’s, gives him one last request as she dies: live.

What follows is a truly dark tale as Agni spends years getting used to his forever burning body before traveling on a quest for vengeance against Doma. Along the way, we meet a handful of other characters who serve as our guides through the hellish world of the Ice Witch’s eternal winter. So many people get burned. So many things get cut off. The only moment of humor is a dog being referred to as a bear because animals are practically a myth. But you don’t want to know why the dog is there.

Fire Punch is truly a dark story and it more than deserves the parental advisory on its cover. It’s sick and twisted and shocks the reader with some truly gut-wrenching imagery. The stark reality that our characters find themselves in will make your stomachs turn. It’s so bizarre that it has an almost hilariously goofy title because this isn’t some satirical parody of shonen tropes. It’s one of the darkest, most messed up stories I’ve ever read.

Click here to order your copy own copy of Fire Punch Vol. 1 and pre-order Vol. 2 here.