Ever since I’ve started reviewing manga, there’s one I’ve been itching to read. Firefi–
Wait. Is this the fourth review this month? Does that mean I’ve broken the curse of twos and threes? Tesoro, Aishiteruze Baby COMPLETED!, Knockout Makers… YEAH! This is the fourth review this month! Wow, okay! Hey, how about another one, make it a nice five? But no time for that now.
“Firefighter! Daigo of Fire Company M” is a clunky and horrible manga title.
“Bro! Bro! They’re releasing the new tankobon of Firefighter! Daigo of Fire Company M!”
“Oh, you mean FDoFCM? Yeah, I’m more into Hospital Assistant! Yomi of Health Corporation W.”
My first discovery of this manga was during a little trip to North Carolina. Amazing manga selection and prices, but that was in 2010, and I’ve heard things have changed since. Anyway, I saw Daigo there, but I already had ten volumes of manga in my cart, so obviously I couldn’t just buy the one more. Obviously. For four dollars.
I tried to buy online, but the prices were steep. Finally, I bought it half a year ago at BookOff for nine bucks. The end.
Oh. Right. Um, I didn’t read it until this past Saturday because I wanted to make it taste all the sweeter when I gave into temptation. I guess temptation lasted until last week.
The plot and review. Right.
Daigo, having been saved from a fire at a young age, is inspired as a teenager to follow his passion. So he makes the grade and is transferred to Fire Company M. Thing is, there’s barely any fires in town, for various reasons. I’d list them, but really, they’re kind of… mundane. Citizens are aware of fire safety? Huh. Small town? Big deal. Preventative measures? Sheesh. And I listed them anyway. Also underwhelmed is Daigo, who can’t stand the quiet lifestyle Company M upholds. Slackers! Loafers! Daigo, of course, reads them wrong, because that’s how this sort of scenario always goes.
There are three missions in the first volume. The first is a gas leak. The second is a fire at Daigo’s old school, where his favorite teacher works. The third is a supposed arsonist setting fires in one spot, with Daigo and his rival from another company fighting over a hydrant.
See, here’s the thing. Once the pretense of the lazy firefighters is dropped, fires come out of the woodwork, maybe pun intended. Fires come out of the woodwork? Eh. So the whole “super-safe from fires town” scenario loses credibility. Granted, they address the sudden change in lifestyle. “Since you showed up, we’re busy as Hell!” Also, only the second mission is both a fire and their jurisdiction. So at least in the first volume, the scenario functions. But twenty? I wonder when more fires take place in town.
Let’s talk characters. There are four. Daigo isn’t boring. High praise? Yes. He has impure intentions for becoming a firefighter, which is glory, but he won’t admit that. Honestly, considering that he’s both a rookie and fresh out of the academy, this is a magnificent trait. So what, it turns out that he has the skills of a smoke-smashing savant, right? No! He chokes up in his first two missions, literally and figuratively!
He stumbles, fumbles, mumbles and grumbles. But he’s great at accidentally saving people. And it does align, as that’s what made him want to become a firefighter to begin with. You know, being saved by a firefighter. And with his constant screw-ups and near-deaths, I bet he goes on to be saved by firefighters for a long, long time.
There are three more characters. I mean, according to Wikipedia. I guess they also only read the first volume. Captain Gomi is short and laid-back, and the only firefighter in Company M to be notable or have individual characteristics. And Daigo hates him!
“You’re nothing like the kind of firefighter I believe in! My firefighter, the one who saved my live as a boy, was warm and gentle, laid-back and roughly your height, with similar facial features and a slightly higher voice! Why can’t you be just like him, fascist?”
Then there’s Daigo’s teacher, Ms. Ochiai.
And finally, Daigo’s rival from another company, Shiro. He’s cool, suave, and looks dirty and handsomely rugged in that way only a firefighter in glasses could pull off. He and Daigo fight over the hydrant, which was an actual thing in New York. Thug groups would fight one another instead of the fires, with thousands of buildings burning to the ground.
You hear that, Daigo? Despite trying to appease your attractive teacher by escaping the rough exterior shell that only defines you to others as the nothing more than a callous thug, using your childhood ambitions to emulate a man whose occupation not only saved your life but gave you a driven purpose, you’re still a thug.
I have a little soapbox. I found it in the hay. And when my thoughts are ready, I’ll rant and rave all day.
Okay. You really don’t see that many firefighters as the stars in media. Television? Name a show starring a firefighter. Now name twice as many cop or doctor shows.
Video games? You know, I can’t name a firefighter game, but name a cop game either. Doctor is easy. Doctor Mario. That Wii game people like, Surgery something. And hey, the Pokemon anime has Officer Jenny and Nurse Joy, but like, one firefighter.
Movies? There must be, but all that pops in my head is a bajillion Police Academy films and one about a dinosaur cop. I can’t think of any doctor films, at least about licensed doctors.
Bottom line, I think it’s a shame. We need health and law, but no one thinks about firefighters unless they’re being carried by one. Not to say that I think my only connection to firefighting media being Daigo is an issue; I like it. I love it, in fact, and the fact that Viz was once able to release a 20-volume series without giving up at any point is impressive.
It’s just… I want more. I expect more. More firefighting, since it’s pretty untapped in the media. That is, on a public-conscious level. The only film title of 66 on Wikipedia’s “Firefighting film” page I recognized was “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” and that’s disappointing. I didn’t see the film, so I can’t say if it disappointed me as well.
The only other manga about… I guess fire investigation is close to fighting, maybe? Fire Investigator Nanase. It’s just a detective story with a pretense of fire. I mean, compelling, keeps me guessing, enjoyed it. But for action, I only know Daigo.
If you can get Firefighter! Daigo of Fire Company M, bring at least a twenty. It’s both fun and dramatic, the action is amazing, the lead is surprisingly engaging at times, unsurprisingly engaging at other times, and it doesn’t waste time.
It does have some predictable story elements and I’m a bit incredulous that a town with a minuscule fire record would need Company M’s sizable amount of firefighters on hand, but those can be easily overlooked. If you have got the inclination, give it a go.