By Dustin Cabeal
The first volume of Fire Punch was one of the weirdest, graphic manga I have ever read. Following Agni, a “blessed” person with the ability to regenerate, his sister and town are struck down by a holy crusade and another “blessed” named Doma. Doma’s ability is to set things on fire, and his flame won’t extinguish until it’s out of fuel. This puts Agni in a difficult position as he regenerates quickly. After years and years, he learns how to regenerate in a way that he can function and begins walking to find Doma… to kill him.
In this second volume, we pick up after he’s been captured and regrown his body to face Doma. He’s a bit too weak though, and Doma blasts him with more flames. The Behemdorg leader Judah, who looks just like Agni’s dead sister, decides that they’ll cut his head off and throw him into the ocean. Meanwhile, our newest character Togata is given the footage of Agni walking on fire. She decides she’s going to direct a movie to replace all her destroyed films and goes to track down Agni.
The story follows Togata heavily this volume. She’s also a regenerative “blessed,” but she’s lived 300 years. She remembers our society and is often confusing to people because they don’t know what she’s talking about when she says movies and acting. In a way, she’s a walking McGuffin. Anything she sets out to do alters the plot instantly. She wants to help Agni, but she needs him to be the hero of her film. While she’s a force to be reckoned with, she’s likely lost her mind long ago.
In case you were wondering what happened to Sun this volume… it's not good. It’s fucking sad and an ultimate statement of how humanity treats each other. He does find some comfort in telling people about Agni, which I’m sure will continue his lore of being a god. Sun’s aspect of the story was toned down a lot, but the seed that it plants is one that can support the larger narrative of the story.
There is a lot of strangeness in this volume. Togata makes sure of that as she adopts the girl that was with Sun in the previous volume and makes her the camera girl. There’s a lot of violence, but most of it is the aftermath. That’s the clever part of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s story. Whenever Togata says to cut, the story actually cuts. There’s even a reference to them cutting out all the walking, and that’s exactly what Fujimoto does, they flash forward to the location they’re going. At times, this is clever and funny even. It gives it this weird manga/cinema hybrid feeling. While it worked for this volume, its difficult to say if it would continue to work for long periods of storytelling.
The unfortunate part of this volume is that there is little to no character development for Agni. After being with him for the entire first volume, getting his tragic backstory and seeing him in this horrible state of constant pain, we then take a big step back from him in this volume. In a way, it’s necessary because it’s not interesting just to see him walking and trying to kill Doma. Togata is by far the most complex character of the story. She’s dangerous, reckless and utterly mad. Sometimes she seems like a carrying person, and other times it’s all about her movie and manipulating people. There is a hilarious part in which she starts teaching Agni English. I’ll leave that for you to read on your own.
The artwork is good; it’s still a bit rough and not a style that’s 100% common with manga. That’s actually why it works and is successful. There’s a lot of adult situations and maturity in the artwork. The scene with Sun, in particular, stands out because of how all the “blessed” are kept alive. The way movement is illustrated is great, Togata moves so quickly that there’s a ghost image of her left on the page. Its execution is simple but very effective. It would be great to see something like The Flash copy the concept as it gives a sense of the speed and movement on the page.
While this volume isn’t as crazy as the first volume, it continues this messed up frozen world of superpowered beings just trying to survive the apocalypse and get revenge. Fire Punch breaks the norms of manga. That’s what makes it intriguing each issue because you have no idea where the story is going to go. Even by the end of this volume, I was less confident in what would happen in the next volume. A story like this only comes along every so often and I for one, will not be missing out on it.
Fire Punch vol. 2
Viz Media/Viz Signature