By Dustin Cabeal
Fire Punch has been a bit of a rollercoaster. I know that’s cliché as fuck, but that is the best way to describe the giant ups and downs of the series. The first volume was amazing in what it set up and how it was executed. A character with regenerative powers being lit on fire by a man whose flames will only extinguish with death.
The second volume added characters and followed a woman that had lived before the time of ice and suffering and could also regenerate. The catch was that while she was pretending to be Agni’s friend and help him, she had lost her mind and humanity long ago and only cared about her movie.
In this volume… fuck.
It’s an incredible read. It doesn’t even need the ending that it has, but it makes it that much better because of the ending. Agni is back to being the center of the narration. It was risky having Togata the focus last volume, but it has paid off. Because of this, the reader is treated to a lot of character development. Agni’s inner thoughts reveal the personal struggle he’s dealing with. He’s honest with himself and is later challenged to be even more honest with himself. I found this personal struggle of existence utterly relatable. Who doesn’t have a moment in which they question where their life is going. Sure, for Agni it’s “do I want to keep living and being in constant pain, and oh, I don’t know, on fire.” But the idea is the same. What’s my path? What am I meant to be doing? Should I be around these people? They’re real questions that we all deal with, and at this particular moment in my life, I needed to read this volume.
That and the title is spoken out loud which was great and funny and just great at the same time. Yeah, two fucking great, but it was. The battle between Agni the God who punches fire and the fucking dude in a mech suit is fantastic. Not just because of the art or action, but because it was a fight with real consequences. A fight that while over the top, was tragic with each punch.
The artwork continues to be different from a lot of other manga. So many stories all have the same vibe as if they were all taught the same thing in school. It happens in American comics as well, but on a much more successful scale in Japan. Fire Punch doesn’t look like anything else. It looks like Japanese Manga, but not in a stereotypical way. The art style has grown on me so much. Particularly when there is fire, and the panel and details are left unfinished. It gives it a real sense of all-consuming flames. It’s not lazy by any means, but instead, just masterful artwork conveying an important element of the story. That’s not to say that there isn’t a lot of detail. There’s plenty of fine lines giving it a realistic look, but it’s a true master that knows when less is more, and that’s what Tatsuki Fujimoto displays with each passing volume of Fire Punch.
There is so much more I want to say about this volume, but it’s one of those delicate parts of the story that is better off reading than revealed. It was exciting from beginning to end. Its been a long time since a comic or manga has given me so much excitement and anxiety from beginning to end. If you’re looking for something that doesn’t feel like a well-worn manga storyline, then please look no further than Fire Punch. I mean, it’s called Fire Punch for fuck's sake.
Fire Punch vol. 3