Getting drawn into a post-apocalyptic world and feeling engaged with the Fire Force world.
On the surface the idea of a world of flame or a world of ash is a hard world to swallow. It’s a hard idea to conceptualize, even growing up in and living in Southern California that is notorious for its yearly brush fires. Sure there are brush fires every year, days you could be breathing literal ash, but in the end you know that your community will largely be OK and that you have very good odds of surviving these tragic events. To imagine or realize a world that has been completely burned to ash is difficult because it’s not a world that humanity is meant to survive in. Even in the Avatar: The Last Airbender the Fire Lord is was only going to burn down half of the world. That action, if looked through the right lens, appears generous in comparison to the entire world destroyed by flames.
Granted there are the technical questions you could ask such as: how does this world feed itself? How does this world protect itself? Is the world around Tokyo all ash? Or has that world grown in the aftermath of the tragedy? Is there a wall like Attack on Titan keeping the flames out? These are answers we don’t find out more about, and at some level to enjoy any fiction or fantasy you have to suspend disbelief. If you don’t you can absolutely bog your mind down to the point you no longer enjoy the escape. I certainly would like to know, but the details aren’t as critical to enjoying the show.
The important thing to know about the surviving world is it encompasses Tokyo as far as is known or has been revealed in the anime. That surviving world lives and thrives because of the energy generated by the Amaterasu (fun fact the name of the power plant is also the name of a Shinto Sun Goddess). The Amaterasu, a power plant, is powered by the sacred flame brought back to Tokyo by the first emperor Raffles I. Raffles I also founded the Holy Sol Temple faith.
Most characters seem attached directly or indirectly to the Holy Sol Temple faith. Iris, of Special Fire Force Company 8, is a nun of the Holy Sol Temple faith. I thought it was an interesting world building element of the world having a faith based on pseudo-Christian faith. The structure reminded me strongly of the Catholic faith. The stone architecture of some of the Special Fire Force buildings looked much like a Cathedral. They also had nuns and seemingly priests as well. It was a faith based on order and the structure of the world. They constantly used a holy word, latom, over and over again. That reminded me most of the Christain amen, given at the end of prayer. The Holy Sol Temple was the highest religion. Their worship of the flame gave structure to a world born out of chaos. There were definitely other creative options available for the world, but I feel like it has the best narrative fit considering the protagonist Shinra is constantly being called out for being a demon. It’s not until later that we learn that there is an attachment to flames in the Fire Force world and the flames of hell. Despite the religion missing some of the core elements of Christianity, primarily Christ for those of a Christian persuasion, the Holy Sol Temple had some Christian elements to it therefore earning the label of a pseudo-Christain faith.
Fire Force also showed the dark side of the faith, the followers of the Evangelist. They represent chaos and want to ultimately return the entire world to the flame that brought on the apocalypse. The destruction element of the Holy Sol Temple faith was evident in the Evangelist and his followers. His followers wore what appears to be Crusader’s tunics. Even though the followers of the Evangelist have a notion of faith, they twist the religion to suit their own means. Faith justifies the ends to a means. The Evangelist and his ilk just want to watch the world burn. They have knowledge of a primordial world, and seek to return the world to its true state of chaos. They bring literal chaos and death into the world. The religious interplay of the Holy Sol Temple and the Evangelist make for an interesting dynamic in the Fire Force world. The interplay isn’t the only interesting thing about the world.
Another really well thought out element of Fire Force was including a group of people known as the Proto-Nationalists. The Proto-Nationalists clung to the beliefs of what appears to be Japanese culture before the apocalypse and represent those preserving the old way of life. Their homes look like homes out of Kyoto, and their part of the city looks more ancient than modern. They don’t necessarily respect the Holy Sol Temple, but are peaceful with their neighbors. I like the fact that this faction was included. It does a good job of contrasting modernity, in this case the Holy Sol Temple, and the traditional ways of Japan. While the world may be moving ever forward in modernity there is a group of people committed to remembering their history and preserving their own culture.
I loved the way that the narrative was woven with all these fun pieces and facts of world building. It gives me a lot more to discover and explore, even in a narrative that is already compelling. Then again as someone who loves Isekai and science fiction it doesn’t surprise me that I would love anything with great world building. For me it enhances the experience I have with Fire Force and the enjoyment I ultimately derive. None of the world building shames a way of life, rather it explores and enhances whatever way of life it is touching on. The anime approaches its world rather non-judgmentally and doesn’t preach about what way of life it best. It allows the viewer to explore the Fire Force world and see the outcomes of each way of life. The viewer gets to decide what is best, or if none of them are best. While there is plenty of room to argue for one correct way of life in comparison to another, Fire Force does a good job of being impartial and letting the characters decide for themselves what is best for them. Impartiality is what makes Fire Force’s world building phenomenal.
Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts? I want to know!
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