Quite self explanatory, don’t you think? Not because I have seen season 1, nor because I make the assumption that you have. Just look at the title: Fire Force. It’s a no brainer. It’s a shounen show, it has to do with fire fighters. Hell, they’re wearing fire proof suits. Now, in case you’re unfamiliar, I don’t think I could explain in just a few words what’s the part of a nun there, so I’ll pick the easy way out and skip right ahead… In the end, this article is all about the music.
The Opening Theme. A husky voice. “SPARK-AGAIN” by Aimer
“SPARK-AGAIN” is the third OP of Fire Force and… you can tell with your eyes closed. All OPs follow the usual natural ‘evolution’ of mainstream shounen anime: the first one overemphasizes on the setting, the second is all about the action, the third highlights the development of the story and the fact that it’s shounen… That’s why you may be reminded of MHA. Yes, it’s the guitars; it’s this modern shounen kind of deal that’s at play. What I’ve gathered from the music is that action aside (that’s the obligatory dynamic last 30 seconds), there is this sense of moving forward, colored with some more ‘sentimental’ vibes. Perhaps, it suggests that we’ll finally see some more backstory (?). Haven’t read the manga, hence the question mark. My point is that shounen elements aside, OP3 has this ‘je ne sais quoi’ artistic vibe to it that sources from Aimer’s voice. So, although the sound of Fire Force has become more standardized and a bit weaker when compared to its predecessors -this is the common practice anyway-, it still manages to hold one of the top spots in this season’s best OPs lists.
Now, allow me to explain the subtitle for a second. The reason I chose the word ‘husky’ is because that’s how Aimer’s voice is being described as. It’s this whispering quality that’s usually linked with passion. Technically speaking, it’s the air that passes through the glottis, until the vocal folds come close enough to produce a sound. Gibberish? No, not really. It’s actually very meaningful and to me unsettling at times. This husky quality usually comes from overworking, mistreating, mishandling the voice and pushing it to its limits. Or, it could just be plainly deliberate. In case the problem remains as is, it often -if not always- becomes a health issue. My point being that every time I hear someone pushing themselves to reach high notes, or trying to produce a tone but instead manages to produce nothing but a whisper, I tend to stress my larynx. It’s something like a reflex that I just can’t control. I feel bothered, not because I want to hear the right note but because I am afraid of the impact this practice has on the artist’s voice in the long term.
Back to Fire Force, then. I feel that Aimer is the appropriate artist for this season’s OP. This tie-up goes hand in hand with the anisong norm yet still manages to maintain the character of the singer’s sound. In the end, this is what makes it stand out.
OST. by Suehiro Kenichirou
Suehiro Kenichirou is one of the composers I have come to appreciate. Not only because of Re:Zero. He composed the soundtracks of Darwin’s Game (which had some ambiguous opinions online; I thought it worked out well), Goblin Slayer (although not the best adaptation, the music added to its production value) and Miira no Kaikata (with a playfully light supernatural slice of life themed soundtrack). However, in my book, Fire Force is one of his best works. We have a soundtrack with a good spectrum of emotions, themes and styles and quite a lot of characteristic tracks. “Heat-Up”, “Bright Red”, “Fire Force – Main Theme” are some of the tracks that stand out. But the tracks themselves are not the only factor of a good soundtrack; the director’s choice depending on the scene is yet another element that strengthens the impact of the score. And that’s not all. Let’s not forget about the sound effects and the sound mixing. An above par soundtrack can be ruined when combined with sketchy and weird sound effects. A good example of poor SFX that hurt the OST is Sword Art Online but that’s a totally different topic. Quality work was put into the soundtrack, the SFX and the sound mixing of Fire Force. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.
The Ending Theme. Sweet and playful. “ID” by CIDER GIRL
- OP that abides by the ‘evolution’ of anime OPs but still manages to stand above the rest.
- Good OST that covers a lot of settings, characters and themes.
- Playful ED.