Fire Punch is a series with a wickedly good premise, but one that has some unnerving elements that might put off a general audience. It’s a series I really liked at first, but its slow and crushingly depressing narrative wore me out. The eighth and final volume wraps things up however, so if you’re like me and want some closure it’s time to get back into the series. Part of the Viz Signature series, volume 8 is in a slightly larger premiere format, which suits the ambitious final chapters.
The first two-thirds of this book has a Terminator vibe as Agni, or whowever is controlling him, pushes forward burning through adversaries who dare stand in his path. It’s an impressive show of violence, and Tatsuki Fujimoto does a great job playing with light to make the haunting burning faces of Agni’s enemies fall to pieces. The silent killer is seeking out Judah to end his pain and suffering. You can almost hear the droning music that’d play to the movie adaptation of this and the violent action is a spectacle. It’s a suitable release for this finale as the violence, and hopelessness runs deep with this finale.
Much of the last portion of the book is an example of mob mentality on full display. Judah has made the public believe Agni is a god to be worshipped, but we quickly see that’s a lie. People die in flames and Judah also finds out the hard way the little movie he was making was all for not. Agni is no hero. He is simply a man in great pain and wants it to stop.
The last quarter of this book ends up feeling like an epilogue and conclusion all in one. Agni gets some peace and the narrative shifts away to a happy ending, a sad ending, a crushingly depressing ending, and finally a satisfying love story. Fujimoto makes a point about the hopelessness of humanity and our seemingly deep desire to destroy ourselves rather well. That theme has run strong throughout the series and it continues to do so here.
It’s not until the final few pages that the narrative takes a wild swing. The series has always had sci-fi sensibilities about it, but in these final pages, it goes full space opera in its approach. Fujimoto shows us Earth millions of years into the future, checks in, and pushes even further still. The concept of Earth eventually dying out no matter what is expressed visually and narratively, which may put you into a depression, although it is a contemplative sort of ending. I won’t spoil a thing, but Agni finds another kind of peace. Oh, and my frustrations with the movie being made do have some purpose although not as satisfying of a purpose as one might have been lead to believe.
While the art is quite clever in how it depicts fire in black and white there are pages that feel unfinished and can be confusing. Faces are practically rendered with a few slaps of ink and the panel layout can be confused and strange. Maybe this is on purpose to further put you in a depressing mood, but it took me out of the book entirely.
Overall the ending is fitting in the somberness of its of characters bonding. The last few pages seem to take things in an entirely different direction that throws off how you might feel about the series’ true purpose, but it’s a clever idea at work either way. A large chunk of this book is senseless violence and while it’s rendered well it loses its point and may tire you out. All that said, it’s an interesting ending that should have you thinking and sharing with friends to get their take.
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