Before Chainsaw Man, Tatsuki Fujimoto wrote Fire Punch, a dark fantasy manga that was originally published between 2016 and 2018 before being collected into 8 volumes. The story is set a few hundred years in the future where people have developed powers, and become known as ‘blessed’. The Ice Witch, one of the blessed, freezes over the whole world which causes starvation and death. Agni and his sister have the power of regeneration, and every day Agni cuts off his own arm so that his village has food to eat, knowing that seconds later he will grow a new one. The village is attacked by a group of soldiers, lead by another blessed, called Doma and everything is burnt down. Doma’s blessing is that his fire will never stop until it has killed what it touches. The fire meets Agni and for years it burns him, only for his body to regenerate until he’s able to withstand the pain and stand up to hunt down Doma for revenge.
The absolute first thing that you’ll notice about Fire Punch is that it’s an incredibly dark and bleak story. Fujimoto is not afraid to take things to the extreme and the first volume is constantly going for the darkest version of the story it can. It starts with a brief description of what blessings are, and it almost tricks you into thinking this will be a fairly standard Shonen story, but it doesn’t take long for it to kic off properly. The village that Agni lives in is slowly dying, with people resorting to cannibalism just to survive, but even then some of the residents refuse to eat Agni’s arms and die of starvation. There are definitely a few points in the story where it feels like things happen just for the shock value and trying to be edgy, which comes across as a little juvenile, but the central story is set up really well in this volume. It’s definitely not something I would recommend to everyone, as it’s gets quite sadistic at points. It’s not overly graphic, but it’s still messed up.
Immediately this is the kind of story that has you hooked and you just want to know what’s going to happen next. The world in the story is also really interesting and it feels very fleshed out straight away, even though you only get to see a little bit of it. The first volume leaves so many questions about what’s going on and who The Ice Witch is. Agni is a bit of a flat character in this volume. He’s a standard protagonist, a good guy who sacrifices himself at every turn and then when everything is taken from him, he becomes motivated purely by revenge but he still can’t turn his back on those in need. All in all, it’s a good opening to the series and the story is gripping enough to entice you to read volume two.
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