Firefighter! Daigo of Fire Company M made me feel a little silly
I decided this week that my New Year’s resolution was a bust. It’s been a couple of weeks since I read anything on my shelf, I wasn’t bothered by not buying new volumes of my favorite series and it felt like I had completely lost interest in manga altogether. The horror.
The focus of my reading block was falling on the shoulders of one title in particular. After going through 8 or 9 of my single volumes hanging about I thought I should start on Firefighter! Daigo of Fire Company M next. Purchased on a whim over a year ago at a convention because someone I kind of know liked it and it was also ridiculously cheap. It seemed like a safe bet.
But! I stalled on volume 1. I got the basics – 18 year old Daigo is the newest rookie at M Station. He was rescued from a fire as a boy and the heroic firefighter made enough of an impression on him that he decided he wanted to be one too. So fresh from the academy he shows up at M Station only to find that it’s a relatively quiet post. The other firefighters seem to spend a lot of time relaxing and playing games, and the captain is a pretty laid back kind of guy. Daigo is one of those overly enthusiastic types who likes to shout a lot, jump into situations without thinking things through and says “grr!” I kind of cringed through his outbursts and his incredibly low opinions of his seniors (ie the lack of fires had turned them all into cowards.)
You can see where this is going, right? It’s a common setup in manga. Daigo was setting himself up for a huge Lesson to be Learned and it came in the form of his first call to a fire. He started getting scared in the truck, then angry at the others because they’d infected him with their cowardice. That’s where I stopped reading. I figured he’d freeze in the fire or do something equally stupid and have to be rescued. Or he’d end up humiliating himself in some other way that I really didn’t want to suffer through. (I have a low tolerance for humiliation which doesn’t help.) I’ve picked this damn book up three different times recently and I wasn’t able to push myself past that point.
Today I woke up, bleary and disgruntled from the aftermath of my idiotic neighbour’s decision to have a party in a building with little or no soundproofing, with the full knowledge that his downstairs neighbour (that would be me) has very low ceilings. I figured that since I was in a bad mood from lack of sleep and feeling guilty from breaking my resolution I should just hold my nose and get through the rest of volume 1. Which I did, but only by cheating. I skipped the big fire scene.
I have no idea what happened, really, but it looks like he rescued someone in the fire. Good for him. Daigo goes on to learn that the other guys have time to play because they’re so good at their jobs and he finally starts settling in. The last part of the volume introduces his rival from the academy and there is some tension as there’s an arsonist in the neighbourhood who is keeping the local firefighting stations hopping. Daigo’s rival works at a nearby station and they occasionally get called out to the same fires. Since they’re rivals, this turns into a competition to see who can snag the best water sources for the hoses. Daigo ends up learning another valuable lesson. (He’s still very shouty, though.)
The last part of volume 1 ended up on a cliffhanger (Oh no! Recent construction has moved some of the hydrants around and they can’t find a way to fight the fire!) so of course I reached for the second right away. Volume 2 also had a pretty gripping story of Daigo coming across a car accident on his day off and he tries to help a family trapped in a car that is balanced on the edge of an overpass, a call to a fire at an abandoned building that Daigo runs into because he feels like something is off, and it ends on another cliffhanger! A diverted river is overflowing, a nearby bridge that is under construction has partly collapsed into the water and the firefighters have just learned that a kid and his would be rescuer were swept away by the current and are heading their way!
The cliffhanger endings are deadly. You just HAVE to find out what’s going to happen next.
Daigo turned out to be more interesting than I originally thought. He’s shouty, lazy and doesn’t seem to be very bright, but when he’s in a fire or other perilous situation he turns into this focused guy who takes really stupid chances based on impulse and intuition. The reactions of the characters around him help to make him more interesting because most of them seem conflicted about Daigo. He takes these stupid, crazy chances. He saves lives and gets results. But he does it by breaking all the rules, generally abandons his team while he goes off on wild tears (which is a pretty stupid thing to do in a fire) and ends up in the hospital with alarming frequency. People seem to regard him with a mixture of horror and awe.
I started reading at 11:00 in the morning and was done all 9 volumes by 3:00. It turned out to be pretty entertaining after all! So in these 9 books, Daigo:
-meets a new member of the company who seems obsessed with fire. Creepy or just really good at his job? Daigo finds out!
Volume 9 ends with Daigo in the interview stage of the Rescue Unit test and he may have just given the worst possible answer to a question! Cliffhanger!
See? Deadly. I really want to read volume 10 now.
Verdict: Firefighter! Daigo of Fire Company M ended up being a very delightful surprise. It’s just as interesting to watch the supporting characters get pulled along in Daigo’s wake, inspired and horrified at the same time as it is to follow Daigo himself. I kind of felt the same way myself.
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