Title: Fire Investigator Nanase Vol 1
Story by: Izo Hashimoto
Art by: Tomoshige Ichikawa
May Contain Spoilers
Nanase Takamine is learning the ropes as a fire investigator. She’s got an uncomfortable relationship with fire; her parents were killed in a blaze, and she unwittingly allowed a notorious arsonist to escape capture three years ago. When Firebug starts to take an unseemly interest in her, Nanase’s in for more trouble than she bargained for. Police detective Ogata thinks that she’s in cahoots with the criminal, which can’t be too healthy for her career. In addition, Firebug’s trying to teach her the intimate secrets of the flames, but his teaching methods might get her killed!
Wow, I like Nanase. She is one tough cookie, even if the sight of charred corpses almost almost causes her to swoon. That just shows that she has a heart and that she can empathize with the victims of the fires. She’s walking a dangerous path, too, with Firebug coaching her in her fire investigations. Of course that’s going to look a little suspicious – she’s the only person to ever have seen his face, and she saved his life after he set fire to a hospital three years earlier. You have to love her dedication, because when grilled about her actions, she insists that she would have done it again. She takes her job seriously, and she’s not going to let anyone die if she can help it! Even if they are wanted criminals and murderers.
The action is very intense, with fires being the backdrop for most of it. Nanase works tirelessly to solve every arson, earning the scorn of her supervisor and co-workers. While she sees a mystery behind every blaze, they just want to close the books on the case and move along to the next one. It’s her tenacity that makes her an interesting character, and her inability to just go along with everyone else because it’s convenient. People have been burned to a crisp, and she’s not going to rest until she uncovers the murderer. Ironically, it’s a murderer who urges her along, giving her clues to help her discover just who the killer really is. I love this twist to the story – it brings suspicion on her, and brings the two of them closer together. Nanase wants to bring arsonists to justice, but Firebug’s motive isn’t quite so clear cut. Gratitude? Affection? Or something much more sinister?
Because of her actions three years ago, Nanase also has a lot of guilt to deal with. After she saved Firebug, he killed some rescue workers, including a little boy’s father. Now an orphan, Shingo is sent off to an orphanage, but Nanase works tirelessly to adopt him. She is a person who accepts the consequences of her actions, and she strives to clean up the messes she has created. Even when she knows that she’s going to catch flak, she refuses to back down and take the easy way out. I loved her intensity when she was digging for clues about a fire, and how fierce she could be when having to deal with Firebug’s teaching methods. He’s not exactly my first choice for a mentor, and hope he doesn’t get Nanase killed – or thrown in jail.
Fast-paced and exciting, Fire Investigator Nanase was hard to put down. An added plus is the intriguing relationship between Nanase and Firebug. Why is he so interested in her? That question alone makes volume 2 a must buy for me.