Alternative Name Recca no Honoo; 烈火の炎
Written by Nobuyuki Ansai
Original Run 1995 – 2002 (33 volumes completed)
Directed by Noriyuki Abe
Producer Studio Pierrot
Original Run July 19, 1997 – July 10, 1998 (42 episodes finished)
Genre Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Martial Arts, Romance, Shounen.
Sixteen year old Recca Hanabishi is obsessed with ninja and claims to be one himself, bringing him to street fights wherein he swears to become a ninja to the opponent he loses. His life begins to alter as he learns about his status as a 7th generation leader of the Hokage clan from 400 years ago, making him bear responsibilities to protect Yanagi Sakoshita, a girl of healing, at all costs and to prevent Mori Koran from gaining eternal power through Tendou Jigouku and Yanagi’s healing powers.
There is more to this anime/manga than the words can describe. A few reasons may not be enough to prove Flame of Recca has been a part of me, providing that it marked my childhood. I remember climbing up the stairs every night to catch it up on television, while my entire family was downstairs watching the news followed by a soap opera. I watched the anime again few months back, got addicted to it as I once were and eventually read the manga, which was just as memorable.
My perspectives towards the anime have changed. I am no longer a preteen who would enjoy a television series in presence of action, adventure, thrills, comedy and romance without minding what the story was about. I am fully grown enough to know that these are not enough to make a series worth-appreciating, considering that an interesting and well-crafted story line, moral, psychological and philosophical implications, an outstanding art and animation, and characters with interesting personalities and life stories add to my appreciation towards a certain anime and manga. I have indeed found flaws while watching Flame of Recca the second time as an adult, as much as I have found factors that could qualify it as a good anime. The following are the aspects I have liked and disliked in the known series.
WHAT I SMILE AT
1) Overall enjoyment and impact.
Nobuyaki never failed to move the audience with action, adventure, thrills, emotions, comedy and romance as intended, not making one to skip a episode.
2) The interesting and well-crafted plot concept.
The ninja adventure story has already captivated masses of audience, making them devour more of the animanga.
3) The anime/manga at a right pace – It is neither too fast, nor too slow and dragging.
4) Characters with unique and interesting identities – which either makes them loved or hated.
Besides, there are lots of interesting couples in the animanga, be it real or fan made (e.g. Raiha xx Neon, which is entirely more of a made-up couple).
5) How the manga (at least) is not solely based on Recca’s life but on the others’ as well.
For instance, it even featured how Fuuko was bullied back in elementary school and had no friends other than her long time rival Recca and how Yanagi, a long-time loner, found her passion in creating comic books and wanted to be a children’s book author.
6) The presence of moral values and implications – self-dedication, hard work, friendship, teamwork, camaraderie, love and sacrifice, fight against evil, human relationships and morale over evil ambitions and greed.
One interesting implication is the presence of religious connotations, wherein immortality is viewed negatively, providing how it implies the ability of humans to have Godly powers (in Christianity, it is already a sin to God to attempt having the equal amount of power as him) and making the most use of them to do evil deeds (e.g. slaughtering the human population, destruction of the whole world..). Meanwhile, Recca and the team Hokage are similar to Jesus Christ in some way (if you’re a Catholic, then you’ll get my point), having the power to turn an evil person to good (though it only takes them a few snaps to do so, which is totally unrealistic).
7) The catchy opening and ending themes.
8) The manga that includes the overall complete version of the story and involves lots of calm moments in between the fights, making the team Hokage’s adventures more realistic.
9) The fact that it took Recca time to be a powerful flame wielder and gain trust from the dragons – Now that’s what makes the animanga more realistic.
10) It took the other characters some time to be that powerful. In the manga at least.
11) The presence of basic elements (fire, spirit/soul, metal, earth, wind, ice/water…) and how the characters is associated with each in terms of powers (Recca + Kurei – fire; Yanagi – spirit/soul; Kaoru Koganei – metal..).
12) The presence of historical elements and references.
13) Yanagi Sakoshita!!
My favorite character in the series. It’s outstanding to see how she evolved as a person (esp. in the manga), going from ‘damsel in distress’ to an ultimate heroine. Besides, I love how she improved her personality as a whole. She began as a shy, fragile and submissive type who cannot express her feelings easily, then gradually became strong in spirit as the story progresses.
Another aspect I like about her is we can totally relate to one another – being a shy, quiet, yet a sweet and kindhearted person myself. We almost have the same passions in life including books, drawing (though hers are not so much of a masterpiece and I never dreamed of becoming a children’s comic author) and working with little children.
14) The fact that the flames have their own shapes (e.g. dragon and phoenix).
In other anime/manga, the flames used by wielders (e.g. Natsu, Ace..) are only limited to shape of fire.
15) The fact that the flame dragons were once human (ones who, having failed their mission, carry such burden in their hearts till death). This can never be found in any animanga.
WHAT I FROWN AT
1) Shallow plot details.
I would expect a deeper and more intelligent reason for Recca to become infuriated with Kurei aside from Yanagi’s kidnapping and learning how his older brother has always hated him and wanted to become the flame master of the 7th Hokage generation. Similarly, I would expect that Recca and his friends would win the battles for their own efforts, rather than being helped by the other teams or confronting an enemy who would give up very easily.
2) Lack of coherence.
The high school setting in the anime/manga resembles more of a middle school (it’s even more similar to elementary school if I underestimate way too much), with students venerating Recca for challenging them in his ‘ninja’ fights (in real high schools, people like Recca are generally made fun of) and a claimed sixteen year old who is still that obsessed with outdated creatures (I mean isn’t it a bit old for a sixteen year old to be that obsessed with ninjas and superheroes?). Besides Recca’s adventure is more typical among middle school aged characters (e.g. Naruto, Yosuke from Yu Yu Hakusho) than of high school’s. Either the characters age should be lowered to around 10-15 years old, or the author creates ninja adventure plot concept that is 16-17 year old like (e.g. adventures similar to Kagome’s in Inuyasha, or Miaka’s/Yui’s in Fushigi Yuugi).
Similarly, the Death Match tournament (Ura Bouto Satsujin) is not what we call a Death Match. Looks more like a martial arts wrestling fight to me. And if Recca was the actual cursed child, how come he’s had flame dragons in his body from the very beginning (even before they can recognize him as their true master)? And how can Kurei still perform ‘Jinjutsu’ (the forbidden time travel technique in Hokage era) after the destruction of the Hokage?
3) Lack of originality.
Take note of Naruto that has similar plot or Natsu from Fairy Tail who has the same flame powers as Recca’s and Kurei’s. And Gray has more or less the same ice powers as Mikagami.
4) Excessive character recycling.
Seeing all Ura Butou Satsujin participants in SODOM Battle Arc (next to last battle in the manga series) might be fun but is considered unnecessary. I can understand why Kurei and his team Uruha Hokage attempts to fight but what’s the purpose of the other teams in fighting still?
5) Anime for having an incomplete storyline and an abrupt ending.
6) The idea of having enemies as allies (more frequent in Flame of Recca). Especially when it’s done too quick.
7) The SODOM Battle Arc that looks kinda video game-ish, spy kid related and sci-fi ish, in contrast with what the ninja adventure is supposed to be like.
8) The final Tendou Jigouku fight wherein the trio (Tendou Jigouku + Kaima + Mori Koran) are easily defeated by Yanagi’s flame throwing.
Another scene proving how shallow the manga (not featured in the anime) is.
WHAT COMES IN BETWEEN
1) The art and animation.
It has improved as the series (at least, the manga) progresses.
2) The fights.
They may not be that intense and challenging but I appreciate how emotions and sometimes, life lectures, are poured into the fights. And besides, I love seeing Yanagi in flame spirit. She looks like an angel (just a matter of personal preference).
Yes, Flame of Recca indeed has flaws pertaining to the storyline details. It would have had a rating of 10/10 (5/5 stars) if such details were deeper, more coherent and realistic due to the overall impact and enjoyment it brought to the audience. It is an anime/manga (although more like anime since I knew Flame of Recca first as an anime) that gave me stronger impact since childhood, proving that its petty flaws will not simply make me turn my back against it. There are other factors that still make the anime/manga more appreciable, outweighing all the flaws it contains.
My heart for Flame of Recca will always burn in fire. Yes indeed! (^o^)
“Listen [Recca-kun], I’m very happy you’ve always protected me. But now it’s different. Now we fight together.” – Yanagi Sakoshita (Flame of Recca, volume 33, chapter 325)
Overall Rating 4.25/5 stars (8.5/10)