Flame of Recca article published in Animerica Extra Vol. 4, No. 6, May 2001
This article was written by and is copyrighted to Patricia Duffield and may not be reproduced in part or whole without permission.
The Shonen Sunday action series Rekka no Honoo (Flame of Recca) has been hitting the tops of Japanese manga sales charts for years. After the 42-episode TV show came out in Japan, US fandom began to catch-up on what they'd been missing. Packed with plot twists, intriguing characters, and great special effects, this exciting series revitalizes the somewhat tired concepts of a hero with a hidden ancestry and people with power over the elements
Recca Hanabishi is an eccentric high school boy who's obsessed with ninja, so much so that he fancies himself one. The series begins with Recca fighting the strongest guy in school, the massive Domon. Using his ninja-like agility, a trick or two, and some small explosives, Recca trounces his opponent. At home we discover Recca's father makes fireworks for a living and is completely tolerant of Recca's ninja enthusiasm ...except when it comes to fighting with fireworks. "Gunpowder is not a toy for brats!" scolds Recca's father, for as a professional, he can smell it on Recca's clothes. The next day finds our heroine, Yanagi Sakoshita, walking through a park where she is hit on by a punk. The punk responds to her "What's a ‘daate'?" by grabbing her arm and dragging her along. Recca bursts onto the scene with a dramatic kick to the punk's head, thus rescuing the damsel in distress. Unfortunately, Recca's ‘ninja skills' can't help him deal with the punk's whole gang! While regaining consciousness, Recca has a dream of a shinobi and a princess. He wakes with his head in the lap of the girl he rescued; she looks just like the princess. They introduce themselves, and Recca is shocked when Yanagi holds his hurt hand and the wound disappears. Yanagi talks about her inexplicable power; it's the first time she's really talked to a stranger about it. Suddenly Yanagi notices a half-dead puppy and rushes to save it. Recca is so moved by her kindness that he declares she will be his ‘Hime' (princess), and he will be her shinobi. To celebrate, he takes her to ‘see something cool'. In an abandoned building, he takes out some fireworks and reveals his secret -he can control fire with his hands! Since they both share a strange power, Yanagi proposes friendship.
Throughout all this, there are several hints that Recca is being watched. As soon as he and Yanagi pledge their friendship, a mysterious woman with a knife coalesces from the shadows asking to see Recca's flame. This woman, Hoshi (long o) Kage, seems to know far too much about them and wounds Recca when he and Yanagi try to leave. When Yanagi is hurt standing up to Kage, Recca gets really mad. After a brief but impressive fight, the unruffled Kage disappears. Then things start getting really weird.
Two heroes aren't usually enough to garner an action series such a strong fan following. As the story continues, Recca meets and combats with others who have unusual elemental powers, and mystical weapons called ‘madogu' (long o) are introduced into the plot. Although the TV show is prefaced by it, eventually Recca learns that he is descended from the legendary Hokage ninja clan, and that its history and his fate are inextricably interwoven.
Currently at twenty seven volumes, Nobuyuki Anzai's story and art continue to evolve along with the characters and their unusual weapons. Although the series seems to have a tendency toward male fan service, Flame of Recca can be as enjoyable for gals as it is for guys. If lots of ninja action with supernatural flair interests you, give Flame of Recca a try.
OK, Bill, be forewarned that you may get some email about this being wrong. Why? Because the little bits at the beginning are really different between the manga and the TV show. Since the show has been fansubbed, most Recca fans are unfamiliar with the beginning of the comic.