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« TV Shows - Firestorm / An Introduction to Firestorm

Introduction

Firestorm is a Gerry Anderson TV show, produced in Japan in 2003 and televised and released on DVD only there.
The show is an action-adventure, with a premise similar to that of Captain Scarlet, Terrahawks and UFO.

Involved in the making of Firestorm, were some of the producers of Gundam SEED and Final Fantasy.
The principal hardware and vehicles in the show are rendered in CGI, while traditional cel animation is used to illustrate characters and locations.
The CGI visuals of the ships are very impressive but the traditional animation doesn't always gel with the CGI.

Storm Force Organisation

The show follows the adventures of the newest ofStorm Force's 9 divisions.
Storm Force is a secret, multi-national, government-sanctioned paramilitary organisation, much like SHADO from UFO. 
Its main occupation is fighting Black Orchid, which, at first, is thought to be a high-tech terrorist organisation.

Storm Force Hardware

Each of the 9 Storm Force teams has its own Ocean Storm carrier megasub. This partly resembles Captain Scarlet's Cloudbase with its catamaran design and asymmetrical bridge tower.

Each Ocean Storm has a Tornado transport aircraft that detaches from the top of the sub in a manner not dissimilar to that of UFO's Skydiver.
The Tornado is a Thunderbird 2 / Battlehawk (Terrahawks) cross-over that features stealth mode, supercruise and an invisibility cloak.
The Tornado normally allows the smaller craft that it carries on-board to do the fighting for it, much like Battlehawk.
However, its armaments include two forward-firing beam cannons and cruise missiles that fire from several launch tubes on either side of the aircraft, both of which are used as a measure of last resort.

The Tornado carries two really unique-looking Thunderbolt fighters that are launched from the Tornado's mid-section while the Tornado is in flight.
The Thunderbolts are under development and testing at the beginning of the series and have a launch theme similar to the the Red Alert theme from UFO.
They are armed with numerous guided missiles and at least 4 machine guns. It can be equipped with extra armour and booster components, which can be jettisoned in-flight.
The aircraft has laser desgnators for missile guidance in the tips of its canards and it features a useful auto-destruct device that can be triggered remotely.
Unusually for an aircraft, its machine guns eject their shell casings when they fire.

The Tornado also carries a fast, well-armed and very solid infantry fighting vehicle that resembles a Captain Scarlet SPV/MSV, called the Combat Cruiser.

Rounding off the list are the Sea Sharks; which are smaller attack subs that launch from Ocean Storm and double as hydrofoils.
These are unusual-looking but are sleek, extremely agile and can jump out of the water. They are armed with three cannons, mounted on a small turret on the deck.

Reaction

Personally, I found FireStorm enjoyable and easy to watch. It didn't try to be overly serious like Captain Scarlet did, or be too bizarre like Terrahawks.
The main character is a bit of a 'Mary Sue' but it doesn't affect the show. The other characters get a lot of action and all of them are likeable.
I especially like Captain McAllister; captain of the Ocean Storm. The Badass of the Series award definitely gets awarded to him.
Other favourite characters were Laura, James and Julia.

Mecha of the Series goes to the Thunderbolt for being weird and cool-looking at the same time.
It has a similar layout to the police cruiser from Space Precinct but is a lot more dangerous-looking.

Shortly after the beginning of the show, the quality of the episodes drops but picks back up again after the half-way point. The last half of the series is exciting and the ending, while convenient is pretty good.

I suspect that it was poorly received in Japan for the same reasons that X Bomber or Star Fleet was; that it was perceived there as a fairly average anime show that didn't push the envelope.
To me, it was a secret bonus Gerry Anderson show; more polished and enjoyable than much of Terrahawks.

I would encourage any Gerry Anderson fan to seek it out and check it out for themselves.

DVD Releases

The picture quality of the DVD box set is a bit muddy with 26 x 20-minute episodes packed onto 3 DVDs. That boxset, I saw once on eBay in the US, and bought for $150, plus duties. I've never seen it available anywhere since.

The show is also available as 9 individual DVD volumes. The picture on these DVDs is much is clearer. Obtaining all of them is possible over Amazon, eBay and Rinkya, but it is costly and can take some time.
I saw an auction for all 9 Firestorm DVD volumes on Rinkya and the buyout price was $560. Obtaining them individually from a supplier in Japan over eBay probably cost me around the same.
DVD Box Set DVD Volumes
Picture Quality Fuzzy Sharp
Subtitles Yes, but not well-translated No
Dialogue Japanese only

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An Introduction to Firestorm
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