I’m not going to lie, Fire Force has at times disappointed me. Not as much as it has other viewers but there were a few episodes throughout the season that had me wondering “why?”. But this is only because it regularly gives us episodes like this week.I’m going to try to play it coy and not tell you exactly what I mean right now. However if you want to (re)see the episode because of course, it looked great, that’s just one of Fire Force’s trademarks, you can do so in the from of dozens of screencaps in my episode gallery which will be up in a few hours, right HERE.
good times ahead
Because of Joker’s mysterious intervention last week, I was reminded of that big-haired guy we saw with him once. That guy was so suspicious and so built up for what amounted to maybe a minute of screen time. We even saw him getting close to the members of the 8th company, yet we haven’t heard anything from him since.
Because of that, some wild part of me thought we might revisit with this guy and find out about yet another powerful player in this intrigue. Maybe a sinister organization staying in the shadows for now, happy to see the Special Fire Forces and the Evangelists just take each other out, stepping in just in time to claim ultimate victory.
For some reason, I had a feeling that the plot could just stay in one place and continue to follow Shinra getting closer to Sho.
What Did Happen
I was right about the structure but absolutely nothing else. There was no mention of Joker let alone his big-haired friend.I have to say the flashback to the creation of the 8th company caught me by surprise. Of all the ways the story could have gone a bittersweet origin of the company itself never even occurred to me.We already knew that Hinawa had been in the army and that he and Maki met there. What we found out is that at the time Hinawa also had a friend named Tojo who died right in front of Hinawa when becoming an infernal. At the time, Obe was an actual firefighter as opposed to a fireman in the special Fire Force. An infernal incident accidentally brought the still grieving Hinawa and Obe together and when the Fire Force did not handle the situation as either man would have liked, they take matters into their own hands.It should be noted that matters in question are a fairly straight forward mercy killing. Both men enter training and some time later Obe finally creates his own company with Hinawa as the only member who quickly pulls in Maki to join them.And that’s just the first half of the episode. In the second half, company 8 if following up on suspicious infernal incidents in Asakusa, home of the 7th brigade. Their investigation therefore brings them directly to the 7th and their stoic leader Benimaru. Since an infernal incident breaks out right then and there, the members of the 7th have front row seats to see how this other company handles things.
all the fire stations look so different
What About the Characters
This week was a character-building wonderland. First, it starts off with considerably fleshing out Hinawa which I am thrilled about. This is a conflicted young man. A soldier to the core that does not believe in the church but that has had a tragic event sway his path. He seems truly driven by a need to help others the best way he can but without artifice or showy exposition. And his fondness for Maki, which has always been a nice little trait becomes downright endearing and a good representation of the character as a whole.Hinawa really appreciates and respects Maki. He looks out for her and worries about her. He also doesn’t spoil her or seems to show any preferential treatment. Because that’s the type of guy Hinawa is. He does his job, he takes care of the ones he cares about and he doesn’t need to express it or get thanks in return. That’s not what drives him. I don’t dislike characters like that, I admit.Seeing a younger and considerably more fragile Maki was also quite nice, even if it was just for a second. Turns out she’s a general’s daughter and her time in the army was marked by nepotism. That was quite unexpected. Turns out Maki is not our down to earth average girl character, she’s, in fact, a secret elite who also happens to be a singularly dedicated hard worker. I mean, there’s very little that will make me not like Maki, to begin with, but I didn’t realize I could like her more.We do see a bit of Obe’s background but there’s not much in way of new information. Obi has gotten a lot of sweet character exposition lately so we know him pretty well by now.Of course, we also got to meet the men and women of company 8. Well, we really only got to know Benimaru but we were introduced to the rest. Konro is the big guy that we saw in the previous episode. He seems to be the “voice of reason” of the group then there are two small twin girls (Hikage and Hinata). They reminded me of the twins in the second season of Hozuki’s coolheadedness or the werewolf maids in Grancrest. What I’m saying is that they’re a little weird, young and they match. Some people are really into that!Benimaru however, is shown to be a very powerful young man who acts aloof but is in fact quite compassionate and uneasy with the weight of responsibility he clearly puts on his shoulders. This is an archetype that works well for me and a lot of my favourite characters are pretty similar to this. His fierce loyalty to his “turf” and the people in it is bound to play a more important role later on
. oh sweetheart
What I Liked
I’m pretty sure you’ve picked up on it by now. I really enjoyed this episode. A Lot!
First, you start off with a character I’ve been dying to know more about and you give me just that and you combine it with an origin story not of a person but of a group. Cementing those relationships and making all future interactions that much more meaningful. I really didn’t expect such a melancholy story for Hinawa. Yes, it was tragic and even painful but there was so much hope buried in it.
The bit about Hinawa being naturally kind because he instinctively cleans up his friend’s tray at the cafeteria. That was perfect. Small and effortless but meaningful in the moment, at least to those that were there. It’s an example that spoke to me and made me understand both the character and the situation on a visceral level.
Tojo was clearly a sacrificial lamb from the start but his moment of truth and Hinawa’s failure at the time, both had a much bigger impact on me than I would have thought. They managed to create a very vivid picture of Tojo and what he meant to Hinawa in very little time. Also, Hinawa remains an impassive and stoic character. No tears or big dramatic shows yet you could really feel his pain and loss.
The entire episode was more than worth my time just for the instant that Maki hears for the first time why Hinawa had recruited her. It was just so sweet and Fire Force doesn’t usually offer up sweet.
I watched We Rent Tsukomogami not that long ago and that’s when I first learned of Edo’s fiery history and Japan’s general relationship with fires. I suggest you took it up for yourself but in short, fires were so common during the Edo period that rental shops became popular as people stopped buying anything of value since it would just eventually burn down anyways. It was more sensible to rent nice furniture or decorations only when needed. I’m going on about this because Asakusa (home of the 7th) looks like it just came out of the Edo period and Benimaru adopts a lot of the rituals and paraphernalia of the time. Considering the historical context of fire in Edo, the story takes on a grim but authentic quality that I appreciate.
What I Liked Less
Well not that much really.
I thought the divide between the first and second half of the episode was a bit jarring. There’s not much transition between the two and they felt like two different episodes to me. to be honest I would have taken more of both and could have stretched each half to be its own episode. I guess that’s a bit greedy of me.In a way what I dislike most about this episode is the sinking feeling that next week will go back to the elements I like least about Fire Force. Then again, the series did start off a lot of interesting story threads it can follow up.
that Yukata is made from impressive material
This was a great episode of Fire Force for me. It’s the most fun I’ve had with the series in a while and I wasn’t exactly disliking it up until now.
Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!
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Images from: Fire Force. Dir. Y Yase. David Production. 2019.