Fire Force Episode 4 – Downpour

Fire Force has been on my mind a lot this week. There were all the grumblings about censorship which got me a-thinking and a-bothering Karandi about it as well. I nagged her into doing a post with me so I hope you look forward to it!

I also saw Promare which was amazing – I hope to get a review out soonish – and shared more than a few elements with Fire Force. And then the ongoing divided views on the use of fanservice in the show has kept it topical.

But even without the constant reminders, I was looking forward to this week’s Fire Force. Despite my own misgivings about certain elements, for me, the good outweighs the bad by far and I am always happy for a new episode. Well, I was, am I still happy this week??? Suspense! Find out by reading this post…

What I am still doing is taking a ton of screencaps. It’s no secret that I am a complete fangirl of these visuals and could probably find a way to praise the plain white text eye-catch – so classic! You should come to see my gallery here. It’s so pretty!

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hum

What I Thought Would Happen

I thought that company 8 would investigate the exploding powder and for some reason cat girl would interfere or join… There would be an intense staredown between the two chiefs. Maybe someone would say “I’m getting too old for this sh*t”
I also thought we would be introduced to a new company, with their own agenda and it would be unclear whether they are to be trusted or not.
I was a little afraid there would be a repeat of the groping scene.

What Did Happen

Well, that but also not that at all. Yes, company 8 is investigating the powder but not Shinra. He’s a rookie and more or less on neighbourhood watch duty. The action revs up when we learn of a Fireman gone insane who ended up snapping and killing 4 people. However, he gets acquitted for political reasons but ends up turning into an infernal anyways. When company 8 goes to stop him, Shinra has to take the lead.

And we do get introduced to a new company (company 5), but there is no effort to make them ambiguous. They are not to be trusted and it’s clear from the get-go.

The episode is essentially world-building exposition sprinkled through a series of high action fight scenes. And it was really fun!

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Arthur and Shinra have finally found their match – children

What About the Characters

We don’t learn much about company 5 beyond shock value first impressions but that’s clearly on purpose. We continue to mostly focus on Shinra, who is growing slowly in complexity. He is in many ways a standard shonen protagonist but the show frames him constantly as a threatening and demonic figure. He is also much less naive then one could think. He works surprisingly well with Arthur when he needs to but can be still be goaded into mistakes like a kid. In some ways, he reminds me of Gon. That’s a frightening thought.

 

I really enjoyed Maki this week, as I do pretty much every week! As soon as they gave her an actual personality she became one of my favourites. Her odd-couple friendship with Hinawa is great as well and led to one of my favourite moments. The subtle fist bump between the two!
As much as I enjoy huge casts of wacky characters. I truly hope they take the time to develop the members of company 8 and their relationships. they have made for some very touching moments so far which contrast well with the tense storyline. I think it will be even more important going forward.
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this image has been grabbed by everyone and it isn’t a coincidence

What I Liked

The show continues to be eye crack. I couldn’t stop staring at Hibana and honestly, the entire episode was mesmerizing. The sudden downpour and abrupt stop thereof to accompany Shinra’s character turn and her intervention was such a great touch. It washed out the colours, added some subtle sound design which changed the way we took in the action. Really good production!I’m going to talk about it more in the gallery.

The little clues we are getting about a wide-ranging political conspiracy are starting to hint at something big and exciting. The idea that Fire Fighters are protected from the law because of their significance to society is interesting. We have gotten many clues that seem to indicate that Fire Force is, in fact, taking place in a dystopia and it seems the narrative isn’t just using it for flavour. They are slowly building up to something big and I for one can’t wait to see where it goes.

Arthur is strong! It’s a weird thing to like about the show, right? But he really is. And so is Maki. What I mean is that the series could have starred any of them and still been great. Shinra is not the best or only hero and I think that makes for a more interesting cast.

The advent of a different infernal raises a lot of fascinating if very difficult questions. The firefighters already knew that they were essentially killing people but it’s one thing when the “person” is an aimless ball of fire with no apparent consciousness. It’s a very different proposition when that infernal can still think, communicate and obviously feel. When they can control their fire. At that point, the only real difference between them and Firefighters is their appearance. Well, don’t we have a nice deep moral quandary here. And the implications for the past… Now, what happens if they find a way to “cure” infernals?

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I love how the mascots have been used in this episode

What I Liked Less

I said I couldn’t stop staring at Hibana and that was true. I really liked her design. But it’s also very stupid considering she’s supposed to be as acting front line fire chief. And the entire S&M shtick fell flat for me. The thing is, I might have actually liked her character and the entire gimmick. It can be funny and I’ve seen the same trope used successfully before. It»’s not out of place in a show like Fire Force. But because the series has already managed to objectify every single female character in a mere 4 episodes, I’m a bit on the defensive. I have trouble seeing this as some cheeky little fun when the camera lingered so long on involuntary groping just a week ago. Had this been the first fanservice we had seen, I would have enjoyed it, I think.

I worry that we are getting too many potential antagonists and we won’t get the chance to set them up properly. I know we have 24 episodes so a bigger cast can be developed but we now have 2 entire rival companies and two related but potentially independent villains. Plus all the heroes and supporting cast. It’s a lot. Mind you, if they pull it off, it will be amazing!

Closing Thoughts

Fire Force is an extremely well-made show on every level and that makes a huge difference. It’s a little early to tell if the plot will manage to bring all the elements together properly, but there’s no real reason to think it won’t.

Mood: Can’t wait for next Friday

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Want more Fire Force reviews from Irina?

Images from: Fire Force. Dir. Y Yase. David Production. 2019.

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9 thoughts on “Fire Force Episode 4 – Downpour

  1. The problem they’re foregrounding, that those are people (echoes from Dad who controled himself), is interesting in light of developments here. Hibana’s group wants to experiment on him, and our main group wants to put him down – and both those approaches have things going for them, but are also morally dubious (should you experiment on people, even if they’re psychos? should the executive have powers of judgement?) They’re probably going to mine this mostly for its emotional beats, though, so I’m not going to expect too much worldbuilding here.

    In a context like this, a multi-character approach can work, because they’re all dancing around the same theme in variations and it’s easy for them to be foil for each other. What gets in the way of this, though, is the main-characters-are-sympathetic approach.

    The problem with Hibana’s SM stick is that it’s so exactly on the cliché line that you have to like this sort of thing for it to work. It didn’t work on me. Other than that, though, I liked her.

    I’m having fun with this show – good upper mid-tier show, so far.

    1. I haven’t yet given up on world building potential. The story has been more stoic than I expected it to be. However I think we are going to see a clash of church and state at some point instead of an exploration of human rights. I guess we’ll see

  2. I have a little bit of concern about the growing cast too. There is such a thing as adding too many characters, but eh, so far it’s all been great, and I’m still highly enjoying this one so there is that. As for Company 5, well I still think there might be more to them that we’ve seen so far. But that’s exactly what the show has been doing: casting doubts, and leaving us to wonder who is to be trusted or not😊

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