I know from the comments that Karandi had somewhat lost interest in Fire Force a while ago and I’m not sure if she dropped it all together by now. But as we have generally different tastes, I am still enjoying the series.
I guess one of the advantages of having multiple writers is exactly this, you get to still cover a variety of seasonal shows but you don’t have to watch stuff you’re not enjoying. Unless it’s a collab of course.
What I Thought Would Happen
I thought we were setting off on a company of the week tour. I figured we would meet another unit of eccentric firefighters with their own powerful and mildly ominous chief, then another and another. So on for the next few weeks until we’ve built up an impressive array of potential antagonists and maybe an unexpected ally here and there. And then, in 6 or so episodes, we could start confronting each one by one, it got progressively harder every time.
You recognise that narrative structure? It’s every shonen ever. I thought we were going to be every action shonen ever with fire fighting units instead of monsters. That was an odd sentence to write.
What Did Happen
It seems Fire Force has decided to stick to one villain at the time. First, we got a bit of humanising backstory between Sister Iris and Hibana. Or should I say sister Hibana. I guess that explains Iris’ pained expression last week. These two grew up together and seemed to be friends.
This short flashback brought up so many questions. What happened to Hibana of course, but also why were small children all dressed as nuns? And so many of them. What exactly is the church’s role in this society?
Longing for a peaceful resolution, Iris visits Hibana personally. The latter has been experimenting on Infernals and selling the information on the black market for a hefty profit. We didn’t find out who is buying but that’s another good lead to follow. Hibana however, is heavily disillusioned with the system and beyond the reach of Iris’ words so she instead decides to take her former friend hostage in order to lure company 8 to them. I’m not clear why.
This works like gangbusters mind you and why before anyone would have noticed that Iris is captured, the entire company minus the chief is there for the rescue. A lot of visually impressive fighting happens and we understanding that Shinra is, in fact, average to weak when compared to his unit.
What About the Characters
Surprisingly, even though the episode seems to be 95% action sequences, we got some nice little development tidbits throughout. Iris is still a naive and innocent breath of fresh air and we know that she’s been that way from childhood, while Hibana changed drastically and we don’t know why.
Shinra continues to be identified as a demon and the word comes up more and more as the episodes progress. The young man, however, was shown to be not only caring but also extremely observant and empathic. Qualities that are not apparent at first glance and unusual in his archetype. An early scene has Shinra catch a glimpse of a scantily dressed Iris thinking back to her youth with a wistful face. He immediately looks away and lets her get dressed but he waits around to ask her if she’s ok. No leering at her chest, blushing or acting like an idiot. He only cared about the fact that she looked sad. It was a sweet scene that showed a lot of maturity. Or maybe I’m watching too many harems lately…
I’m loving Maki, and I love her dynamic with other people. She seems to bring out the best in everyone. Her friendships with both Sister and Glasses make both these characters more endearing, while her mentoring role towards Arthur and Shinra has been great for laughs.
Lastly, and maybe this is just because I’m a little slow, but I finally realized that Arthur is just a huge chuuni. A confused Arthurian legends chuuni but one nonetheless. And he really is an idiot which is odd because they don’t present him with any of the usual tropes of idiot characters. He’s an interesting case.
What I Liked
Fire Force gets a bit of a bad rap because of its fanservice. It’s the one element that viewers regularly criticize (myself included) although I know some have championed it as well. For me, of the 5 episodes so far, only two had an instance of fanservice that actually annoyed me. And this week, I’m happy to say the fanservice (which was present) was not the most gratuitous or distracting of the week. Or even of the night. Small victories folks!
The fact that they managed to bring out so much of the characters in an episode that was so action-heavy was great and probably what I’m liking most about this show. And the characters themselves just get more enjoyable with each new thing we learn about them.
Hibana didn’t just go bad, she lost her faith. It’s clear. She mentions how the church is nothing more than window dressing for the firefighters. Whatever she does know about what’s happening, it destroyed her wish to be part of the church. She doesn’t offer prayers either and has no other Sister in her unit. Moreover, they mentioned that she went up the ranks way too quickly and there’s something behind it all. I love political intrigues and that’s exactly what they’re setting up here.
Of course, the visuals and animation remain a huge draw. This week was no exception offering up a feast of movement and colour.
What I Liked Less
I really liked this episode. It was a blatant set up episode that distracted us by throwing every pretty fight it could find at the screen yet still managed to have some substance to it. Once again I found the series to be over before I realized it.
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.