Fire Force Episode 2 – The Devil and the Knight

Karandi let me write about Fire Force this week and I almost feel like I owe her a present. This week was impressive to say the least and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Not only was the narrative great but the visuals were a feat. I wouldn’t have realized just how carefully the images had been matched to the beats of the episode if I hadn’t put together the gallery HERE. I encourage you to take a look, it’s one of my favourite visual stories in recent memory.

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again with the religious imagery!

What I Thought Would Happen

I thought we would learn even more about Shinra and his tragic past and that another beautifully animated fight with an infernal would take place. I also figured they would find a way to make the girls have an underwear tickle party or something.

What Did Happen

None of that! First we got intorduced to a new character named Arthur who appears to be an old classmate’s of Shinra. We did get a beautifully animated fight but it was training and it was against Maki (who kicked absolute derrière and didn’t even get her shirt ripped). An infernal incident did come up but rather than a violent confrontation, it was a sombre and sad event that left everyone shaken. Shira is slowly realizing the weight of the job he decided to take on.

As the chief pointed out, the most terrifying part of the job, is getting use to it.

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haunting

What About the Characters

Last week, I was a little scared that Fire Force would turn out to be a one man show and that the ladies were mere window dressing. Completely wrong on both parts! A good deal of focus was given to the newly introduced Arthur. We don’t learn that much about him but his personality is now well established. Shinra took a bit of a step back allowing the rest of the cast to shine, particularly the chief, Maki and Arthur who all had some great hero moments and were built up considerably by the narrative. This is turning into a very good ensemble cast.

The characters that were a little less present never the less each had some quirky moments to wet our appetite and make us want to know more. In Arthur, Shinra has a proper character foil. Their interactions and dynamic was a lot of fun to watch and showed us quite a bit about how each thinks.

What I Liked

Just about everything! I feel like series often start at episode 2. The first episode is more like a showcase and extended trailer to grab attention at the start of a busy season but it’s in the second episode that the narrative finds it’s footing and properly starts building the story. If so Fire Force is set to be one fantastic story.

A lot of unexplained background details seem to hint a rich lore. I remain very intrigued by the religious aspect but now I also want to learn about firemen training. There’s an entire academy dedicated to it, it seems and not everyone sees their role in the same way. Once again, the exposition was woven through the action and comedy in a completely organic manner.

The technical aspects are just exquisite. You can see the pretty pictures in my gallery but beyond that there was once again the use of abrupt scene cuts that guided the narrative flow and changed the mood. I’ve rarely seen such creative editing and so far it’s been very successful. The colour game is masterful. Arthur’s voice actor did a great job and the entire voice cast has fantastic chemistry with each other.

Moreover, the episode played out in roughly four acts all with different tones. The intro (Arthur’s entrance) was slightly tense and mysterious, the fight with Maki was comedic action and even featured some subtle 4th wall breaks, the incident with the infernal was serious and rather tragic while the conclusion was a very bittersweet appeal to hope. Goin through so many shifts in 20 some odd minutes should give you emotional whiplash but it was somehow handled perfectly. I’m speechless.

What I Liked Less

I honestly couldn’t tell you. I guess some of the symbolism is very on the nose?

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tomorrow is another day

Closing Thoughts

Considering that 90% of this post was spent gushing on the stuff I liked, there’s no real point in telling you that I enjoyed this week’s Fire Force. It’s a very well made anime with complex and interesting characters and a premise full of potential. Sure, it would be possible to screw it up but considering that my few complaints from episode 1 were completely addressed and my fears for this episode could have been farther from the truth, I have to trust that the creative team behind this series knows exactly what it’s doing.

I can’t wait until next Friday!

Mood: Impressed

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

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Fire Force Review Episode 1

An Explosive Beginning

Enen no Shouboutai Episode 1

Of the handful of premiere episodes I watched over the weekend, Fire Force was certainly the one that grabbed me visually. Of course, fire is inherently a flashy element and when you base your story around people who catch fire and become fire spewing infernos you kind of have a head start in making your visuals stand out. Still, in less deft hands this could have been a mess of smoke and flame that fell flat however here the dynamic visuals and smooth action work together to propel the story along even during exposition sequences.

The opening theme is also one of the more immediately catchy ones I’ve listened to so far. I don’t know that it is going to remain a favourite for the season as openings have a tendency to grow on me or wear out their welcome as we go through a season, but this one at least got my attention straight away.

Now, if you read a lot of my reviews you might already have a sinking feeling about where this one is going given I’ve spent the first two paragraphs discussing visuals and music which are usually after thoughts for me. And you’d kind of be right. As much as I really like the concept here and found this episode to be great fun, not one character has left any kind of impression so far.

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Fire Force 1

Sure I could describe each of them and their ‘trait’ as presented this episode but I don’t feel anything for these characters yet or even feel all that interested in them. Perhaps they just need more time given the focus of this episode was definitely setting up the overall situation that this story takes place in and how the world works, and they did a great job of that, but without connecting with any of the characters there’s only so long this will fly.

About the only thing I did feel about Shinra, who I guess is going to be our main character, is a sinking ‘oh no’ as I realised we’re in for another kid who wants to be a hero to fulfil a childhood promise to a dead parent because he’s been misunderstood, and there’s also some potential demon responsible for killing his mother, and it all just seemed like we’d seen this a million times before only a little bit better because they didn’t throw the main character’s whole backstory at me in the first episode and gave me time to actually care about them before unloading all of that.

Now, admittedly, they can certainly flesh him out beyond this trope from here and maybe he’ll be great, but so far no such luck. We’ve got a Full-Metal, Blue Exorcist, with a small Supernatural twist going on here and I’m not sure they are going to make this character stand on his own two burning feet.

Still, despite the characterisation on display this episode, or lack of it, this episode passed in the blink of an eye and was just fun. I’m keeping it on my watch list and I’ll enjoy the action for what it is and hope that as we go these characters find their own identity along the way.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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