Posted by amun on 14 July 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fire Force

Welcome to Fire Force! I’m your infernal host for the season (and hopefully many more), Amun.

Fire Force kicks off as the highly anticipated sophomore work of Atsushi Ohkubo (known for Soul Eater). The most pressing concern I’ve heard so far is the show couldn’t possibly maintain the level of quality from the first episodes for all 4 cours that are slated. Episode 2 helps extinguish some of those fears, although I can see areas where good direction decisions reduce the amount of animation required. The director is a veteren of the Monogatari series, and some of the decisive cuts remind me of that – in a good way. The scenes pack more punch and probably take substantially less effort to make – a double win in my book.

As we get into episode 2, here are some general impressions of these first two episodes. First of all, of course the Soul Eater comparisons will come through – the simple designs, snappy action, even the dialog and use of setting gags all feels quite familiar. These first two episodes have started introducing our cast and fleshing out the world. Fire Force seems a lot more grounded in reality than Soul Eater was – I like the trend to take present circumstances and make one major tweak, rather than creating a whole new world (see Dr. Stone as another good example of this).

As we get under way, I think this episode did a great job of showing not telling about the main cast. Instead of blah blah listing out bios with flying text of their blood types, we’re thrown into the middle of introductions for the fire squad’s two rookies, Shinra and Arthur. These two frenemies help introduce our other characters as well – Maka…wait, that’s Maki, as a former soldier/sensitive ogre, Captain as a musclehead with reasons, and the Lieutenant as a neurotic rule follower.

Our two rookies are interesting in their own right: we have the obvious outsider, odds stacked against him, the mistimed smiley demon – Shinra. Opposite him, we have the pretty boy, literal white knight – Arthur Boyle. While we have seen opposites attract ad nauseum, this episode showed lingering hints that this pairing might transcend a boring, black and white rivalry. I’m particularly excited with new takes on opposite duos facing the same challenges – I think a lot of My Hero Academia’s success comes from the pairing of Midoriya and Bakugo and how they avoid falling into standard rival troupes (one clear hero and one clear villain).

As for the episode itself, I was a little surprised by the emotion that was put into it – I came here for fire fights, not feels. The gang charges in looking for action and adventure…and comes out feeling quietly sad. What impresses me most so far is Fire Force’s mastery of the varied emotions of a fire. Beyond the normal joy of a spark or the roaring excitement of flames, Fire Force takes you to the ashes as well and gives you the quiet hollow feeling of a burned out husk. Having such a delicate touch is quite rare in this genre, which lives on a steady diet of power creep and fan service.

Overall, this episode hit all the marks that I was hoping for: good character developments, nice world building, hint of an antagonist, and no major drop off in animation quality. If I had to nitpick, I would say I don’t like some of the audio choices, be it music or effects. There were also some strange smoke scenes that I’m sure were for artistic effect but felt cheap to me. CGI use hasn’t gotten overbearing yet, but I could see that happening. OP and ED are nice, although the ED seems to be full of spoilers and sadness. I’m also surprised we’re getting a tournament arc so quickly – I’d prefer to see a bit more world building before we have an explosion of characters, but things have been handled well so far, so I won’t worry too much.

All in all, you couldn’t ask for a better start to a multi-season franchise.

4 Responses

  1. Avatar Captain Falcon says:

    What exactly was happening at the end? What did the Knight King mean by “there’s nothing the like of you can see there?”. I might have missed something.

    • amun amun says:

      Yeah, that was a little odd (what was actually said in Japanese wasn’t any more helpful)…judging from that and that the Knight King was randomly staring off into space or looking pensive a bunch of times, I think he’s got some things going on that we don’t know about (I’m an anime only viewer, so I don’t know the manga). Seems to be building on the Knight (King) vs Devil theme as well.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      I took it as another jab at our MC. What happened to his family and all. I don’t think you missed somethin though, it apparently confused a couple of us.

      I also just need to say, Maki best girl. Those back muscles. Mmm

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