I apologize for my lateness, but I didn’t anticipate TWO freaking episodes coming out on the same day. Not to mention I injured my finger, making it extra difficult to type out my review for this series. In any case, where should I start? I’m actually surprised that the fight between Shinra and Sho didn’t last much longer. But I guess it makes sense since they’ve been fighting for an episode and a half now lol.
We are then shown a little bit into Shinra’s past before coming to the 8th and I honestly wish we got little snippets of this earlier into the series. It would have been a good way to sympathize with Shinra more early on rather than just showing us his sad backstory and then not touching upon it until Sho comes back into the picture. It would also have been a better way to introduce Arthur so it wouldn’t have felt so jarring. Not to mention I felt like it was a wasted opportunity to show Arthur in this flashback since it would show us a little bit more of their dynamic back in the day. And it probably would have shown us even more why being a part of the 8th had touched him so much. Especially since they would just constantly TELL us how much he liked being part of the 8th but never really showed us. I feel like the moment would have hit me a lot harder if I had seen more of Shinra in the academy before this moment.
And while I do think it felt a little rushed, it was still touching how Shinra’s memories finally reached Sho and the boy ended up crying with the most emotion we’ve seen from him since appearing as a White Clad member. I felt my heart clench a little when it showed Shinra, Sho and their mom embracing one another with big toothy smiles on their faces. And I honestly love the scene where kid Shinra removes the newspaper off of baby Sho. That scene held so much emotion and symbolism with Shinra being the one to rescue Sho from the darkness. It definitely hit me when Sho was saying how scary and dark it was to Shinra telling him it’s all right and that he’ll always be on his side. I WISH WE SAW SCENES LIKE THIS SOONER. And it hit me a little more when in the present Shinra says he’ll take Sho to someplace brighter, especially when it seems like Sho has finally accepted Shinra as his brother.
Though despite the emotions, I wasn’t quite sold on Sho finally changing his view of Shinra and when they were hugging I was immediately like: HE’S GOING TO SHANK YOU. Especially since it felt too soon for things to be happy between them. And lo and behold I CALLED IT. Though it definitely was more of an accident than ill intent, considering Sho’s bewilderment at the realization. I am pretty disappointed that there were no actual long term repercussions to Shinra accelerating despite him overheating. And no, him running into Sho is not a true repercussion. He just wasn’t looking where he was going and it has nothing to do with him actually pushing himself. So I’m pretty iffy about that since it means he hasn’t learned to true extent of what he’s doing to his body and just how much it could be a detriment to himself in the future. Good to see reckless tendencies are rewarded :/.
Anyways, end up going from bad to worse when Haumea shows up. Now I really liked the shot of Shinra and Sho standing on the same side of the pillar for the first time, separating them from where Haumea was standing. For the past couple episodes, they were always separated by a shadow of a pillar. Great symbolism, showing that the two are finally on the same side… sadly that doesn’t last. I was both frustrated and not surprised when Sho is basically forced to go back with the White Clad, even going as far as having his time stop ability stripped from him and then re-brainwashed by Haumea. The two brothers had finally reconnected, only for Sho to be taken away again. It’s sad, but definitely predictable as it felt way too soon for Sho to switch sides.
We get only a small taste of what Haumea is capable of with her radio waves and such being able to control (if not temporarily) the minds of whoever she uses it on, deflecting Hinawa’s attacks and short circuiting Maki’s Tekkyus. Though we don’t actually to see the full extent considering Arthur’s
idiocy plasma is able to disrupt her waves and then gets outnumbered when the rest of the 8th show up to Shinra’s aide. I feel like this scene would have made a bigger impact if I were convinced of their bonds as a group. However, because they never really focused on their group dynamics, we were only told how great they all get along and care about one another. It’s frustrating that this series could have been so good if they had not rushed the introductions and spent time to build up these characters and their dynamics.
The rest of the episode serves as a cool down from all the previous insanity and a well deserved rest up for Shinra after being stabbed through the chest. We get a small peak at the 6th division and how they’re basically the fire force’s medical staff in a sense. Not sure how I feel about Huang’s ability considering it basically just goes in and heals the pyrokinetic body from the inside without much explanation on how. How convenient… One can argue that for Recovery Girl’s ability in My Hero Academia. But unlike what we saw here, Recovery Girl’s ability has a limit and if Izuku continues to destroy his body, there will only be so much she can do until Izuku pushes himself to permanent damage. You shouldn’t reward reckless behavior without some sort of consequence. I almost wish that Shinra got paralyzed a little somewhere to show him, DON’T DO THINGS THAT DESTROY YOUR BODY. So it was frustrating that he came off the procedure with no problem. Not to mention he’s basically already in fighting shape despite being unconscious and bedridden for THREE DAYS. What is this?!
This episode was a mixed bag for me. I loved the emotion within the Shinra and Sho moments since siblings relationships make me weak. However, I don’t like how Shinra got away with being so injured due to his recklessness without any consequence and he’s already up and fighting against Burns. Speaking of, I’m glad we’re finally going to get to see Burns’ side of the story as we knew that he definitely knew more than he was letting on. I definitely enjoyed the first half of the episode a lot more as I rolled my eyes so much during the second half.
That twist though… Dang.
Though to be honest, I KIND of had an inkling in the back of my mind, but didn’t say anything about it out of fear of not wanting to sound dumb. But I guess it really turned out that way with Shinra’s mom being that infernal he saw on that night. It really only made sense from what we could grasp from his flashbacks with his mom gesturing to him from the flames and then that infernal appearing out of no where. Though I didn’t expect that the same infernal that appeared in Shinra’s nightmare fuel dream was actually his mother.
But before I get more into that, can we just talk about the Shinra and Burns fight first? On one hand, the fighting animation was SMOOTH. On the other hand. THE HECK SHINRA?! YOU WERE BEDRIDDEN FOR THREE DAYS, YOU SHOULD NOT BE FIGHTING OR EVEN BE FIT TO FIGHT. I honestly got super annoyed at how all out he went against Burns, not to mention actually land some hits on the guy. It’s as if he wasn’t even injured in the first place. groans Also Burns, why the heck are you even encouraging this fight in the first place?! Y’ALL. And of course Shinra breaks through (despite him being supposedly weakened) because WILLPOWER.
Anyways, most of the episode is basically used as an information dump on how they were already aware of the White Clad’s existence twelve years ago. But we finally get to see what exactly happened during that fire that separated Shinra from the rest of his family. I honestly expected Burns to have a little more to do with rescuing Shinra, but Shinra just kind of fell out of the house when they opened the door. Not to mention Burns just kind of walked in and watched the infernal without really doing anything about it. We also learn that Sho was the one to cause the fire due to the awakening of his Adolla Burst, most likely triggering his mom’s combustion and Shinra awakening to his pyrokinesis. It also makes you wonder just who and what the heck the Evangelist is considering they seemingly show up out of nowhere.
Now, I’m kinda iffy on the infernal that is Shinra’s mom most likely still being alive. While this must be absolutely crushing to find out that his mom was the infernal that he had wanted to take revenge on for all these years, I think one of the biggest problems with this revelation is that we were never aware of Shinra’s feelings for revenge before last episode. I don’t think I was even aware he joined the Fire Force for revenge. I just thought he wanted to be Izuku, not Erin. But in all seriousness, that was A LOT of information just dropped on both Shinra and the audience. Though now that it turns out that BOTH Shinra’s brother and mom is still out there, I’m not sure how I feel about his backstory. On one hand, yes it is still really sad, but then his whole dynamic kind of changes and it became not just getting his brother back but also his mom. I’m fine with the fact that his brother is still alive, but now his mom is too? That just seems like a little too much. It almost feels like it backpedals on Shinra’s motivations a little. However, there is still a lot of things we don’t know such as if the infernal is still alive since it escaped with Sho, but Sho is now in custody of the White Clad. So it’s definitely a mystery at what fate the mom infernal has. I’m sure it’ll be revealed eventually though.
When Shinra then goes on to say how much he hates the flames and I can’t help but roll my eyes because it is yet another piece of information that they didn’t show in his character any time else. It’s frustrating that they keep tacking on random pieces of information without properly showing it beforehand. Burns is also kind of just used as expository and left as soon as he was done. How the characters are treated is such a shame really. Sighhhhh…
The Captain of the 4th is now put in the spotlight of possibly knowing about Shinra’s mother considering how he also appeared in that nightmare. I did think it was weird of him to show up in that scene, but it looks like they’re actually going somewhere with it. Coincidentally, his granddaughter is part of the 6th and it seems like Shinra will get a meeting with the Captain through her. I did get suspicious of her due to her flashing glasses. But I guess it was just used to show the similarity between her and her grandfather. I was pretty suspicious of her grandfather for the same reason. Maybe he’s not bad? Who knows, he’s been showing some suspicious signs since his appearance so it’s hard to tell. In any case, looks like there’s a lot for Shinra to think about.
They then have one final hurrah on showcasing all of the characters’ “quirks.” Or in this case their one note gags. Though I will admit my shipper heart was piqued for Karim and Hibana. Their dynamic is not something I expected to find somewhat amusing. Poor Karim though lol. I was also caught off guard and somewhat disturbed at Benimaru’s sudden bishounen style. Guy, you’re fine the way you are. Let’s not go overboard here. Though I suppose it was a nice send off to the anime with showing all the characters we got to know through out the season. The 8th has certainly picked up a lot of good allies along the way.
This episode felt a little weird to me since it ended mildly abrupt with finding out about Shinra’s family and how both of them are still alive… maybe. Not to mention it was just a giant info dump. It must be somewhat conflicting for Shinra to find out both are alive considering he spent twelve years in agony thinking they were dead, only to find out later what they have become. I also couldn’t help but kind of agree on Burns’s stance of not wanting to tell Shinra about his family since he would have tried to go after them, being even more reckless than he is now and most likely would have lost his life. But considering how much plot armor he has, he probably would have ended up fine… Shinra’s circumstances are starting to be a bit annoying at this point and I WISH that they’d do something unique with him. But at the end of the day, it’s shounen. What can you do? I do feel bad for the mom though, waking up to see her baby son engulfed in flames and then become a monster soon after. In any case, looks like they’re gearing up for the second season with their “See You Later” note at the end.
Unlike a lot of people who have sung its praises, I thought the series was ehhh. It was enjoyable and fun to watch at times, especially during the final arc. HOWEVER. If you have read my first several reviews, you will know I have A LOT of problems with it. I was even enjoying Ensemble Stars more than Fire Force in the first half. And that’s saying something since Ensemble Stars drove me crazy at times. However, I will admit that I did enjoy the series a bit more in the second half. I still have problems with it, but at least it was still somewhat enjoyable.
Now there is no question that the animation during some action scenes are absolutely stunning especially in terms of choreography and animation. However, notice I have said “some.” There were times where I did not like the animation and I understand that sometimes studios have to cut corners to meet a deadline and it doesn’t HAVE to be top notch animation all the way through. But there were times where certain things will pull me out of the action and I just have to look at it like “huh?” There were several times where things just didn’t look natural, such as when there wasn’t any give when things hit. But other than that, the animation and production value was very good.
And then the characters… oh the characters. Don’t get me wrong, a bunch of the characters are fun and enjoyable. My problem is that we didn’t get to know the main cast of characters as well as we should have. The first episode and opening gave me the impression that the series would focus more on the group’s dynamics and how well they would all work together. Unfortunately, what I got was a story mainly just focusing on Shinra and how he is so OP compared to everyone else. It’s such a shame because all the characters seem very likeable, but I feel like there wasn’t enough of them. It’s like we were introduced to them, but they were almost immediately sidelined for the sake of focusing more on Shinra. I would have enjoyed this series a lot more if they had focused on the team building and developing the characters’ relationships beforehand before we delved fully into the plot. It felt like there was so much wasted potential for all of the characters. Especially when Shinra kept having to TELL me how close he was to the group and he had finally found a place that accepted him. Too bad I was never convinced of it because I never got to SEE it. Not to mention that the characters never went very deep and mostly stuck with surface level “tropes” and gags to show us “who they are.” We never go to know many of their motivations or passions, leaving them fairly bland and underutilized.
I’ve complained about the pacing before and I’ll complain about it one more time. Though I admit they did get better with their pacing in the last several eps, but I remember absolutely HATING the pacing at the beginning. Even from episode 1, I felt like something was off. Everything was moving way too fast and things that needed more build up happened way too early. Not to mention they keep dropping random plot points almost out of nowhere. They introduced some characters way too abruptly such as Arthur, Tamaki and Joker. For Arthur, I had a problem with his introduction because when he was brought into the story so early on (the second episode no less), it felt like his presence stunted the group dynamic. Joker came in too early for my liking and basically set up things that shouldn’t even have been mentioned yet. And Tamaki… everyone knows how I feel about that so moving on. There were also just these really weird transition cuts between two scenes that made me feel like I had missed something. Like there would be a scene of Shinra be stationary and the next he’s already running. There was not cohesion between those two shots and it made it feel weird.
I think one of the things that bothered me most was the random tonal shifts that punctuated very serious moments. That absolutely drove me insane. Especially when random fanservice would be inserted just for the sake of some very unnatural tension breaker. I don’t like fanservice, but I can tolerate it when done tastefully. However, the fanservice in this series went above and beyond what I would deem “tasteful.” I would especially get annoyed whenever it would happen in the middle of a serious battle. And it wasn’t even just the fanserivice that annoyed me during the fight scenes. Yes, it was the most obnoxious, but I also just didn’t like how they put random “funny” moments in between fights. Just like fanservice, there is a time and place for it, but NOT in the middle of very important fight scenes. It would always ruin the serious beats for me and take me out of moment, not something you want to do when trying to portray the importance of a scene.
Now the question is, would I recommend this series to someone? Sadly, I can’t find it in myself to recommend it. While yes, it has its good moments and the action is solid and strong when it wants to be. However, it’s just not consistent. It takes A LONG TIME to get the ball rolling in a positive direction and people just tend not to have the attention span to watch it until it gets “good.” And even when it reaches its stride, there are still things that urk me. Like not knowing the main group as well as we should. I hard high hopes for this series, especially with how much I enjoyed the mangaka’s other work, Soul Eater back in the day. So I was pretty disappointed by what I got in this anime. Sure, I enjoyed it to an extent, but so many of the negatives were way too glaring to simply overlook. And I admit, I did feel like dropping it after 12 eps since the series was driving me crazy with not getting to know the characters as well and the terrible pacing and directing. However, I figured, I made it this far, I should finish what I started and I’m a little glad I did. It at least ended up being better than Ensemble Stars by the second half. This series had a lot of interesting things going for it and if it had better execution, it could have been great.
I’ll give this series a 6.8/10. I don’t think it deserves to be a 7, but I also don’t think it deserves to be as low as a 6. I heard a second season is on its way and I’m not sure if I’ll cover it. Though considering how the series is getting better, I might cave and continue covering it. However, if things start driving me crazy again, I’ll be having second thoughts. Farewell for now Fire Force, I hope you’ll get better.