Welcome, one and all, to the return of Fire Force aka En’en no Shōbōtai. After the excitement of season one’s climax, I had high hopes that season two would see us focus on the strengths of the series. To a point, that appears to be the case here. So, let’s look at what happened.
A Fire Soldier’s Fight
The first half of the episode was used as a way to reintroduce us to Special Fire Force Company 8. The crux was that Iris, Maki, and Tamaki invited Shinra to help them shop for new clothes for Lieutenant Hinawa, but during the trip, an Infernal attacks. Of course, the good guys win in a typically high octane battle.
This part of the episode did a really good job of reminding us what the show is so good at. Shinra as a lead got the seriousness across early on, openly telling the audience about the fear that everyone faces daily and reiterating that he wants to make sure that regular people can keep smiling. He also did a good job of showing his nice side, attempting to reassure Maki when she had a bout of jealousy relating to Iris and Tamaki looking far more feminine than her.
The girls meanwhile were very in character too. Iris was overly cute and carefree, Tamaki flitted between a youthful chirpiness and aggressive-towards-Shinra, and Maki was strong but with a desire to embrace her girly side more. Of the three, Maki I thought came across the best in these early scenes, especially as it pertained to the initial outbreak of the attack. She immediately took the lead and proved herself a good one to step-in should Hinawa and Obi not be available.
The battle itself was a short set-piece that achieved three things. The first was confirming that the visual flash that makes Fire Force so appealing was still present. While not as epic as some of the longer battles we’ve seen, this had the same sort of effect as the first season open in showing us what the team can do with action.
The second thing it did was to give us a brief look at each character’s strengths and attack styles. Most interesting to me here was that it showed a clear disparity in physical strength. Shinra, Arthur, and Hinawa all essentially one-shotted their target on their own. Maki and Tamaki teamed up and were successful, but took longer about getting the kill, even when working together. Meanwhile, Obi also took a little longer but managed a one-shot kill when his blow landed, indicating that his first miss would have probably been the same had it not been blocked. His declaration of the fact that he trains every day for times like this was also very good and showed that he can stand alongside his super-powered comrades. Oh, and Arthur’s lines were so him in all the right ways.
The third goal achieved was to introduce a new element to the mix: Infernals with more than one core. This giant had five that all needed to be destroyed. Though they made quick work of it, it did take all of the team working together. This makes it clear that solo battles may be more difficult moving forward, meaning this will see an escalated threat level for the heroes.
After the battle, we got to see the outfit that the girls bought for Hinawa. It comprised of a bunny tail and a hat with bunny ears and a slogan that said, ‘Nudist Bitch’. Hinawa refused to sell the youngsters out when Obi got mad, but the Captain knew that Shinra and the girls were involved. Shinra decided not to sell the girls out either when they were asked whose idea it was, but the girls all blamed him. This was short and had an obvious punchline, but honestly, the humour was decent. Good work.
In all, I loved this first half. Bar a lack of real story progression, it was a good snapshot of most of the stuff that I came to love in season one.
A Man’s Fight.
Part two of the episode leaned more heavily into the humour, and in particular, fan service.
Now, I want to say here that my biggest issue with fan service in Fire Force has been that it often served a defining characteristic for Tamaki. I actually have no issue with her design; the costume makes sense given her power, and it’s no less unique than each of the other varied uniforms. My problem there was that she always had potential as a character, but the constant accidental stripping replaced character development. This episode avoided that entirely, which was excellent to see. Instead, the fan service was all about the men.
You see, The Special Fire Force does a yearly nude calendar with each Company taking one month, then the most popular four from last year taking the other four months. It’s only the men that take part, which is likely what saved us from Tamaki being mistreated again. So, the guys were all getting ready to strip down and bare their rippling muscles for all to see.
This was something all right. We learned throughout the scenes that Captain Shinmon was pictured without consent last year, that Giovanni knows how to use photoshop, and Hinawa found hope in Rekka’s death as it meant Company 8 may have a shot at not coming last this year. Meanwhile, off with her company, Captain Hibana was conflicted thinking about Shinra naked. She wanted to see it but thought that it would mean that everyone would then understand his appeal and he would just belong to her anymore.
In the end, Company 8 posed showing off their ‘cobras’. And came last again.
Bar the issue with Shinmon, this was actually fairly harmless. Honestly, it was nice to see the fan service focus on the males for a change. At the same time though, it does also serve as a reminder that Fire Force often falls into the trap of placing flesh above story at times. I would have much rather seen them use this second half of the episode to advance the investigation. As it was though, this was fine.
The OST remains very strong here, with the background music being perfectly fitting. While I preferred ‘Inferno’ by Mrs. Green Apple, the new opening, ‘SPARK-AGAIN’ by Aimer is decent. It feels very anime, and the opening video gives us some nice shots of characters, both old and new. The ending theme, ‘ID’ by Cider Girl was poor in my opinion. The bouncy feel of it does fit with the series and the infinite runner game style video is far less impactful than the one we have for Keina Suda’s ‘Veil’ in season one.
This was a good return for the series. It felt like it was really just there to remind us of the key points, characters, and feel of the series rather than launch us back into the main story. That’s fine though. What it did, it did well, and it avoided my least favourite part of the series. So, all in all, this was a lot of fun!
But what about yourselves? Did you watch the return of Fire Force? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below. And don’t forget to check out Irina’s post relating to the episode too! I nabbed the screencaps from today’s post from there, and she has a ton of other awesome screenshots too!