Fire Force – Ep. 3

Given the subject matter, Fire Force was affected by the Kyoto Animation fire with its third episode getting delayed by a week. I respect the producers for making that call and I feel bad that they now have to deal with such an ill coincidence. My best hope is that people can look past that and watch Fire Force on its own terms.

I heard something about the visuals getting changed in light of what happened in real life but honestly, it’s hard to tell what exactly did get changed. The fire still looks like fire to me. The most obvious edit is actually in the ED where the animators almost completely blacked out the shot where Iris sees all the nuns on fire. While I feel you need such a striking image for that ED to work, I understand the need to “censor” it. Out of any visual in Fire Force, that particular one might hit too close to home for people. I just wish the edit wasn’t so obvious or hastily made but on a tight production schedule, what can you do?

Let’s move onto the actual episode.

When I heard that Shinra and Arthur would compete in the so-called Fire Soldier Rookie Games, I assumed this meant Fire Force was heading towards a tournament arc. Evidently, the competition is just a one-off event — a mock rescue mission for the rookies to show off their abilities to all the companies. I’m content with what we got as a tournament would’ve been a weird event to have in a show about superpowered firefighters.

Introduced in this episode is Tamaki Kotatsu (Aoi Yuuki), a member of Company 1 who’ll presumably join Company 8 in the near future if the OP is any indication. She’s a third generation pyrokinectic with her technique, “Nekomata”, allowing her to shape her flames into cat-like traits. This of course includes fiery cat ears because anime. I can’t really joke too much; I’d be lying if I said watching Tamaki beat stuff up with flaming cat claws and whip-like cat tails wasn’t cool. Oh and I guess her outfit is pretty sexual. Yes, it’s probably pushing the dress code but frankly, I’ve seen skimpier and more impractical gear from other anime. This looks modest by comparison.

Once the Rookie Games begin, Shinra quickly discovers that the event has been hijacked by a mysterious man named Joker (Kenjiro Tsuda in his 50th role this season). Joker made a brief appearance last episode, causing some trouble for Company 8, but this episode is where Shinra meets him for the first time and learns that the man specifically wants to recruit him to his cause. True to his heroic aspirations, Shinra doesn’t accept the offer and tries to apprehend Joker though the latter does leave him with an alarming piece of information: that his brother, Sho, is still alive. How an infant escaped a burning building is beyond me; even Shinra finds it difficult to fathom. It was however mentioned that Sho’s body was never found so the possibility that he’s alive can’t entirely be ruled out.

There’s a couple of other mysteries or threads established in this episode. One, Shinra has a chance encounter with Leonard Burns (Taiten Kusunoki), the firefighter who rescued him that fateful day, but Burns claims to have no recollection of him. His alibi of having saved so many people in his career and therefore can’t remember everything is believable enough but I’m with Shinra that the man might be hiding something. After a certain shot the features him standing back to back next to Obi, you just know there’s more to this man than we’re let on. I don’t care if he can set his eyepatch on fire and that’s the coolest thing ever, something is not right with that guy! Two, Obi reveals that the Special Fire Force is heavily reliant on its business partner, Hajima Industries, and that each company runs independently each other and do not share any information they might have on human combustion. Company 8 secretly serves to investigate possible corruption going on in Companies 1-7. There’s something I didn’t think I’d see in this show: conspiracy!

And here I thought this anime would just be firefighters hitting fiery monsters really hard. This episode and the one before it has shown some surprising sides to Fire Force. Episode 2 shows what kind of depth we can expect in the characterizations and the ethical nature of the Fire Force’s activities. Episode 3 is promoting an overarching conspiracy plot, suggesting the general conflict in the show isn’t as one-sided as it initially appeared. These all aren’t elements I would’ve expected to see in this kind of show but now that they’re introduced, I’m getting more intrigued. Now, it’s becoming a matter of execution. All the pieces are being shown and it’s all looking good but the people making this show better have good payoffs in the works as well.

Thanks for reading!

Watch Fire Force on Crunchyroll

Watch Fire Force on Funimation

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