While I have really enjoyed the look and style of this show right from shot #1, I kind of feel like Shinra’s story as the protagonist has become buried into the mounds of everything else going on in this world of fantasy inspired fire fighters and flaming demons.
This episode sees the conclusion of the mini arc involving Special force 5, can three episodes really be considered an arc? Let’s say the story line. The entire episode really focuses on the fight between Shinra and Princess Hibana, as well as delving into the shared history of both her and Iris.
In short, there’s a whole lot of a maniacal villain monologuing about the futility of faith, how pointless life is and the inherent corrupt nature of humanity, it’s one of the most anime things I’ve seen in a while. Her power allows her to debilitate Shinra and prevent him from fighting properly.
Thus he spends most of his time on his hands and knees, struggling against the force keeping him from getting up. Thus we have plenty of time to learn about Hibana’s history, how she lost her faith in God and see the true depth of her delusion brought on by the shared tragedy both she and Iris suffered during their childhoods.
Which all sets the stage for Shinra to finally get his hero moment that he’s been going on about since the first episode. There is a lot of great visual duality to Shinra and his character design. The stylistic contradiction between how he is presented visually compared to his attitude and outlook in life is interesting to me.
The shame is, it’s been one of the aspects of the show Fire Force has avoided focusing on. It’s spent the first handful of episodes meticulously establishing this world of demons, super powers and corrupt corporations controlling the very force that’s supposed to be out there saving humanity that Shinra’s own story has become lost in the mix.
I feel my biggest problem with Fire Force thus far is how heavily it has front-loaded itself with exposition and world building, which has come at the expense of building its characters, especially it’s main character. We’ve established Shinra’s drive and motivation towards his hero complex, as well as the beginnings of his own backstory being mixed up with the current bigger picture.
But until now, he’s felt too passive as a main character and only really responding to the problem that presents itself in front of him. It’s especially noticeable when I’m watching this at the same time as Demon Slayer. Everything Tanjiro does is packed with emotion, drive and passion. By comparison, Shinra is just going with the flow and letting things happen to him.
This episode allowed to be the shonen style hero he wants to exemplify, and it works to the point that he completely breaks Hibana out of her delusion and defuses the entire conflict between force’s 8 and 5, with her falling for him in the process. I just hope that we get a stronger character focus in the show going forward now that I feel like the majority of the exposition is out of the way.