I felt that this episode of Fire Force was really its best opportunity to give its characters some time to breathe and grow, but it ends up bundling that in favour of adding a few more convoluted plot contrivances. Fire Force really is becoming a prime example of form over function in a series, with it’s character being the main casualty of this approach.
When I’ve spoken about Shinra in the past as a main character, I’ve mostly praised him for his design and the duality of said design with his general demeanour. The problem is, as the show progresses, it’s not doing anything more with him than reinforcing these surface level traits he already had well established.
The pace and content of episode 10 made for a slower, more character heavy episode. With it being the first time the 8th is properly back together since the first few episodes, I’d have hoped we could delve into Shinra’s reactions and how he’s dealing with all the things that have happened to him in a relatively short span of time.
Instead though, the show decides to throw even more exposition and backstory into it’s already hellishly convoluted world. Through an emergency conference, we meet the remaining of the eight fire force captains, as well as the Emperor/Fire Force Pope at some geothermal power plant/palace.
And while I can’t help but look and appreciate how stylish all of this looks, it’s doing a great job of distracting me from how the show never really seems to want to explain itself clearly. During this meeting, we learn of a group of “proto-nationalists”, of which the 7th’s Captain is the leader, and also the strongest Fire Force solider.
Although he leaves before we learn what that even means.
We also get an info dump telling us that Shinra is apparently a holder of something called an “Adolla Burst”, which is some kind of pure, super flame? Even the show dances around the actual definition before leaving it up in the air.
When you’re telling a story, laying groundwork and foreshadowing are important. But Fire Force is throwing 7th and 8th things at you before the first handful of revelations have fully resolved themselves. As a result I’m forgetting half of the stuff that we’d previously established.
Before we can even digest what’s been said, we see that Joker is outside, eavesdropping on the meeting using his AirPods. How does he manage that? Is there a traitor in the midst of the Fire Force, probably, the scene never really hints at it, but I have to assume that if I want to pretend there is any sense of reality still at play here.
Anyway, he meets with Shinra to tell him that his brother has become a solider for the Evangelist, not only that; he’s become the world’s most badass 13 year old and leader of his Knights Templar. I’d say Shinra seems shook by this revelation, but his go-to move of a tight, toothy smile takes the place of any real internal dialogue.
The following scene, in which Shinra decides whether to tell the rest of the 8th about his brother would have been prime time for Shinra to get some proper character development. That’s not the case though, like with how his backstory has been presented. Shinra doesn’t seem to be an active participant in his own development.
Rather, character development happens at him instead of him going through it. In a series of scenes where the rest of the force seems to be concerned for him, while Shinra himself displays almost no emotion in any way. Realising that everyone around him seems to care for him, he shares the thing that has been lingering on his mind.
There don’t seem to be any especially strong emotions coming from Shinra, even his rage generally seems to be short lived most of the time. It’s hard to really connect to the character, when he is having life altering revelations given to him and he hardly seems to be reacting to them.
I think Fire Force is a stylish as all hell show, it looks great and has style in excess. But it comes as the expense of any genuine substance. I’m just getting to the point where I’m going to stop taking it so seriously, I might even stop reviewing them on an episode by episode basis, we’ll see.