Fire Force is on a real roll if you ask me. It’s been really good for a while and this week…well if you want to read all my thoughts on it, you can do so over on 100 Word Anime, I would really appreciate it.
In the meantime though, feel free to appreciate some of the fine production elements Fire Force has to offer!
I touched on it a bit in my other Fire Force post this week. As I was saying the production for Fire Force is pretty impressive and I’ve come to realize that every narrative arc has slight production adjustments that fit the story. Like atmospheric tint, camera angles or tricks, framing… that sort of stuff. And it is impressive.
There’s going to be a lot of text here so forgive me for breaking my format a bit and talking in general rather than about these specific images. I will get back to it next week. Do please take note of the top right picture though (for later!)
The opening arc of Fire Force had a fiery orange filter and in fact favoured yellows, oranges and reds a lot in its palette. It was a much more monochrome arc that got broken up by scenes of also fairly monochrome cool dark blues for the highest contrast possible. Jump cuts were used a lot and the framing favoured off centre close up characters.
Those first episodes felt stifling and full of a sort of nervous energy. Exciting yet a little uncomfortable.
This time I direct you attention to third row right and bottom pics.
For the Hibana arc, everything got a sudden wash of unnatural grey or green. Action mostly took place in the shadows or at night. Motion speed was played with a lot and the camera favoured low angles looking up at the action. It all seemed to point to something being very off. Something tricky, a big unpleasant secret being kept from us. Something was definitely brewing.
Then we moved on the the company 1 arc and there was light! Blindingly white light. It bled into everything, washed out colours and cast sunspot or refracted rainbows all over the place. The camera moved in thight, holding characters front and centre. Action came in spurts. As the narrative became more of a mystery the visuals shed a useless light on everything. All those characters shown in such a straightforward framing seemed so suspicious. It was visual language subversion on every level.
In the last episodes, the visuals returned a bit closer to the opening arc which I guess is fitting, as the mid point was just around the corner and the series would get a new start so to speak.
The Asukasa arc favoured a much more natural and earthy palette. Light stopped being bleakly white and took on a more natural warm hue but it was also slightly muted. The type of light you get in huge cities with lost of skyscrapers as opposed to big open plains.
The camera moved away, larger group shots were more frequent during this arc than any other and fights were shot like a big budget action movie. A little slower and more deliberate so that the viewer could easily follow everything that was going on and pause for the epic moments.
Everything was more natural during the Asukasa arc. There were a fey perspective tricks and some fun colour moments but generally, the production took a more classical approach in line with Asukasa’s traditional values.
And here we are, in what I like to call the Vulcan arc.
It has the widest range of bright colours we’ve seen so far from Fire Force. What I mean is that Fire Force has always had beautiful and saturated colours but it does tend towards more monochrome or single colour tint palettes. This time all the bright colours are right there.
Very often the camera goes for aerial shots. I did not actually bother to screencap most of them but believe me, it’s way more frequent than it has been up until now. It also does something else that is not only new to the series but a visual trick I have not seen much anywhere. It deliberately restricts the frame either through the use of frequent photographs on unified backgrounds or by showing the image through a slot. Other than playing with the aspect ration which has lots of effects, I’m not sure why this visual trick is being used here. And I really want to know.
After all, everything seems to have been a carefully thought out choice. The visuals always either fit with the story or got directly subverted by it. They always served the mood so this arc has to be the same.
As I said in my other post, I do believe this episode to be one of the most difficult for the main characters (one of the darkest if you will) so setting it in the most colourful environment is deliciously ironic. (Man I hope I used that right…) The aerial views create this huge sense of space which contradicts the fact that the narrative is stuck in this tiny workshop in the middle of a small but overstuffed junkyard. It should be claustrophobic but it’s not. If anything, it’s a little agoraphobic.
Except for those restricted frames. I still don’t know what that’s about…
Also, I said it in the other post but I think it bears repeating. I think Arthur may be Don Quixote and it fills me with joy!