I can’t believe the season is winding down already. Seems like it just started! Well at least we still have a bit more Fire Force to go and boy is it stepping up its endgame. Last week was a brilliant show of atmospheric manipulation through colour and sound deprivation.

This week?

It’s all about skewed perspectives and creeping shadows. Let me tell you right now, it worked out well. Possibly even more impressive on a visual front and that is saying a whole lot. o wonder I’m having such a hard time keeping these gallery posts reasonable. I also talk about the story over on 100 Word Anime.

It says something that this opening act, with Obi, Vulcan, Lisa and Giovanni and bathed in a striking red light with forced downwards perspectives that make Lisa look all tiny and out of control and sketch style art break scenes, is potentially the least visually inventive sequence of the episode.

Something along the lines of, please make more anime you guys, you do amazing work with visual mediums and you understand so well the subtleties of telling the story beyond the script.

I have occasionally been told I put too much emphasis on the production of anime. And to that I say, I beg to differ!

This is where things start getting interesting…er. Shinra’s little break from reality is very visually heavy handed and on the nose but Fire Force’s comical cartoonish style and intense colours can carry that easily.

Also I love any appearance by little Shinrs’s cape. It’s one of the most emotional visual markers in the series and it’s a great bit of character establishment. We didn’t get to see it at all in the last flashback so it’s telling that it’s an integral part of how Shinra sees himself. In many ways he’s quite similar to Arthur and that’s adorable! Just so freking adorable.

The big bloody circle (circles in general are a pattern that comes up a lot this week) really reminded me of Berserk. I guess it should have reminded me of Ringu but instead that downward reaching hand looked like the brand of sacrifice to me. And I think that fits in better thematically.

See what I mean about circles?

One of my issues this weeks is that moving shadows don’t really show up in screencaps. The episode was full of very harsh shadows that just swept across the scenes, distorting mouvement, or creating some where there was none, and warping proportions.

It was a frantic , confusing effect that made it difficult to really fully grasp the images we were seeing without nauseating motion sickness. The only time I’ve seen anything similar in anime, and too a much lesser degree, was drifters that also enjoyed very blunt shadows and I think the 7th instalment of the Garden of Sinners. I consider both of these works production powerhouses ans honestly, I think Fire Force did this particular effect better. It grabbed my attention during quieter scenes and completely riveted me to the screen during action sequences.

Sho and Shinra’s showdown (say that six times fast), didn’t only play with light and shadows. I also played with speed.  As in it went for almost stationary slow motion to hyper speed impossible to flow fast motion. When you combine that with the Blue tone with red accents palette, the exaggerated light and the actual high speed animation, you had a set piecce that was absolutely mesmerizing.

Fights have always looked good in Fire Force. It’s obviously been a priority for animators. And I can name a few that are worth seeking out if you’re a fan of animation. But few use as many elements as this week’s confrontation between Shinra and Sho. How that translates into your enjoyment of watching it is personal, but on a purely technical level, I thought it was an absolute thrill. O.k., I also just enjoyed watching it.

I like that the colour drain here is a blown out blue/white shade as opposed to last week’s grey. It makes the effect look completely different. Whereas I found last week a little suffocating and sort of melancholy. Like someone trying to illustrate PTSD. This week is bleak and unnerving, like an anxiety attack. I’m not selling this well.

Just as they did last week, colours slowly start to creep back in as the episode comes to an end for a return to some normalcy. Well kinda. The final scene is a soft cliffhanger after all.

I like how they use Victor’s ridiculous facial expressions to create a break in the tension. His reaction and lines are all perfectly reasonable but his face is so expressive (as faces tend to be in this series) and the camera really focuses on it.

The episode bookends with scenery of Shinra’s nightmare world and I’ve decided to the the same for this post.

Fire Force ep21-5 (23)


2 thoughts

  1. Sho’s universe looks awesome, with those drifting smoky shadows. A lot of this episode was motion, as you say. (I do sometimes have problems with the way the CGI stands out [e.g. Lisa’s tentacles], but it’s not a big deal, and what they’re getting right more than makes up for this.)

    1. You know I sort of like the tentacles. In my headcanon it’s cause she’s broken so her power looks “not quite right…”

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