I’m often out of step with the greater anime community. I’m the dork that’s super excited about the show that’s dead last in popularity in a season or that loves the least popular arc of beloved shows. At least I feel that way. I know a lot of people say the same thing and it’s not possible that no one agrees with popular opinion. That’s just not how popular works…

What I’m saying is that for better or worse, everyone was talking about the first season of Fire Force but this second one has generated much less interest. Yet in many respects, I like this second season more. And this episode really had some interesting setup.

The visual cues stayed the same as in the last few episodes at least at first. There is some interesting variation in the second half and I’ll try to point it out. One this I did really enjoy was the obvious mirroring between the dark lady of the Tabernacle and the Evangelist. It was pretty heavy-handed, however, this show has trampled on visual tropes and traditions a few times so when it puts out something so obvious that’s interesting in its own right.

 For a long time now Fire Force has been investing imagery. Our hero and protagonist is a devil with shiny red eyes. His friends are clad in heavy dark uniforms to overwhelm their figures and make their proportions look inhuman. The antagonists are dressed in white and often look like noble knights. The Evangelist has a lot of god imagery woven into their design. It makes sense that the dark lady would be good and the Evangelist bad but… Demon infernals are enemies. One can argue that they were brought to the form against their will but on a practical basis, they are still the guys we need to defeat. The church may be a wildcard but Sister, who has the most traditionally innocent character design, has been nothing but a peach! It’s like the show doesn’t play by its own rules or maybe things simply aren’t black and white.

Also, I was quite excited to finally get some definitive info on the Evangelist. First, it seems that the Evangelist and Adolla may be one and the same, finally clarifying that Adolla is an entity.  Second, we found out the Evangelist is a her. Despite seeing her a few times in season 1, I thought it was a man. Not sure what that says about me. It’s somewhat interesting to me that Fire Force is introducing so many powerful female characters this season. A lot of them are bad guys too.

First, that last image of the boys sleeping is one of my favourite caps!

Second, I know the images or anything, but this episode has some really great sound design. I don’t usually notice it much in Fire Force but I liked it this week. It made noises vary in register instead of making them louder in order to make more impact which I appreciate and there was a great use of silence. Silence is an underappreciated part of sound design.

I went back over my past screencaps and noticed that the desert shot, you know the one with the campfire, is a composition that’s reused a few times. Basically putting the group in the background (the fairground) in the center of the shot with and a level horizon close to the bottom and a huge sky. Then adding bones or curves protrusions to frame the image on either side making it look like our heroes are in some giant maw about to get devoured, or maybe a giant spring trap. It’s a cool shot.

Oh yeah, there was some story as well… We find out that the dark lady was indeed human and a pillar. Having been infected by one of the Evangelist’s bugs she should have become an infernal but she kept her mind and her will so I’m assuming she’s also a prokinetic. She also laid a bit of Dogma on us but nothing too shocking. We knew most of it or at least suspected as much. Mostly it defined the Evangelist as something not at all human. Something from beyond the void?

Stories with religious imagery or themes probably aren’t for everyone. As far as I can tell it’s pretty much only the iconography that’s being borrowed here. It does create a certain tone though. The episode also once again hinted to a short towards political intrigue. As the Church of Sol and the State of Tokyo are apparently very much integrated, going against one would be tantamount to going against the other. And there are finally doubts about the church forming on the edge of Shinra’s mind.

This is a huge deal. It also directly implicates Amaterasu, source of comfort, safety, possibly even life to the people Shinra has sworn to protect. What does all of it mean? A crisis of faith?

The also answered my question from last week. There is someone in Aaterasu and Shinra seems pretty confident she is Amaterasu. Great goddess of the sun and central character in one of my all-time favourite games. Amaterasu can’t be evil? Can she? We’re mixing religions here…

I kept that screencap of the poll with the loudspeaker for a specific reason. It was the best shot I got to illustrate a little something I noticed. After they got back to Tokyo, there was suddenly an abundance of dutch angles. Fire Force is a show that uses a lot of camera techniques and visual tricks. And although there have definitely been dutch angles in the past, they were never quite so present and insistent. And in this particular episode, I didn’t really notice any until the last minutes when they were home.  Dutch angles are often meant to convey a sense of unease. It’s a way to communicate to the audience that something’s not quite right without every saying it. So what’s wrong with Tokyo?

I’m dusting off my Shinra avatar!

shinra rini

8 thoughts

  1. Cool Shinra avatar!

    “Yet in many respects, I like this second season more. ”

    I really enjoyed the first season, with a few reservations. But I am absolutely loving the second season. This episode was a high point for me.

    The reveals in this episode really got me excited. I love it when shows play with theology. Your description of those issues covered what I liked. The show’s investment in its characters and world is starting to pay off big time, and I couldn’t be happier.

    Well, okay, I probably _could_ be, but the show’s already exceeding my expectations, so I don’t want to be greedy!

    Your analysis of the “dutch angles” explained the unease I felt in the last scenes. I learned something today!

    The Benefactor’s story was heartbreaking…

    Glad you’re reviewing the second season!

    1. Thanks Crow and I’m glad you’re enjoying it and reviewing it too! Let’s hope it keeps up the good work!

  2. I’d totally forgotten about the time shinanigans from last season, so, yeah, a second is plenty.

    Also, I meant to mention it last time (or the time before), but “Raffles” always reminds of the song “Mr. Raffles (Man, It Was Mean)” by Cockney Rebel, in which Mr. Raffles is something like the ultimate trickster.

    Near the end I’ve always wondered how much Victor knew or suspected. I think he was talking to Shinra on purpose there at the end. Not sure how much in league he is with Joker – but they’re somewhat compatible for sure.

    1. Victor is definitely a wildcard. He’s the type of character that the narrative actively reminds us could betray the heroes at any time so his simple presence is a slight tension. I like that.
      To me, Tokyo itself was sort of oppressive this episode, we might be heading into an open clash between the Fire Force and the Church/State…

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