English Dub Review: Fire Force “The Battle Begins”

OVERVIEW (SPOILERS)
Iris remembers her childhood with Hibana as nuns but brushes off Shinra when he shows concern. Good timing to remember it, considering that Company 8 is about to center their investigations on the research Company 5 is hiding. Part of that is what they’re doing to the Infernal Formerly Known as Miyamoto, which they’re just about finished up with when Iris stops by their headquarters to speak with Hibana and plead with her to give up her research. Their reunion doesn’t go well, as Hibana burns up her clothing and holds her captive, ranting that their time as nuns was pointless because there is no God in this world. Luckily, this gives the rest of Company 8 a good enough excuse to barge in and rescue her.

While Shinra goes ahead, the rest of the Company take on other notable members of 5. Arthur fights an old man named Conehead controlling a seemingly domesticated Miyamoto, struggling in the fight until he realizes that he’s been holding his sword in the wrong hand, finally finishing the Infernal off. Maki and Takehisa face Kishiri, who uses bubble gum filled with gas for backdraft attacks, but Takehisa uses his technique of controlling the sparks in bullets to stop him. They then get held up by the “3 Angels Fifth”, but make short work of them. That just leaves Shinra to confront Hibana and save Iris.

OUR TAKE

How naïve of me to think there would only be ONE female character contributing to the fanservice because I underestimated how much Iris was going to add, though I suppose I should have expected it considering the ED. But speaking of, it looks like we’re going to be uncovering the incident it creepily depicts. I knew that it had to be related to Iris’ past since she’s clearly the focus of it, and I knew that we’d probably be getting around to talking about it eventually (unless the anime studio has such free reign that they can just make up a backstory of the main character just for their adaptation), but I didn’t notice Hibana there until today. That establishes a link between her and Iris that will hopefully shed some light on the incident they both survived and some of the background of the Holy Sol religion that apparently has a large influence on Company 1.

This is also a bit of a debut for the unique fighting styles of some of Company 8. We’ve seen Arthur and Maki show off their powers before and explain a bit of how they work in peaceful situations, but this is the first time we’ve seen Arthur in a proper one on one battle, which (while it had a bit of a dumb conclusion) was an impressive bar set for him to surpass later. Likewise, Takehisa’s ability seems to basically let him control the impact of bullets he fires, as well as their trajectory to make them into little guided missiles. It’s this kind of cool and clever superpower stuff that keeps me coming back to shonen stories, and the author of this one did write another that I really liked, so I guess it’s no surprise he knows how to play the game.

Though one thing has been a bit of a concern since I learned about it last week, and that’s the pacing at which this anime is burning through (pun intended) chapters of the manga. This is only the fifth episode of the series and it looks like we’ve passed Chapter 16 in the source material. In my experience, two or three chapters per episode have been the usual rate, so to speed through so much was pretty concerning, since trying to cram too much into an episode can be as damaging as attempting to stretch and pad out one chapter for a whole episode (*coughBlackClovercough*). Thankfully, Fire Force seems to be utilizing this pretty well, as I didn’t even notice this until it was brought up and the pacing of the past five episodes has seemed pretty fluid, so if they can make it work, they should keep it up. If we can cover a bunch of this story before the season ends and make it all feel coherent, I’m all for it.

David Kaldor

Green Lynx (David Kaldor): Aimless 20-something given a paid outlet for his thoughts on cartoons. Fears being boring slightly more than being outright disliked.

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