Review for Fire Force - Season 2 Part 2
Thankfully it’s only been a couple of months since I last took a look at a Fire Force release. Thus far, the series release has been made problematic by long hiatuses between releases, which aren’t useful when you’re trying to hold onto storylines and characters. I’ll freely admit that even at this point, I’m not quite au fait with the overarching Fire Force story, and I fear that I’ll be referring to characters by their signifying characteristics rather than their names, but at least this time I remember where Part 1 left off before I start Part 2 of Season 2. To date, these two seasons will comprise the whole of Fire Force, and at the time of writing, no further anime adaptations of the manga have been announced. I’m hoping that this collection finds a satisfying stopping off point, on the off chance that this is all the anime wrote.
It’s a world defined by fire. In the Solar year 198, Shinra Kusakabe is starting work as a Fire Soldier at Fire Cathedral 8. His job is to find those people who spontaneously combust and turn into Infernals and put an end to them before they harm anyone else. He’s a fireman who fights supernatural fire with fire, literally. He’s one of the rare people who are pyrokinetic, he can generate fire from his feet, and with such intensity that he can literally fly.
However, this spontaneous human combustion may not be truly spontaneous. There are 8 Fire Companies set up to investigate the source of this phenomenon and put an end to it, but they tend to work in secrecy and often at cross purposes. The newest Company 8 has been set up to see if one or more of the companies knows more than its telling, whether there is actually a conspiracy behind the appearance of the Infernals. This suits Shinra, as he also wants to know the truth behind his tragic past, a fire that claimed the life of his mother and his baby brother. Only at the end of Season 1, Shinra learned that nothing was as he believed it to be.
12 episodes of Fire Force Season 2 Part 2 are presented across two Blu-rays from Manga Entertainment.
13. A Pair of One-Eyes
14. The Ashen Reaper
15. A Three-Way Melee
16. Mind Blown
17. Boys, Be Weak
18. The Holy Woman’s Anguish/The Man, Assault
19. The Oze Family
20. Weapon of Destruction
21. Enemy Contact
22. Plot for Extinction
24. Signs of Upheaval
Fire Force gets a 1.78:1 widescreen transfer at 1080p resolution. The image is clear and sharp, the colours are rich and consistent, and there is little issue with compression and aliasing. However, in environments where smoke is prevalent, the image is prone to banding a little more than the average anime. I really like the character designs in Fire Force, they have the same kind of punk sensibility as those in Soul Eater, while the background designs, particularly the cityscape reminded me a little of Tekkonkinkreet. The animation is smooth and detailed, and with fire being notoriously complicated and a challenge to animate well, Fire Force really succeeds in making its fire sequences work.
You have the choice between Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround English, and 2.0 Stereo Japanese with subtitles and signs locked during playback. I stuck with the Japanese audio this time, and was happy enough with the experience. The actors are suited to their characters, while the stereo does wonders with the action sequences, often placing you in the middle of conflagrations. The music drives the pace of the story well enough. The subtitles are accurately timed and are free of typos. At 1:54 into Disc 2, towards the end of episode 23, there was a glitch in the Japanese audio, more of a skip. The English audio was fine at this point, and when I checked the episode on Crunchyroll, it sounded exactly the same, indicating it’s an issue at source.
You get four discs on two centrally hinged panels in a BD style Amaray. There is some nice sleeve art inside to look at, while the outer art is replicated on an o-card slipcover. You get a digital copy with the release, and the discs present their content with animated menus.
BD Disc 1 autoplays with a trailer for Demon Slayer Part 2.
Disc 2 kicks off with a trailer for Plunderer Part 2.
Here you’ll find the Fire Force Voice Actors Answer Your Questions (7:02) featurette, and also the textless credits.
Or rather not a conclusion! Fire Force continues to faithfully adapt the source manga, and it turns out that the anime adaptation got hit by the pandemic. After Season 2, production went on hiatus, and at the time of writing, there’s no sign of a potential Season 3. I hope they manage to sort that out soon, as this second season leaves things in the air with the story. It’s as if the first two seasons have been about introducing the characters, setting up the story, and getting all the pieces into position for the endgame, and that’s where it frustratingly stops in this collection. It should also be noted that mangaka Atsushi Ohkubo has publicly stated that he’s winding up the Fire Force manga, so there will be a definite story to adapt to anime. We shouldn’t get a Soul Eater situation where the latter half was an anime original that didn’t live up to the manga.
The down side is that I’m still not feeling Fire Force in way that I fell for Soul Eater. The contrivances in the story are plainer to see, and the characters don’t have the same level of creative quirkiness. Fire Force feels second tier to me, very much following a shonen blueprint, wearing its clichés and tropes on its sleeve. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t enjoyable; far from it, as Fire Force has managed to entertain me greatly, hitting the spot in ways that other modern shonen shows like Black Clover have missed. It’s just not that memorable, and certainly not helped by the way its release schedule has panned out. I still look forward to re-watching it on a regular schedule to see if that makes any difference when it comes to its staying power.
That would certainly help with staying on top of the intricacies of the show’s plot, all the various factions, and especially the jargon and all the rules of this universe. The Evangelist and the White-Clad are the villains, the various Fire Force units standing in opposition, in a society governed by sun worship, a civilisation raised from the ashes of a global catastrophe. The main character, Shinra Kusakabe, and the Fire Force 8th Division that he’s a part of are on a journey to uncover the truths behind the world, and that continues here, beginning with the aftermath of a raid on the centre of worship. The truth they were seeking wasn’t there, but it instead points to the city’s largest industrial complex, Haijima.
That’s where Shinra was examined and tested after he lost his family, and where he developed his fire feet powers. Now they have to go there and uncover what secrets Haijima have been guarding, especially the research they do on Adolla and the Pillars. It turns into a right mess when the confrontation between the Fire Force and Haijima is interrupted by the White Clad, who are there looking for another Pillar, someone who has manifested Adolla Burst powers. It turns into a three way battle, with the newest Pillar (a boy named Nataku we previously encountered) producing radioactive flames!
That’s a five episode arc or so, and following a two part episode which offers a look at a couple of the members of the 8th, Tamaki and Iris who usually get less screen time, the next arc begins, with the White-Clad tracked down to the Nether, the undercity, and the 8th and the 2nd Fire Force Units going underground to hunt them down. This is coupled with Fire Force member Maki being reassigned by her military family (to protect her from the Fire Force oaf that ‘forces’ her into dangerous situations). The Oze family bear a little similarity to the Armstrong family from Full Metal Alchemist and this domestic issue plays out as the Fire Force walks into a White Clad trap, and uncovers an Evangelist plan that threatens the city.
These arcs offer the usual shonen action, and levelling up through superior willpower, but by this point in the story, they’re playing for keeps, and ancillary characters don’t necessarily survive unscathed, or at all. I have to say that I was disappointed to see the Dr Giovanni battle in this arc, end the same way the fight against Mosquito in Soul Eater did, suggesting the creator is cribbing from himself at this point. The final two episodes bring us back to the training part of the formula, with Shinra, Arthur, and Tamaki looking for a way to get even stronger before the next arc begins. It’s a chance for character comedy, and in the case of Tamaki, character development that stays on the light side of things (although there is one dark development in the background), before the dark side of the story takes control again. And at this point, it seems that the protagonists know which questions need answering, and they all seem to be on the same page. But while the heroes may finally be presenting a united front, the antagonists of the piece seem about to spring their final plan into motion. It’s the sense of a story holding its breath, which is where we leave Fire Force, hoping that Season 3 and beyond will actually be produced.
It’s not the greatest shonen show ever, and it’s a little too reliant on clichés and past glories (notably Soul Eater), but it holds the attention, and it does certainly entertain. This Blu-ray lives up to the quality of the rest of the series, so it’s an easy purchase for fans to make.