Shinra Kusakabe and Special Fire Force Company 8 continue investigating corruption within the ranks of the other Fire Force Companies, all while targeted by the Knights of the Ashen Flame, a group of cultists who seek to exacerbate the condition that causes people to suddenly go up in flames, known as Spontaneous Human Combustion. As the cultists continue to pursue Company 8, Shinra searches for his brother Sho amongst their ranks, uncovering more about the mysterious Adolla Burst ability that seems to have drawn the cultists to both him and his brother.
In my review of Fire Force Season 1 Part 1, I summarised my feelings on the series thus far as being disappointed in the lack of meaningful interactions with the core cast of characters and that while the first 12 episodes of Fire Force Season 1 offered some standard shonen fun for viewers, it skated by on the spectacle of its excellent animation, blocking of action scenes, and impressive effects. While Fire Force Season 1 Part 2 continues delivering standard anime entertainment, the same issues continue dogging its character arcs and story progression as they did in Part 1, except this time there is less spectacle to mask the cracks in the facade.
Fire Force Season 1 Part 2 has a lot of promise. Its episodes often build up to fun concepts or ideas for where the story might go next, such as problems to be solved or interesting confrontations that would be a lot of fun to watch. Unfortunately, Part 2 has the habit of introducing these concepts and then immediately deescalating the situation in the most uninteresting ways possible to avoid following through – sometimes multiple times in a single episode. In a particularly frustrating example, a character is ambushed and captured in one scene, and in the very next scene with that character, it is revealed that they have been rescued off-screen by someone else who lampshades the ease at which they found and rescued the other person despite being nowhere nearby in the first place. The escalation and immediate de-escalation of multiple interesting scenarios was often frustrating and made it hard to feel invested in the series, which is really odd in an anime built around the phenomenon of Spontaneous Human Combustion.
One of the best moments in Fire Force Season 1 Part 2 involves a confrontation between Shinra and his younger brother Sho, which is a technically and visually excellent battle. This confrontation works well because it is a really cool action scene and because it is one of the only moments in the series where a fight has more at stake than who will win due to the personal relationships involved and the effective build-up that has occurred throughout the first season leading to this moment. But this is the exception, and it becomes apparent through Part 2 that these episodes struggle to hide how little the series has invested in some of the relationships between the main cast so far, and it still feels like we know very little about them or that we will ever learn more. As a result, the main cast feels very one‑note, with very little to offer aside from the specific roles they have been cast to play, such as the leader, the knight, the nun, etc. Despite the push from Fire Force to cast Company 8 as a family of misfits, in reality the series leaves a lot to be desired from these characters and their connections with each other.
Speaking of one-note, Tamaki Kotatsu pandering also escalates to a wild extent, as she continues to find herself in situations where her clothing struggles to remain on her person, and members of the cast now freely referring to it as her curse. The utter zaniness of how much she struggles to remain clothed and uncompromised really makes the show feel extremely juvenile – at one point Tamaki somehow finds herself upside down on top of another character with his head down her shirt. How she wound up in this position is still completely unknown to me as one moment she was standing right side up in the shot, and then suddenly the scene cut away and she was upside down. The bizarre framing of the scene forced me to rewind and re-watch the exchange because there was absolutely no indication of what caused her to end upside down. But I guess this kind of encapsulates the Fire Force experience thus far – things just kind of happen without rhyme or reason and viewers just need to go along with it.
Despite my disappointment in missed opportunities and concepts and the lack of meaningful interactions between the Company 8 team, there is still some fun to be had from this fiery shonen title. I cannot fault technical excellence despite poor pacing and characterisation, and based on the Fire Force Season 1 finale, my interest is peaked for what the series has in store going forward and genuinely hope it is able to improve in its second season.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.