Shinra Kusakabe and the Fire Force Company members have returned from their journey to the Chinese Peninsula, having discovered that the generator powering the Tokyo Empire contains a human with an Adolla Burst inside its core. Meanwhile, the powerful and influential Haijima Industries has been monitoring Shinra and his Adolla Burst abilities, and have been using their facilities to perform experiments on pyrokinetic children to awaken additional Adolla Bursts. Haijima view Shinra as “the one that got away”, having spent his childhood being monitored in a Haijima facility after receiving his pyrokinetic powers, with his Adolla abilities only awakening after he left to join the Fire Force. Following Shinra’s departure and the awakening of his Adolla Burst, Haijima’s experiments have grown more extreme, and they once more have their sights set on Shinra as they seek to return him to their facilities.
Fire Force – Season 2 Part 2 comprises of episodes 13-24 of season two. Coasting by on the narrative good will of Fire Force – Season 2 Part 1, the second half of the season repeatedly threatens to be good with cool concepts and a sense of the series’ overarching mysteries coming together. However, it seems history repeats itself – after having reviewed the first part of a season of Fire Force and feeling hopeful for the next instalment and its implications, I remain fairly unenthused by the conclusion of its second half (for a look into my Fire Force journey thus far, check out my reviews of Fire Force Season 1 Part 1 and Part 2,and Fire Force Season 2 Part 1 ). It feels like I keep getting tricked by exciting pyrokinetic anime fights and promises of escalating tensions and intriguing scenarios – I won’t deny that it’s an effective trick that I have fallen for twice (shame on me), and what makes it so effective is that Fire Force repeatedly establishes interesting premises and exciting stakes, and then almost delivers on what it promises.
Once again, this set of twelve episodes fits pretty neatly into two arcs with some light-hearted filler episodes in between – the Haijima Industry facility episodes and the pursuit of the White-Clad cultists hiding beneath the city. The Haijima episodes have a really great hook – Shinra spent his childhood in a Haijima facility while they searched for possessors of Adolla Bursts, and Shinra leaving the facility and triggering his Adolla abilities has caused the company to double down on its experiments and place the children who live there in very real danger. Spurred on by this personal connection to Haijima, Shinra returns to the facility to investigate and help the kids being held there. Frankly, this is an excellent narrative hook that ties Shinra’s past to the mystery of the Adolla Bursts and those who would seek to exploit them. It also introduces some promising characters, including the young pyrokinetic Nataku who is being monitored by Haijima following an encounter with the White-Clads that triggered his pyrokinesis and Kurono, a pyrokinetic working for Haijima as a professional bully (yes, this is the most accurate description of his role) who fights children to trigger their abilities and obsesses over the weakness of his opponents.
This hook and these characters would be great if they weren’t servicing a narrative that felt like it was struggling to give its characters something to do. Fire Force – Season 2 Part 2, and the series in general, constantly feels like it is searching for something to do. Often, the characters and their investigations feel like efforts to pass the time while they wait for the plot to find them rather than meaningful narrative progression, and when the series finally stumbles across an interesting plot beat, it panics and opts to abandon it rather than spending the time pursuing it or exploring its implications. Shinra’s brother Sho has been stuffed in a corner somewhere since the end of season one, waiting for the narrative to give Shinra additional reasons to try and track him down as if he didn’t already have reason enough. Shinra’s past with Haijima and its staff, and his personal desire to help the kids at Haijima Industries based on his own experiences is such a great set up – and it is dropped as soon as it is narratively more convenient to move onto the next arc. Fire Force continuously perpetuates this sense of the series getting good by creating exciting scenarios, and then can never bring itself to deliver on them. Thus, the cycle of trickery continues.
I will of course not deny that there are enjoyable aspects to Fire Force – Season 2 Part 2 – there are quite a few things to enjoy about Fire Force (which is why the lack of follow through is so frustrating). Kurono is a genuinely entertaining character who is hilarious in his absurd awfulness as he obsesses over preying upon those weaker than he is. In this case, targeting literal children because they are generally the weakest opponents to be found, feels exceedingly dark but also genuinely funny due to how farcical it feels. Fire Force – Season 2 Part 2 is full of these kinds of contradictions, where dire situations are paired with surprisingly humorous moments – the result often feels something like whiplash, but it honestly made some of the duller moments in the series much more entertaining. The reveals regarding the White-Clads and how they operate as an organisation, the Adolla Bursts, and how the Tokyo Empire generator is powered also feel significant and continue to give the narrative some shape despite arcs that feel unceremoniously dropped.
The pyrokinetic abilities of the cast continue to be extremely unique and entertaining, with the visuals displaying these techniques never failing to impress. The sound effects and mixing for the series whenever these techniques are used (especially when Shinra is zooming around at fantastic speeds) deserve a special shout out, as they never fail to completely absorb my attention with deep bass sounds and high pitches used to communicate the heat and ferocity of the flames used in combat encounters in a way that makes the fiery Shonen battles completely captivating.
Fire Force – Season 2 Part 2 is full of promise that it often struggles to deliver on. These elements or fun in of themselves, but it creates a dangerous desire for what could have been – one that I feel growing with every season that passes of the series. But I cannot fault the series for having effective hooks and set ups, even if the intriguing scenarios they promise do not fully come to pass. I look forward to being lulled into a sense of intrigue once more when Fire Force Season 3 comes my way.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.