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Review of Fire Force Episode 19: The Dark Underground and Two Very Different Fighting Styles

Quick Summary

In Fire Force episode 19, “Into the Nether,” Victor Licht analyzed the remains of Vulcan’s home and figured out where the Evangelist’s troops came from: the Nether. So, Akitaru Oubi petitioned the church for permission and ordered the 8th Special Fire Force Company to descend into that dark place. Shinra remembered his mother using the Nether as a scare tactic for his child self; Arthur just wanted to see what’s down there; and the rest of the crew ranged from stoic to terrified. What they don’t know is that Sho was aware they’re coming and prepared a “reception.” Can our heroes conquer their own fears — as well as counter whatever attack Sho’s troops level at them? Surely they’ll be okay if they stick together, right?

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.  

What’s in This Post

3 Favorite Moments

Moment 1: Vulcan and His Buttons

The more I learn about Vulcan, the more I like him. I think he was kinda trolling his new comrades here… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The more I see of Vulcan, the more I like him. This scene shows why.

The show spent the first six or seven minutes building the Nether’s mystery and terror. Shinra’s mom had used it to try to scare him into picking up his toys when he was a kid (01:40). Akitaru seemed uneasy about going underground into the Nether, and he’s not scared of anything. Iris, speaking from her knowledge of church lore, came out and said, “It’s super scary there.” Even Maki — Maki! — seemed uneasy.

The entire company stopped in front of the huge double steel doors leading to the Nether. As several of them confessed how scared they were, Viktor said that Vulcan, at least, seemed calm. “I don’t make a habit of it, but I have been in there a few times, inspecting the water treatment facilities,” he said (08:13). That was interesting — he knew what to expect once they got underground.

Turned out he knew more than that.

Akitaru moved immediately to protect Iris when the doors started to open. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Just as Iris finished her prayer with “Látom,” the huge doors began to swing inward. They were astonished. Akitaru moved between Iris and the door to protect her. Arthur wondered if it were a magic door.

“Oh, it opened, it opened,” Vulcan said (08:58). “It looks like the electricity is running!” He had just pushed the open button.

I really like this show’s irreverent humor.

Moment 2: Maki: “Just” a Woman?

Want to know what Maki looks like when she cuts loose? This might be close… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Sho’s minions Yona and Mirage quickly launched an attack that separated most of the 8th Company’s members. When Maki regained consciousness (14:28), she was alone (except for Sputter and Flare) — and very, very frightened. I’ll be honest: I felt a pain in my heart seeing her scared expression. That’s so unlike her!

A few seconds later, she was even more scared to see six figures. One of them, Flail, spoke dismissively, saying, “Oh, it’s just a woman” (14:49). I expected Maki to get serious or angry.

Instead, she burst out with a relieved laugh! She had been afraid they were ghosts or some other supernatural phenomenon. One of Flail’s sidekicks decided he didn’t like her laugh, and, telling her to stop “screwing” with then, sprinted towards her, his flame weapon streaming from his hand.

He had just reached her when she disarmed him and slammed him — hard — into the ground.

I’ll give Flail some credit. He managed to slow Maki down. A little. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

“I’m not screwing with you,” she said. “I can handle you as long as you’re a person.”

What followed was one of the most brutally effective demonstrations of close quarters combat that I’ve seen. She deployed the new weapons Vulcan had created for her in the previous episode. Then she demolished every last sidekick. She didn’t even struggle. She just blocked their attacks and then broke them so thoroughly that I’m convinced they’re dead.

Even Flail, using his name-sake weapon, was only able to slow her down for a moment. The combination of punches she unleashed on him was devastating. I think he’s dead now, too.

Maki is just awesome.

Though the body count in this episode was kinda high…

Moment 3: Látom with a Metal Pipe

The women of the 8th were certainly bright-eyed in this episode! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Tamaki has been an interesting character throughout this series. It’s likely that if you’ve been watching the show, you’re aware of the Lucky Lecher Lure. It was dormant as of the previous couple of episodes, but apparently, something re-enabled it. Twice. And interestingly enough, it played a role — a positive role — in my third favorite moment.

Though I do have to wonder if there was an alternative the writers could have explored…

Tamaki and Iris had ended up alone after the initial attack. Sho had ordered Assault to kill everyone in the 8th Company, and the first two he found were Tamaki and Iris. Tamaki did the right thing. She tried to protect Iris. But she’s still too inexperienced. She lacked Maki’s raw power. So Assault brushed her aside (18:55).

We got a decent flashback where Shinra had told her if she got into trouble to call him for help. She protested furiously that she was a Fire Soldier. She was the one who would offer help, not ask for it. Recalling that moment gave her strength. She was able to push aside what Assault intended to be his finishing attack. Unfortunately, her Lucky Lecher Lure chose that moment to activate. Instead of landing her counter attack, she ended up pressing her bare breast against Assault’s hand.

Come hell or high water, Tamaki was determined to protect Iris. Gotta admire her courage. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Apparently, Assault didn’t get out much, because the touch alone threw him off his game. When he tried to recover, he found that somehow, Tamaki was face down, bare bottom up. That completely blew his mind. Long enough for Iris to come up behind him and deliver a profoundly satisfying strike with a heavy metal pipe. All the while intoning “Látom.”

He tried to rally, but Tamaki and Iris beat on him so hard two mice in the foreground had to censor the scene.

Don’t mess with Sister Iris! She knows how to make the best use of distractions.

Thoughts

Damm this was a brutal episode. Not only did Maki destroy Flail and his minions, but Iris and Tamaki beat Assault into the dust. Seeing Iris behave so viciously was a little disconcerting, to be honest. Though I loved it at the same time.

Did you notice how amazing the background shots of destroyed Tokyo were? It reminded me a lot of the video game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Cry of Pripyat.

The doors to the Nether reminded me of this space in Cry of Pripyat’s Jupiter level.

Well, the Lucky Lecher Lure is back. I’m on record (for example, in my review of episode 9) as not being a fan of fanservice that trivializes a character or her experiences. I’m also on record (in posts too numerous to link to) for being a fan of fanservice that’s under the control of the character (think Miia from Monster Musume) or if it advances the plot (kinda like episode 9 of Record of Grancrest War). So in which category did this episode’s fanservice fall?

Part of me felt a little uncomfortable with how unrelenting both Tamaki and Iris were. Then I reminded myself what would have happened if they had lost the fight. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Let’s look at both occasions independently. Just after the initial attack, Iris found herself with two versions of Tamaki. One looked, acted, and sounded precisely and exactly like Tamaki. The other looked just like the Tamaki we all know and love. However, that Tamaki acted a little unusual, for Tamaki at least. And, most telling of all, it sounded like a man.

Iris couldn’t tell the difference.

Tamaki even powered up with her red-flamed cat ears and tail. Iris was till hesitant. “This could be a cleverly-set trap,” she said (13:20). Really, Iris? It was only when the real Tamaki took a step back, tripped, and ended up stark naked did Iris finally realize, with stars in her eyes, which Tamaki was the real one. I thought the moment was funny, and far from casting Iris in a negative light (okay — to be honest, it really did make her look less than observant), I’m going to start a totally unfounded rumor. I think Iris was intentionally holding out to see Tamaki naked.

Stranger ships have sailed.

I have to wonder if Iris just wanted to embrace a naked Tamaki. It could happen! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

So I’m going to invoke Miles Lane (in claymation form) and say “I’ll allow it.” It took Tamaki’s curse and made it relevant to the plot — mostly.

The second instance was within my third favorite moment. Tamaki was absolutely determined to protect Iris, which meant she had to go head to head with the powerful Assault. He initially batted her aside, but she summoned her strength and renewed her attack — only to end up either attacking his hand with her breast or flashing her most private area. In that instant, I’ll be honest: I was grimacing. It really felt like the show built up this battle for her to prove herself, only to trivialize her efforts by stripping her — literally! — of her dignity. Or at least of her modesty.

But the show took one more step: it used Tamaki’s public display to freeze Assault (seriously — the Evangelist needs to make sure his troops are better prepared if the sight of a bare bottom destroys their concentration). Iris then stepped up and the rest is history.

Just like Assault.

I gotta give Iris credit. She knew exactly what to say to reinforce Tamaki’s sense of accomplishment. After all, Tamaki did decide to stay in the fight — nothing can take that away from her. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

So, with reluctance, I’m going to allow the second bit of fanservice, too. Especially since Tamaki and Iris used it to bond over the corpse of Assault. Though I’m still uneasy with how much glee the good sister seemed to feel in dispatching her enemy…

I guess “turn the other cheek” in this case — Tamaki’s experience aside — meant Assault got a more thorough pounding. On both cheeks.

What did you think of their first steps into the Nether? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!

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7 thoughts on “Review of Fire Force Episode 19: The Dark Underground and Two Very Different Fighting Styles

  1. I’m kind of annoyed by the return of the Lucky Lecher, Tamaki deserved a better finishing blow than that. However, I am completely prepared to ship Iris and Tamaki now, Iris certainly seemed interested.

    The one thing that really annoyed me about this episode though was how short the fights were. Maybe I’m just too used to drawn out shonen fights, but I felt like both Maki’s and Tamaki’s fight needed to be stretched out a bit more to let the anticipation and dread build more before taking Flail and Assault down. Then again, maybe I just want to see Maki fight more.

    1. “I’m kind of annoyed by the return of the Lucky Lecher, Tamaki deserved a better finishing blow than that. ”

      Yeah, it didn’t feel great, did it? You can probably tell I was trying to talk myself into being okay with it. But at least one of the incidents ended up with Iris hugging a naked Tamaki, so all’s well that ends well, I guess!

      “Iris certainly seemed interested.”

      I was surprised — and delighted! — at that development. I’m intrigued!

      “The one thing that really annoyed me about this episode though was how short the fights were. ”

      Shinra’s training arc was a single episode, too. I can’t tell if they’re rushing it, or if they’re just more fast-paced than I’m used to.

      “Then again, maybe I just want to see Maki fight more.”

      That’s entirely possible!

  2. Maki is a goddess and I’m setting up a shrine for all that want to worship her. Her fight was excellent and I still can’t believe how brutal she was. Those guys are definitely dead, even in a shounen!

    1. “Maki is a goddess and I’m setting up a shrine for all that want to worship her.”

      Make sure to file for tax exempt status!

      “Those guys are definitely dead, even in a shounen!”

      I was surprised, almost shocked, at how ruthless she was! I expected the enemy to be knocked out, but I can’t see how any of them could have survived.

      Still, it was great to watch. I loved how she just swatted aside their attacks.

      1. Yeah, there was one moment where she smashed the guys face with her knee and then let him go, but before he could fall to the ground, she had one of the hammers drive into his face! Maki does not mess around!

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