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Review of Fire Force Episode 24: Proving His Mettle and the Truth in Flames

Quick Summary

In Fire Force episode 24, “The Burning Past,” Shinra rode home from the hospital with Vulcan. He’s very distant, and Vulcan warned him to perk up so he doesn’t upset Iris and Maki. After all, they had been very worried about him. That was going to be difficult based on what happened when he confronted Captain Burns about the truth of the fire 12 years ago. Did Shinra fail to convince Burns that he was ready for the truth? Or was he successful — and the truth was so very difficult to accept?

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

What’s in This Post

3 Favorite Moments

Moment 1: No Man is an Island, Especially in the 8th

The idea that he might be upsetting his friends — who had worried about him while he was in the hospital — bothered Shinra. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Episode 23 ended with Shinra on the verge of attacking Captain Burns in an attempt to convince him to tell Shinra the truth. So, when the first shot in this episode was Shinra riding home with Vulcan, I was a bit bothered.

I really, really wanted to see that fight!

Fortunately, we did get to see the fight (see my second favorite moment), but before that, we got a neat little moment between Shinra and Vulcan. Shinra stared out the window, not watching the scenery as it slid by. He was lost in thought. Vulcan picked up on Shinra’s mood. I like that about Vulcan: he’s a talented technologist, but he’s sensitive to the emotional vibes of the people around him. He told Shinra that he should consider not acting like that because Iris and Maki had already worried enough. You could see that the idea of inflicting more pain on this friends really bothered Shinra.

Then Vulcan added the bit that made this my first favorite moment of the episode. He said (01:30), “I know you’ve got your brother and stuff on your mind, but you aren’t all alone.”

Not wanting to embarrass Shinra, Vulcan added that Shinra shouldn’t try to over think anything — it wouldn’t work! This was such a guy moment… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Touching moment, right? So much so that I almost got the sense Shinra was a little embarrassed. Vulcan, sensing that, added that Shinra shouldn’t try to overthink his problem because thinking was “not your strong suit.”

I really enjoy the characters in this series. If their world weren’t so dangerous, I’d love to join the 8th Company for dinner sometime. It seems like they’d try to make me feel right at home!

Moment 2: Making His Resolve Known

Shinra was absolutely focused on proving he was ready for the truth. He was so sure that he convinced Burns. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Remember in the previous moment when I said I really wanted to see the fight between Captain Burns and Shinra? Well, I got to see it. And it was worth the wait.

In the back of my mind, I’m still wondering whose side Burns is on. In fact, I’m still not convinced I know — but I’m pretty sure he’s not working for the Evangelist, now or 12 years ago. But what his ultimate goals are, I have no idea.

Burns told Shinra that to get the full story of what happened in the blaze that destroyed his family, he’d have to fight well enough to convince Burns he was serious — and able to take care of himself in a fight. So, Shinra threw everything he had at Burns.

Including what he’d learned from Benimaru and Konro.

Burns has no shortage of power. He still seems well beyond Shinra’s reach — but maybe not entirely. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

It took several tries, because Burns started taking Shinra seriously. The 1st Company’s Captain is insanely powerful, and at one point, Shinra thought he might take significant damage just getting too close to him. But after several attempts, Shinra finally punched through Burns’ flame pressure wave and landed a hit.

Burns gave him one more chance by asking if he was sure he wouldn’t regret what he was about to learn (08:40). Shinra responded he’d fought his whole life for this. Burns stared into his eyes for a few moments, their power still clashing, before he powered down and said it’d been a long time since anyone had hurt him.

“You’ve made your resolve known,” he told Shinra (09:16). “Very well. I’ll tell you everything.”

Shinra said he wouldn’t regret what Burns told him. Good thing he didn’t say he would like it!

Moment 3: The New Mission

I’ll say this for Shinra: He doesn’t back down from a challenge! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

One of the more disturbing aspects of what Burns told Shinra was that the demon he had seen during his house fire — the demon that has haunted his dreams ever since — was actually his mom. She had turned into an Infernal demon that night. When she gazed upon the flames of hell, they so burned her eyes that she ripped off her horns and shoved them into her eye sockets.

That’s frightening stuff.

As Burns was leaving after their fight, the last thing Shinra asked was what had happened to his mom in demon form after the fire. Burns said he’d never seen her again (17:46).

Captain Burns hadn’t seen that particular demon Infernal since that night 12 years ago. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

For Shinra, this knowledge changed his mission. He knew that his brother is still alive, but he’s back in the Evangelist’s hands. Now, he knows his mother is alive — or was alive 12 years ago. So while he’s giving his report to Akitaru, his captain, Akitaru asked him that if everything Burns had said was true and his mother was an Infernal and was still alive — what would he do?

Shinra answered (19:54), “I will find a way to turn an Infernal back into a person.”

Remind you of anyone? Like, maybe, Tanjiro from Demon Slayer? Though I don’t see Shinra carrying his demon mom in a back basket any time soon!

Seriously, seeing Shinra’s dedication to his family is inspiring. So is seeing his willingness to not back down from a problem.

Thoughts

The price of gazing on the flames of hell — at least, at the visage of the Evangelist — seems to be pretty high. Shinra’s mom in demon Infernal form ripped off her horns and drove them into her eye sockets (12:07). Burns said his right eye was incinerated as the price of his peek. Interestingly, Sho escaped unscathed, while even Haumea and Charon wore protective eye gear.

There are times when this show can be brutal. This was one of those times. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I wonder if I misinterpreted what I saw? Did Sho and Shinra really look upon the Evangelist and not suffer any lasting effects? I wonder what that means?

The back half of the season captured my imagination in a way the first half didn’t. I enjoyed the first half. I liked most of the characters, the world was refreshingly different and interesting, and the technical merits (especially the sound and animation quality) impressed me. Still, there were nagging little details that diminished how much I enjoyed the show.

Okay, one little detail — singular. Episode 9 for me was the low point of the series, and it was because of one scene: the one where Tamaki, having just endured a beating at the hands of the traitorous Rekka, had to endure a random flare-up of her Lucky Lecher Lure. To be clear: It wasn’t the partial nudity that bothered me. I’m a big fan of fanservice under the right circumstances! No, the problem was the narrative seemed to be making light of her trauma, when it had just spent so much energy not only building her up as a wildly sympathetic character, but had positioned Shinra to be her shining knight, so to speak.

I couldn’t get my head around why the writers would do that. I tried to defend it in my Thoughts section of my review of that episode, and I stand by my core position that Shinra’s actions, and Tamaki’s gratitude, were meaningful. Still, I would have preferred the narrative not make the decisions it did.

Moments like this were so emotionally powerful because the show didn’t undermine itself! That tail reminds me a long of the mama xenomorph from Aliens! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Contrast that with the second half of the season. We got an occasional example of the Lucky Lecher, but they were in much different contexts. The very next episode, episode 10, had an example where the crew was getting ready to cook dinner, and Tamaki suddenly found herself dressed only in an apron. Maki humorously remarked, “How in the blue blazes did you end up like that? You were wearing coveralls just a second ago!” Most importantly, the scene didn’t undermine any dramatic impact.

The whole second half seemed much more intent with telling a great story and creating characters we care about — and that the narrative seems to care about, too! The show’s central arc about Shinra wanting to reunite his family is about as sympathetic as you can get. It speaks to some of the most innate drives in us as humans. Seeing Shinra methodically work his way through Sho’s defenses in these last episodes, using not violence but memories of their loving family, was fantastic. Without anything to undermine the emotional impact, and with such a skillful buildup, it was heartbreaking to see Shinra have to watch Sho stolen away, just as he had recovered what he had lost.

By doing away with humor that undermined the narrative, Fire Force delivered some emotionally powerful episodes in its second half. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The reveal in this episode that Shinra’s mother had turned into the demon that’s been haunting his dreams was all the more effective because of this. Shinra, as the hero of this story, didn’t fall into despair or fly into a rage when he Burns told him the truth. He made what’s probably his most heroic decision so far: to amend his mission to include restoring his mother’s humanity. These last couple episodes earned their dramatic punch by not undermining their own accomplishments, and I’m really happy with the results.

And now we wait for Summer 2020 for the next season to start! I’m really glad that the first season ended on such a strong note.

What did you think of the first season? What were your favorite moments in this episode? Let me know in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “Review of Fire Force Episode 24: Proving His Mettle and the Truth in Flames

    1. Thanks. I’m sure that with a series with as much symbolism as this one has, I’m missing a ton! But it’s a fun series to review.

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