Welcome everyone to the last show of the season, The Fire Hunter! This is definitely the one I have the least handle on, let me tell you what. It has the most potential, with the ability to soar higher then Kaina possibly could. But so far it isn’t anywhere as consistent as Kaina or Vinland Saga. What does that mean? Well lets dive in and talk about that.
First up, and my main point regarding consistency, Fire Hunter’s production. It’s rough. Picture in picture style direction has never been something I’ve enjoyed, and Fire Hunter uses it a lot. Freeze frames with oddly placed and panned windows of reaction faces. And while Fire Hunter isn’t a particularly movement heavy show, the movement we do get isn’t that great. You could argue that stuff like the Flame Fiend are supposed to be jarring and off-putting, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But it doesn’t make for a great visual experience. Furthermore, even the stuff that is good is used weirdly. Take the incredibly beautiful eye-catches Fire Hunter has for example. These brightly colored and detailed stills are stunning, and can make for some high-impact dramatic moments, like the finale! But they feel incredibly out of place during say… cleaning a toilet. As I said: Inconsistency is Fire Hunter’s greatest weakness.
Moving on to the story, you can really feel in the pacing that Fire Hunter is a novel adaptation. It’s moving very slowly, spending this entire time with our two leads, letting us really understand their situations. We learn more about the world and it’s situation, politics, superstitions and even hints as to what the larger conflict will end up being. All the while one lead walked up a hill to a fancy house and the other is maybe a days ride from their village. To be clear, this isn’t a critique. This sort of pacing only becomes a problem if it continues deep into Fire Hunter’s run. For now though, it’s setting up the small scale cultural politics of villages believing in curses and marrying women off to get rid of them, as well as the larger scale politics of the capital and the current failing regime.
This regime is what I think the primary conflict of Fire Hunter will be. Koushi, the young man in the capital’s story, seems to revolve around this regime slowly losing power and his engineering/technical skills being the catalyst to their fall. I suspect he’s going to get involved with some kind of revolution and end up fleeing into the Flame Fiend filled forests, eventually running into Touko, if he doesn’t run into her when she arrives at the capital. The main question I have here though is what exactly the difference between Sky Fire and regular Fire is. They mentioned bottled lightning, and how it explodes vs burns, is that the same thing? Is Fire Hunter going to rediscover the ancient weapons of war, our bombs and guns, which are most likely the very reason the planet cursed humans to burn as readily as they do? Could be cool!
As for Touko and her place in this, I think it’s pretty obvious that the Fire Hunter who saved her is Koushi’s dad. And that he is who she will be delivering the dog and the weapon to once she reaches the capital. From there she’s going to get dragged into it somehow, possibly by the “Regime” thinking she’s working for the rebellion since she has his dad’s stuff. I expect her to have to learn how to survive in the forest as well, since she’s being dropped off at the next village to go the rest of the way on her own. The question for though ends up being: How is an 11 year old going to impact any kind of revolution? She clearly can’t fight, unless we get some sort of time skip. Whatever the case, I’m curious what will happen with her.
What we do get from her story so far though is further evidence of this sort of class system. The way the Fire Hunter and the truck crew talk down to her, treating her even worse than they do the dog. Sure, she did put them in danger by leaving the truck. But she also did it to save someone, and no one ended up hurt aside from the girl who had already run out on her own. So is punishing her by abandoning her at the next village, knowing she has to make it to the capital on a sort of honor quest, really a fitting punishment? I guess it depends on exactly how much danger they were in. We know humans burn easily, but that Flame Fiend didn’t seem particularly dangerous. Not if a single dude and 2 dogs could take it out at least.
Overall though, I’m mostly curious about where Fire Hunter will go from here and just how broad its scope will be. Is it going to focus on the Flame Fiends in the forest, in some kind of “Make peace with Nature” sort of way? Or is it going to focus more on the failing Government and the human condition? The villages, or the capital? Right now Fire Hunter is evenly split between the two. But these are also presented as two completely different worlds. While it could work to connect them into one larger story, pulling both Nature and the Government into a single narrative, that’s also much more difficult and much more prone to failure. I wouldn’t mind it if Fire Hunter tried to go down that ambitious route. I’d just be concerned for if it could pull it off.
So yeah, all in all this was a decent episode for Fire Hunter. We’re starting to see some cracks in the vision already, as questionable directorial decisions are made, and not even the great backgrounds and stunning eye catches can really cover for them. At the same time though, the world of Fire Hunter is expanding rapidly, and the main conflict seems to be barreling towards our two leads. What exactly that conflict ends up being, I can’t yet say. Fire Hunter is still in the setup phase for that. But at the very least it’s done enough to keep me engaged with the characters and their story. Now if only it could do something about Touko’s very anime-like voice in what is otherwise a very non-anime feeling show.
P.S. There are a few small details I noticed again while grabbing pictures, such as the suspicious maid in the nobles house, or Touko’s sister seemed to be using the mask to hide her crying face showing a level of care that didn’t previously appear to be there. Good, small details! I like them.