REVIEW: ‘Fire Force,’ Episode 20 – “Weapon of Destruction”

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Fire force episode 14

Spoiler Warning: Spoilers ahead for Fire Force Episode 20


Fire Force 
is a shonen anime produced by David Production. In Fire Force Episode 20, with all the arrangements made, Stations 2 and 8 head down into the Nether in an attempt to uncover the White clad’s latest plots in the name of the Evangelist. Unbeknownst to them, the White Clad is ready for them. And they have a few nasty surprises waiting for the Special Fire Forces.

Since Station 8’s crew are the only ones who ever journeyed into the Nether before, so the decision is made to split up its members between the various squads. This puts the core characters together with some new, and a couple of returning faces. And while it’s not a completely smooth integration, Shinra had to leave instructions with Arthur’s squad as to how to talk to the Knight King, things progress forward without too much difficulty. At least at first.

Before long, Fire Force Episode 20 turns for the worse as a host of infernals begin to swarm the various teams. To make matters even direr, the fallen members of the Fire Force teams begin attacking their former comrades. Revealing the presence of the White Clad that can animate the dead, first confronted at Haijima Industries.

With the situation coming completely undone, Fire Force Episode 20 focuses on a squad that contains Tamaki and the always skittish Juggernaut. Initially, they begin to regain control of the situation. Thanks to the help of another pyrotechnic in their squad they are able to quickly dispatch the swarm of infernals that they are beset by. Their fortunes quickly change for the worse. They are soon attacked by a new servant of the Evangelist. A member of the new Knights of the Purple Haze. This new assailant makes quick work of Tamaki and Juggernaut’s companion but fails to fell Tamaki due to her resistance to fire. While she doesn’t go down quite as quickly as her former teammate, she is clearly no match for her opponent. Luckily for her, Juggernaut leaps into action, overcoming his fear of fire to save Tamaki. This is where Fire Force Episode 20 goes completely wrong for me.

In classic shonen style, Juggernaut’s fight with his would-be killer is dotted with memories of how he became a member of the Fire Force and his journey to overcoming his fear. While these moments are presented as people throughout his life encouraging him to overcome his limitations, it actually does nothing but reinforces a tired, toxic trope. That if you are a man, and one of great stature no less, you must be brave. You must be willing to fight. Because that’s what you are supposed to do. There is even a moment or to where the subtext feels like it goes so far as to imply Juggernaut would have no worth if he isn’t brave. I cannot stress enough how much I hate this concept.

The fact that every memory is shown is literally Juggernaut saying, “I don’t want to be a member of Fire Force.” And someone else going, “But are you sure? Don’t you want to make a difference?” There is more to facing danger than being big and strong. Juggernaut has shown in every appearance he has had in this series he shouldn’t be driven into this line of work. Doing so, up till this moment, has done nothing but needlessly risk his life. And why? Because he wouldn’t be a “man” if he didn’t? I prefer a kindhearted giant tending potato fields than driving a man to become a corpse any day of the week. If these flashbacks showed a struggling Juggernaut who desperately wanted to be brave, and everyone around him proving him up, I’d be all for it. But that is not what we got, unfortunately.

Fire Force Episode 20 
Thanks, I hate it.

This travesty of forced heroism is accentuated by the fact that, as far as we can tell, Juggernaut is forced to kill himself to save Tamaki’s life. And while to sacrifice one’s life for someone they care about is indeed a worthy thing, it is a moment completely tainted by the fact he shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

My story complaints notwithstanding, the rest of Fire Force Episode 20 hits great. The action is everything the series has come to be known for. With some truly unnerving design work for the recently dead Fire Force members delivering some particularly unsettling feelings. It’s amazing how a few minor design tweaks can change a character from normal to unsettling just like that.

So, Fire Force Episode 20 delivers some great action, while being tainted with a poorly handled moment of heroics. I only hope next episode there is some addressing of how Juggernaut never should have been forced into the situation in the first place. Regardless, however, the moment ruins an otherwise solid entry into this series.

Fire Force Episode 20 is streaming now on Funimation and Crunchyroll.

‘Fire Force,’ Episode 20 - “Weapon of Destruction”
  • 5/10
    Rating - 5/10
5/10

TL;DR

So, Fire Force Episode 20 delivers some great action, while being tainted with a poorly handled moment of heroics. I only hope next episode there is some addressing of how Juggernaut never should have been forced into the situation in the first place. Regardless, however, the moment ruins an otherwise solid entry into this series.