REVIEW: ‘Fire Force,’ Episode 23 – “Firecat”

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Fire Force Episode 23

Fire Force Episode 23 is a shonen anime produced by David Production. Having successfully stopped the white clads from destroying Tokyo, Station 8 continues to search for new clues that may lead to the Evangelist. To this end, Shinra and Captain Hibana seek out Lieutenant Kongo of Station 7. Since Shinra has adolla linked with him before, they hope he may have some knowledge that will be of use.

The one constant in shonen stories is the drive to become stronger. Ever since the earliest entries in the genre this plotline never fails to present itself within the narratives that make an anime shonen. Overcoming obstacles and conquering adversaries is the hallmark of every shonen main protagonist. Gladly, however, the drive to overcome isn’t necessarily a solo activity. And much of Station 8 seems to have gotten the itch to improve themselves.

Fire Force Episode 23’s opening with Shinra and Captain Hibana seeking out Kongo quickly changes from a fact-finding mission into some hard training. After learning what they can from Kongo, Shinra is invited to further train himself with Captain Shinmon. Always eager to grow stronger, Shinra agrees to return the next day. As the new day begins, we see Shinra return along with Arthur, and surprisingly, Tamaki as well. When Shinmon inquires about her reasons for desiring training she explains how her recent experiences have shown she’s a liability to those around her. And since she doesn’t want to see anyone else put in danger because of her, she wants to become stronger.

Since Tamaki has not trained before under Captain Shinmon, he tasks her with playing tag with Hikage and Hinata. It is here that Fire Force Episode 23 shifts its focus to its true purpose: exploring Tamaki’s backstory and motivations. As Tamaki struggles with evading the twins’ relentless assault, it turns out they tag people pretty hard. We are shown glimpses into Tamaki’s younger years and how the attitudes of others impact her struggles with herself.  This is perhaps most impactful when dealing with Tamaki’s lucky lechery.

While this running gag has always been a staple of the show, and something the members of Station 8 have always dealt with through good humor, we see how this unwanted attribute has impacted Tamaki’s impression of herself. Being shunned by those who were convinced she was being crude on purpose, Tamaki begins to preemptively punish herself for how she presumes others will see her.

While her particular situation is bizarre in the extreme, it is used here well to highlight the traps everyone can find themselves falling into. Namely, assuming what others will think based on previous experiences. When life begins to present a pattern in the events we experience, it’s only natural for us to expect them to continue. This is dangerous of course, as it doesn’t allow the new people in our lives to have the chance to show they are better than those who came before them. Luckily, Tamaki knows a hero that will not abide her self shunning.

As Fire Force Episode 23 reaches its conclusion, we see Tamaki take in everything that has come before, process it anew, and come out as something stronger. I’m thrilled that the story is doing more with this character than leaving her to be a walking punch line. While a simple game of tag hardly sounds like an opportunity for some fantastic visual designs, this episode delivers some exceptional visuals in a big way. With the twins showing a new side of themselves, and Tamaki awakening her full power, this episode blends emotional depth with some stunning design work.

When all is said and done Fire Force Episode 23 delivers an excellently executed story. I love that Tamaki gets to take center stage as she strengthens both herself, and by extension, Station 8 as a whole. One more piece falls into place as we rush toward the season’s close.

Fire Force Episode 23 is streaming now on Crunchyroll.

Fire Force Episode 23
9.5/10

TL;DR

When all is said and done Fire Force Episode 23 delivers an excellently executed story. I love that Tamaki gets to take center stage as she strengthens both herself, and by extension, Station 8 as a whole. One more piece falls into place as we rush toward the season’s close.