Episode 5 – The Fire Hunter

©Rieko Hinata, Holp Shuppan/WOWOW

The Fire Hunter continues to be frustratingly obtuse. Narratively, there is far less happening this week than last week. However, it’s still barely animated and hard to process because the visuals and the story are not supporting one another. Much of the episode consists of people talking about things happening elsewhere, except for one battle with fiends where Touko manages to bisect a bear fiend by holding a sickle above her head.

It could be better, folks. Touko, Shuzou, and the bride, whose name I still can’t recall, are guided by the Forest People until they encounter a firecatcher named Akira. She has her own dog, what appears to be a long-haired Chihuahua, and agrees to accompany them to the nearest town. The introduction is interrupted by a masked person, presumably of the Spider Clan, who takes off. Everyone takes a breather, Shuzou continues to be an asshole, and Akira agrees to accompany them to the Capital in exchange for some paper.

After they embark, they meet a fatigued young boy from the Spider Clan and decide to take him to his village and potentially use him as leverage. Instead, they find the village destroyed and filled with the burnt corpses of humans and dogs. Rampaging fiends attack, and that’s when we get the previously mentioned bear scene. Despite all of Shuzou’s yelling, it’s not really clear who’s dead and who’s not. Shuzou somehow immediately understands that the burnt corpses are the result of natural fire, and this must mean the Spider Clan does not combust like ordinary people. The boy explains this is thanks to some kind of bug bite. The bride continually argues for the boy’s innocence, but I was left confused. Isn’t it his clan that’s dead? Shuzou is also gravely injured in an attack that is deliberately framed, so we can’t see what happened, a decision that is purely a cost-saving measure.

The Fire Hunter keeps dropping the audience into situations instead of showing anything happen. We see a similar situation in Koushi’s portion when he has a nightmare about his sister messing with the combustibles he’s researching (in the front garden of all places) and calls forth lightning that kills her. The scene ends with Koushi obviously shaken but in the middle of a party with a group of firecatchers. It’s unclear if he was having a waking dream, recalling an earlier nightmare in the moment, or has spent most of the day off kilter. He meets a handsome firecatcher Roroku who he asks to teach him about skyfiends, and that’s the gist of his story.

The episode ends with Touko and company on a sad-looking boat while a giant, psychedelic whale swims beneath them. You guys might be tired of me beating a dead horse here but isn’t Touko a co-protagonist? Are the adults ever going to stop screaming at her for acting like a normal kid? I can accept the animation won’t improve, but I could deal if the narrative starts connecting pieces and not just dropping them all over the place. It would also help if anyone was likable on Touko’s side of the story.


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