Fire Hunter employed a few more Postcard Memories this week, starting with Hinako’s terrible fever that turns out to be some kind of demonic-esque possession or awakening into an acrobatic, feral form. These images represent this show’s great potential and it’s great folly: while beautiful, these images are just that: stills that lack, well, animation.
The technical execution of an occasionally meandering and opaque but nearly always engrossing story was never anything more than adequate at best, and more often than not, disappointingly mediocre. As such, this show has been merely okay, when it could have been good or great.
God bless Hayami Saori’s Kira, who acts as audience surrogate after Hinako is being prepped to be taken somewhere for “observation” by desperately trying to find out just what the hell is going on. Both her mother and her father carry secrets beyond count.
Kira has been dwelling on a not-so-blissful island of ignorance, and she’s rightfully sick of it. But rather than give her any answers, her mother Hibana knocks her out cold with a whiff of the same narcotic Mr. O says his wife uses to treat her nervous breakdowns.
Koushi has a similar “WTF” reaction to all of the craziness suddenly going on at Casa de Okibe. No sooner does Kira pass out than Hinako escapes from her room and starts bouncing off walls like a monkey (or Yoda), while sporting odd yellow eyes with orange irises. She breaks out of the house into the night rain, and Kanata follows her.
Meanwhile, after leaving a goodbye note for Kaho and Kun, Touko heads to the divine palace with Akira to deliver an appeal to the gods on muku paper. The two encounter Hibari, who shows them a glimpse of a council of gods whose only “power” seems to be arguing about whether and how the Lady Goddess will be able to bail them out of the mess they’re in.
There’s also talk among the gods of a “new vessel” for the goddess, and I obviously couldn’t help but think that Touko was primed to serve such a role. Still, Hibari senses ill intent on Akira’s part and conjures many paper ninjas to attack her. She manages to defeat some of them with her blood, but they keep coming and she only has so much blood.
Touko looks ready to help Akira with Haijuu’s sickle, but she’s spared having to draw it when Kun comes to the rescue with his bug familiars, a perk of his Spider upbringing even if the Spiders abandoned him. Furious, Hibari throws Touko and Temari into the canal, where they’re very nearly drowned until they’re fished out. Their savior is Hinako, whose eyes are back to normal, and who thanks Touko for returning Kanata to her. Touko realizes it’s Koushi’s sister.
Touko and Temari then encounter a ferocious baboon fire fiend (or corrupted guardian deity). When Touko sees it’s carrying the limp body of the treefolk boy she met under the tree, something happens to her. Her eyes turn gold, her pupils become slits, and she draws her inherited hunter’s sickle and slashes the fiend in two without hesitation. As its golden blood splatters her face, we see her fiercest, most determined glare yet.
The narrator declares Touko “past the point of no return”, and far above her in the sky is a speck of light: the Millennial Comet / Flickering Flame. As Hinako and Touko have suddenly transformed or awakened and Koushi heads out in serch of his sister and answers, the narrator leaves us with the question of whether that speck of light is a portent of doom, or a sign of hope for a world in dire need of saving.
After the credits roll is when I first learned there would be no eleventh or twelfth episodes. This came as a total surprise since MAL had not indicated the length of the series. That said, this felt like a season finale for sure, where things are about to escalate and get a lot stranger.
I liked how the Comet in the gorgeous ED evolved from a traditional shooting star to the man-made spacecraft, and finally, showed the Child of the Stars herself sitting upon it. In a preview for a second season, we see Touko has joined that ethereal child upon the Comet, looking down on Japan from orbit.
Despite Fire Hunter’s gaping technical shortcomings, this was an arresting and enticing enough teaser image that despite knowing full well the production values won’t be any better (tough at least they can hardly get worse) I will no doubt be picking this back up upon its return.