Episode 1 of The Fire Hunter begins with a girl watching a fire hunter die before her eyes. Before they pass, he tells the girl his dog’s name is Kanata. Kanata carries the man’s sickle over to the girl, who’s named Touko. Her aunt tells her that it’d be in her best interest to return Kanata, the warding stone, and the fire hunter’s sickle to the capital.
Touko’s afraid she won’t make it on her own. Touko’s grandmother says that the fire hunters are noble people who risk their lives to help them thrive. She tells Touko this to persuade her to return Kanata to the hunter’s family. At night, Touko goes out to see the Tokohime instrument but gets stopped by her sister. Her sister tells her she hates her from the bottom of her heart and that she should feel ashamed for letting a man die before her eyes.
In the morning, Touko’s aunt (Akari) informs the papermakers of what transpired between Touko, the fire hunter, and Kanata. She asks them to send Touko and Kanata to the capital on the next truck and give her muku paper. They’d go themselves, but Kanata gets murderous around others besides Touko. The papermaker tells Akari that they can’t supply Touko with muku paper because it’s a scarce resource. Akari argues it’s already shameful for them to send a small girl to the capital to repay their debts.
So supplying her with the proper tools for the journey would make them feel better about it. If Touko were to travel to the capital and end up homeless, the Lady Goddess that protects their village would look down upon them. The papermaker promises to give Touko five sheets of muku paper despite having to work overtime. Touko and Akari leave the station and discuss why Touko fled to the forest. Akari wonders if Touko went to fetch medicine from the treefolk.
Akari tells her they won’t give her eye medicine and that their goods are poisonous to them. Akari knows Touko went into the forest to get her medicine, but she promises that her eyes will work someday. As the wind blows from trees, we receive information about this world. Originally, humans could craft and wield fire, but after being remade and they could no longer touch flames due to their bodies igniting. Wars ended, and dark forests emerged harboring flame fiends resulting in humans fearing darkness and fire.
One day, strong winds caused massive flames to erupt in the village, leading to Touko’s parents’ and 17 other villagers’ destruction, including Akari’s eyesight. Akari promises Touko that they’ll care for her grandmother while she’s away. Suddenly, the collection truck arrives in the village, and we learn that this occurs every six months. This is when the village is at its liveliest because they flock to trade with the truck.
It buys goods and remains here for two days. At night, we see Akari packing up Touko’s belongings and putting the Tokohime instrument in her bag. The narrator says even though natural flames spelled doom for humans, they started naming their kids after fire or shades of red to give them the feeling of wielding it. Touko and Kanata visit the truck. The conductor (Enji) says he can give her a lift, but it’ll take them five months to reach the capital.
They must make several stops during their journey, and it could take her a year or two to return if she’s lucky. His boss (Sakuroku) says there’s a chance she may not make it out alive since they’ll be encountering dangerous flame fiends along the way. Despite her odds, Touko wants to proceed and promises not to be a hindrance to them. Touko introduces herself and Kanata to Sakuroku, and they all depart the village.
The narrator discusses fire as a symbol of suffering as we see a boy and his sister grieve over their mother’s passing. The narrator shares how the mother once worked in a factory and that others like her suffered a similar fate. The boy (Koushi) returns home with his sister and sees a letter at their front door addressed to him from the Okibi Family. The episode concludes with a shot of the Okibi family’s mansion.
The Episode Review
In a season with romantic comedies and action thrill rides, The Fire Hunter drops us into a world that evokes strong melancholic vibes and fun lore. The first episode felt extremely exposition-heavy with its narration but nicely established the setting in which our characters reside. The opening scene will grab people’s attention with the heated conflict between the fire hunter and the flame fiend.
Many viewers may argue that it was a strong way of gripping them into the plot. On that note, many will feel sympathetic toward Touko. She lost her parents, gets shunned by her cousin, and is forced to attend a life-threatening adventure because of Kanata’s attachment toward her. It’s an unfortunate position to be in, but her determined attitude will convince viewers that she’s a courageous young girl.
Furthermore, The Fire Hunter’s art style helps it stand out from other works this season. It’s a stellar change of pace compared to the other series airing this season. From its scenery to its character designs, I can’t help but feel immersed in it all. I can’t wait to see what beasts and people Touko and Kanata will encounter on this gloomy journey of theirs.
Overall, this was a great introduction to The Fire Hunter. It takes its time with its explanations and gives viewers some things to ponder. Let’s hope the series can deliver on its promises.
You can read our full season review for The Fire Hunter here!