Fire Force is an entertaining but somewhat mindless adventure manga series; one of the good things about it is that it doesn’t always take itself too seriously. In a world where human spontaneous combustion is a real threat and most of the world fell apart during a “Great Cataclysm” fire some years before the action starts, Fire Soldiers of the Tokyo Empire are there to do standard fire-fighting but also fight “Infernals”, basically fire monsters that are the result of someone spontaneously combusting. Company 8 of the Fire Force are a bunch of misfits, but they also tend to manage to pull off the impossible save on a regular basis.
In volume 20, the first 2/3 of the story is a training story for three of the upcoming generation of soldiers. A lot of the time, the training episodes are filler in this kind of story, but here it’s almost comic relief. Part of the entertainment value is Captain Shinmon of Company 7 who trains Shinra, Arthur, and this time Tamaki as well. Captain Shinmon comes off as a lazy slacker but he’s way smarter than he lets on, at least when it comes to fighting; he also seems to actually care about his territory and people. He also seems to have a pretty dry sense of humor. When Shinra and Arthur question the difficulty and purpose of a training exercise, he claims to not really know what the point of it was, only that it was done to him, but given how insightful he can be elsewhere this claim is a bit suspicious.
It’s also nice to see Tamaki actually get to make some progress in her Fire Force abilities and do more than lose her top or pants, although this does happen as well. Captain Shinmon’s reaction is pretty hilarious given how deadpan the delivery seems to be. It’s really irritating that Tamaki’s defining attribute is this “Lucky Letcher lure” that is basically just an excuse for her to lose her clothes or get groped by accident nearly every time she shows up; at least here she gets a little bit of depth to her as she has to work pretty hard to beat Hika and Hina in a game of tag.
The set up for the next big adventure arc is definitely present in the last part of the volume because Captain Obi of Company 8 is arrested and the White Clad are apparently taking over the government. There’s also a hint that the Captain of Company 1, Captain Burns, is being either brainwashed or otherwise pressured/misled into supporting the Evangelist who makes a menacing appearance towards the end. Given the general progress, this might be the beginning of a final grand adventure. We’ll have to see how things go for the presumably now rogue Company 8.