Anime Anime Reviews Review

Hikari no Ou – Episode 04

Episode Synopsis:

The armored train is brutally attacked by the white dragon fire fiend and Benio, along with a large portion of the crew become victims of its arson. Touko, Kaho and Shouzou escape and flee into the forest where they encounter the tree folk.

In the capital, Koushi begins his work on skyfire and visits the library to further research the Divine Clans, the fire fiends, and the current predicament of mankind.


I’m just going to address the elephant in the room quickly because it needs to be done. This show is incredibly poorly animated. There’s random individual stills that look beautiful (akin to an oil painting) but for the majority of the time, anything animated is rough around the edges. The budget is almost non-existent, the characters have no shading on them many times, most of the walking movements are done from the waist or bust up with characters moving like they are on popsicle sticks, there’s basically no key frames so and motion from anyone (human or animal) comes out janky or they just teleport to their next location, and when full bodied characters have to move…oh boy…it’s…hideous.

You’d think from the paragraph above that I’m going to go off and rip this show apart but surprise…I’m not. The anime industry as a whole seems to be going through a rough time right now. Almost all of the Aniplex shows are on hiatus, people seem overworked and stretched to the farthest point of their capabilities, and I worry a lot about how a medium I love so much is going to survive if these are the conditions they are subjected to all the time. I really hope things get better for the animators and that the industry as a whole figures itself out.

Also…Dan mentioned the pedigree this show comes with but surprisingly didn’t go through with the name drop. Mamoru freaking Oshii is on this project. Mr. Ghost in the Shell himself. How…is he incapable of commanding more budget than this? Sheesh…no respect these days, eh?

Touko and company barely escape the train and run into the tree folk, who are a strange mixture of human and plant. They will all supposedly be guided to a nearby village and dropped off. I’d love to know more about the tree folk. Have they always existed in this world? How do they deal with the fire fiends appearing in their forests now? None of this gets discussed here and honestly, this is all for the best because the show suffers the most trying to animate the three survivors and the attack on the train.

Don’t stare at this too long. You’ll get a headache

Majority of this episode is devoted to Koushi. There’s a lot of lore and moving parts here, and Episode 4 is massive exposition dump. I’m trying to be forgiving of it because of the show’s limited animation abilities, but I would not begrudge anyone who has just dumped this show and moved on. If you are still sticking with this show for some reason it’s time to read and absorb. So let’s compare notes. Here’s what I have so far:

  • Humanity has lost the ability to make and wield real fire. It causes them to combust and now they can only gain heat and light from the blood of fire fiends.
  • The fire fiends can only be killed by Fire Hunters: specially trained warriors who wield a sickle weapon and are accompanied by a trained dog.
  • Legend has it that the sickle is a weapon supposedly birthed by one of the divine goddesses. According to Koushi’s father, when the sickle was forged from her body, the fire fiends suddenly appeared. It’s a quiet rumor amongst some that their appearance was almost as if a gift was being given to humanity to aid in their survival, given the loss of natural fire.
  • The Divine Clans supposedly protect humanity and are the overseers of the capital. People pray to them for all manner of things, and when they are unappeased, people are not above sacrificing their own kind to appease them (the brides on the train).
  • Villages have a guardian deity that is bestowed by the Divine Clans(?)(I’m a little shaky still on this one). Kaho mentions that the white dragon is the guardian of her village. It has become a fire fiend because it was influenced by the Spiders. Once a village has lost its deity, it is said to be doomed.
  • The Spiders are a group that broke away from the Divine Clans and if Yuoshichi is to be believed, they are planning to stage a coup against the remaining clans.
  • The Divine Clans may not be all they seem. Yuoshichi believes that they cull humanity purposefully so that they can always maintain control and insight fear. This propagates belief in the clans and keeps people corralled. When the Spiders do finally attack, there will be a tremendous battle and without the lightning weapon Koushi is tasked with cultivating (which can ONLY come from skyfire mind you), humanity may not survive the Divine collision.
  • The Millenial Comet is a man-made star that was launched from the Earth. It disappeared after a great war and is known as the Flickering Flame. Whoever catches this flame will become Lord of the Fire Hunters. (I am terribly confused by this one by the way because Koushi states that the Flickering Flame is never destined to return. How…can anyone catch it then?!!?!
Okay so the Flickering Flame is never coming back. Got it.
And yet…you can still…catch it…

I do want to end with some other notes. Despite the ugly animation, the show’s story is very captivating, and at times it does clever things within the statutes of limitations. The juxtaposition of the chaos and inferno on the armored train with the calm, serene Boat Festival in the capital is effective in helping us understand how detached capital residents are from the world outside. This is further reinforced by Kira talking about how gaudy her father’s boat is decorated.

Ahhhh…the people outside in villages are dying. It’s the perfect day for the Rich People Yacht Festival…

There’s also small things like Touko finding Rin’s name carving in her bag and smiling, or the small statement made by Koushi about how it’s surprising that Kira and Hanako decided to walk around the capital unaided by a male presence. I applaud the show for these little things and I am looking forward to where we are going. Hopefully the animation can find its way to a decent footing as the season goes on.


Episode 04 is the ultimate exposition dump. You just gotta take notes and pay attention. The lore of the show is unfolding as Koushi digs deeper into the state of the world. Touko and company are in dire straights now and while we are confident she’ll survive, I’m concerned about the fate of Kaho and Shouzou. Let’s hope the show can continue to have a captivating enough story to overcome its animation shortcomings.

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