Welcome, one and all, to my continued weekly review series for Fire Force, aka Enen No Shouboutai. The fifth episode, The Battle Begins, kicks off a multi-episode arc. Let’s look at the key points.
Iris and Hibana
This episode started hinting at Iris’ past a little more. Up until now, all we’ve really seen is the footage from the end credits. It’s easy to pick up the key points there: she was a fully-fledged Nun, Spontaneous Combustion happened, and Infernals burned the monastery down. Now, a few people noticed something that I didn’t during the last episode: one of the Nuns had the same odd-shaped eyes as Princess Hibana. That link was confirmed this week.
Iris started the episode in deep contemplation, her mood having been brought on by the confrontation between Company 8 and Company 5. She decided to take matters into her own hands and paid a visit to Company 5, specifically to speak to Hibana. Their confrontation was essentially an indicator of how their past has shaped them.
Iris tried to talk Hibana out of doing whatever dodgy dealings she was involved with. She believes in the greater good, after all. Hibana though has taken a different path since the destruction of their monastery. She outright told Iris that there is no God, but that a few Devils – like her – exist. She burned Iris’ habit from her body in disgust and declared her to be mere window dressing for the Special Fire Force.
I liked this side of the story. Both women suffered losses – though we still don’t know the specifics – but have moved forward in very different ways. For Iris, she is pure and still has her faith. Hibana turned away from her faith. The interesting thing is, Iris is like Obi. She’s unpowered. Hibana meanwhile is high powered, like Shinra. I feel like the series is hinting at a ‘power corrupts’ arc. That would tie in well with Shinra’s past as he’s very strong himself, and is desperate to prove that he isn’t evil.
Company 5 and the Infernals
After the recent addition of the corruption angle, we dove headlong into it this week. When the fight referenced in the episode title breaks out, Hinawa is certain that Company 5 won’t be filing any police reports. Why? Because they’re supposedly doing some shady stuff. He was certain it was true because Hibana rose through the ranks so quickly, meaning that she uncovered something important enough to see a nobody become a Captain overnight. This is then confirmed later on when Hibana mentions to Iris that their research uncovered the secret of Spontaneous Combustion, and she won’t allow it to be stolen.
Okay, I’m mixed on this. It was going to play out this way, and I’ve no problem with the concept as a whole. My issue is that we’ve just launched ahead with it. There was no long-form intrigue being built, we just hinted at it, then confirmed it. Of course, we still don’t know what exactly Hibana found out. It could be less consequential than she’s saying it is, and there will be other secrets with the various companies too. But it still feels a little rushed to me. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t remain feeling like that.
The battle that began
Half the episode was given over to fighting this week, and bar a now power boosted Miyamoto reappearing, most of it involved Fire Solder on Fire Soldier action. This was really well done for the most part. We got to see Toru’s bubble gum power in action, and the explanation for how it works was pretty good. Most interesting though was Hinawa, who gave a proper explanation of his gun ability. It was put to good use too, taking out regular Company 5 members, and then taking down Toru despite not being able to see him. The only issue I had with Hinawa and Maki’s battle was that the 5th Company Angels Three turned up – and there are way more than three of them, by the way – but with the exception of the last one, they were taken down entirely off-screen.
Meanwhile, Arthur fought with overpowered Miyamoto and took a bit of a beating. He initially blamed it on having an off-day. Then he realized what was wrong: he was holding his sword in his left hand, but he’s right-handed. Yup, you read that right, he had forgotten which hand to hold the sword in. Once he switched, he obliterated Miyamoto, even though he was powered up to the point of being able to burn a body to ash.
Now, when he debuted, I said that Arthur reminded me of Black Star from Soul Eater. He has some facial similarities, and I figured he’d be super powerful too. That was confirmed here, along with him having lower intelligence. I’m not opposed to the similarities at all, I liked Black Star. It was nice to have it made clear that that was his role though.
I have no idea what Obi was doing at the start of the episode. He is definitely conspicuous with his absence during the battle though. Hibana is expecting him to turn up, but I don’t think he will. Last week, when Hinawa took on saying the harsh stuff, he said it was because they didn’t need their shining light to say it. I still think Obi is being built up as a public symbol of hope and so will remain out of the battle.
It was cool seeing Hinawa and Maki talk a little about motivations. I do wonder why Maki’s father didn’t want her joining up though.
The series is still so good aesthetically. The animation is fantastic when the action kicks in. The soundtrack is absolutely epic and helps really raise the quality of the scenes.
Shinra ended the episode by simply stating, “Here we go.” That seems like a good sign that things are about to get even more overblown next week.
Those were my thoughts, anyway. But what about yourselves? Did you enjoy these episodes? Do you agree or disagree with any of my observations? Let me know in the comments below.
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