Welcome, one and all, to my continued weekly review series for Fire Force, aka Enen No Shouboutai. The sixth episode, The Spark Of Promise, picks up where the last one ended, with Shinra entering Company 5 HQ. Almost the entire episode was presented as a combination of flashbacks and a battle between Shinra and Hibana. Let’s have a look at the key points.
Princess Hibana: The Past – When Innocence Burned Away
Undoubtedly the star of the show this week, Princess Hibana was given a lot of focus. Thanks to a series of short flashbacks, we learned a lot about why she acts the way she does. Like all the other young Nuns, she was an orphan being looked after in the convent. While they were all being taught to praise God, Hibana said that she didn’t take it all that seriously. I don’t entirely believe that though.
You see, the next major thing we saw was Hibana entertaining the other children by making flowers with her flames. She even used drops of chemicals to alter them, and called out to a shy Iris to join in. When the head Nun admonished her due to the dangers of playing with fire powers, Iris asked to see them again. Hibana agreed if she could overcome her shyness. Unfortunately, she didn’t get a chance, as the convent burned soon after.
That was a turning point for Hibana. The sight and smell of burning flesh were too much for her, and though she really wasn’t as devout as the others, she was one of only two survivors. She could no longer see a reward in praising God. It all made her believe that she was wrong to think that fire could ever be pretty. Her view shifted to one that a power like hers could never come from God, as fire came from Hell itself. If that’s so, then wielding it makes her a devil, and a so she chose to act as such. Having already proven herself to be scientifically adept, she sold her research findings to Haijima Industries and rose quickly to the top.
That she was so quick to attribute her power to Hell says to me that she wasn’t entirely lacking in faith. She was aware that others were more devout, and she obviously had some doubts about her powers, but the faith was certainly there. When the convent burned, that tipped her over the edge and caused her to lose faith. It’s a tragic backstory, and it really does help to make sense of how she’s acted so far as an adult.
Princess Hibana: The Present – Faith vs. Prestige
Hibana had some great lines this week, all of which made her stance abundantly clear. My favourite came after she sent Shinra flying into a wall:
“We’d believe the dizziness was all in your head more if you’d stop falling all over yourself. How can you call yourself a hero? Honestly, if you must close your eyes to reality, then I’ll just have to burn off your eyelids.”
It was such a beautifully dark moment. From little lines like that to her sadistic smile, Hibana came across as gloriously brutal in battle. And who could blame her? She was fighting a battle that pit opposing philosophies against each other here. For Hibana, there was no such thing as salvation. She had lost everything and found that a combination of growing strength and social value was the only route to happiness. Meanwhile, Iris maintained her faith in God, and Shinra kept his faith in the concept of becoming a true hero. These simple views stood in direct opposition to Hibana’s, as she no longer believed that God or a hero could exist. This was illustrated well when Iris begged her to stop hurting Shinra, and Hibana replied that she could ask her God to make her stop, but he’s not real, and neither are heroes.
The battle itself saw Hibana demonstrating her powers well too. That trick she used to extinguish Shinra’s flames was defined as a Heat Syncope. Here, she creates a mini-heatwave around her foe, causing their blood vessels to dilate and their blood pressure to drop. The reduced flow of blood to the brain causes dizziness and nausea. I liked this as it played into her scientific leanings. She also used her flowers offensively, an ability she referred to as Clematis, by sending them flying at Shinra. Her biggest attack saw her grow a flaming Sakura tree and shower Shinra in white-hot petals. That was also excellent, as it let something that was genuinely beautiful be shown to have some bite to it.
Princess Hibana: The Future – A Potential Ally
Shinra is, of course, able to defeat Hibana in the end. His methods essentially come down to a force of will more than anything as he worked to overcome the dizziness and push through until he could smack Hibana in the face. When the Princess came to, she asked Iris why she was doing all of this. The two had a lovely exchange then:
“The children of the convent didn’t have parents, but we did have a big sister. She was beautiful and clever and she had mastered fire. And when I was lonely but too scared to speak, my hero called to me.”
“I didn’t have anyone like that; I only had her flames to prop myself up with, and then I found out they couldn’t be trusted either. I don’t have anything left now.”
This was a really powerful moment because it illustrated that Hibana was lonely too when all was said and done. And when things all came crashing down, she had no elder to turn to. She lost her faith in God and in the nature of her own powers. And now, having turned to viewing her status as salvation, she has been defeated again. Neither faith nor power could win the day for her.
There’s a happy ending though. Shinra volunteered to be a hero for her, even after all that she’d done. Iris, having conquered her shyness a little, also got to see Hibana’s flowers again. With all the destruction caused though – Company 5 now view Hinawa as a monster – Hibana did worry about how to explain it all. In the end, they settled on pretending she had arranged a surprise nighttime battle test, with Company 8 volunteering to play the bad guys. She openly stated that she’d taken a liking to Shinra, so that gives me some hope that she’ll be fighting alongside Company 8 to some degree moving forward.
Shinra: A Stumbling Block
Shinra’s faith in himself as a hero was unrelenting, as you’d expect from a Shonen lead. An interesting note though was that when he told Hibana that Captain Obi had planned to make arrangements to make it look like a training exercise, she gave him some advice. He’d rushed in before Obi could finish, and if he keeps charging ahead, he’ll screw up eventually. This was all put across as a very throwaway set up for a gag. We saw Obi making final arrangements, then contacting Hinawa so that he could offer support, only to find out that the battle was done already. The thing is though, I do think it will come back to bite Shinra. He really does rush in a lot, and sooner or later, that’s going to be detrimental to not only himself but the others around him.
That was exactly what I’d hoped for. The fight was dynamic, the soundtrack provided a superb accompaniment, and we got a nice bit of progression and back story for both Iris and Hibana. I maintain that the rushing in line was foreshadowing for Shinra, and we’re now in a position where we may get to learn what Company 5 figured out during their experiments. Great stuff.
So, those were my thoughts. 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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