Welcome, one and all, to my continued weekly review series for Fire Force, aka Enn Enn No Shouboutai. Episode 8, Infernal Insects, sees us learn what Hibana found out during her research. We also advance the investigation plotline a little more. Let’s look at the key points.
Hibana had been researching what she believed to be the artificial Infernalization of humans already and discovered something. Each suspected victim of the process had one important difference to those that became Infernals naturally. The corpses, when examined, revealed that their core contained the DNA of an insect. They were each also first spotted in areas where only Fire Soldiers could reach, meaning that it was definitely a member of the SFF responsible. Whether it was a member of Company 1 remained to be seen.
This idea formed the overall basis of the episode, which started coming to a head when Shinra and Arthur witnessed someone letting a bug burrow into a victim’s flesh. Their subsequent investigation eventually led them to Lieutenant Rekka, and while we waited for the heroic entrance, we learned a few extra points. The bugs are being used to try to find someone who is a compatible host for the Pilot Light, and the plan is being run by The Evangelist.
So, the whole bug angle is an interesting one. It makes sense as a way to spread Infernalization, and it certainly gives the villains an opening to cause mass chaos if they need to. At the same time, it also left a small trail of evidence that people could follow, which was no bad thing. In that respect, it made Princess Hibana’s scientific knowledge extra important as she was the most likely to find the trail to begin with.
I also appreciated that it marked a return to the drip-feed technique of story progression as opposed to the rushing ahead we’ve had in the last few episodes. We learned a few new buzz words, and I’m sure we’ll get to find out more about that sooner rather than later, but we were essentially teased. I love being teased by a story, so that’s all good with me.
Shinra The Tactician
Way back in episode two, Lieutenant Hinawa commented that Shinra is capable of being rational, he’s just overconfident. That zeal was brought up again later on by Princess Hibana, where she referenced it as a potential weakness. This week, I think that Shinra displayed some growth in that regard, at least initially.
It had been five days since the investigation commenced, and neither Shinra nor Arthur had managed to find out much. The first thing to note though is that when Hinawa checks in with them, he checks in with Shinra only and asks how Arthur is coping. This shows that he has a lot of faith in Shinra.
Shinra’s rational side then began to emerge during the case they were called to. While he and Arthur followed Karim’s orders and waited outside, they witnessed the Infernalization of an old man. Arthur wanted to deal with the Infernal, but Shinra rightly pointed out that they wouldn’t have much chance to catch the culprit then. When he sped through the alley, he then stumbled upon on Lieutenant Karim and Lieutenant Rekka. Both of them were wearing robes like the ones worn by whoever set the bug into the man.
What was interesting was that Arthur Immediately started to gear up for battle and question the two Fire Soldiers, but Shinra stopped him. This, he explained, was because they didn’t know who was friend or foe right now, and diving straight in could see them snuffed out for good.
This same level of caution then continued into the pair’s investigation proper. They had learned that only the Lieutenants wear robes like they saw, and Shinra set a plan into action not distract Karim. When Arthur used a Mini-Excalibur – a miniature plastic version of his sword that melts after one use – to open the door to Karim’s room, Shinra is upset that it makes it too obvious that someone broke in.
What I loved was that, throughout all of this, Shinra showed that he really is capable of doing things the right way. Arthur seems to have one setting: this is what I see as right, so now we fight. Shinra meanwhile does think things through when he’s not in the thick of the action. That ties into my next point…
Shinra Is Misunderstood
When Rekka is about to kill Tamaki, it is Shinra that sees what’s happening and rushes in to save the day. With a high powered fire stomp, he actually smashes Rekka into the floor and gets to do the heroic stick. Now, I think it should be obvious that this won’t be the end of the battle, just the episode. Rekka is clearly powerful, so I doubt this will keep him down. So, that means that Shinra is still overconfident, right? Well, I don’t actually think so.
Shinra is absolutely confident, don’t get me wrong. Mostly though, I think he’s desperate. You see, he wasn’t able to become a hero before his Mom and baby brother were killed. Now, he doesn’t want to see that happen to others. I don’t think he rushes into battles because he has an overinflated sense of self-belief, I think he does it because he’s desperate not to act too slowly.
When you look at the actions he’s taken, Shinra has always rushed forward at the times he thinks that a hero is needed. He wants to save lives, and when he can see that danger is rising, he gets overcome by that compulsion. Shinra is a hero that needs to learn consistent restraint, and he’s o the way to that already.
Poor Tamaki got put through it this week. The near fan service-y moment is the breakfast hall reminded us how she has been used so far, but they did not warn us what was to come. She truly did like Rekka; she respected him, and it seems pretty clear that she had a crush on him. But he not only turned out to be the culprit behind local Infernalization but also turned out to be a vile person.
He was targeting children in his plan. He beat Tamaki to within an inch of her life. And all the while, he screamed like a maniac, uttering phrases that tried to shift the blame for the plan’s failings to Tamaki. In short, he was displaying behaviours comparable to abusers.
And the result of all that? For all her trying to act tough when we’ve seen her before, it was all too much. When Shinra asked her if she was okay, she bursts into tears and shook her head. It was absolutely heartbreaking, but so well done. Between Shinra saving her and this meaning that her superior was a bad guy all along, it also gives us a little justification for her joining Company 8 (which I’m assuming will happen from the opening credits)
This felt like a really balanced episode to me. The storytelling was taken a little slower, albeit still all squashed into a short time frame. The action remained strong, though there was less of it. We saw some mild growth for the characters too, which was a bonus. In short, I thought this was one of the better episodes in what has been an enjoyable series so far.
Next week, I expect Rekka to kick off a bigger fight at the start, some clashes within Company 1, and a coming together of the powerful players to get things under control.
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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