Welcome, one and all, to my continued weekly review series for Fire Force, aka Enn Enn No Shouboutai. Episode 9, The Spreading Malice, gave us a little bit more of Rekka, and a little bit more about his goals. Let’s look at the key points.
Shinra and The Evangelist
Shinra continued his run from the last episode, showing some intelligence as she planned his strategy against Rekka. The brunt of the episode was a battle between the two, and that began with a feeling-out process. Visually, it was really quite nice, with the action coming down to essentially karate vs. capoeira. When it was clear that he needed to change things up though, Shinra gave the situation some real thought.
He realized that he and Rekka were similar in strength. So, he looked for an opening: Rekka fought on the ground. Shinra though had speed, and his foot-based ability meant he could use the surroundings to attack from any angle. Or height. That was the deciding factor for him because it meant he was able to ground Rekka again.
What was interesting though was that, while he was undoubtedly on top, Shinra was not going to be able to win the battle alone. He flew there and jumped straight into fighting, leaving him lightheaded. Tamaki explained that his fire used oxygen as fuel and had burned up his body’s supply. That was a really nice touch. It also meant that Rekka had a chance to power up again, only to be stopped by Karim Flam.
Before being frozen, Rekka let slip a little of The Evangelist’s plans. Whoever it is wants to set the Earth aflame and turn it into a second sun, burning sin from the planet. In aid of this, they make it look like children were burned to ash, but actually take survivors to be taught by The Evangelist. It all felt very religious-cult in nature, which made sense given Rekka’s fanatical dedication to the cause. It also gave Shinra further cause to believe that his brother may still be alive.
Unfortunately, nobody is going to get anything else out of Rekka now. After he was frozen, a bunch of white-clad, grail-style knights sniped him from afar. The knights tried to take out everyone else too – resulting in Foien Li losing an arm to protect Flam – but were eventually driven off. So, know we know what The Evangelist planning in a broad sense, know that they have strong allies, and know that Karim Flam is viewed as the shield of Company 1. We also learned that Shinra is a viable host for the ‘Pilot Light’. I rather suspect that that will lead to him being faced with some tough choices going forward.
Tamaki and the case of mixed portrayals
I like Tamaki. I think that, though she’s facially similar to Maki, she has a cool design overall. On the surface, her power appears to have been designed to give the creators a catgirl to play with, but there’s more to it than that. For one, we saw it flare up randomly when she was yelling to Shinra to not let Rekka beat him. Then, when needed, she was able to use it to cover great distances so as to spook the sniper knights.
What I’m taking from this is that Tamaki has a lot of potential in terms of power. It can obviously be used in a very targeted manner, allowing her some precision use. However, for that to work, she needs to concentrate. It seems like it is driven by emotion, and will likely pop out when she’s feeling fear. If I’m right about that, then it’s kinda like a built defense mechanism, which would be cool.
In terms of characterization, we got to see a progression from the last episode. We started out with her upset from last week. She then allowed herself to lean on and put her faith in Shinra. To me, that reads as she lacks confidence in her abilities and is dealing with it through a mix of admiration for and hiding behind those she views as stronger than her. At the same time, she also has a sense of maturity to her though. When all was said and done, she was willing to accept any punishment levied at her for her part in the mess, even if she was manipulated.
The only real issue I have with her right now is that she seems to slip into being used for fan service more than is really needed. Here, she ends up with Shinra’s face in her boobs twice, loses her skirt, and ahs her clothes burnt away. Was there any need for any of it? No, not really. Though, I will say that it was nice seeing her warm to Shinra a bit.
Absent Without Leave
Arthur was noticeably absent from the episode for the brunt of it. His disappearance was explained in the post-credit scene where we learn that he got lost while chasing Rekka and they’ve had to file a missing person’s report. We finally see him again right at the end. He’s wearing a robe and walking through a dust storm. What was interesting was that what little we could see of his clothes did not match his normal uniform. They were white, just like the knights we saw. Taking into account that he describes himself as a knight, I’m now beginning to question his loyalty. Could Arthur secretly be a follower of The Evangelist? Or could he be undercover in their organization? At the speed that things progress in Fire Force, I suspect we’ll find out soon!
I enjoyed this episode. The battle was really good, the high-speed plot=point delivery worked well within the confines of the episode, and Company 8 gained both a new member (Tamaki) and a new powerful ally (Karim Flam). My hope is that Tamaki is able to grow with Company 8 and perhaps move into a more consistent role. Meanwhile, Arthur’s short scene opens up some cool possibilities.
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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