Welcome, one and all, to my continued episodic review series for Fire Force, aka Enn Enn No Shouboutai. Episode 11 is the penultimate episode of the season and sees two tales told in one. So, let’s look at both.
Formation of Special Fire Force Company 8
The brunt of the episode was given over to this flashback story. It all started with Hinawa dealing with a tragedy. He was a military man, and though relatively cold, his friend Tojo was able to see through him and declare him a truly kind person. After all, he picked up and dealt with Tojo’s empty lunch tray without even realizing.
As you may expect though, it didn’t end well. Tojo combusted later that night and went Infernal. He begged Hinawa to shoot him, but the then Sergeant hesitated. Not only was Tojo his friend, but earlier, they had talked about how Tojo had had his gun baptized. He had himself stated that you’d prefer to be shot by a baptized gun. While Hinawa had responded that he didn’t believe in the Sun God and no ritual could alter what happens when you discharge a firearm, knowing Tojo’s wishes was enough to stop him acting, even as Tojo begged him to kill him.
Later on, Hinawa acquired Tojo’s blessed gun and went for a walk, stumbling upon a Special Fire Force team from the Tokyo Defence Agency. He followed them to a fire scene where the Captain of the local Fire Brigade, Obi, was directing them to the two Infernals.
What happened next spurred them both into action. Of the two Infernals, one was rampant, and one was docile. The SFF Captain had devised a way to keep his soldiers’ spirits high: giving them points based on the danger level of the Infernal they kill. Not only did that mean they weren’t willing to send anyone to deal with the docile Infernal straight away, but it also left Obi feeling repulsed. After all, why should you enjoy a job that involves snuffing out a human life?
When the SFF went in after the other Infernal, Obi spoke to the docile Infernal’s wife and offered to deal with it. Hinawa was drawn to that and offered to join him. Obi warned him that they’d be severely punished for entering Blue tripe territory. Hinawa simply cut the tape and said that no punishment can be as bad as what the Infernal is going through.
Sure enough, the Infernal was waiting patiently. The two future colleagues talked a little about Hinawa’s recent experiences and Obi told him that it’s not about faith in God, but wanting to do as much as you can for the human being whose life you’re about to end. That’s why they pray and baptize their weapons. The rituals offer salvation to those who kill Internal too. Hinawa asked Obi to start the prayer and pointed his gun at the Infernal. Obi told Hinawa that he’s a truly kind person, echoing Tojo’s words from earlier, and they got the job done.
After they left, Obi told Hinawa that he was courageous. Hinawa disagreed as he wouldn’t have acted if he hadn’t seen Obi do so first. Obi disagreed again, saying that trusting yourself is easy for most, but putting your faith in someone else takes courage. He compared Hinawa to a hero or knight, and Hinawa said Obi is like a king. Obi revealed that he wanted to create a new SFF Company that will fight to end Human Combustion. He said he’d need people like Hinawa.
When the pair finally got the Cathedral they now run, it was revealed that Hinawa was the only recruit so far because Obi struggled to gather people he can trust. Hinawa said that he knew someone who worked hard but wasn’t cut out to be a soldier as she was too compassionate. That made her a good fit.
And so ended the flashback. All that was left then was to confirm that the case they’re looking at was actually the first that Obi, Hinawa, Maki, and Iris worked. The Infernal wore strange white clothes, and though he had no friends or family, the company he worked for was in a hurry to retrieve an odd red cross they found at the scene. The company is still around, and they’re housed in Company 7 territory.
There’s a lot to unpack there. First up, Hinawa is clearly well-respected wherever he works. It’s clear that he works hard, and that although he is cold and intense, he really does care. He also clearly has good intuition; early in the episode, he said that Maki wasn’t cut out to be a soldier. He had noted that she worked harder than anyone else in her training group and did more than was asked of her, but that she was still her Dad’s sheltered Princess. When he said that she was too compassionate for the work later on, it all made sense. He wasn’t knocking her so much, just her suitability. It also explains his general attitude if he believes that compassion shouldn’t be at the forefront in a military lifestyle.
Meanwhile, it was also good to see the incident that brought him and Obi together. Obi was clearly upset about the attitude of the SFF Company at the scene, in particular how they refused to acknowledge the weight of their actions.
The flashback was really well done overall, in my opinion. It was long enough to show what it needed but wasn’t unnecessarily stretched out to encompass the entire episode. Good work. That brings us too…
The Mightiest Hikeshi
Benimaru, the strongest Captain in the force, seems to generally want an easy life. When Company 8 appear, he’s resistant to their investigation too. As far as he’s concerned, he has never seen a White Clad turn someone into an Infernal and has no interest in what a gullible puppy (Shinra) thinks he saw. Just as his words appear to set up a fight with our lead hero, the alarm sounds, and Benimaru is summoned to deal with an Infernal.
After a brief battle that sees many houses destroyed, Benimaru is able to extinguish the Infernal. Shinra had been watching form a roof with a little old lady, and she explained to him that they all live in fear of the flames. While Company 8 has a Sister to offer a prayer as a gift to the dead, here, the home destruction is the same. Homes can be rebuilt, and if they must die, they would rather it be at the hands of Benimaru.
So, this was kept short and was really just an introduction to some key points for the Company 7 Captain. First up, if you don’t know, Hikeshi was the term for ‘firefighter’ in the Edo period. This was played up on throughout the episode; Benimaru wears traditional robes, wields flaming matoi (Edo period firemen flags that were used to signal the position of fires), and the whole town looks like a throwback to the past.
In terms of how people perceive him, I noted that when Shinra challenged him to a fight, Benimaru was calm, but Shinra actually started to sweat a little. Can you blame him though? This week, we learned two important things about Benimaru. The first is that he was a regular Fire Fighter that was offered a position in the SFF due to his strength. That puts him on a different scale to that of Obi who essentially forced his way in. We also learned that Benimaru is a Compound Fire Soldier. This means that he can create his won flames like a third-generation pyrokinetic, but control them like a second-generation pyrokinetic.
That second point was interesting as it really laid bare the idea that both generations of pyrokinetic had strengths and weaknesses in what they can do. It was also worth noting that Benimaru may have come across as arrogant and aggressive last week, but his hometown people view him as a hero.
This was, again, a really well-done section. It gives us a better look at the past, as well as one of the new Captains that we were only recently introduced to. This was, for me, one of the better episodes for straight-up storytelling. In short, I really enjoyed it.
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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