Fire Force Ep. 12 – 14

Welcome, one and all, to my continuing episodic review series for Fire Force, aka Enn Enn No Shouboutai. Now, this has been a long time coming. In fact, the last episode I reviewed was episode eleven, back when it first released. Honestly, I’m not sure why it’s taken this long to catch up. But there you. Expect me to be reviewing episodes in groups until I’m either back on track or the series ends. Today, I’m covering episodes twelve to fourteen, effectively finishing off the Asakusa arc. So, let’s look at the key points.

Benimaru: Not What He Seems

The main focus of these three episodes was the character of Benimaru, Captain of Company 7. That was a good choice, as he came across as an interesting character in episode eleven, and the three episodes did a really good job of fleshing him out. There were two main things to focus on in his arc though.

The first is that Benimaru, for all the confidence we saw in him when dealing with both Shinra and the Infernal in episode eleven, he isn’t actually as self-assured as he seems. The strongest Captain in the force is undoubtedly powerful, but he doesn’t view himself as a natural leader. In fact, he strongly believes that his second in command, Konro, should be leading Company 7.

Throughout the episodes, we see this theme come up time and time again. I don’t honestly think we get a full explanation for it until the battle at the end of the arc though. Benimaru, when about to take action to deal with the mess in Asakusa, tells Konro that people like him can only destroy things. Benimaru takes his nickname of ‘The Destroyer of Asakusa’ to heart in that way. As such, when he does initiate a plan to stop the White Clad attack, it’s a violent one.

Part of the reasons for that though likely tie into the second thing we need to focus on: his relationship with Konro. Benimaru has been working with Konro since before Company 7 was formed, and clearly looked up to him as a true leader. Konro though saw the potential in the younger Benimaru and so, when they fought a Horned Infernal, he knocked the youngster unconscious to fight it on his own.

The result of this was Konro ending up with Tephrosis. As a slight detour here, I loved the concept of that. The idea that a third-generation pyrokinetic can overdo it and see their flesh start to turn to ash is a wonderful way to place limits on how the fire wielders work. Anyway, Benimaru clearly felt some measure of guilt about this. Even with his own ascension, he still places a lot of stock in Konro’s opinions too, as was evidenced when Benimaru backed down during the battle with Company 8.

You may also have noticed Benimaru had a super-powerful move that would likely kill any member of Company 8 that got hit with it. He didn’t pull this out until the end though, preferring to slowly build the power of his attacks. At first, I thought this was a sign that part of him maybe believed Company 8 when they stated that they weren’t turning people into Infernals. Once you see the flashback with Konro though, you realize that he’s likely being careful and trying not end up in the same way.

In the end though, Benimaru made good. He was placed in a position where he had to lead. When that happened, he rose to the occasion and got the people of Asakusa – who were in complete disarray by that point – to work together towards a single goal. They even started celebrating, declaring that they knew Benimaru would come up with a plan if they waited long enough. And Benimaru repaid that faith. He powered up and took down the newest Horned Infernal with the most powerful move at his disposal.

In all, I think Benimaru may be one of the better-rounded characters that we’ve spent short spells with. More so than Leonard Burns, for example, we got to see a fully formed character here that was both suitably powerful for his role, but also quietly humble. Everyone around him can see why he’s the best person to lead Company 7, but he remains unsure. In some ways though, I think that works to his advantage. He doesn’t feel fit to lead, but he does so anyway, and that self-doubt likely guides him towards being as strong a leader as he is.

Company 8: Teamwork = Strength

Company 8 was in full-on teamwork mode in these episodes. The most obvious part of this is during the fight with an enraged Benimaru. With the Company 7 Captain convinced that they’re responsible for creating Infernals, the team really pulls together to keep him at bay. What I loved here was that the whole battle was just plain cool. The different characters worked together effortlessly, using their individual strengths to give each other openings. Sure, they didn’t come out on top, but the level at which they fought together showed how good they are. Then, when Obi came out fully tooled up and fought toe-to-toe with Benimaru, even though he doesn’t have any powers? Obi came across as an absolute badass here, as well as a strong leader. When he landed a blow on Benimaru too, and the twins got all surprised, it really put across how capable the Company 8 Captain is.

On the flip side to this, Shinra and Arthur did not work together during the battle with Benimaru. And it’s not hard to see why. They clash, both in general and on the battlefield. When they fought the White Clad, it wasn’t like they were useless, but as a team, they took a long time to come together. Given that both are abnormally powerful, can you imagine what it would be like if they did get o the same page?

Finally, they also showed that teamwork doesn’t just extend to your own team. Throughout the story, they tried to help Company 7. Early on, that meant helping to restore the town, which gave away that Company 8 would make a great household renovation team if they wanted a job on TV. Then, once the White Clad attack started, they were rushing around trying to help evacuate people. When Company 8 says they’re trying to save the world, they’re really trying to save everyone. You can see that they put a huge amount of stock in the power of working together, and that’s awesome.

Shinra: Growing Up

Shinra has some nice standout moments in these episodes too. First up, during the battle with the White Clad, he continued to show his growth as a strategist. He took time to think about where Arrow’s arrows were coming from and what her plan may be with them. He was also the one to take the lead and try to get things on track with Arthur. He did kinda acknowledge my point from previous write-ups that he feels like he has to rush in at times too, which gives him some space to grow further.

There was also an interesting moment when he was speaking with the injured Konro. Said Company 7 man had just finished telling us that his life isn’t worth much and he will happily put it on the lien for Benimaru. Shinra reacted strongly to that, declaring that all lives are equal and telling Konro to call on him for help rather than risk death. Konro accepted the offer, but only until Shinra ‘figures out what means the world to him’. I loved this moment. It essentially pointed out that Shinra has a good-natured belief in the world and in helping everyone, but also slapped him with the possibility that his viewpoint is idealist, and he may yet find someone or something that he chooses to focus on. This added a moment of realism I think, as well as presenting a nice little (friendly) clash of worldviews.

Finally, Shirna gained a new ability. While Benimaru was dealing with the Horned Infernal, Arrow sent up a kill shot. Konro, unable to stop her, called out to Shinra for help. Shinra’s leg vibrated, and he got the message. This wasn’t explained, largely because Shinra doesn’t yet understand it, but it’s a cool little addition to his repertoire.

Tamaki & Arthur: Changing For The Good?

Tamaki wasn’t focused on too much during these episodes. The first real moment came during the initial clean-up of Asakusa, when she once again became the butt (or in this case boobs) of the fan service joke. It was a pointless scene. But…it didn’t happen again. In fact, after that, Tamaki became an efficient member of the team, albeit in the background. She pulled her weight in battle, she performed the prayer, and she just didn’t do anything unnecessary.

The lack of focus on her was a shame. I like her design, and I honestly believe that she has a lot of potential as a character, but the move away from the Lucky Lecher Lure for a few episodes was great to see. Fingers crossed that continues.

Meanwhile, Arthur really proves his worth. He’s not only the only person powerful enough to deflect Arrow’s arrows – at least until Shinra powers up at the end – he’s the only one that can easily spot the fakes when the White Clad start causing chaos. He was a really useful member of the team. Hopefully, he can grow from that and start showing some more initiative rather than just randomly succeeding.

 

Overall

I really liked this arc. Benimaru is an excellent addition to the supporting cast, and Company 8 really shone in their role here. The whole thing felt like a step in the right direction for what has been an entertaining but flawed series so far.

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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