In Fire Force episode 11, "Formation of Special Fire Force Company 8 / The Mightiest Hikeshi," The new members of Company 8 Special Fire Company gather around Captain Akitaru Oubi's desk to hear the story of how their little company came into being. You might be surprised to learn who the first three members were -- or maybe not! Later, the 8th's investigation takes them into the territory of Benimaru Shinmon's company. Why do the people in that community seem to adore him, when he is so aloof? And why do they seem to destroy parts of their own city when they find an Infernal?
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.
What's in This Post
3 Favorite Moments
Moment 1: And then There Were Two
Akitaru proved just how good a leader he is. One measure of great leadership? The quality of the people they attract. And Akitaru attracts the best. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Before the formation of the 8th Special Fire Company, a younger Akitaru had been a fireman and Takehisa Hinawa had been a sergeant in the army. Both were becoming disillusioned by what they saw going on all around them. The final straw came when Akitaru was working a fire and identified two Infernals. The 3rd Company showed up to take care of them and indicated they would leave the "docile" one -- the one quietly enduring the agony so he wouldn't hurt anyone -- so they could go after the more active one. The reason? The captain of the 3rd said he had to gamify their jobs to keep morale up.
Never mind the 3rd's captain was curt and almost cruel to the wife of the docile Infernal.
Akitaru snapped and decided he'd put the docile Infernal to rest. As he was "borrowing" equipment from the 3rd, Takehisa joined him. He had just been unable to shoot his friend who had turned into an Infernal; he wanted to make amends.
Something snapped when Akitaru when he saw the wife's anguish. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
They crossed the Infernal-scene take, neither of them really caring if they got in trouble. Akitaru moved to use his axe, but Takehisa said he would do it.
"Sergeant Hinawa, you are a kind man," Akitaru said (11:00). The words almost broke Takehisa's resolve.
Akitaru intoned the prayer; on Látom, Takehisa pulled the trigger. A single shot put the Infernal to rest.
Afterward, as they stood outside, Takehisa tried to praise Akitaru's courage. Akitaru proved just what kind of leader he is when he said, "Trusting in someone else, taking action, and sacrificing yourself are things that require a tremendous amount of courage. Today, Sergeant Hinawa, that courage… was yours" (11:34). His heart is in the right place; and he knows how to inspire others. It was cool seeing the two of them start Company 8!
Moment 2: Maki's Qualities Recognized
Seeing Maki's reaction to Takehisa's honest praise made my day a little brighter. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
After Akitaru decided to found the 8th company, Takehisa immediately joined him. Realizing two members just wasn't enough to be effective, Akitaru said, "Gathering crewmen I can trust is quite a difficult task" (12:48).
Fortunately, Takehisa had been working with a woman who was everything Akitaru was looking for. She had been in the army with him, but leadership thought she was too kind to be an effective soldier.
Takehisa said she was "compassionate, and thinks of others before herself, which makes her a good fit for your 8th" (13:03). He was talking about Maki Oze.
My favorite part of the scene was when the camera switched back to the "present." Maki was incredulous. Shinra Kusakabe was really happy for her and said "Way to go, Maki-san!" Even Tamaki Kotatsu seemed happy for her.
Maki had the biggest smile. Tears were even in her eyes as she said, "Huh? I thought I was only brought in to be a meat shield because of my ability" (13:17). She has the most joyful giggle, too.
The show didn't turn it into a joke. We got to see a beautiful, touching moment that didn't get spoiled! I was pleased.
Moment 3: An Old Woman's Wisdom
Shinra had no answer for the old woman's insights. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
The shots of Benimaru marshaling his power were amazing. First, he destroyed a city block, his moves so elegant they could almost be a dance. Then, he directly confronted the older man who had turned into an Infernal. Benimaru punched his outstretched fingers straight through the burning man's chest.
"Way to hang in there," Benimaru said to him (20:46). The man put his flaming hand on Benimaru's shoulder, not as an attack, but as a gesture of grateful farewell.
Shinra had taken an old woman to a rooftop where she could see everything. She had wanted to see her friend Kentaro "through to the end."
When Shinra expressed shock that Benimaru had intentionally destroyed an entire city block, she said that Shinra and his company had their prayers, and they "have out destroyed block offerings."
She explained that they can rebuild as many times as they need. But they depend on Benimaru to take care of them. If they have to die anyway, "we want to have Benimaru-chan be the one putting us to rest... Shinmon Benimaru, the demolishing king of Asakusa" (21:42).
Her calm delivery drove home the cruelty of this world as much as anything else we've seen.
This was a sobering episode. Akitaru and Takehisa founded the 8th Special Fire Company as an act of compassion, both for the Infernals themselves and the survivors. I'm still interested to learn how a normal fireman could just up and start a Special Fire Company, but however they managed it, their foundation is a solid one.
I've gotten used to the idea of Iris providing the words of the prayers while the rest of them, sometimes Arthur, sometimes Shinra, something the others, put the Infernals to rest. There's a solemnity there that touches me. It's a human reaction to the brutal divine. It's an attempt to gently contain something terrible and painful.
I've also gotten used to the idea that there are powers who want to unleash the Infernals. The enemy that Rekka Hoshimiya represented wants to burn the world down. I've also come across that kind of reaction in people. Their response to an overwhelming terror is to attempt to control it through worship, destruction, or both. It's mostly insane, because if they succeed, the human race dies. But that's not a new idea for us, is it?
Shinra and Maki had the same expression I did while watching this scene. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Benimaru and his people represent something else entirely. There's nothing solemn about it. They all know any one of them could burst into flame at any moment. Even with that knowledge, the old woman offered Benimaru treats that were too sweet. Kentaro asked Benimaru to out drinking. The unusual little girls who work with Benimaru are very clingy; I got an impression (and I could be wrong) that they feel safe near him.
Kentaro became an Infernal in this episode. He didn't go on a rampage. I think it's because he knew Benimaru would be there soon. I don't quite understand why benimaru willing destroyed buildings (and if you have an idea, I'd love to hear it!), but it almost seemed to be a ritualistic acknowledgement that yes, Infernals are destructive. But they can be contained. The social contract between all of them grants a certain level of peace and civility, even after one becomes an Infernal.
Do you remember how the flaming Kentaro gently placed his hand on Benimaru's shoulder? That was beautiful in its tragedy. Yet, I can't say exactly why.
Think about this scene from Benimaru's perspective. How many of his neighbors has he put to rest? How many more of his friends and acquaintances will he have to attend to in the future? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Think about that from Benimaru's perspective. An entire city population -- depending on him to kill them humanely when their times comes. Knowing at any moment, he might have to kill any one of them. As an act of mercy.
I did not expect an episode of Fire Force to stretch my emotional vocabulary. But I'm happy it did!
What did you think of Benimaru's approach? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!
Other Posts about This Series
Other Anime Sites
This Site (Crow's World of Anime!)
- Review: Fire Force Episode 1: Shinra Kusakabe Enlists
- Review: Fire Force Episode 2: The Heart of a Fire Soldier
- Review: Fire Force Episode 3: The Rookie Fire Soldier Games
- Review: Fire Force Episode 4: The Hero and the Princess
- Review: Fire Force Episode 5: The Battle Begins
- Review: Fire Force Episode 6: The Spark of Promise
- Review: Fire Force Episode 7: The Investigation of the 1st Commences
- Review: Fire Force Episode 8: Infernal Insects
- Review: Fire Force Episode 9: The Spreading Malice
- Review: Fire Force Episode 10: The Promise
- Review: Fire Force Episode 11: Formation of Special Fire Force Company 8 / The Mightiest Hikeshi
- Review: Fire Force Episode 12: A Helpful Hand And That’s Not What We Said