Anime

Review: Fire Force Episode 12: A Helpful Hand and That’s Not What We Said

Quick Summary

In Fire Force episode 12, “Eve of Hostilities in Asakusa,” Benimaru Shinmon coordinates the recovery effort after the Infernal incident. His Special Fire Company begins rebuilding destroyed homes, and Benimaru tells anyone who was homeless that they can stay in the fire station until their houses are rebuilt. Shinra Kusakabe, impressed by the teamwork he saw, asked Akitaru Oubi if Special Fire Company 8 could pitch in. They worked well together, and as Maki Oze noted, the mutual effort seemed to help the two companies come to an understanding. Why, then, does Benimaru suddenly fly into a rage and accuse Akitaru and Takehisa Hinawa of creating the Infernal? And what can any of them hope to do to stop Benimaru, who’s among the most powerful pyrokinetic users in the world?

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.  

What’s in This Post

3 Favorite Moments

Moment 1: The 8th Company Lends a Helping Hand

Maki shows how it’s done. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

In the previous episode, we saw how the entire community came together to celebrate the life of the man who had become an Infernal. Large swaths of the city had been destroyed, and Benimaru’s Special Fire Company immediately got to work. So did the rest of the community. Seeing what was going on, the good-hearted Shinra suggested the 8th Special Fire Company pitch in (1:08), and the captain agreed.

The show treated us to a brief montage of the crew from the 8th helping out. Shinra’s flaming feet helped him easily carry lumber to the teams working on roofs. Not surprisingly, Takehisa was an expert with a nail gun — his exploits elicit ohhs and ahhs from the other workers. Even Arthur Boyle helped out by using his mini-Excaliburs to weld — again, much to the appreciation of the other workers.

Takehisa, not surprisingly, is an expert with a nail gun. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

But all of them were just warm ups for the main act. A group of large, very muscular men stood around a huge steel pipe or tank. All of them together, despite their posturing (kind of reminded me of when we first met the 5th Special Fire Force Company, but with less arrogance), couldn’t budge the thing.

Maki walked up, flexed her muscles, and heaved the thing above her head. It was an effort, but that almost made it more impressive.

The muscular men were most impressed, even though they continued posing. It was nice to see Maki set such a strong example.

Moment 2: The Pain of Two Old Friends

The responsibility of command weighs heavily on Benimaru. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Benimaru was sitting in a darkened room with his lieutenant Sagamiya Konro. The only light seemed to be from the setting sun hitting the paper doors. The two of them had just endured Shinra reporting in. He’d been babysitting Hikage and Hinata (though they would have said it was the other way around). It was clear Shinra was being responsible; it was just as clear they enjoyed his company. After they left, Konro said that he thought the folks from the 8th Special Fire Company were “fairly pleasant people. They’re not the same sort as the other Fire Force companies. Kind of like those of us in the 7th” (6:35).

All the while, Benimaru looked depressed, or maybe lost in some oppressive thoughts. His answer was non-committal. As they talked, I noticed that the marks on Konro’s shoulders weren’t tattoos. They were wounds of some sort, and Benimaru was helping treat them. When Konro suggested that it might be a good idea if they cooperate with the 8th, Benimaru asked in an almost defeated voice if that were what Konro would do if he were captain.

It looks like the events of the day — and perhaps others like it in the past — are catching up to Benimaru. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Konro felt compelled to try to give his boss a pep talk. It sort of worked; Benimaru finally admitted that he just didn’t feel cut out to be a leader. He did, however, agre to cooperate with the 8th.

This was one of the most accomplished and powerful Fire Soldiers speaking. What was going on? What happened in their shared past to a) provoke such melancholy in Benimaru and b) make them so comfortable with each other that they could let their guards down?

I love it when a show can take a simple scene like this and layer it with so much meaning. The weight it gave later scenes in this episode was icing on the cake.

Moment 3: Duel of the Fates

All he had was his equipment and his resolve. Would that be enough? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

How much responsibility does Akitaru feel for his Company? All the responsibility! So much that when the fight starts with Benimaru, Akitaru runs off.

Wait, what?

Followers of the Evangelist had tricked Benimaru into thinking that Akitaru and Takehisa had conspired to create the Infernal Benimaru killed in the previous episode. So Benimaru was determined to destroy all of them. Akitaru fell back, and at the time, I’d forgotten something very important: he has no pyrokenetic powers. So he left Takehisa to take command of the defense. The lieutenant tried his best, throwing Arthur and Tamaki Kotatsu at the leader of the 7th, all the while trying to use his marksmanship to distract Benimaru. But even with Maki and Shinra joining in, the fight wasn’t even close. Benimaru brushed them aside.

Then we hear heavy boots thudding. The sight was so impressive that Hikage and Hinata paused eating their candy apples.

You know it must be impressive if Hikage and Hinata stopped eating their treats to stare in amazement. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

“What have you done to my men?” Akitaru demanded (14:13). He had left the battlefield long enough to pull on his equipment. Pulling down his face mask. “Let’s settle this, captain to captain!”

The fight that followed was worth waiting for. But it was this moment, when the captain with zero power stood up to the strongest Fire Soldier in the world, that I thought was cool.

Thoughts

I’m conflicted. Again. Fire Force confuses me. I could go on and on about how this episode treated Tamaki — again. And yes, I’ve watched Soul Eater. I didn’t have a problem with its fanservice. I was quite fond of Blair, for example. But the way the show… You know what, let me point you to Scott’s article on Mechanical Anime Reviews. I think he says all that needs to be said.

Now that that’s out of the way…

On one hand, it’s easy to say that Benimaru should have trusted his feelings. On the other, he thought he saw collusion with his own eyes. He’s in a tough position… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I like what the show’s doing with Benimaru’s character. We got a hint of the enormous weight he’s been carrying in the previous episode, when we saw how the entire community looked to him to help the Infernals pass to the next life. This episode deepened that impression. He personally took charge of the rebuilding effort. He opened his facilities to anyone who was homeless as a result of the incident.

As the day wore on, he walked among the people and saw the crew of the 8th helping out. By evening, he was physically and emotionally exhausted to the point where he was about to snap. I could just see how the guilt he felt over Konro’s condition crushed his soul. Under severe duress, seeing what looked like solid evidence that the 8th Special Fire Company had betrayed him and his people, he reacted with primal fury.

That’s not how Benimaru is.

This isn’t how Benimaru is. It’s not how he wants to be. Kinda a microcosm of the show itself… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

We saw how he really he. He’s the one who acts gruff but who eats the old woman’s food — knowing it’s too sweet. He’s the guy who acts emotionally detached but takes care of Hikage and Hinata despite them being wildly obnoxious as only intelligent children can be. He’s the guy who fought off his own demons to agree with Konro that the folks in the 8th Company were good people.

It’s terrible what a combination fo despair and exhaustion can do to a person.

Do you know what else is terrible? Trying to reconcile the nuanced and amazing character development from Benimaru and his interactions with Akitaru and Tamaki’s top falling off. Again. Talk about harshing a buzz

What did you think of Akitaru’s courage in this episode? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!

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