Anime

Review: Fire Force Episode 15: Hibana Smells a Rat and A Dream Denied

Quick Summary

In Fire Force episode 15, “The Blacksmith’s Dream,” Akitaru Oubi and Hibana are both suspicious and annoyed that the imperium sent Viktor Licht to head up the 8th Company’s science team. As Takehisa Hinawa pointed out, Viktor didn’t even know how to salute right! Is he really there to help? Or is he a spy for Haijima Industries? They still have a vacancy for engineer, so Akitaru sends Shinra, Arthur , and Iris to recruit a legendary engineer named Vulcan. Despite being heavily recruited not only by other Fire Force companies but by Haijima itself, he has refused to leave his workshop. Why? What does he have against Fire Force? Will he even let Shinra, Arthur, and Iris in the door?

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

What’s in This Post

3 Favorite Moments

Moment 1: Iris and Her Buttons

You’d think that as a sister, Iris would have a little more self control! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Have you ever seen the old Bugs Bunny episode called Design for Leaving where Daffy Duck tries to sell Elmer Fudd all sorts of futuristic gadgets like buttons that automate all sorts of stuff? There’s one button, a red one, that Elmer wants to push — and Daffy screams at him to never push it!

Iris never saw that episode.

Moments after Shinra tells Vulcan that he and the rest of the 8th Special Fire Company want to help him (15:56), Iris gets curious about a red button on the wall. Vulcan said urgently (16:19), “No! Under no circumstances push that!” Even as he finished speaking, she made a little squeaking noise and pushed the button. It activated a self-defense weapon that nailed Vulcan to the wall.

Undeterred by experience, Iris found another button and literally quivered in anticipation of pushing it. Again, Vulcan said she shouldn’t touch it, and this time, there was the barest hint of pleading in his voice. Of course, she pushed it and launched what looked like a surface to air missile in elephant head form.

Iris wasn’t the only one touching things she shouldn’t. I still don’t know how Arthur made a mechanical anime urinate. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Now, you might be wondering why I chose Iris’s “cute girl doing silly things and making everyone laugh” moment, which is, admittedly, cliche. I won’t even say “Yes, but she was really cute when she did it!” No, I chose the moment because it was funny, and because it setup an important plot point. After seeing how unprofessional she acted (and to be fair, Arthur was standing there holding a mechanical animal that he somehow had made pee — lots), Vulcan burst into laughter. It was that moment that he realized Special Fire Force 8 was not, in fact, anything like the other forces. In that moment, he took a step toward accepting their offer. He wasn’t there yet, but at least he wasn’t not throwing aluminum cans at Arthur and Shinra’s foreheads anymore.

And, I have to admit, it reminded me of Design for Leaving, which I’ve always liked.

Moment 2: A Beautiful Window to the Past

I got the feeling whoever animated this was really into it. It was so affecting! They even animated slight optical imperfections in the sting-ray in the bottom right. The characters’ reaction really sold it. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

One button Iris didn’t push was the start button on Vulcan’s holographic projector. Since he was warming up to them, he decided he’d show them what it could do.

It was beautiful.

Vulcan had built the projector with his father and grandfather (17:21), and he became really animated as he narrated what they were seeing. It seemed like an ocean flowed over them. They saw whales and exotic, brightly-colored fish. They gaped at the aquatic life swimming by. Vulcan talked about how there used to be so many species before the cataclysm.

The scene switched to elephants, then to geese. What really sold the sequence, in addition to Vulcan’s enthusiasm, was the reaction of the other characters. Arthur was almost speechless. Shinra’s voice had a hush in it when he spoke. Iris even began to cry, though she couldn’t say why.

Iris couldn’t say why she was crying, but she was. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Then, in an animated voice, Vulcan said that he wanted to create an energy source that would allow them to bring back and protect all of the animals. Even the ones that had gone extinct (18:41).

As he finished sharing his dream, the projector showed a night scene with fireflies. Not flaming insects; just fireflies drifting in the dark. Shinra was awestruck. He also realized that Special Fire Force 8 really, really needed Vulcan — and not only for the sake of the company!

The scene ended as the holographic sun rose, and the projection slowly faded away. This is the kind of thing that keeps me watching Fire Force. It was a beautiful moment, presented in an under-stated way, that focused on the characters and how they interacted. Oh, and it was lovingly animated with a supportive musical score. Not sure there’s much more I could ask of an anime!

Moment 3: Third Time is the Charm

Shinra could sense Giovanni’s hostile intent against Vulcan. The sensation seemed to be more intense than previous similar incidents. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Even after sharing his dream with Shinra and the others, Vulcan was not ready to visit Akitaru. He went back inside, carrying the projector, while Lisa (do be careful reading that link — looks like there are spoilers for her character) and Yu talked to the folks from the 8th. Lisa shared her backstory, and Yu shared a bit, too. Both of them had been down on their luck when Vulcan took them in.

They learned that Vulcan’s father and grandfather had both become Infernals at the same time. In the context of having just witnessed Giovanni trying to threaten Vulcan into joining Special Fire Force 3, and with the memory of the fire bugs fresh in his memory, Shinra was suspicious.

Yu almost confirms his suspicions when Yu says that one of Vulcan’s grandfather’s apprentices had been none other than Giovanni himself. After grandfather’s death, Giovanni had gone to work for Haijima.

Vulcan’s grandfather and father became Infernals at the same time — just shortly before Giovanni joined Haijima. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

As Lisa and Yu were heading back to the building, Shinra experienced a moment like he had twice before (21:45). The first was when he sensed Tamaki was in danger in episode 8, and again in episode 14 when Konro tried to warn him that Benimaru was in peril. This time, though, it was much, much more intense. He could actually feel what Giovanni was ordering his minions to do.

He was ordering them to kill Vulcan.

Shinra announced that his hero’s instinct said they had to stay, even though it seemed trying convince Vulcan was hopeless.

It’s cool watching Shinra learn how some of his powers work. It’s typical when a hero’s younger and their powers are still developing, but it’s a trope because it works.

Thoughts

Could you smack Iris in the forehead with a full can of green tea? I couldn’t. I mean, I’d prefer not to strike Shinra or Arthur, either, but Iris seems particularly off limits. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

After the emotional intensity of the previous episode, I expected a slower-paced outing this week. Maybe it’s be more honest to say I’d hoped for a slower episode. I love that level of intensity, but it can become exhausting.

I liked the liberal use of humor in this episode. I already mentioned the peeing stuffed animal and Iris’ fascination with pushing buttons. We also Got to see Shinra and Arthur get beaned — multiple times — by aluminum cans (which I think were full at the time). The first time was particularly funny. As they approached Vulcan’s home/workshop, an arm appeared, paused, and while they were wondering what was going on, hurled a can at Shinra’s head. Arthur had time to start laughing before he, too, got hit.

Then the camera focused on the can, then on Iris as she cringed, then on the can, which withdrew into the house. I have to say I was relieved that the arm left Iris alone.

The evidence against Dr. Giovanni looks strong. Maybe too strong? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I’m trying to be on guard for red herrings, so I’m not sure what to think about Giovanni in this episode. I mean, shortly after meeting Yu, I wondered if Yu was really Vulcan pretending to be a delivery boy. I think it’s clear that no, Vulcan is Vulcan, and Yu is Yu. I wonder if I’m being too suspicious?

It certainly seems clear that Giovanni wants to eliminate Vulcan. The quote was (21:47), “The time has come. Kill Vulcan.” That seems pretty cut and dried. But we’re seeing that from Shinra’s perspective. Were those Giovanni’s actual words, or Shinra’s perception of his intent? After all, Shinra said, “This time, it’s Dr. Giovanni’s hostile intent” (22:02). That seems less than definitive.

I really think Giovanni’s at least in league with Haijima. I think it’s clear they are at least one of the villains in the series. But how they all relate, especially to the Evangelist and the Joker, still isn’t clear to me.

Regardless, I find that I really like Vulcan. He’s designed to be pretty much universally likeable. He wants to bring back the extinct animals populations, for goodness sake! How noble is that? Lisa and Yu both seem like sympathetic characters, too. I’d like to see all three of them join the 8th both to help the 8th succeed in their mission, and to get some basic protection for themselves. For Vulcan’s family in particular, it seems the world is a very dangerous place.

What did you think of the humor in this episode? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!

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4 thoughts on “Review: Fire Force Episode 15: Hibana Smells a Rat and A Dream Denied

  1. You know, for me, Fire Force has the same feeling of ‘blink after the Op and the episode is over’ vibes as Kimetsu no Yaiba. I realized that yesterday when I saw episode 15, I NEEDED MORE!

    1. “You know, for me, Fire Force has the same feeling of ‘blink after the Op and the episode is over’ vibes as Kimetsu no Yaiba. ”

      It really does! Especially starting with the arc about Benimaru and the Special Fire Force Company 7. I’ve always enjoyed the series, but it seemed to kick it into high gear with those episodes.

      “I NEEDED MORE!”

      Me, too! I get a feeling there’s a lot of material, and I hope we get to see a lot more.

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