In Fire Force episode 2, "The Heart of a Fire Soldier," Shinra Kusakabe is a bit disappointed to learn that his fire academy nemesis, Arthur Boyle, is also a new recruit. They waste no time taking their argument outside, only to find that Maki Oze and Iris on the roof having a picnic. Takehisa Hinawa arrives and decides he wants them both to test their strength -- against Maki! Can she survive against two third generation pyrokinetics? Or is it the other way around? Special Fire Force Company 8 goes on a run and finds a daughter weeping. Her mother had turned into an Infernal two years before, and now, it was her father's turn. What's going on with her family? Why are there no roaring flames? And what's the man with an eye patch doing with that black powder?
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.
What's in This Post
3 Favorite Moments
Moment 1: Maki Schools Shinra and Arthur
Mental note: Avoid ticking this woman off at all costs. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
I thought Maki was one of my favorite characters before. After this moment, I certain of it! Earlier, I mentioned how Shinra and Arthur had a rivalry going on. it seems that Takehisa wanted to give that energy another outlet by asking the two of them to take on Maki. His official reason was that he wanted to get an idea of how the new recruits would do in the upcoming rookie games. It was fun to see Maki extinguish Shinra's flames using her power (7:33). It was also fun to see Maki turn his placating title of "princess" around when she made him kneel in her presence. But my favorite part was when they both made the mistake of calling her an ogre -- Arthur intentionally, Shinra quite by accident. Then she showed them another aspect of her power: She took control of their flames to create a giant flaming ball she called "Bobobo-bobo-bobo" (9:53). Apparently, it's a reference to a manga called Bobobo-bo_Bo-bobo, a work known for its puns, which makes sense in light of the pun she made of Arthur's plasma sword's name (Excalibur became Ex-Sputter-bur). Even though she was "only" a second generation pryokinetic, she completely owned both of them!
Moment 2: Akitaru Shows Why He's Captain
In this moment, Akitaru proved to be a leader who is worth of leading his team into the flames. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Special Fire Force Company 8 went out on a run, and while en route, Akitaru Oubi gives a Type 7 axe to Shinra because they're heading for a home, and space limitations will constrain Shinra's ability to use his powers. He cautions both Shinra and Arthur to keep their weapons hidden under their coats. "Under no circumstances are you to display them publicly," he tells them. I didn't quite understand where he was going with that, but I soon found out. When they arrived, a young girl (maybe middle school aged) was crying. Her father was the one who had turned into an Infernal on this day; two years ago, it had been her mother. Captain Akitaru noticed that, and when he gave the order to enter, he also saw that both Shinra and Arthur had drawn their weapons. He halted the operation, and I'm wondering what was so important that he was willing to accept a delay. Arthur tried to protest that there was no rule about displaying their tools in the Fire Soldiers' regulations. "Excalibur is my pride," he said (14:27). "Why should I have to keep it hidden?"
This is where it got really, really good.
Akitaru explains that they see their job is to put Infernals to rest -- Infernals who were once human. The phrase "put to rest" is a euphemism, of course. What they're really doing is killing the Infernals. Who used to be human. That's heavy enough. But then he dropped what felt like a bomb.
"But what about the feelings of the survivors they leave behind? Those who are being put to rest when we fight are somebody's dear relatives" (15:03). Like the girl crying nearby. What would she feel if she saw them drawing weapons before they confronted the Infernal -- a being that until just a few minutes ago had been her father?
This world is becoming more and more real. This is the kind of the thing that draws me to anime.
Moment 3: A Father's Sacrifice
This show is doing a great job of letting us see the human dimension of Infernals -- including who they leave behind. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
When the company entered the room with the Infernal, I thought it was really odd that the Infernal was just sitting there. As if he'd been waiting for them. Shinra wanted to wait to put the Infernal to rest, because he hadn't done anything yet. Arthur knew better and said (17:02), "The man is sitting there enduring the tremendous pain of those flames. We have to put him out of his misery, and quickly."
I hadn't thought of that, and I reflected how once again, this world is making itself very, very real -- and emotionally heavy. Little did I know that this only setup the real dramatic payoff.
Akitaru brought a family portrait out of the living room and presented it to the weeping girl. He told her (20:03) that her father had fought against the flames, and had won -- because he had been protecting her from the flames.
He endured the agony of burning alive to keep his daughter safe.
Can we talk about the ED for a second? Has Iris seen some stuff or what? It seems like spontaneous combustion has hit this world hard. Almost everyone's been affected. That knowledge gives the show a melancholy, almost dark tone that adds to its gravitas.
Speaking of Iris, remember the scene just before Shinra and Arthur burst onto the roof? Maki had just created her little floating flame sphere, and for a moment, Iris was lost in memory of flames making beautiful flower shapes. Was that from around the time that the ED showed? If so, there's something seriously disturbing about flames that go to the trouble to make art -- especially if it's to lure people in...
Okay, what's going on here? Talk about a feeling of foreboding... Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Just as an aside, Iris' order reminds me a lot of the Dominican Order, at least in how they dress and how they seemed to live. That might be one of the reasons this show feels comfortable, almost like home. I've been around Dominicans all my life! Some good folks...
Since I watched even the beginning of the first episode, something's been bugging me. It's been at the back of my mind, and it's been annoying that I haven't been able to figure out what it was. I'm enjoying the show. Shouldn't that be enough?
Watching this episode, especially the scene where Maki makes the little flame creatures (at least, they acted like creatures!), it hit me. What was bugging me was the question of why this series felt so comfortable. Not comfortable as in home or where I live; I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to live in this world! Comfortable in terms of what I like in a series. My series archetype, so to speak.
On a slightly related note, I knew this series has the same writer and visual style as Soul Eater, so I expected them to feel familiar. I expected to have a similar reaction. But what was bugging me was more than that.
in this episode, it all clicked.
There's something special about this series, and this Infernal helped me figure out what it was. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
The two shows share the same heart.
Not just the animation, which is lush and inviting. The flames almost dance; the characters move in realistic ways. The camera in particular reminds me of Soul Eater. Remember how the camera flowed through Soul Eater's OP? This show has a similar style, and I like it. A lot.
Not just the style of creatures. The little flame creatures reminded me of some of the critters we saw in the original Soul Eater. The style even reminded me of the clouds that circled Lord Death's room, but that wasn't the whole answer.
It's not just some of the themes. Remember in Soul Eater how we were pretty sure that not all witches were necessarily evil, and how killing them turned out to be morally questionable? We saw a glimpse of that in this episode, when the Infernal sat, enduring the pain, until Arthur could put him to rest.
It wasn't merely the characters. I mean sure, Arthur looks like a cross between the Death Scythe Justin Law and Hiro -- I mean, Hiro even wields Excalibur!* Maki's inner strength and drive reminds me a lot of, well, Maka! Shinra even looks a lot like Soul.
But it's more than even that. It's the quality of the characters. Take a look at what drives Akitaru. He's pretty laid back, but when it comes to bringing peace and comfort to the survivors, he's like a man possessed. Look at Maki: She's kinda dreamy most of the time, and little carefree. But when it came time to teach the new recruits a lesson, she didn't hold back -- because she knew they needed to get past their own exaggerated sense of their own abilities, which could be fatal in the field.
Shinra and Arthur have an interesting relationship. I really liked how Iris told Shinra she thought he was cool. She has some depth, that woman does. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Even take a look at Shinra and Arthur. They're bitter rivals, but in their bunks, their banter was almost friendly. Shinra was a devil; Arthur was a knight (knight king!). But at the end of the day, they were comrades in arms. They were fighting the same enemy.
These are characters I'd fight beside. These are characters I'd work with. These are characters I'd let my kids hang out with. These are certainly characters I want to root for.
It's probably too early to tell, but this feels like one of those shows that's going to stick with me.
What did you think of Arthur's introduction? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!
* If Arthur's Excalibur starts yelling "Fool!", I'm going to use ungentlemanly language!
Other Posts about This Series
Other Anime Sites
- Reddit: Enen no Shouboutai - Episode 2 discussion
- AngryAnimeBitches: Enen no Shouboutai Episode 2
- Star Cross Anime Blog: Fire Force – 2 [The Heart of a Fire Soldier]