In Fire Force episode 3, "The Rookie Fire Soldier Games," preparations are underway to start the rookie games. Shinra Kusakabe sees the captain of fire company #1 and remembers him from the conflagration that had killed Shinra's mother and little brother. But the captain brushes him off. Between the competitiveness of Arthur Boyle and Tamaki Kotatsu (from company #1) trying to keep him away from her captain, he runs out of time and the games start. Shinra's ability to fly gives him an edge, but what he finds on the top floor was anything but what he expected. Why is Joker there? Why are the Fire Force instructors unconscious on the floor? What what's Joker saying about Shinra's family and the fire?
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.
What's in This Post
3 Favorite Moments
Moment 1: The Joker's Wild
Okay, who's Joker and what does he know? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
The show's wasting no time challenging the status quo, is it? Shinra tried to talk to the captain of company #1, but the older man brushed him off. That seemed just strange. I get over twelve years, it's hard to remember every single incident, but still...
And then, when the games start, we get another shocking revelation. Okay, it's probably not shocking, because we knew something was probably going to happen, but I thought the sheer bluntness was noteworthy. Shinra uses his third generation pyrokinetics ability to fly to the top floor, way ahead of the rest of the new recruits. When he gets there, he's expecting to see a Fire Force instructor playing the part of the Infernal.
But the instructors were both unconscious on the ground. Joker stood above them. Shinra paused uncertainly, not sure yet if this was part of the games or not. Joker cleared up that misunderstanding when he said (8:08), "That fire that happened to you 12 years ago -- would you like to know more about it?"
I'm starting to appreciate the irony of Shinra's reflexive, nervous smile.
Moment 2: Shinra Stares Death in the Face
I usually don't go for over-stylized art -- but in this scene, it felt like it fit. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
I love it when character details resurface with new meaning. Shinra's not willing to listen to Joker, though I have to imagine he was sorely tempted, given the subject matter. So, Joker decided to up the ante and kill the Fire Force instructors if Shinra won't listen. Shinra tried to intervene, and as a third generation pyrokinetic, his's powerful. Joker, though, had his own reservoir of strength and is clearly more experienced. Despite being driven back initially, he soon hits Shinra hard enough to knock him off his feet. Joker, his face a mask of homicidal joy, approached the injured young man to administer the killing blow.
You know Shinra's nervous grin?
As Joker approached, it seemed to him that Shinra was grinning (10:21) -- literally in the face of death. Joker was so impressed that he decided not to kill our hero. Instead, he gave him a hint about the true nature of the fire.
This kind of redirection reminds me of Hamlet Act III Scene 3, where King Claudius finds he can't pray. Hamlet, intent on killing the king, finds him on his knees -- and doesn't kill him because Hamlet thought the king was praying. Kinda cool when an anime can remind me of Hamlet!
Moment 3: Misplaced Competition
Arthur just reminded me that sometimes, it's possible to be too smart for your own good. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
While Shinra and Joker had been fighting, Tamaki and Arthur had run into each other. Well, she had fallen on top of him, and he had to tell her he wasn't a "not a knight-shaped cushion." We've only just met Tamaki, but she seems to be fitting in really well with the rest of the cast...
They heard the fight going on, and they still thought it's part of the games. So they advanced until they found Joker and Shinra. Shinra's relieved, and he gives them one of the most concise and professional sit-reps I've ever heard (14:08). I'm thinking, "Wow. Nice job, Shinra!"
Unfortunately, Arthur's reaction was less than helpful. He said, "Don't lie to me. I'm gonna be the winner."
I'm all for competitiveness, but seriously, Arthur, get with the program.
Thoughts: What Was That All About?
So, if I understood Akitaru Oubi right, we now know who supports or influences at least three of the fire companies. Holy Sol Temple influences the first company. Tokyo Armed Forces supports the 2nd. And Haijima Industries, a private company, supports the fifth. Haijima also happens to make all of their equipment.
And the eighth company exists to investigate them? That's kinda interesting.
Speaking of interesting, did you notice how Joker said of Shinra (12:50), "That's the firepower of the Devil." He didn't say "a" devil. He said "the" devil. Just who is Shinra, anyway?
Can we talk about the fanservice in this episode? I've seen a ton of discussion about Tamaki's introduction, and a lot of it seems negative and judgmental. And by "seems" I mean "screams." I know I'm a guy, so maybe my opinion doesn't count (at least in some circles). But as a strong proponent of positive and strong portrayals of women in anime, I think Fire Force has been misjudged.
I say this for two reasons.
Maybe I'm just not looking at this right, but Tamaki doesn't even look self-conscious, much less embarrassed, by Shinra's social gaffe. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
First, take a look at Tamaki when we first meet her (around 3:24). Her coat's not only open; She's wearing a bikini top and her pants show off her hips. The outfit is, to say the least, eye-catching. So much so that Shinra couldn't help but stare. I honestly don't think he could help himself. Now, I will grant you that maybe he should have tried a little harder. But I think it's telling how she reacted. Did she cross her arms and blush? Give any suggestion of embarrassment? Nope. She just made it clear she wouldn't put up with staring.
Either her power requires her to dress like that (and I'm struggling to see why), or she chose to dress like that to make an impact. An impact that she's prepared to direct and defend. Which means it's not negative fan service, because my number 1 rule is that positive fan service requires agency. Is she in charge of the fan service? Yes? Then it's not negative.
Then we come to what is probably the most provocative moment. Shinra really wants to talk to the captain of the first company, but Tamaki doesn't want to let him. She jumps right in front of him, blocking his way. Somehow, in the act of doing so -- we don't see how, because it was off camera -- Shinra's hand ends up under her top. She's mad (of course!), but she doesn't act surprised. At all. She tries to slap him, but he steps backward, and she stumbles.
And somehow, his hands end up inside her pants. This time, she was embarrassed, and the threw herself to her knees. But she didn't lament not being able to get married or anything like that. What did she say (5:35)? "Damn it! Why does my lucky lecher lure always have to activate?"
Okay, I'll grant you that Tamaki looks a bit embarrassed here... And to be honest, I feel bad for Shinra having such a nervous grin. Talk about cultivating a misunderstanding... Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
What the heck is a lucky lecher lure?
Apparently, this kind of situation is nothing new to her. Good fan service or bad fan service? In this case, I have to rule that her decisions (wide open coat, for example!) contributed to both incidents. That, along with her "lucky lecher lure," moves this from a question of fan service to a question of character development. I suppose that we could say the writer could find a different way to present her, but you know what?
I'm finding it impossible to feel upset about this. She made her point with Shinra, because the next times he saw her, he didn't stare, did he? I really don't think he intentionally grabbed her (but maybe I'm missing something), and she seems to almost expect this kind of thing. So, I'm not going to condemn the writers or the artists or anyone else.
Besides, I'm more interested in what Joker was talking about...
What did you think of Tamaki's introduction? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!
Other Posts about This Series
Other Anime Sites
- Reddit: Enen no Shouboutai - Episode 3 discussion
- AngryAnimeBitches: Enen no Shouboutai Episode 3