In Fire Force episode 4, "The Hero and the Princess," a former Fire Solider is acquitted of the murders he obviously committed, but instead of celebrating, he bursts into flame and becomes an Infernal -- an Infernal who is utterly self-aware! Fire Company 8 heads out, and Shinra Kusakabe and Arthur Boyle arrive first. They are astonished that the Infernal is coherent; horrified might be a better word. Because as it tries to escape, Akitaru Oubi ordered Shinra to put the Infernal to rest. Will Shinra be able to follow that order, when he has already shown his reluctance to put a peaceful Infernal down? And will it matter if he tries, since the captain of Special Fire Company 5, the wildly hedonistic Hibana, has taken a keen interest in the new Infernal?
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.
What's in This Post
3 Favorite Moments
Moment 1: Shinra's "Solider" Part of Fire Soldier
Shinra hesitated. He'd never killed an Infernal that was self-aware before. It took Takehisa's calm certainty to help him accept the mission. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
After Shinra and Arthur arrived at the scene, they attacked the Infernal in almost perfect unison. They drove it back, but their attacks only annoyed it as the rest of the 8th arrived (12:43). Akitaru was astonished that the Infernal retained its self-awareness, Takehisa Hinawa had an explanation: The original man's will was so powerful, the character remained, but even he had never seen it take this form before.
The Internal's attempt to trick them with a surrender failed, so it retreated and screamed its intent to kill people "the way you guys kill Infernals" (13:35).
Akitaru ordered Shinra to overtake him, but Shinra protested that he was self-aware. We've seen Shinra in action, so there's no doubt of his dedication to the cause of protecting people. But the Infernals he's been involved with retiring before were not self aware. The closest they came was in episode 2, when the father was composed and waiting for them to put him to sleep. Shinra wasn't quite ready to kill a living being -- or a being easily identified as living.
Akitaru himself hesitated and sympathized with Shinra. It took Takehisa to calmly, yet clearly, say "Dispose of him" (14:03). They all knew what had to be done. It took Takehisa's calm certainty to give Shinra the push he needed to become less a fire fighter and more a soldier.
This moment showed the Shinra wants to do the right thing, but at heart, he doesn't see himself as a killer. I think that's a good thing.
Moment 2: Shinra's Trust But Verify
The Infernal misjudged Shinra -- and paid for it with a severed arm. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
After the Infernal tried to attack Shinra with a car -- only to have Shinra repurpose the car as a missile against the Infernal -- it seemed to understand it had run into a Fire Soldier it couldn't beat with raw force. As Shinra tried to read it last rites as Iris would have done, it tried to beg for its life. In pathetic tones, it begged for Shinra to at least wait until a real sister could arrive and recite its rites (16:46).
Shinra was already uncomfortable with this part of the mission. He grudgingly agreed to wait until the rest of the 8th Company arrived. So he told it to stay still and repent.
Shinra is not an idiot. He'd seen the Infernal try to trick Takehisa, Akitaru, and the rest at the courthouse. So he watched it out of the corner of his eye. When the Infernal tried to launch a surprise attack, you could see Shinra's eye close in annoyance -- just before he used his flaming feet to slice off one of the Infernal's arms (17:05). He's a rookie. He's young. But he's not an idiot. He tried to be merciful, but he remained vigilant. And that attitude saved his life.
Moment 3: The Power of Iris' Gaze
What does Iris know? This episode intensified my interest in this character. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
This probably won't come as a shock to anyone, but I have no respect for Princess Hibana. She's a slave to her own desires. She treats others as trash. She's not as powerful as she thinks she is.
Remember how she tried to tell Shinra to lick her shoes? Even after ordering him multiple times, Shinra finally just gawked at her thighs, and this supposed dominatrix backed off, embarrassed. And truth be told, she literally set the stage for it to happen by the way she approached Shinra.
But that wasn't the most glaring hole in her armor. After Akitaru and the rest of the 8th arrived and interrupted Hibana and her goons' assault on Shinra, it was obvious that the 5th's superior numbers, even on the 8th's home turf, gave them an advantage. So Akitaru did the mature and smart thing and presented Hibana with a diplomatic excuse for doing what she was going to do anyway.
Despite that, Hibana couldn't resist lobbing a few verbal jabs at the captain of the 8th Special Fire Company. That forced Akitaru to say that he and his team wouldn't be cowed so easily, which elicited a smirk from Hibana.
Then she met Iris' stare.
For whatever reason, that wiped the smirk right off her face. I have to wonder: What does Iris have on her? What does Iris know? Because since the second episode where we saw Maki's fanciful fire work trigger something in Iris' memory, I've wondered what's going on with the good sister.
There was something about the shots of the three mascot holding their balloons as they gazed at the clouds that I found mesmerizing. It was like a visual theme that pulled several sections of the episode together. It felt like visual poetry.
I thought my third favorite moment from this episode was an outlier, but it seems that's not the case! You might have noticed that I link to other sites that review this episode (see Other Posts about this Series, below), and when I was reading Reddit's thread about episode 4, I came across a post by Shiro Kai that noticed something very, very interesting about the ED. There's one frame among all of the captured moments from the sisters' lives that I had completed missed.
There are four sisters standing around a piano watching one young sister practice. The young sister looks so much like Iris that I really think it's her. There's another sister who looks like she's either singing or directing Iris. She has pink hair and yellow star-shaped pupils.
Is that really Hibana and Iris at the piano? What's the story there? Shout out to Reddit user Shiro Kai for having eyes sharp and fast enough to catch this! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
It looks like exactly like a younger Hibana.
What's up with that? Why do the other sisters look so scandalized? Was it something from that time that gave Iris some kind of leverage over Hibana? Iris just had to look at her in this episode to completely derail whatever hedonistic glee Hibana was high on.
Was I the only one who thought the 5th's Angels Three looked like the Nazi assassins from Wolfenstein's Elite Guard? Gotta say that I do not like the vibes I'm getting from Company 5. At the same time, their attitude was a perfect projection of what we've seen of Hibana. What it says about this world is pretty bleak.
Consider Akitaru's diplomatic confrontation with Hibana (20:00). Hibana asserted that her company will take the self-aware Infernal, and Akitaru's not willing to let it go without a fight. Trouble is, he's not stupid. He knows the society is as the 5th's Angels Three and Hibana herself proclaim: Whoever has the power makes the rules.
Akitaru would not have retained anyone's respect if he just backed down, so he had to play what cards he had. He spoke of jurisdiction; he asked Hibana to confirm she'd share the results of her studies with his Company -- eliciting a cheerfully deceitful "Of course!" So, showing that he was as much a veteran at diplomacy as he is at protecting the public from Infernals, he agreed.
Sure, they has a flair for the dramatic. I wonder how they would stack up against the 8th's resolve and ridiculously high power and talent? I doubt it would go well for either side! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Hibana was satisfied, but an underling had to open his mouth and question Akitaru's authority. He even looked back to the members of the 5th, apparently trying to elicit some reaction. I think it's telling that there wasn't any. Not because they didn't agree, but because Hibana had already won this round, and any further conflict just ran the risk of something going amiss. Which it did: Maki, amazing woman that she is, sucker-punched the creep in the stomach as Arthur and Shinra more directly challenged him.
Takehisa at first looked like he would reprimand her. Then her gave her a stern thumbs up.
In response, Hibana's Company 5 had to strike a pose so obvious that I would not have been surprised to hear Madonna's Vogue start playing in the background. That's when Hibana tried to issue a more clear challenge. Then two things went south for her.
First, Arthur, Shinra, Takehisa, Akitaru, and even Iris returned their challenge, not with some dramatic pose, with with glare of pure, unadulterated resolve. Despite the numbers being against them, if a fight broke out in that instant, I would bet on the 8th.
And second, it setup the single look from Iris that broke Hibana's glower.
Moments like this are why I watch anime. That's just good stuff.
What did you think of Shinra's reactions to such unexpected threats in this episode? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!