Anime

Review of Fire Force Episode 17: Hibana on a Rampage and an Unhappy Family Reunion

Quick Summary

In Fire Force episode 17, “Black and White and Gray,” Hibana had placed a tracking device on Iris, and as soon as she heard Shinra was in trouble, she came to rescue him. But will she rescue the other “gravel?” Or just take Shinra home? Meanwhile, Giovanni accidentally found the key and was about to kill Vulcan, Iris, and Yu when the fast-thinking Vulcan, still unable to move, told Iris to do something she has a lot of skill doing: Pushing random buttons. Waves of mechanical animals flew out of the walls, but will it be enough to save them? And what will Giovanni do with the key to the empire’s power source if he escapes?

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

What’s in This Post

3 Favorite Moments

Moment 1: Put-the-Damn-Masked-Nose-Out-Of-Joint-Man!

Shinra knows how to make an entrance! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

This episode reminded me of why I so enjoy a grand entrance. It’s not easy to pull off. There’s a lot to get right. Fortunately, this scene got it all right.

The buildup was spot on. First, Shinra had an epic approach. He seemed to be flying so fast that he produced a sonic boom, though I’m not sure he can actually do that (on the other hand, I’m not sure that he can’t). You could also see from his expression and body language that he was furious. That really built anticipation: what would he do when he got there?

He blew through the shimmers that Mirage threw at him. As in, they barely slowed him down. Giovanni had used tactics and stealth to sneak up on Shinra in the previous episode. That wouldn’t work this time — more anticipation!

Shinra blew right past the shimmers, Mirage, and even Flail. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The situation inside the shack was becoming dire. Giovanni had just found the key inside the destroyed holographic projector, and he was about to kill Vulcan, Iris, and Yu. The need for a hero had never been greater!

Shinra exploded through the door (02:30). He rammed his knee into Giovanni’s face and the villain flew across the room to slam into the wall. It looked like his nose had imploded.

Shinra capped the moment with one of his trademark made up names. He said (02:39), “I’m Put-the-Damn-Masked-Nose-Out-Of-Joint-Man!”

Very, very cool entrance.

Moment 2: The Hero Arrives, and This Time, It’s Not Shinra

“The hero arrives” indeed. Just who is Joker? How does he see himself? It was amazing to see Sho on the defensive for once! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Viktor’s timing was perfect (too perfect?). Vulcan, Yu, Arthur, Hibana, and Shinra piled into the back of the truck and Viktor sped off. As they raced by, Vulcan held his hand out to Lisa, but she pulled her hand back at the last instant. I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of her.

As Viktor drove the truck toward the gate, Sho appeared right in the middle of the road. We had just seen how powerful he was. He had almost killed both Arthur and Shinra without expending any visible effort (though he did seem surprised that Arthur could react to his attack, albeit ineffectively). The situation was clear: there was no one in the truck who could effectively combat Sho.

Keep in mind that Shinra and Arthur both tried to fight Sho (though Shinra’s heart wasn’t in it). Keep in mind that “highly ineffective” would be a charitable way to describe their efforts. Sho was in zero danger.

This scene showed just how powerful Joker is — and at the same time, confirmed that Sho is seriously dangerous. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Then Joker arrived.

Even Sho had to move to evade his attack. Even Sho couldn’t just brush Joker aside.

With that insane grin of his, Joker announced, “The hero arrives” (12:13).

The resulting battle gave new meaning to “fast and furious.” Even using his power, Sho could not gain an upper hand. But then, neither could Joker. To me, the impact of Joker’s entrance was the real star. The show perfectly prepared the moment so we could fully appreciate just what Joker was able to accomplish by helping the others escape.

Moment 3: You’re Not Alone

I think Vulcan honestly appreciated Shinra’s earnest statement of support. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

After the intense action in the first half of the episode, my last favorite moment relied more on quiet emotion. Vulcan and Shinra were sitting on a bench outside of the operating room. Inside, surgeons were trying to save Yu’s life. Shinra asked Vulcan to visit the 8th, not necessarily because they want him to work there, but because “that’s the safest thing for you right now” (14:16). After what he’s just been through, Vulcan agreed with thanks.

Shinra’s just a nice guy. He honestly told Vulcan this wasn’t how he wanted things to work out. He also felt terrible that he and Arthur together couldn’t keep Vulcan and Yu safe. For that, he apologized.

Vulcan showed the universal nice guy trait: he absolved Shinra of any guilt and said the fault was his. Even still, I hated to see how dejected Vulcan was, because it had so much justification! Lisa, a member of the family he was trying to build, betrayed him. Giovanni destroyed one of his precious memories of his father and recovered the key that might let him destroy even more. And behind him, Yu, the only other surviving member of his family, was on the operating table.

Shinra was having a hard time accepting the idea that he and Arthur together couldn’t protect Vulcan or Yu. Or that they had to be rescued. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Vulcan tried to regain his composure by saying, “There’s nothing in the world that can’t be fixed” (15:11). He even asked about Shinra and his brother, saying that he knew he wasn’t the only one who had it rough.

That seemed to be the catalyst for Shinra saying, “Vulcan, you aren’t alone. I’ll work with you as hard as I can to make your dream come true” (15:38). It was a simple statement. But it offered support precisely when Vulcan needed it.

Vulcan appreciated the gesture so much he made it official with a bro-fist.

Thoughts

I think the Lucky Lecher Lure might be behind us. Akitaru Oubi said that “Tamaki’s lucky lecher lure (is) inactive…” (18:46). In fact, all it did in this episode was make the crispy coating fall off of her fish. Seriously, there’s a 100% correlation between the quality of the episode and how firmly her clothes stay on.

And I’m saying this as someone who enjoys good fanservice!

When I saw the preview for this episode, I really, really wanted to see Hibana go on a rampage. We got a good start when she setup her Sakura Tree attack and evaporated the shimmers. It was even kind of cool that she attacked Arthur along with Mirage and Flail, saying that to her, everyone is just gravel. “Shinra excluded” (05:40), she added. That meant that even though she’s taken with Shinra, she’s still Hibana.

She was doing so well, too, right until until one of the mechanical animals that Iris had unleashed collided with her head (06:53). Dang it! As amusing as that impact was, I really wanted to see what she could do against Giovanni.

I was really bummed to see a bear’s head knocked Hibana unconscious. I really wanted to see her cut loose against Giovanni. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I’ve been wondering about Joker since we first met him. We got three new pieces of information about him, and I think they’re worth exploring.

First, we now know he’s most decidedly not working for or with the Evangelist. He and Sho went at it hammer and tongs! I suppose there’s an outside chance that the Evangelist has factions within his or her organization that get played against each other, but I highly doubt that.

Second, unless he was just being hyperbolic (and that’s entirely possible), Joker sees himself as a hero, or someone who does heroic stuff. At the very least, he doesn’t seem to see himself as a villain. That’s really interesting, though it still doesn’t tell us just what he’s really up to. Is he his own “organization?” Is he just a freelancer? Does he belong a larger organization that we haven’t been exposed to yet? I like these kinds of questions because they generated anticipation. The show’s proved that it can answer these kinds of questions, and that makes me even more anxious to know!

Finally, we got an idea of the upper limits of his combat effectiveness. For a few moments, he fought Sho to a stand still. However, he didn’t defeat Sho, and I think it’s because he couldn’t. Sure, he damaged Sho’s sword. But Sho’s sword came within millimeters of slicing off the top of Joker’s skull. Joker even said, “What a monster” (13:08).

Even Joker called Sho a monster. Who are these people? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

All of that just makes me want to know more about the character. That’s a good sign, I think!

What did you think of the dinner scene at the end? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!

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