Anime

Review of Fire Force Episode 18: That’s Not Really a Throne and The Waka Way

Quick Summary

In Fire Force episode 18, “The Secrets of Pyrokinesis,” Hibana and Karim Flam visit the 8th Special Fire Force Company’s headquarters to meet with Akitaru Oubi. The planned to compare notes and come up with a plan. Can Hibana turn off Princess mode long enough to cooperate? Or will she really make Karim sit on the floor? Meanwhile, Akitaru and, unbeknownst to him, Joker, have decided that Shinra needs to have better control over his powerful flames. Arthur over his sword, too. So, they went to an expert: Benimaru Shinmon. He proved to be a powerful teacher — maybe too powerful? Can Shinra and Arthur survive his training? Can they survive their own rivalry? And just what does Benimaru think of Shinra’s brother, Sho?

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

What’s in This Post

3 Favorite Moments

Moment 1: On the Edge of Hibana’s Wrath

Hibana — in princess mode — was not happy that Iris appeared to be nothing more than an ornamental tea serving girl. Fortunately, Iris assured her that “Obi” was treating her better than that. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Hibana likes who Hibana likes. And if you’re lucky enough to be one of those people, she’ll look out for you — in her own special way. We’ve seen how she fawns over Shinra. In this episode, we got to see her look after Iris.

After Hibana and Karim arrived at the 8th, Iris started serving tea. I’ve always liked how the Japanese serve green tea to guests. It’s just so danged civilized!

Hibana looked at Akitaru and, in one of her many dangerous voices, said that she was sure Obi wasn’t forcing Iris to serve tea (03:52). For the sake of peace, it was great that Iris immediately (and cheerfully!) said she was doing it because she wanted to. So that was one disaster averted.

Of course, as she leveled her accusation, Hibana was sitting on the back of a chair so she could look down on everyone.

She’s just such an interesting character.

Moment 2: Yeah, He Knows How to Fight

It would seem that Benimaru knows something about fighting. In fact, he seems to know quite a lot about it! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I’ve talked before about how impressed I’ve been with Shinra’s fighting prowess and his tactical thinking. Well, it turns out he has a good start, but Joker and Sagamiya Konro both think that Shinra would benefit from some fine tuning — and so would Arthur. So, Konro tried to convince Benimaru he should take the two under his wing.

In fact, Konro point blank told Benimaru that he owed the 8th in general and the two rookies in particular.

Benimaru showed just how honest he was when he said (08:20), “What? I owe them? Yeah, I do owe them.”

Gotta admire his sense of integrity!

Benimaru’s first lesson: This is not a charade! Total concentration! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Shinra and Arthur showed up at Special Fire Force Company 7’s headquarters. Shinra looked around, didn’t see anyone, and tried to announce himself.

Benimaru showed just how stealthy and tactically aware he was by silently coming up being Shinra, placing a stick to his throat, and saying “If this was combat, you’d be dead” (08:43).

I thought that instant said a lot: as powerful as Shinra was, he was still inexperienced. He still left himself open to attack. He still lacked situational awareness.

The fact that Arthur was even worse just made the lesson even more appropriate!

Moment 3: Shinra and His New Finishing Move

Looks like Shinra has a new move to show off. He’s pretty proud of it, too! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Fire Force is a shōnen series. I think that to maintain that status, it has to do the training trope. The more original, the better. Which in this case translates to the quicker the better.

Everyone agreed that Shinra was powerful. The most experienced among them agreed that Shinra needed more fine-grained control of his flames. Benimaru, a seasoned combat veteran, decided to introduce Shinra to a technique known as Tora Hishigi. In many of the shōnen series I’ve watched, the training sequence would be at least 1 episode and maybe more. This time, though, Shinra went through several iterations of very funny facial expressions (with commentary from Hikage and Hinata, whose blunt honesty was actually helpful), and very quickly, he started to get the hang of the kata Benimaru taught him.

It took Benimaru every bit of a quarter of a second to veto Shinra’s idea to name his finishing move. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

When he thought his finishing move was ready, Shinra being Shinra, he wanted to name it. “Kicker-Man Kick!”, he announced proudly (20:43). Benimaru instantly vetoed it.

But whatever its name, the next time Benimaru and Shinra sparred, Shinra tried it out. Making the hand gesture just so, he streaked toward Benimaru. The older man’s look of surprised was very clear: Shinra had perfected his move (21:46) — and he didn’t need a full episode, much less multiple episodes, to do it!

Benimaru’s comment that had he not been aware that Shinra had that move, he would have been defeated, was just icing on the cake.

Thoughts

At first, Karim didn’t think she was serious when she encouraged him to sit on the floor. Strange. Karim didn’t strike me as the naive type… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I’m going to show my “guy” genes here, but did you see Hibana’s legs in this episode? I know I have the internet, so even amazing thighs should be common place. But Hibana is just so, well, Hibana, that she stands out.

Using those legs as a weapon, she even made Karim sit on the floor, just to exalt her (04:25). You should have seen my inner dialogue during this scene.

“Karim! Dude! You shouldn’t sit on the floor just because she tells you to!” my sensible side said.

“But Hibana’s thighs,” my “guy” side said.

“Yes,” I said, trying to be patient with myself. “I saw them. They were very nice. But that’s no reason to sit on the floor…”

“But Hibana’s thighs!”

“We’ve been through this….”

“I’m sitting on the floor with Karim.”

There are just some instincts that are wickedly hard to fight.

There is only one known, sure-fire antidote to the spell Hibana casts. That’s Maki Not any spell, just Maki. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

But not impossible to fight!

I was surprised to discover that this episode actually contained an active antidote to Hibana. Her name is Maki, and as far as I’m concerned, she’s the manifestation of the ideal woman in this series. She’s powerful. She’s graceful and beautiful. And as we saw in this episode, when she’s allowed to flex her power, her surge of confidence makes her even more stupidly beautiful.

Remember when Vulcan created the new armament for Maki? The ones she had to power with her little fire spirits Sputter and Flare (15:26)? First, those names are wonderfully whimsical. Second, she was so delighted that, after donning her witches hat, she just exuded beauty.

And you know what? After seeing Maki’s smile, even Hibana’s legs were fading into my memory. This show has its ups and downs. Maki is one of the show’s persistent and abiding ups.

What did you think of Shinra’s training in this episode? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!

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