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Review of Fire Force Episode 21: The Hidden Vest and a Personal Universe

Quick Summary

In Fire Force episode 21, “Those Connected,” Vulcan and Akitaru Oubi faced off against Giovanni and Lisa. With her magnetic-seeking tentacles of flame, she threatened to incinerate the two members of Company 8. Can Vulcan’s heart-felt words reach her? If they can’t, can his technological weapons? Meanwhile, Shinra discovered a path to Sho — or, what he shown a path? Secretly, Victor Licht followed Shinra, and what he learned from Sho terrified him — enough for him to loudly urge Shinra to flee for his life. Is what Licht learned even possible? And if it’s true, what chance does Shinra — or any of them — ultimately have?

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

What’s in This Post

3 Favorite Moments

Moment 1: To Catch a Falling Star

When Lisa needed him the most, Vulcan was there for her. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Seeing Lisa fighting because of Giovanni’s brainwashing might be one of the most disturbing things I’ve seen in this series. And let’s face it: It’s had its share of brutal moments. She showed a lot of the symptoms of Battered Woman Syndrome, and it’s hard to watch knowing the mental agony she’s accepted as normal.

Against that horror is set Vulcan’s simple and honest love. Even as she was trying to burn him and Akitaru to death, he used his words to try to break Giovanni’s hold on her. Of course, I was rooting for him. Equally “of course,” I was happy his attempts failed. That would be wildly unrealistic. It would have ruined the scene.

Talk about trust. Akitaru knew that he wouldn’t be in position to catch Lisa when she fell. He left it up to Vulcan. Teamwork’s cool. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Akitaru and Vulcan used one of the latter’s devices to disrupt Lisa’s hold on them. For the next couple of minutes, Akitaru seemed to be trying to extinguish her flames with old fashioned fire extinguishers. All the while, Giovanni ridiculed him. However, Akitaru’s real plan was very different. He had planted the extinguishers beneath each of Lisa’s tentacles. When he was ready, he pressed a button, and the extinguishers detonated simultaneously. The concussive force extinguished Lisa’s tentacles (03:20). She’d been high in the air; now, she plummeted.

Vulcan was there for her. He caught her and held her (03:54). It might be cliche, but you know what? He was so earnest that it worked. It was a very hopeful sign when she burst into tears, too. It might be a sign that Giovanni’s hold on her isn’t absolute.

Sometimes, it’s nice to have an uncomplicated good guy to root for!

Moment 2: Stepping on the Boss’s Punchline

I felt bad for Akitaru. He’d set the moment up so perfectly! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I just got done praising Vulcan’t simple approach to life. There are times, though, when it’s not exactly the best choice. It can trick him into career-limited moves.

Giovanni had made a big deal earlier in the episode of how he wasn’t going to tell Akitaru the secret behind the fire bugs or anything in the Evangelist’s arsenal. He was quite rude about it — part of psychological aspect of his attack, I’m sure.

Well, Giovanni re-captured Lisa and, with a heated wire around her throat, said he’d kill her unless Vulcan shot Akitaru with the provided pistol. Vulcan was seriously torn. His voice actor, Taku Yashiro, did a fantastic job. I could feel the agony in his voice. Finally, as much as a result of Akitaru’s encouragement as anything else, he fired, and Akitaru fell.

Vulcan’s agony was obvious in his voice and in his actions. He was torn between wanting to save Lisa and not wanting to shoot Akitaru. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

A moment later, though, Akitaru was back on his feet. Judging by how easily he lifted some of the old rails from the ground, he was in perfect shape, too. Giovanni was perplexed, and even said that the Fire Force overcoats should not have been able to stop a bullet.

“Would you like to know? Hmmm? Giovanni? Hmmm?” Akitaru said, gleefully relishing the turned tables (08:55). “I’m not telling,” he ended triumphantly.

At the same time Vulcan said, “It’s an anti-physical-attack vest!”

Well, at least they were still alive. That’s not a bad consolation prize!

Moment 3: Not in the Mood for a Friendly Chat

I have to admire Shinra’s hope that he can convince Sho to join him. It’s utterly unrealistic, but sometimes you have to choose a stretch goal… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

When Shinra finally found Sho, he was in high spirits. From his perspective, he was getting another chance to save his brother, so he was excited. Sho, though, had an utterly different agenda. He started out saying the very thought of Shinra being his brother “turns my stomach” (16:15). This is Shinra we’re talking about, though, so that kind of thing just rolled off his back.

When Sho decided to up the ante by saying “I have no recollection of being born from that filthy belly,” (16:18), Shinra launched himself with his new finishing move — to stop with his hand on Sho’s shoulder. Sternly, he told his brother to not speak ill of their mom.

Shinra wasn’t into the whole “speaking ill of mother” thing. I think it’s the first time we saw him angry with his brother. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Licht was still watching. He seemed almost too excited by what he saw, saying “Two bearers of the Adolla Burst, right before my eyes!” I wondered what was up with that. Regardless, Shinra and Sho suddenly disappeared. Licht saw flashes of red orange and blue-white flames in a circle all around him.

In fact, in an ever-constricting circle.

Suddenly, Licht found himself slammed against a pillar. Shinra had reappeared right in front of him — holding the scabbard that Sho had tried to shove through Licht’s throat. Shinra had managed to deflect it by centimeters.

“Not in a mood for a friendly chat, then?” Shinra asked grimly (17:36).

What I found so cool about this moment was that just a few episodes ago, Sho would have obliterated Shinra in the first instant. Now, Shinra appeared to almost be keeping up. And despite his power-up, he was still Shinra: trying to protect his brother and any bystanders like Licht.

Thoughts

Have I mentioned how much I really, really want to see Giovanni defeated — completely? What he’s done to Lisa is reprehensible, and we know it’s not the only thing he’s done — just the most visible. Of course, that’s what makes him a good villain.

Seriously, this guy is so annoying. Guess that’s the sign of a good villain. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

But like any good villain, Giovanni is not a complete idiot. Something he said in this episode had a grain of truth in it, and given some of the discussions I’ve had the opportunity to have in places like My Brain is Completely Empty (especially in this post), I’d like to comment on it.

Giovanni, as he was exiting, said (20:03), “Brainwashing… Religion… Faith… They’re like a curse to people.”

If we’re honest, it’s impossible to dismiss his statement. There’s simply too much evidence for it. Look at the current US political landscape. People calling themselves Christians endorse a political leader, with a political agenda, that is literally the opposite of the core tenant of Christianity, which is “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Not sure how tactics better suited for organized crime quality as “love one another…” Okay, I lie. I am sure. They don’t. You can’t gleefully hurt people and claim to do it in God’s name. That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.

Is it just me, or does it look like Giovanni would be right at home in the current US political “debate” environment? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

And no, I don’t work for Geico. It’s just a funny commercial with a phrase that illustrated my point.

Do you remember Jonestown? Modern humans, with all of the educational and technological capabilities that entails, willing killed themselves for a charismatic leader.

They killed themselves because he told them to.

Yes. Sometimes this tendency in humans has been used to accomplish wonderful things. But for each Habitat for Humanity, we have people defending a political leader who is literally guilty of defrauding charities, simply for cash.

Looking solely at the evidence, I’m hard pressed to disagree with Giovanni. These tendencies in people certainly do behave like a curse. Enough people have certainly suffered because of it. Now it’s up to Shinra to give us a counter example. If he can.

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

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2 thoughts on “Review of Fire Force Episode 21: The Hidden Vest and a Personal Universe

  1. I think the fight between Shinra and Sho may just be my favourite moment in this entire season of Fire Force, so far. I mean I grew up on Dragonball so I’m used to the often lazy ‘They’re moving too fast for us to see!’ trope, but this was done with such flare and style that I loved it. The use of lighting and that building tension as you see the glowing footprints appear across the floor, it was beautiful.

    1. “The use of lighting and that building tension as you see the glowing footprints appear across the floor, it was beautiful.”

      That _was_ a beautiful scene, wasn’t it?

      The next episode is (IMHO) even better. Yona’s reaction really helped sell it. Haumea’s reaction, too.

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