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Review of Fire Force Episode 22: Practice Makes Perfect and Memories of Childhood

Quick Summary

In Fire Force episode 22, “A Brother’s Determination,” Shinra continued to battle against Sho as Victor Licht watched in alternating terror and fascination. As the fight wore on, Licht made a startling observation about the nature of Sho’s powers — and it’s not good news for Shinra. Shinra, meanwhile, tried everything he could do learn more about not only Sho’s powers, but his own. He actually managed to add to his bag of tricks. But his strength was waning, and Sho looked as fresh as ever. Will Shinra be able to learn anything new and useful to use against Sho, who can selectively stop time? Or will Sho claim Shinra as an offering for the Evangelist?

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

What’s in This Post

3 Favorite Moments

Moment 1: Shinra’s Investment in Learning

Sho was astonished that Shinra could force an Adolla Link with him — making him lower his guard long enough for Shinra to actually hit him. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Shinra’s battle against his brother Sho had been taxing. By the end of the previous episode, it looked like Shinra was on the ropes. I mean, how can you fight someone who can stop time? From Sho’s perspective, Shinra was, at least for a moment, standing still.

Shinra, though, showed the determination he’d shown us all season. He kept trying different things. When something didn’t work, he considered why before trying again. It’s classic scientific method. Senkuu from Dr. Stone would be proud!

Just when all seemed to be lost, Sho suddenly found himself reliving a memory when Shinra as a child, cape waving in the wind, said (07:25), “Sho, Big Brother is going to play with you!” Before he knew it, Shinra had gotten close enough to cut his cheek. Based on Sho’s reaction, that kind of thing just didn’t happen.

I admire Shinra’s focus on improving himself. It’s starting to pay off, too!

Moment 2: Shinra and His Unswerving Resolve

Shinra had taken quite a beating, but his focus on his goal was still clear. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I’m pretty sure Sho’s never fought anyone with Shinra’s combination of strength and doggedness. Time after time, he delivered what he thought were debilitating blows to Shinra. Time and time again, Shinra got back up, adjusted his tactics, and tried again.

Finally, exasperated, Sho asked him why he didn’t give give up (10:30). I thought Shinra’s answer was a great summation of the emotional journey he started at the beginning of the series. At first he said that the image of his little brother Sho’s face haunted him. Then, recalling all of the help he’d been given along the way by people as varied as Akitaru Oubi and Hibana, he realized it was more than just that. He told Sho that after the incident when they were children, he thought his little brother was dead. Now, even though they’re on opposing sides, here Sho was, alive and relatively well.

“I can’t afford to give up now,” he said (11:56). The battle had paused, just for a moment. Unlike similar pauses in other shows, this episode had shown so clearly that Sho was having his doubts that it felt like he was waiting along with us in the audience to see what Shinra was going to say. Shinra finished with, “Sho, thank you for still being alive. You’re like a miracle to me.”

On one hand, Shinra’s complete dedication to his brother was touching and inspiring. On the other, look at the impact his words had on Sho. Sho had never heard words like that! It must have felt like he was hearing about a parallel world where people were very different than what he was used to.

Still not sure if Shinra can get through to him, though.

Moment 3: Games Long Delayed

Maybe I’m too limited by convention, but this really does seem like a happy look to me! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Shinra’s nervous smile has been a topic since the first episode. His huge, devil-like grin is often a fear reaction. Typically, he’s not grinning out of happiness; he’s terrified! But in this episode, it took on a very different meaning.

Licht had just finished describing what happened when Shinra accelerated — he actually exceeded the speed of light, and his body came apart. When he decelerated, his body reassembled. Licht’s worry was that Shinra would overheat and lose his ability while he was non-corporeal. Licht said if that happened, he’s die (21:06).

At those words, Shinra got this huge grin on his face. Sho objected, asking what he thought was funny in this situation. At first, Shinra tried to laugh it off, saying it was a “nervous tic.” Then he reconsidered and got almost serious, despite the smile remaining firmly in place.

He said (21:32), “I’m happy to be playing with you, Sho.” Shinra’s flames took on the shape of two wings — bat-like wings of fire.

Seeing Shinra’s flames take this form was very interesting. This fight has clearly helped him level up, way beyond what Sho at least thought was possible. And all the while, Shinra kept true to his self-assigned mission: bring his brother home.

Thoughts

Do you feel a bit like the scientific explanation for what Shinra and Sho were doing left something to be desired? Well, a fascinating post by Reddit user Starossi went a long way toward putting my mind at ease. I’m not saying any leading scientists are going to immediately start experimentation on the theory, but at least as far as this series goes, I’m satisfied!

Regarding Fire Force’s description of how Shinra and Sho’s powers worked: Cue Miles Lane! “I’ll allow it!” Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Did we know that Yona was explicitly not human? As he watched the later stages of Sho and Shinra’s fight, Yona wonder how fast they were moving. He added (19:13), “Not even I, who isn’t human, can tell.”

If he’s not human, then what is it? Same race as the Evangelist? Though that doesn’t tell me much…

This episode highlighted something that I’ve really enjoyed about this series, from its first episode until now. Shinra isn’t some fist-swinging, over-powered meat-head. He thinks about his fight craft and constantly tries to improve it. Back in episode 9, for example, Shinra faced off against a potentially more powerful and certainly more experienced Rekka Hoshimiya. Shinra adapted his tactics to turn the fight into an airborne affair, which gave him and his maneuverability an advantage.

We’ve had some other examples, too, but they seemed to culminate in this episode. Every time one of his attacks failed, Shinra would adjust tactics and try again. In spite of Licht’s warning, Shinra would not give up. His mission to save his brother was too important to him.

Sho simply could not believe how far Shinra had advanced. It seemed he though such skills were impossible for someone not in the Evangelist’s inner circle. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

What I found particularly satisfying were Sho’s reactions. He started out being mildly surprised. By the end, he was both amazed and flabbergasted. Shinra was operating on a level Sho had thought impossible outside of the Evangelist’s inner circle — those “blessed” by the Evangelist’s grace.

I know that I should focus on the positive and simply be happy that Shinra is improving so much. But you know, sometimes I just want to see an antagonist confounded. There’s something immensely gratifying in seeing Shinra disturb Sho’s smug expression!

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

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