I actually saw this episode when it aired. Why am I so late to covering it? …I don’t know.
Lateness aside, I’m actually very tempted to cover Fire Force in its entirety. I wasn’t sure at first. As much as I enjoyed the premiere, it did feel more reliant on style over substance. Mind you, it’s very exceptional style but when it comes to, ahem, “critique”, the most articulate you can sometimes get is simply “It’s really cool!”. Episode 2 is where I feel a little more optimistic about the prospecting of blogging. It’s heavier on characterization and it’s pretty solid characterization to boot. When I get to Episodes 3 and 4 (and anything after that if I continue to fall behind…), maybe I’ll come to a more permanent decision. For now, let me just say that I really enjoyed what this episode had to offer.
So Episode 2 starts off by introducing Arthur Boyle (Yusuke Kobayashi/Eric Vale), a third generation pryokinetic and Shinra’s rival from the academy. Why Arthur goes around calling himself a “knight king” is something I’ll assume later episodes elaborate on. For now, I’ll just have to chalk it up to being ambitious and even a little egotistic about his fireman career. Another notable trait is that Arthur carries around a personalized sword that allows him to channel his powers into a plasma-based blade. The weapon is called Excalibur and while it could simply be a reference to King Arthur, I’m going to assume it’s also Atsushi Oukubo winking at his Soul Eater fans. At least the sword won’t sing and dance about its heroics…
Shortly after Arthur arrives, Lieutenant Hinawa tasks Maki to fight him and Shinra in a practice bout. While there is some humor thrown here and there, this fight does show off how badass Maki is. She might not be able to create fires like Shinra and Arthur can but her ability to control them still allows her to sabotage and confuse her more “gifted” teammates. On top of that, she’s ex-military so with or without powers, she’ll still punch and kick real hard. There’s still a lesson to be found here — Shinra and Arthur might have the fanciest powers but they’re still green. A fight such as this keeps their perspectives in check.
The B-part of episode takes on a more dramatic tone. Having noticed how laid back Captain Obi is, Shinra ponders if anything can anger him. He soon gets his answer during the next mission when Obi calls him and Arthur out for drawing their weapons out in public as they approach the target. There’s no policy against such an action but the Captain argues it would be a distressing sight for the victim’s daughter. In other words, it gives off the impression that the fire fighters are killers not heroes. When put like that, both Shinra and Arthur are forced to agree that their captain has a point and that neither of them, especially Shinra, wants that kind of image.
I expected another big fight with an Infernal after that but there actually isn’t a fight to be found. The monster of the week doesn’t wreak havoc but instead sits quietly in his living room as though he is waiting for the Fire Force to kill him or, in another sense, give him deliverance. This then goes to a discussion about what the Fire Force should do. Should they kill an Infernal if it still retains their humanity and has yet to harm anyone? Shinra understandably feels iffy about the whole thing but as the others point out, with no cure, what else can they do for the poor fellow? The least they could do is make the death quick which Arthur fulfills with a single thrust of his blade. Honestly, I’m impressed. I really didn’t think this show would go into that level of grayness with its premise. That’s the direction I’d like to see the show go in though. I’m all for the spectacle and pizzazz but an occasional meditation on ethics will go a much longer way for this show.
At the very least, you need characters who are likable enough to keep the story engaging. And at least as far as this episode is concerned, I really enjoyed the character development going on here. In the A part, you have Shinra and Arthur recognize their overconfidence in their abilities. In the B part, they learn that being a hero or a knight is more than just flashy powers and beating up monsters. While this is all happening, you get to know a little more about the other characters as well, particularly Maki and the Captain. As fantastic as the action is looking to be, it’s the characters involved in said action that’ll truly sell the show.
Thanks for reading!
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