「狂気の炎 / 新たな火種」 (Kyōki no Honō / Aratana Hidane)
“Flames of Madness / A New Flashpoint”
Let’s get right into it as I’m late on covering last week’s episode. The second episode launched us into a pretty large dilemma. Shinra is being manipulated by the First Pillar, who uses the Adolla Link to connect with him. For her to be able to take control of him so easily must mean he has a pretty weak mental constitution. I’m getting some Harry/Snape vibes here where Shinra will have to work at strengthening his conviction in order for her not to have such easy access to him, but who knows if that will happen or if his push back at the end of the episode served as enough of a defense. So far, we haven’t seen her outside of the ‘spectre’ form she’s taken on in the Adolla-verse so I have a hunch Shinra won’t be confronting her face-to-face anytime soon.
Haumea, however, very much presents herself as she is and she’s been set up in this season with a much larger role than in the previous. Her presence throughout the second and now third episode makes it apparent she’ll be leading the first few confrontations between the 8th Brigade and the White Clads. I’m quite invested in her character. She’s got a brute strength, an unapologetic attitude, and she strategizes well allowing her to stand by as things unfold. Her ability, however, I’m a little confused about. She’s often connected to each person present in a battle and she has the ability to mind bend people to her will just like the First Pillar. I imagine that much like the First Pillar, she connects to friends and foes alike via her Adolla Link. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how she evolves as an antagonist.
The episode didn’t only serve to put Haumea and the First Pillar at the forefront but also to expand the roster of secondary characters (allies) that will come to Shinra’s and perhaps the 8th Brigade’s aid as battles ensue throughout the season. We’re introduced to Shinra’s old companions at the 4th Brigade where he first trained as a cadet prior to joining the 8th. With Ogun Montgomery (Furukawa Makoto) as the lead of their trio (Arthur+Shinra) and a funky whistle-blowing instructor like Pan (Ono Daisuke), it looks like his training days were full of companionship and lightheartedness, something he still has even as a full-fledged soldier.
And finally, there’s Hague (Cho), the captain of the 4th who seems to be more of a predator than a leader. After succumbing to injuries during a previous battle, he became obsessed with feeling the power of an Adolla Burst. So when Shinra meets him with the purpose of finding out more about the Whtie Clads, Hague asks him, begs him even, to burn him will all he’s got. And I do believe he was quite happy to be used as a shield against Evil Shinra. A little weird and not sure where to place this character yet, but I imagine he will play some crucial role.
And finally, coming to the end of the second episode, we find out about our Knight in shining armor (Arthur) and where he came from. Seems his parents erred more on the irresponsible (and less fortunate) side of things, specifically his father, and fed young Arthur tales of triumph which is what feeds his desire to be a Knight today. Being abandoned by his parents is perceived by Arthur as more of a blessing than a traumatic event…Not sure what to say about that. And as a Knight should, he saved our damsel Shinra from the clutches of the evil blonde.
Now the third episode focuses on finding the Fifth Pillar. Our mysterious First Pillar revealed to Shinra that a new user of the Adolla Burst would be born soon, which meant the entire 8th Brigade was on alert wanting to protect get to them before the Evangelist did.
Enter Inca (Shimabukuro Miyuri, a high schooler with the ability to smell any upcoming fire. Her senses were heightened during her escape from the Great Fire two years back. She’s been using the ability to extort money and valuables from people whose homes were up about to burst into flames, always coming in at the opportune time. Is she a good girl or a bad girl? Considered the evil snares she puts out whenever a fire ensues, I’d like to assume she’s not so much for the greater good but perhaps the greater evil. Or, maybe it’s just the thrill. I have a feeling she’ll be more trouble to the 8th than expected.
That said, I think her ability is fantastic and offers variety! During the brutal encounter she has with Charon, Haumea’s lackey or partner or guardian (not sure yet), she discovers the ability to ignite the threads of smoke she can smell and see by simply tracing her finger over them. A great ability if you ask me! It’ll make for really interesting exchanges and add complexity to the head-to-head battles we’ve been accustomed to. I’m quite curious to see whether she’ll be joining the Fire Force or the White-Clads.
A quick note here: I want to remind you I haven’t read the manga, but either way, I heard the second season will stray somewhat from the original narrative.
Something I like to say to friends who ask me whether they should watch Fire Force or not is that they’ll never get bored with the action sequences or the animation of the fire. With this new ability, with Charon’s ridiculous strength, I can’t imagine the next episode to miss a beat. It’ll hit most of the marks (animation, design, etc.) that have kept loyal to the series. I more or less pull people into the series for the story because, in my opinion, it lacks girth. Even now, it feels like a thin thread of bits of information trying to weave a story together. There’s definitely some depth missing (again, in my opinion), but I wouldn’t put it past the second season to shift my perspective on this.
I’ll be covering the series for this season, so happy watching to all and I’ll share some thoughts next week!