Y’know, when this started, I was not expecting Fire Force to become a show about corrupt corporations and uncovering government conspiracies. With all the religious overtones and fantasy trappings of the characters and the setting, at the very least I can praise it’s capacity to surprise me.
In this episode, we really start to get into the weeds of Special Fire Force Company 8’s role within the greater Fire Force, and see just how this rag-tag, underfunded operation have a seemingly impossible role in comparison to the other seven companies that precede them.
With the first few episodes serving the role of introducing us to the cast and setting the tone for the series, episode 4 kicks things off by throwing one more wrench in the works and shaking up the established status quo before it ever really had a chance to get settled in my mind.
We learn that the man who attacked the Fire Solider Games in the previous episode; “Joker” was using the ashes of Infernals to create the explosions that the Force had been dealing with the previous two episodes.
Adding another layer to the problems Company 8 have to deal with and Angering Captain Ōbi as a shows of flagrant disrespect for the dead. The shaky justification for putting an end to Infernals for the good of both them and the people around becomes even murkier shortly following as a new infernal shows up that some retains his sense of self.
One of the many subject the show brushes on is the morals and politics of the infernals and how they should be regarded. In the short few episodes that came before this, we are told they’re mindless monsters, and putting them out of their misery is a kindness. Already, this is being called into question.
Shinra in particular has some difficulties with this, as executing something with intelligence and a sense of their past humanity is utterly opposed to this heroic persona he is desperate to forge for himself. Lt. Hinewa assures him that, once a person becomes an infernal, they’re officially classified as dead. Thus they should feel no guilt over helping them pass on.
Morality doesn’t work that way though, and Shinra is unable to finish the job, despite the creature clearly establishing he was a murderous asshole in life and intends to continue to be on in his undeath(?).
Any further pondering on the Force’s approach of shooting first, ask questions never is cut short as we’re introduced to the “princess” portion of this episode’s title. The morals part of the episode focuses on Shinra and the talking Infernal, while the dodgy politics portion introduces us to Special Fire Force Company 5. Who are as sketchy as they come.
Lead by “Princess” Hibana, a buxom third generation pyromancer who seems to have her entire unit wrapped around her little finger. To the point they all pile together to become a human throne for her, kneel before her to walk on and seem to get off on her smacking them around.
It’s already been revealed that Company 8 was established to monitor the other branches and gauge whether they’re withholding information from the other branches. And right away, they show up take possession of the defeated infernal, getting into a tense standoff with Company 8 over their infringement of jurisdiction.
The episode ends with Captain Ōbi allowing Hibana to take the infernal with the promise of them sharing any and all information they glean from the sentient infernal. A promise that I don’t think anyone within or watching this show believes for a minute.
I still think there is slightly too much going on during the brief runtime of an episode of this show. We’re dealing with the Fire Force’s corruption, this Joker character, the mystery of the infernals, the moral implications of combating them and now we learn that the general public seemingly has a less than ideal view of the force, despite that being to the contrary of what was established in previous episodes.
I don’t have a problem with a show laying a lot of pipe for stories that will pay off in the future. But it feels like we’re in a bit of a rush to establish a little too many things in short order. Don’t get me wrong, the combination of the visual style, the setting and the character’s powers are all keeping me interested, but it’s in real danger of buckling under its own weight if it doesn’t slow down a little.