Fire Force – 09 – Decisive Battle

“Second Sun” was my other choice to name this review, though I went with “Decisive Battle” in homage to the best battle theme in anime history. And this was a decisive battle, in that it dispensed with the enthusiastic but ultimately one-note villain of Lt. Rekka as quickly and efficiently as he was revealed.

My other reason for recalling Eva’s battle theme is that both the music and the visuals took on a decidedly Eva-esque flavor, while Rekka’s rants were full of “Evangelists.” Of course, with all the crosses and creative expliosions flying around, comparisons have been in-Eva-table from the start. Sure enough, one of Fire Force’s storyboarders did key animation on Eva.

While Shinra is quite different MC from Shinji, his hot/cold, love-hate relationship with Tamaki echoes that Shinji and Asuka. Tamaki’s Lucky Lechery ability means Shinra always has a soft body to land on when Rekka blasts him back. Rekka’s flames also conveniently burn most of her clothes off, while Shinra’s jumpsuit is unaffected.

Still, having been unable to fight Rekka herself, Tamaki offers Shinra support as she urges him to do what she couldn’t. Shinra rises to the occasion, exploiting his superior mobility in the warehouse and delivering an unpredictable parkour-style offense to Rekka’s more conventional two-feet-on-the-ground strategy. The battlemation is, as ever, bright, bold, and beautiful.

The times when Rekka knocks Shinra back, he makes sure to rant more about what his cult is trying to do: make the Earth a second sun. It’s your typical “villain wants to burn the world down to make a new one” position, and Rekka goes all out despite the fact that his friend Karim has always had his back, and today is no exception.

The only difference is, instead of backing him up, Karim freezes him out, converting his overheated flames into an ice prison. Karim kept him alive, hoping to get more info about who he works for out of him, but a fire sniper (clever concept) shoots a round straight through the frozen Rekka’s chest, killing him, then starts firing at Karim, Shinra, Tamaki, and the kids.

Karim has Shinra put up a smokescreen and locate the snipers, then freezes Tamaki’s twin fire tails as they point out the sniper’s location, causing them to wig out and retreat lest they get exposed. Their main objective of eliminating Rekka as a source of information was a success, but Karim vows to assits the 8th’s investigation of the Evangelist in any way he can.

In an after-credits sequence, we find Shinra has returned to the 8th, with his inter-company training suspended after the Rekka incident. He’s glad to be home with his fam, but finds that two people are out of place. Arthur “got lost” during the incident, and they can’t find him (to be continued).  Tamaki, suspended from the 1st for her role in the incident, is now on the 8th with Shinra, no doubt to be a source of both glee and woe—hopefully more of the former.

Fire Force – 08 – The Starry-Eyed Villain

In the haze of dawn, a mysterious man in a Fire Force cloak promises the “Evangelist” over the phone about continuing his work infernalizing subjects. Captain Hibana’s reasearch indicates an insect is the catalyst for the artificial type. When the alarm sounds and the First is mobilized, Shinra and Arthur witness the infernalization in action, and chase the just-out-of-view culprit down the alley.

In the alley they encounter their lieutenant, Karim Flam, along with Hoshimiya Rekka and Tamaki. Shinra keeps quiet about any accusations. Instead, he and Arthur break into Flam’s quarters to search for clues, and find an insect. When he arrives, he explains he planted it there to test them; confirming his suspicion they were there to investigate someone in the First creating artificial infernals.

That person turns out to be Hoshimiya Rekka, which would be a great shock if I knew who the heck he was or cared. Apparently, Tamaki is extremely devoted to him; so much so that she lures children to meet with him, with him claiming he has a prayer to “protect” them from becoming Infernals. When she wants to witness this prayer, he hugs her so hard she passes out.

Rekka kills the woman who was with the kids, then injects an insect into one of the kids, and instead of becoming an Infernal, the bug and resulting flames are absorbed, which seems to be the result he wanted, in service of creating a “pilot light” for this mysterious Evangelist. Tamaki comes to, and is beaten to a pulp by Rekka, as she’s unable to raise up against a guy she respected and admired for so long.

Still, she’s able to send her pink cat-flames into the sky as a signal for someone, anyone to come and save her and the other kids. Shinra spots the signal, divebombs Rekka, and smashes his face through the ground with his foot in front of Tamaki, who is grateful but also an emotional wreck.

While I admire the show’s penchant for getting on with the plot without dilly-dally, revealing Rekka as the evil, unhinged bad guy feels over-rushed to the point of shrug-ness. I also found it annoying that Tamaki, a powerful and accomplished fire solider in her own right, was so thoroughly damsel-ized in order to give the big hero boy Shinra a chance to shine.

Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 12

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We get another “domestic” ATM following the favorable conclusion of another adventure, which is much better than another recap. The Masaki sisters are there to welcome Tenchi as he stands in his genkan, wearing uniforms from his school, having used a Neuralyzer to convince the StuCo to let them man a stand at the upcoming festival.

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Meanwhile, Ryouko, whom we’ve only seen bits of, is busy doing positively awful things in the kitchen, having caught some kind of intergalactic delicacy and seasoning it with mandrake root. The pure ridiculousness of her “avant-garde” gastronomy was enough for a good hearty laugh or two.

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The episodelet ends with a bit of a moral: it’s a sin to waste food, especially when it’s been lovingly prepared. Thus, neither the Masaki sisters or Tenchi can avoid giving Ryouko’s stew of Undagon—native to the planet Kururu in the Andre Galaxy—a taste. Ryouko won’t let them.

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Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 11

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Beni and Hachiko have a go at Gooriki, but it’s too powerful. Before it can land a decisive beam on either girl, Tenchi springs into action with a lightsaber and dispatches the robot. They escape from the warehouse safe and sound.

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Tenchi gets to be a badass again, following up his ability to stop Beni’s blow back at the hallway squabble at school by showing he can take care of something neither Beni nor Hachiko are able to, thus gaining their respect and maybe even admiration after rough introductions. This is a teacher who will put himself on the line protect his students without hesitation.

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I like how Hachiko’s complex is elaborated, in that she only has the will to fight if she’s holding some kind of weapon (preferably wood, it would seem); otherwise she’s a basket case. Beni gives Tenchi a punch to test if he’s really as strong as he looked in the warehouse. What she doesn’t understand is that unlike her and Hachiko, Tenchi doesn’t broadcast his strength, and only uses it when he really needs to.

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Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 10

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Beni wakes up, and after trading barbs with Hachiko, the two follow Tenchi’s advice to work together to escape the warehouse. When Beni runs ahead and smashes boxes, she rouses Gooriki, the malfunctioning school even support robot. When Hachiko moves to fight it, it snatches away her wooden sword.

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Somewhat surprisingly, we don’t jump to a totally different time and situation, but remain in the warehouse with Tenchi, Hachiko, and Beni (the other two science club members, who knows). And on the list of absurd new challenges the trio will face, I have to say I wasn’t expecting a school robot gone haywire! Nice WTF factor in play.

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I was even more surprised how ineffectual the supposed muscle of the school is when faced with a real threat: Beni gets tossed like an animal-print ragdoll, while Hachiko loses the will to fight and simply collapses and sobs away when her bokken is taken, suggesting it has power similar to a security blanket. Looks like it will be up to Tenchi to get them out of this mess!

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Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 09

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Hachiko leads Tenchi through the massive, labyrinthine supply warehouse for the needed materials. Without a “Book of Guidance”, Yuki, Aoi and Beni get lost and a huge rolling boulder comes after them. The same boulder threatens Hachiko and Tenchi, and while narrowly escaping the boulder, loses the book.

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ATM is a show that doesn’t waste time and fully embraces its own irrationality. It’s full of stuff that makes no sense: why does the school have such a huge, End-of-Indiana Jones-like warehouse? And as Tenchi protests, what the heck kind of sporting event necessitates an Indiana Jones-like runaway boulder?

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Those seeking answers to the “what” and “why” will find none during these few minutes per episodelet; the “what” is merely “it” or “that”, and the “why” is simply…because. Or in the case of why Hachiko recites an incantation, because its more dramatic. And in a show that’s over almost as soon as it begins, it’s okay not to overthink things.

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Pupa – 08

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In tonight’s quick dose of unpleasantness, word gets around about Utsutsu’s quick-healing ability, and his sister’s tendency to eat him when she’s hungry. A thug with a knife kidnaps the siblings and “has fun” with Utsutsu by slicing him up with said knife and marveling at said healing. This is done in an abandoned warehouse, the standard venue for such activities.

Not wanting to escalate the situation, Utsutsu simply takes the punishment, but Yume eventually steps in to beg for the thug to stop. The thug is rough with her, setting Utsutsu off, who slugs him and then gouges out his eyes. Yume is horrified at what her brother has done for her sake, but then Utsutsu is tased and the two surrounded by more unsavory people.

Yume can’t go into Beast Mode when it would be useful to do so, i.e. to protect Utsutsu from the baddies. Thus the siblings continue to serve as the show’s heavily-abused punching bags; wretched repositories for all of the misfortune and despair that can be imagined, and that can be inartfully censored with streaks of black and white.


Rating: 5 (Average)