WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 2 of Fire Force, "The Heart of a Fire Soldier."
This week's episode of Fire Force saw another new recruit step into Special Fire Force Company 8's Cathedral: Arthur Boyle. Like our main protagonist, Shinra, who joined the Company in the anime's inaugural episode, the blonde-haired teenager is a third-generation pyrokinetic, which means he can create and manipulate fire. And the weapon he uses to channel this power through will no doubt remind audiences, somewhat surprisingly, of a certain laser sword from a certain space opera series.
Unlike Shinra, though, Arthur sees his heroic aims as those of a knight, or "King Knight" as he prefers to be called. His holier than thou title makes him a straightforward foil for Shinra "Devil" Kusakabe, as the duo prove when they first bump into one another. As it turns out, the pair have history. They both trained at the academy alongside each other, which was where their intense rivalry was born.
Picking up right where they left off, Arthur and Shinra head to the Cathedral rooftop for a fight. Their stand-off is hijacked by Lieutenant Hinawa, who decides to use the opportunity to break-in the new recruits by having them extend their sparring match into a three-way duel against second-generation pyrokinetic, Maki, who proceeds to school them both, despite possessing a supposedly inferior Ignition ability. It's here that we get our first look at Arthur's weapon of choice: a sword named Excalibur.
While this reference pushes us firmly into the realms of British folklore, fans of Fire Force creator Atsushi Ōkubo's Soul Eater will remember (perhaps not too fondly) a previous reference to the legendary sword in the form of the comic relief character, Excalibur, a well-dressed, immortal weapon who took up far too much of everyone's time waxing lyrical about his "legend."
The presence of Fire Force's pompous "King Knight" confirms that Ōkubo does appear to have more than a passing interest with Arthurian legend, whether it makes sense in his stories or not. Unlike the King-making sword of legend, Arthur Boyle's Excalibur has a plasma blade that is forged and extinguished by his Ignition ability and wielded by Arthur in the way a katana would be, rather than a Western broadsword.
This Japanese twist only serves to strengthen the (heavily East Asian-influenced) Star Wars comparison that any laser sword in pop culture naturally invokes. It also, even more strangely, imbues Arthur's "Knight" status with a duel meaning that's both medieval and Jedi. It doesn't hurt for comparison's sake, either, that with his golden hair, Arthur bears more than a passing resemblance to Luke Skywalker.
It's an odd blend that works partly on the strength of Fire Force being an intrinsically odd blend of ideas, anyway, and partly because -- like Soul Eater, which had a blue-haired ninja training alongside American gunslinger twins and the son of the Grim Reaper -- Ōkubo's creativity thrives on the bringing desperate idea together. Plus, it's King Arthur meets Star Wars. What's not to like?
New episode of Fire Force are released every Friday on Crunchyroll, and on FUNimationNOW as SimulDubs.