WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 5 of Fire Force, "The Battle Begins."
A line was drawn between Special Fire Force Company 8 and 5 in the previous episode of Fire Force and, in the anime's latest, that line is blown to smithereens.
As Captain Ōbi previously explained to rookie Fire Soldier, Shinra, Company 8 has a unique purpose among the Tokyo Empire's hybrid exorcist/fire-fighting units. Alongside putting Infernals to rest, the 8th's covert mission is to investigate the integrity of Companies 1 through 7, which those at the Fire Defense Agency believe could be hiding key information about the cause of the spontaneous human combustion epidemic that creates Infernals.
Company 5 put themselves onto Ōbi's radar when they interfered in Company 8 business, assaulting Shinra mid-battle with an unusually self-aware Infernal -- formerly a human serial killer -- and taking it into custody rather than putting it to rest as Company 8 had been trying to do. The 5th's sadistic Captain, Princess Hibana, claimed the psychotic aberration would be examined by her squad's science division, which, as we find out in this episode, actually involves her prodding it with large, sharp implements.
Hibana assured Ōbi that she'd share her findings with him but, knowing this promise to be an empty one, Ōbi and his team return to their headquarters and begin prepping for all-out war, hoping their newest additions -- Arthur and Shinra -- will be the aces in their arsenal.
Their opportunity to cross enemy lines comes when Sister Iris, the 8th's designated Hol Sol Temple representative, is held hostage by Hibana. The opening scenes of the episode reveal through flashbacks that Iris and Hibana are childhood friends, both raised in the ways of the Temple, and so Iris naively goes to Company 5's base of operations to try and reason with the woman she still calls "sister," scolding Hibana for engaging in "corrupt research that defies the great Sol."
For her words -- and the offending sight of her holy garb -- Hibana scornfully dismisses Iris' service in the Force as "nonsense" and humiliates her by shredding her clothing. She declares Iris will be used to bait the 8th, though Ōbi's team needs little persuasion to begin their siege on the 5th's stronghold.
Having spent most of the season so far focussing on its gutsy, main protagonist, Shinra, Fire Force temporarily benches its devilish star in this episode to let Arthur, Maki and Lieutenant Takehisa shine. Unlike the former two, Takehisa isn't pyrokinetic, relying on 007-esque gadgetry instead -- which, for the purposes of this fight, use non-lethal force.
Takehisa's special bullets with ricochet control make short work of the 5th's smug, third-generation pyrokinetic, Tōro Kishiri, who creates explosions by blowing flammable gas into poppable, zero-oxygen bubblegum bubbles. This leaves Maki, a second-generation user, free to take on Hibana's limber "Angels Three."
Meanwhile, Arthur draws the short straw and ends up squaring off against the captured Infernal. Conehead, Hibana's resident "mad scientist," explains that the Infernal's firepower has been chemically altered to be concentrated and released from a single point, essentially giving it a fiery repulsor beam ala Iron Man. "Leave neither a body nor ashes," Conehead instructs. (So much for non-lethal force.)
Initially, Arthur struggles, making us (and his powerful foe) wonder if the self-proclaimed "Knight King" has met a dragon he can't slay. But, just as the battle reaches its climax, the rookie recruit realizes he's been self-sabotaging... by wielding his plasma sword in the wrong hand. Switching to his right hand, Arthur easily bisects the Infernal with his "Violet Flash Attack." We don't get an explanation for his mistake. (First siege jitters, perhaps?)
The three-pronged assault on the 5th's crewmen and upper-tier members works as a suitable distraction for the 8th's real plan: letting Shinra stealth his way to Hibana's hideout, a confrontation we'll have to wait for the next episode to see play out. And, judging by his notable absence, we're guessing the eccentric Captain Ōbi has some kind of grand entrance up his sleeve to come, too.
New episodes of Fire Force are released every Friday on Crunchyroll, and as SimulDubs on FUNimationNOW.