WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 7 of Fire Force, "The Investigation of 1st Commences," streaming now.
In Fire Force's latest episode, Shinra, along with his fellow rookie recruit, Arthur, get the chance to take on the silver-haired, Leonard Burns, Captain of the 1st, in a two-on-one match. In return for scoring a victory against the stern Fire Soldier, Shinra demands that he answer a question -- presumably one relating to the Captain's involvement in his little brother's secret escape from the fire that claimed their mother's life.
But how did the pair even get into this opportunistic position? Let's backtrack a little.
After the dramatic showdown between Company 8 and 5 in Fire Force's last two episodes -- which culminated in Shinra converting the 5th's wayward Captain into an unexpected ally -- the two Special Fire Force units converge once more, under considerably less hostile circumstances: a cookout.
The official purpose of the event is to maintain the lie that the two Companies were actually conducting a training exercise rather than instigating civil war, though it also gives the former rivals a chance to break bread -- or, more specifically, hot dogs and burgers -- with one another.
In addition, Company 8's Captain Ōbi uses a stroll by the docks at dusk to squeeze some vital information out of Captain Hibana. After insisting that a "muscle-bound gorilla" like himself couldn't possibly understand the intricacies of her research, Hibana tells him what he already suspected: the cause of (some) spontaneous human combustion -- the process that creates Infernals -- is known, and, worse still, it appears to be man-made.
She adds that most of the artificially-produced Infernals are concentrated in Company 1's district, leading to the two Captains to concoct a risky plan to investigate. Using the rookie reassignment program, they decide to send four of their newest members to the 1st under the guise of broadening their experience. Shinra and Arthur are sent from the 8th, while Hibana sends Tōro Kishiri -- who we last saw blowing exploding bubblegum bubbles during the two Company's skirmish -- and the fire-phobic "potato-bodied," Noto.
As soon as the group arrives at Special Fire Cathedral 1, with Maki in tow to present them, Shinra lays out his challenge to Captain Burns. Amused, Burns accepts the upstart Fire Soldier's terms.
Burns is flanked by a trio of Lieutenant Priests who make up the 1st's Commanders: third generation pyrokinetic, the starry-eyed Rekka Hoshiyima, the smiling Foien Li, and second generation user, Karim Flam, who seems to never be without a pair of over-ear headphones.
When he jumps in to diffuse the stray flames from Rekka's duel against a quivering Noto, we soon learn why. Karim funnels his ability through a tuba that can convert heat into sound and then sound into ice, a technique he calls "Thermo-Acoustic Cooling." (As a priest with a thing for music, he's also very reminiscent of Justin Law, a character from Fire Force creator, Atsushi Ōkubo's Soul Eater.)
If this holy trinity of Commanders weren't formidable enough, when Captain Burns steps in to meet Shinra's challenge, he proves to be completely unflappable. Cocky as ever, Arthur promises to make short work of Burns before Shinra can get a single attack in. Burns coolly assures him that not even a blade that can slice through steel can hurt him, which he soon proves to a stunned Arthur by taking a direct hit from his plasma sword with the back of hand, swatting the 8th's Knight King away like a fly.
Shinra doesn't fare any better even while letting Burns feel the full force of his flaming feet. Again, Burns emerges without so much as a scorch on his skin, blasting Shinra backwards with a mere twitch of his foot. "The 1st welcome you. I hope you find this enrollment training fulfilling."
Having been thoroughly beaten, the 5th and 8th's rookies have to make do with Karim's shrugging encouragement that they did "fair." He also indicates that he'll be taking care of them during their stay at the 1st. As far as a paranoid Shinra is concerned, any of these four -- or, all of them -- could be behind man-made Infernal creation; Karim's duty of care could very well be a ploy to keep a watchful eye on the 1st's suspicious guests.
New episodes of Fire Force are released every Friday on Crunchyroll, and as SimulDubs on FUNimationNow.
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