WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 6 of Fire Force, "The Spark of Promise," which is now streaming.
After Fire Force's Company 8 waged war against Company 5 in the previous episode, Company 8's Shinra completes his squad's siege on Company 5's headquarters, breaking his way into the Captain's lavishly-decorated quarters where the sadistic Princess Hibana has Sister Iris held captive.
As we witnessed in Episode 4, Hibana has a particularly devastating ability to nullify -- if only temporarily -- a pyrokinetic's powers. Now, we get to find out exactly what this ability is and how it works. As Shinra's flaming feet fizzle out once more on her command, he drops to the ground, right under the heel of the domineering Captain.
With the dizzy rookie pinned, she takes the time to give classic, over-confident villain monologue that explains how her "Heat Syncope" creates a heat of her own making around a chosen victim. "The heat is making your blood vessels dilate and your pressure drop. The blood flowing to your brain has sharply fallen. That's making you lightheaded."
Unfortunately for Hibana, telling Shinra exactly how her ace in the hole works turns out to be a huge mistake. With gritted resolve, Shinra decides to put mind over matter and briefly finds a way to overcome the imbalance that's being created in his head. This forces the Company 5 Captain to unleash the full force of her third-generation might, which comes in the form of a molten, glowing cherry tree.
The cherry tree, as the episode's flashbacks tell us, has special significance in Hibana's life. As orphaned children, she and Iris were raised in a Holy Sol convent. Hibana, who never took her religious upbringing seriously, focused instead on combining her newly emerging powers with her love of science. Using sodium, calcium and other chemical solutions, she'd add color to floating, fiery flower shapes to amuse the other girls. Though rebellious, this younger Hibana is far gentler than the hardened, cruel woman we've seen so far on the show.
Hibana's current personality was forged in the flames of mass spontaneous human combustion that one day claimed the lives of everyone at the convent except her and Iris. Hibana, who'd been told her control over fire was a gift from Sol -- Fire Force's central deity -- suddenly saw herself as a "devil." After she and Iris made their escape, Iris kept her faith while Hibana approached Haijima Industries who saw the scientific value in her desire to "exploit" Infernals -- her own form of self-flagellation/revenge -- and placed her in the Captain's seat.
The flashback lingers on a photo of Hibana, Iris and the other girls posing by a cherry tree in the convent's grounds, now lying burning amongst the wreckage of their childhood home. In the present, Hibana's spectral cherry tree wraps its roots around Shinra while the falling petals singe his and Iris' skin, acting as blindingly obvious manifestations of her past trauma.
At this point, Shinra demonstrates his true anime hero credentials by pulling a page straight from Dragon Ball's Goku's playbook and turning an enemy into an ally. Seemingly by sheer willpower alone, he busts free of his constricting prison to knock Hibana unconscious. She awakens, cradled in Iris' arms with a grinning Shinra standing over them. Vulnerability overcomes her, and the Captain confesses that fire was all she had until it betrayed her. Now, she feels like she has nothing.
Shinra pledges to be "her hero" whenever she needs him in a surprising display of empathy that causes her to admit defeat -- but not before apologizing to Iris for her mistreatment by conjuring up some elegant images of her namesake. In the post-credits scene, the once vindictive Captain even agrees to make the 5th and 8th's battle look like a training exercise to throw inquisitive higher-ups off the scent, admitting that she's "taken a liking" to a blushing Shinra.
It remains to be seen what will come from this alliance, but Company 8 will likely benefit from some back-up as it continues its investigation into the Special Fire Force's darkest corners.
New episodes of Fire Force are released every Friday on Crunchyroll, and as SimulDubs on FUNimationNOW.
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