Well… this episode was REALLY strangely paced. I don’t know about everyone else, but this episode felt like a mood whiplash from the first one. The first episode ended on such a happy and almost triumphant note so I was expecting this one to be a little more light hearted and fun episode so we can get to know the characters a little more and see how they bond as a team. However, we and Shinra are both hit by the reality that while the team is putting Infernals to rest, they are still essentially murdering something that used to be human. Now I know this revelation was probably at the back of everyone’s minds, but it might have been best to hold off on confirming it until after a few more episodes. Not to mention it feels extremely rushed to show a pretty big antagonist so early on like this. It feels like he came out of nowhere. And of course he’s voiced by Kenjirou Tsuda. OF COURSE HE IS.
While we do get some fun little shenanigans in the beginning of the episode, they immediately throw a new character into the mix, which completely changes the team dynamic. I honestly wish we could have gotten at least a couple episodes with the team we started out with the first episode before adding a new character. I feel very disconnected with the characters so far and it doesn’t help that we don’t get to see them bond a little more with each other. Not to mention that Shinra still doesn’t quite feel like he’s completely integrated into the group yet.
The new kid, Arthur immediately reminded me of Hiro from Soul Eater. The kid even uses a sword called “excalibur.” HOW IS THIS NOT HIRO??? He even acts like him (from what I remember at least) with the whole “chivalrous” attitude. I can just hear Excalibur singing his dumb theme song in the distance… Anyways, he and Shinra apparently knew each other in the academy and were rivals. I don’t think I’m particularly sold on their rivalry or developing friendship. Especially since I would have liked to have seen at least some sort of flashback on how they acted in the academy. Though I have to admit Arthur’s plasma sword is pretty cool.
On the brighter side of things, that freaking fire thing that Maki made was super adorable. And I am so distressed that Hinawa freaking poured coffee on it to put it out! I was literally screaming: WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?! That poor little sputter… T^T It didn’t deserve that… Though it definitely made me more interested in Hinawa as a character. Why is he so wary of fire? I mean, I get it, but he goes above and beyond. So much that he freaking taped off the little area Maki created the Sputter. He even intimidated Maki into promising not “play with fire” with a VERY scary look on his face. It’s this quirky behavior that makes me want to know his backstory and what exactly his power is since he supposedly is a 2nd generation pyrokinetic.
Since Shinra and the new kid were going to be representing their team in the upcoming Rookie Soldier Games, Hinawa has Maki fight them two-on-one to see how great their combat abilities are. Maki basically proved that she is best girl because oh my gosh she is great. I also like how Hinawa explained how she knows how “destroy a man.” That had to be the most SAVAGE line I’ve heard in awhile. And boy did she deliver by basically DESTROYING both Shinra and Arthur with ease. At first I thought she would be at a disadvantage, but boy was I wrong. Her ability can’t work unless there are already existing flames. However, she’s basically a giant foil to both Shinra and Arthur as she’s able to snuff out Shinra’s flames and manipulate both of their “fire bending” abilities to create a sentient fire familiar.
Arthur was really starting to annoy me with his “chivalrous” and know-it-all attitude and was hoping that someone would put him in his place and did Maki do just that. I was rooting for her so hard and was shocked when she actually knocked out his freaking TOOTH. GOOD FOR HER.
Also, I think it’s interesting to note that Maki’s name literally means firewood and completely matches her abilities. Firewood can’t burn without fire~ Thanks Kiznaiver for teaching me what “Maki” means.
Reality is quick to rear its head when the team gets called in for the Infernal of the week. This is where things started feeling really weird for me pacing-wise. I feel like they’re racing through valuable team bonding and actually getting to know the characters more to get to emotional moments faster. Again, I feel like this emotional moment should have come later in the series, especially since I heard that this anime is slated to have 24 or so episodes.
But despite my gripes with the pacing, the scene with the Infernal just sitting there at the table quietly really hit hard. Especially since this is a drastic change from last week’s Infernal. I felt so bad for this family. The daughter was left alone after having BOTH her parents become Infernals and the dad seemed to hold onto the last of his sanity to try and prevent himself from destroying the house and hurt his daughter. It was really sad just seeing him sit there as if waiting to be set free from the pain the fire was causing him. And while the mood whiplash was a little off putting between these episodes, I’m not gonna lie, I got really emotional when Obi comforted the daughter and handed her the photo of her family. UGH MY FAMILY FEELS.
Overall, I was a little disappointed with how this episode played out. It feels like it’s just bouncing from one plot point to the next without really slowing down to focus on one thing. Since last week’s episode was heavily focused on killing an Infernal is saving them and all of a sudden this week focuses more on how killing an Infernal is killing a person. It’s like it can’t decide what it wants to focus on. I heard that the writing for this in the manga is not on par with Soul Eater’s writing, which probably explains the wonky pacing. I hope the series gets better, especially since my curiosity is already piqued for a couple of the characters and the whole mystery of the Infernals.