*Warning: Spoilers Ahead!*
Episode 21, ‘Those Connected’, continues to explore the relationships introduced in Episode 17. The long-awaited reunion between Shinra and Sho is the highlight of the episode and outshines the struggle between Lisa and Vulcan. There are some interesting moments with Shinra as he experiences an Adolla Link that takes him to a realm he’s never been to before. For once, the pacing feels like it has slowed down for the story, but we get new intel on what is happening in the world, while getting a set up for an interesting battle.
For the first time in the second half of the season, there is no theatrical opening for the show. The episode starts with Lisa having a flash back to her early days living in a junk yard alone. The scene quickly shifts from her sadden state, to a more menacing Lisa as she is seen squeezing Captain Obi and Vulcan tightly in her flame tentacles; trust me, this is not a hentai! There is definitely a feeling of despair coming from Lisa throughout the whole beginning sequence. She is clearly following the orders of Dr. Giovanni, but, as avid anime watchers we already know, there is a feeling of regret coming from her as she seems reluctant to dispose of Vulcan. After getting some inspiring words from Obi, he sets his plan in motion to contain Lisa. As Lisa loses her powers and falls towards the ground, she remembers that she has no one in the world to care for. When all seems lost, she is caught by the only person who has ever truly cared for her since she was discovered in the junk yard; Vulcan of Company Eight!
Dr. Giovanni keeps mentioning how he’s the one who saved Lisa, also known as Feeler, but never really acknowledges how. There is some strong brainwashing or allegiance conflict overtaking Lisa, but for some reason she is still siding with the Evangelist. The part that adds more confusion to Lisa’s story is when Dr. Giovanni begins to strangle her and pierces her body with a rod. He tells Vulcan that the only way he can save her is by shooting Captain Obi with the gun provided by him. We already know what’s about to happen, and if you don’t, you need to start watching more anime! Obi commands Vulcan to shoot him, knowing it’s the only way to save Lisa. After the shot is taken, Obi falls to the ground, Vulcan yells out of frustration, and Lisa is released by Dr. Giovanni. Did you guess what happens next? Once Lisa is free, Obi awakens from the dead, and demonstrates his monstrous strength by ripping a chunk of the old rails off the ground to begin the counterattack against Dr. Giovanni. Through this whole sequence, Dr. Giovanni demands to know why Obi is not dead, but the captain trolls him by keeping his tricks a secret. Unfortunately, Vulcan blurts out that he provided Obi a bullet proof vest, rendering Obi of his cocky persona and leaves him in a moment of shame and disappointment.
After Vulcan activates his mechanical penguin helmet to fight Dr. Giovanni, Obi pesters the Evangelist follower to spill the secrets of the organization. Dr. Giovanni reveals how the Adolla Burst and human combustion are related, and how they are connected to the creation of the insects that unlock the pyrokinetic abilities of a worthy individual; just like how Lisa’s powers were unlocked. After exchanging ideals of false idols and the value of human lives, Captain Obi begins to paint the big picture as to why the Evangelist are pursuing Shinra so much.
From that battle, we are taken to Shinra and Licht wandering the tunnels. Shinra experiences an Adolla Link and begins to have a strange hallucination. There is no clear premise as to what’s going on, but Shinra is being visited by a strange demonic creature that seems to share some kind of connection with him. The devilish creature is perceived to be the same entity that attacked Shinra’s home when he was young and killed both his mother and brother; we know now that his brother is still alive. An interesting moment in all of the chaos is a quick image of Company One’s Captain, Leonard Burns, being depicted in a demonic state. Even though it’s shown very briefly, it definitely adds an interesting twist to the story. When Shinra comes to his senses, the devil’s foot prints manifest, only visible to him, and lead him to where Sho is.
The saving grace of the episode is the confrontation between Sho and Shinra, and Licht’s realization of how Sho’s power really works. Shinra is all smiles when he reunites with his little brother, but Sho is unpleased with Shinra’s presence. Sho continues to insult his older brother along with his deceased mother without any remorse, but Shinra isn’t having it when he quickly jets to Sho and says, “Don’t talk about mom like that”. The two brothers proceed to their lighting fast battle, Licht cannot see a single thing that is going on, and Sho quickly demonstrates his overwhelming strength. Shinra is not able to land a blow, while Sho is able to stop time and strike with monstrous strength that leave Shinra in a debilitating state.
The scene takes a quick detour to Maki regrouping with Obi and Vulcan. Dr. Giovanni alerts them that his job is done since Shinra has reached Sho and begins to retreat. As he is leaving, Lisa is begging him to not leave her behind, but Dr. Giovanni decides to withdraw without her. He claims how her devotion, or brainwash, will not be undone by Company Eight, and disappears without a trace. Lisa is almost scared to be left behind, but we can guess what’s going to happen between her and Vulcan in the mere future.
As Licht is watching the two brothers brawl, he notices the steam coming off of Sho’s body every time he uses his power. He makes the correlation to another form of power and realizes that his skills are too much to handle. He warns Shinra that they are no match for him, but before they can escape, Sho reveals how he can control his own universe. Shinra has no clue to what he’s talking about, but Licht becomes somewhat mortified by the reveal of Sho’s power. Sho then shares an Adolla Link with Shinra, and they both get transported to a realm similar to the one Shinra had his hallucination in; the Fire Force version of the shadow realm!
The relationships explored in the episode are nothing new and feel a bit repetitive. There is new information exposed about the Evangelist, and how Shinra’s power are needed to create the world they seek. Vulcan and Lisa’s relationship is explored a bit more, but nothing new is added that makes their experience unique. This episode is clearly a set up for the coming match between Sho and Shinra, and how their pryrokinetic powers correlate with one another.
The revisit of some relationships is nothing new, but the setup for the upcoming battle saves the episode.