The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

In a Pinch During the Pursuit!- High School Fleet (Hai-Furi) Episode Two Impressions and Review

“If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.” —Heraclitus

The Harekaze’s crew decide to make their way to the nearest port and sort out their situation, but find themselves under fire from the Admiral Spee, a German cruiser. Utilising a smoke screen to cover their escape, Akeno notices a smaller boat approaching the Harekaze, but the boat and its operator is sunk by the Admiral Spee. Akeno manages to rescue the operator, and back on the bridge, the crew’s efforts result in the Harekaze landing a shot against the Admiral Spee, prompting it to retreat. The crew prepare to unwind, and Akeno learns that the Musashi has seemingly come into peril. A sample size of two is not sufficient for any sort of statistical work, but it’s time to take a massive subjective leap in my predictions and speculate that there is a well-organised effort to sink Akeno and her classmates. Each episode is idiosyncratically titled, having “in a pinch” as the episode prefix; this phrase is used in English to refer to “a difficult situation” or “where absolutely necessary” and so, it should be clear that each episode will feature some form of adversity for the Harekaze and possibly the remainder of Akeno’s classmates on board other vessels. However, in Japan, “ピンチ” can more broadly be referred to as a crisis of sorts. Assuming we go with the Japanese usage, Akeno and the Harekaze will face serious situations they will need to continuously extricate themselves from, and moving forwards, Hai-Furi‘s second episode only serves to deepen the mystery of why they are considered as having gone rogue.

Despite the perilous situation Akeno and the others find themselves in, Hai-Furi‘s second episode somehow manages to have the girls partake in interactions reasonably expected of high school students, engaging in casual conversation during down time and looking forward to daily activities such as their evening curry. This episode thus aims to depict both sides of the coin, and so far, Hai-Furi manages to weave the slice-of-life moments into the bigger picture as smoothly as Girls und Panzer had done so previously. Besides their staff, both anime were able to conceal their main plot until they began airing: trailers and preview material gave very little away, and as such, when it was shown that the anime were going to present a coherent, worthwhile story, expectations were exceeded. Akeno has maintained a solid command so far over her subordinates: despite some of them being less than fond of her (the engineering department, in particular), she’s taken the time to learn everyone’s names and actively works towards ensuring her crew’s safety, as well as the Harekaze’s continued operation. Moreover, her decision to use smoke to mask the Harekaze’s manoeuvring into a suitable range for engagement and general ability to stay calm under pressure (despite her suboptimal exam scores) strengthens her resemblance to Miho Nishizumi. With the difficult waters ahead for Akeno and the Harekaze, it is reassuring to have a character whose capacities are familiar. However, whereas Girls und Panzer reiterates that Panzerfahren is a sport, the stakes appear much higher in Hai-Furi. Death could be a very real possibility; while it’s still too early to determine whether it is likely or not, Akeno might have to deal with the aftermath of losing members of Harekaze’s crew, but regardless of what happens in Hai-Furi, it looks like this anime could be Spring 2016’s biggest surprise.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The crew decide what their next action in the aftermath of the previous episodes’ events, and after some discussion, the girls agree to move on the nearest port and figure out how to explain their situation so that they do not become court-martialed or similar. I suddenly realise that if I am to do an episodic review, it could be a Herculean effort, especially now that I’m on the home stretch of my graduate thesis.

  • Mashiro reminiscences about her promise to be a Blue Mermaid before a gust of wind carries her mother’s hat away. Mashiro’s mother is the current principle for their academy, and some individuals have wondered if principle Munetani is disappointed that Mashiro had not become captain. While a viable theory, like so many other things in Hai-Furi, it’s impossible to tell this early in what exactly is the reason behind why the Harekaze has gone off-mission.

  • For a group of starting students who have been labelled rogue and is on the run, they certainly seem quite capable of keeping the Harekaze in operational order. After the crew settle on a course of action, Akeno goes about making sure that all of the ship’s different sectional crew are doing alright. Like Strike Witches and Girls und PanzerHai-Furi has skies of most vivid blue: the weather remains clear throughout these anime, and shifts to night or overcast weather is usually accompanied by a corresponding change in the mood.

  • One of the students is impressed that Akeno has memorised everyone’s names already, bringing to mind one of my professors during my days as a Bachelor of Health Sciences student. The course was cell and molecular biology, and said professor would make an effort to learn all eighty or so students’ names within the first month for each class she taught. I finished this course four years ago and fondly remember the project my team worked on: we built an interactive game show that involved the G-protein coupled receptor.

  • iPads and other tablets have only graced our world for the past six years: when I first began working on physiology simulations, the original iPad just became available on the market, and another department in our lab constructed a body atlas app that capitalised on the iPad’s unique touch interfaces. My supervisor would almost certainly disagree with Miyazaki about the control scheme: far from being a problem, the iPad provides intuitive interaction schema that are particularly well-suited for navigating and manipulating 3D structures.

  • Because some folks consider Hai-Furi a “deconstruction”, thinking that it refers to the application of real-world effects on a fictional premise, I will take the time and shoot down this pseudo-intellectual brand of thinking before I continue with the discussion. The correct definition of a deconstruction is to figure out what the different pieces of a literary work means and that these individual components, which can be as granular as the choice of words in a sentence, may have different meanings depending on who’s interpreting it. Hai-Furi has no intention of taking apart the military-moé genre, and that should be self-evident.

  • After coming under fire from the Admiral Spee, Akeno decides to return fire with live ammunition. The weapons on the Harekaze can only be armed via the two-man rule, a control mechanism that maximises security by requiring that two authorised individuals be present in order to use a system. Both land-based and submarine-launched ICBMs were controlled by this system, although some critics of the system have stated that beyond identifying the authorising personnel, the system actually does nothing to determine whether or not these individuals are fit to activate the system.

  • It’s still early in the game, so unlike Akeno, I’ve not bothered learning the names of even the bridge crew, much less the names of the students in the other sections of the ship. Here, the Harekaze’s helmsman does her best to follow Akeno’s strategy, steering the destroyer in a figure eight pattern to spread the smoke and make it more difficult to nail a shot: the lack of modern fire control systems make this viable. By the second episode, audiences learn that heavier-than-air flight has not been implemented, which would account for the lack of aircraft and aircraft carriers of any sort in-universe.

  • The mysteries continue to accumulate in Hai-Furi as a blonde girl from the Admiral Spee steers a small boat towards the Harekaze. Her intents are unknown, although her presence generated much interest elsewhere. Whether it’s unintentional crossfire or deliberate action remains ambiguous at this point,but the camera angles likely imply that it’s more likely to be the latter rather than the former.

  • Arguing that regardless of faction, everyone on the seas is one large family, Akeno takes the Harekaze’s jet ski and pilots it to save the unknown girl. Her actions here are reminiscent of Miho’s decision to save one of her allies when a tank fell into a fast-moving river in Girls und Panzer, and later, when Rabbit team’s M3 lee stalls in a river, Miho also stopped to pull them out. Akeno’s decision mirrors that of Miho’s and further serves to reinforce the two’s similarities.

  • At the current rate of progression, I imagine that a great many viewers who’ve seen Kantai Collection will probably remark that Hai-Furi is what any naval anime involving moé should have been like. I recall in last year’s review, I noted that the anime was quite unsuccessful in convincing a non-player such as myself to pick up the game, and individuals with experience in the game cite the anime as discrediting the game’s mechanics.

  • The Admiral Spee appears to be the Hai-Furi equivalent of the German Cruiser Admiral Graf Spee, featuring six eleven inch guns in triple turrets and eight 5.9 inch guns in doublets. With a maximum speed of 28.5 knots, Akeno notes that their best bet against this vessel’s superior armour and firepower is to outmaneuver it, before returning fire by hitting its broadside underneath the surface. The smoke that Akeno employs is a reference to the Battle of the River Plate, which resulted in the Admiral Graf Spee being scuttled in December 1939.

  • So, Akeno leaves Mashiro in charge as she steps out to rescue the unidentified girl, and the Harekaze finally gets within range to fire. Their round succeeds in causing the Admiral Spee to lose velocity, and this time, it’s with help from Shima, Mei, Rin and Kouko that they succeed in evading another enemy vessel. With the combat over, the episode prepares to wind down as the girls ready themselves for a shower and their much-anticipated curry.

  • Without any proper context, this screenshot could be somewhat problematic for my SEO: the proper context is Akeno quietly saying that the unknown girl is alive after successfully pulling the latter out of the water. She’ll presumably become a part of the Harekaze’s crew, but until she regains consciousness, her objectives will remain largely a mystery, adding another element that Hai-Furi will need to explore.

  • I present this post’s obligatory fanservice shot of Akeno showering. According to the site’s archives, a year ago today, it was a Thursday, and I had spent the day attending some seminars about software analytics in video games, before picking up a more powerful computer so I could implement my simulations in Unreal Engine and wrote about my first hour in Valkyria Chronicles.

  • This year, I spent most of today working on the third conference publication and studying for an oral exam on biological computations. As far as the paper goes, it’s almost there now in terms of content, but I’m two pages over the limit. It looks like that I could probably save a bit of space by modifying the white spaces. As for my exam, it’s only supposed to be 20 minutes, so it seems that as long as I know the general concepts of cellular automata, spreading phenomenon, genetic algorithms, genetic programming, agent-based modelling and random Boolean networks, I’ll survive.

  • This review comes on top of trying to meet the paper’s April 18 deadline, studying for the exam and playing Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege during Steam’s free weekend. I’ve decided to just complete all of the situations and play around in the lone wolf mode for the terrorist hunt game mode just to try it out a little: it’s quite fun even on my own, but I probably won’t pick it up, as it’s clear that Rainbow Six Siege was meant to be played with other players in conjunction with a good microphone (which I lack).

  • As I am wont to do, here is a shot of the curry that everyone on the Harekaze’s been looking forwards to. It’s Poutine Week where I am presently, which means that participating restaurants will give a free meal to someone in need for every poutine that is purchased. The list is impressive, as there are short rib and even lobster poutines; however, I’m thinking of trying Vendome Café’s breakfast poutine, and on Thursday, another food truck serving some of the biggest and tastiest poutines is projected be on campus.

  • Mashiro accepts a plate of curry rice from a fellow crew-mate as the episode draws to a close, meaning I can very nearly mash the publish button and then go back to playing Rainbow Six Siege. Before that happens, though, it was mentioned earlier than mining for methane clathrate (methane crystallised with water-ices) created the seismological disaster that sunk Japan, and back in the real world, it appears that Japan does indeed have plans for commercial-scale extraction near Aichi Prefecture.

  • The episode closes off with Moeka on a distress call to Akeno. Whether or not said distress call is legitimate is the subject of no small discussion, but I’m content to wait for next week’s episode to see how things pan out. Future talks will minimise the technical details, as the narrative will take over: the occasional faulty detail, either deliberately present to advance the story or unintentional are acceptable provided they do not render incoherent the plot. As far as upcoming posts go, I’m looking to write a talk for Aria The Avvenire‘s second OVA, and with that, I’m finished: have a good one, and take it easy.

Whether or not this will come to pass will remain a question to be answered for later episodes, and I imagine that details behind the brass’ rationale to declare the Harekaze as rogue will be something that is slowly built towards as Hai-Furi progresses. This means that for now, while audiences will continue to be left to their speculations, each week, there will be a thrilling naval battle to look forwards to. Elsewhere, the overall reception to Hai-Furi thus far can be best described as a pleasant surprise, and so far, my thoughts align. I entered expecting something easygoing that would fall under the radar for most viewers, but it turns out that Hai-Furi has decided to present itself as a thriller of sorts. Previously with GochiUsa, I did not make the decision to do episodic reviews until four episodes in, after realising that there could be something unique to discuss for each episode. For Hai-Furi, the gameplan is as follows: I will drop by to discuss the next two episodes, and if Hai-Furi continues to maintain its pacing and intensity, then this anime will be covered weekly.

4 responses to “In a Pinch During the Pursuit!- High School Fleet (Hai-Furi) Episode Two Impressions and Review

  1. Edward April 17, 2016 at 06:22

    My thoughts now are that there is internal unrest or a corrupt element within the Blue Mermaids. Among the many things the audience learned in this episode is that the Harekaze’s crew consists of students with the worst grades. So sinking the ship crewed by the students with the lowest grades may have been considered the lowest cost to create a reason for the antagonist(s) to act. Alternatively, perhaps Mashiro was being targeted to get at or distract the principal.

    I think that Moeka’s distress call will most likely be revealed as genuine because that will allow the story to focus on Akeno and the Harekaze crew rescuing a ship or a crew from a sinking or sunk ship. There are other ways that the Harekaze could be ambushed and need to escape, such as attempting a resupply, but responding to a distress call from Moeka is more palatable to the audience than responding to one from an unknown captain.

    If you do decide to cover Hai-Furi weekly, then good luck working that into your busy schedule. You did comment at the end of GochiUsa 2 that writing good quality posts for every episode was a big commitment. I’m not sure if I’ll keep up with sharing my thoughts in every post, even though the content I’d put in my comments would be much less that that which you put in your posts. I’m also not sure if I’ll follow Hai-Furi to the end. If the plot description had said something like “A crew of students caught in a conspiracy to bring down the organisation they are being trained to work for”, I’d have decided to watch something else. The plot description that was actually given made me think it would be like Aria, but about maritime patrol rather than touring a city, or like Yomigaeru Sora: Rescue Wings.

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    • infinitezenith April 19, 2016 at 09:50

      Whatever’s behind the schism in Hai-Furi, whether it’s an internal division, corruption or even a factor as outlandish as a hive virus (or Halo‘s Flood powder, as some are speculating), it’s created a narrative that’s drawn in many. With that being said, if those individuals are correct about a biological vector causing undead-like behaviours (which has already been done in Gakko Gurashi! and would therefore be unoriginal as a plot twist), I don’t know what I’ll do :p

      I had some trouble parsing out whether or not Moeka’s distress call could be legitimate or not; the Musashi seemed to maintain its structural integrity and did not seem damaged at all, but Moeka’s reaction seemed to be one of genuine fear. The first hints suggest that the Musashi’s been boarded, but given that we don’t know just how far history’s diverged (it’s mentioned somewhere that heavier-than-air flight is nonexistent), we similarly don’t know whether or not Hai-Furifeatures an equivalent of VBSS tactics and the accompanying gear to board ocean-faring vessels. Quite truthfully, the likelihood of being boarded by special forces could be quite small, so for now, it’ll be a wait to see what really happened.

      For episodic blogging, I find that the average post will take around two to three hours to cook up, from the time I begin watching the anime to the time I mash the “publish” button. I’ll probably go episodic if Hai-Furi continues to maintain its pacing, and given the projected time taken for each post, it simply means I’ll play less Battlefield 4 or something on Saturdays. There’s no obligation to comment on each and every post (but I definitely appreciate the feedback and conversations!), nor is there any obligation to follow Hai-Furi to completion. I usually give anime three episodes to establish its premise and objectives before deciding whether it’s worth watching. Quite truthfully, I was not prepared for Hai-Furi: I was expecting something lighthearted and relaxing, something that people wouldn’t likely watch, and I’m still a little unsure if the buzz Hai-Furi‘s generated is a good thing.

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  2. Jusuchin (Military Otaku) April 17, 2016 at 12:13

    Good luck in covering the show weekly! If you do, I’ll be linking back and to any interesting posts that prop up in the World of Warships thread. I too am pleasantly surprised at this whole show, and I’m guessing it might come right out of left field for a lot of folks when they realize what is going on.

    Like

    • infinitezenith April 19, 2016 at 09:57

      I’ll make my final decision after the fourth episode, but my intuition tells me I’m going to be gaming a whole lot less on the weekends between now and whenever Hai-Furi finishes. I’ve managed to somehow blog and stay afloat in my other duties before, so I don’t think it’ll be too bad. With that being said, the eighth episode of Hai-Furi, barring any unforeseen delays, will release a day after Girls und Panzer Der Film hits the shelves for a home release. I might delay that week’s episodic review to push the review for Girls und Panzer Der Film first, since I’ve been waiting what feels like an eternity for Girls und Panzer Der Film😛

      I’ll check out your reviews and any other discussion of Hai-Furi as they become available. Provided that discussions remain focused, I enjoy seeing what others have to say about things, and ifHai-Furi keeps going in its present heading, it’s going to be this season’s biggest surprise and perhaps even generate interest for a movie (if that’s the case, then it’ll probably be 2020 before the home releases become available!).

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