“Visionaries…psychiatric wards are full of them.” — James Bond, Spectre
With basic provisions nearing depletion, Akeno decides to stop in a nearby shopping area to resupply, while back on the Harekaze, one Shima Tateishi opens fire on vessels that have surrounded them while under the influence of an unknown element. Wilhelmina manages to stop Shima’s rampage and it turns out the vessels belong to the Safety Oversight Office. By this point in time, the mystery only deepens as more is revealed; Principal Munetani reveals that the brass are also quite uncertain as to what’s happening, and Shima’s actions coincide with the appearance of an unusual rodent that was picked up while some of the Harekaze’s crew are scavenging supplies floating on the ocean surface. The precise mechanism of what causes crews to behave strangely, then, can now be attributed to the presence of these rodents, handily discarding the Call of Duty: Black Ops theory I posited previously. In time, I might grow to accept that this mechanism might be more similar to the Flood of Halo, and the unusual box that this rodent was retrieved from is labelled Abyss, which is only a short Hamming Distance from Kantai Collection‘s Abyssals. Of course, common discussion now deals predominantly with these developments, and Hai-Furi continues to keep its audiences guessing: in this fourth episode, Akeno is seemingly apprehended, only for it to turn out that she met with allied forces. Similarly, Shima’s condition after coming into contact with the rodent yields some new insight into what might be behind all of the unusual incidents.
For the fourth episode, there are no naval engagements rivaling the scope of those seen in earlier episodes, and instead, the episode’s surprise comes in the form of Shima’s unexpected actions and feats. An unusually high aggression, disregard for personal safety and acquisition of supernatural strength might be indicative of a neurological transformation: Shima’s conditions dismiss the earlier speculation about the undead, and when exposed to salt water, the effects wear off. This is about the extent of what is known, and it is relatively easy to correlate that to the appearance of the rodent on the Harekaze. Given its effects, and the luminescence that the affected individual’s eyes take while under the influence, it might be the case that this rodent is a synthetic life-form that triggers aggression in exposed individuals. The implications are that these individuals might engage one another in combat and eliminate one another, in turn allowing a hitherto unidentified faction (presumably, those who created these life forms) to capitalise on the chaos for their own ends and possibly supplant the Blue Mermaids. However, given that Hai-Furi has been quite careful to only reveal what’s necessary, my thoughts remain merely as speculation, and so, Hai-Furi takes on a new dimension, as it encourages individuals to consider how closely their predictions align with what ends up occurring.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Hai-Furi is beginning to play out similar to Matt Groening’s The Simpsons and Futurama in that the episode’s starting moments act as a suitable catalyst for what occurs within the episode itself. Both Futurama and The Simpsons feature well-written episodes that can be amusing or moving depending on its story, and to say that Hai-Furi reminds me of the narrative devices that Matt Groening has employed to great effect is to say that Hai-Furi has been worthwhile so far.
- Wilhelmina grows increasingly frustrated after the others tease her for using washi to refer to herself, which is usually characteristic of older folks, but the translations give the impression that the Euro itself is amusing. I’ll remark that the page quote comes from Spectre and is related to the borderline all-consuming discussions occurring elsewhere about Hai-Furi. Granted, this anime does have Suzuki Takaaki and Yoshida Reiko on board, leading fans to hold (perhaps unrealistically) high expectations, but to pick apart every detail and bemoan inaccuracy in a work of fiction is excessive.
- Back in Hai-Furi, Akeno decides to visit the nearest store and resupply with the limited funds they do have. Continuing from the earlier point, a series of tweets from (someone who appears to be) Takaaki reinforces the notion that Hai-Furi need not be regarded with the same severity as any of Tom Clancy’s novels. In the first of the tweets, he claims that in Hai-Furi, heavier-than-air vehicles were never developed and so, there was no further incentive to investigate them. The question has been asked about what would have happened had the Wright brothers not succeeded at Kitty Hawk in 1903, and the broad consensus is that someone else would have figured out heavier-than-air-flight.
- The ocean-borne structure appears to have been engineered for oceanic conditions, and here, Akeno and the others finally approach the shopping facility. The second tweet corroborates that methane hydrate mining succeeded much earlier and allowed Japan to sit WWII out, but also claims that the lack of aircraft resulted in a lack of anti-air weapons. However, dedicated anti-air weapons have been employed during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, where Gustav Krupp equipped a carriage with a modified 37 mm gun to shoot down French communications balloons.
- Mashiro tries on Akeno’s hat here and smiles warmly before Kuro spots her, remarking that the former would’ve made a fine captain. The two overhear the engineering crew discuss Mashiro’s background as a member of the Munetani family and wonder why she was not assigned to the Musashi, leading Mashiro to feel disheartened. Continuing on my crusade about those tweets, I’ll skip the third (which talks reasonably about the modernised electronics suites on WWII-era training ships) and deal with the fourth, which claims that the lack of air travel left much of the world unexplored. This is false: much of the world’s explorers discovered new lands via ocean-faring vessels, and similarly, imperial powers during New Imperialism reached their colonies via ships. While inland travel would not be as efficient without aircraft, its absence certainly would not make it so difficult as to render a great deal of the world unexplored.
- After catching the engineers and some of the other crew members on break, Wilhelmina steps in and orders everyone back to work, causing them to scatter. Mashiro’s story was that she somehow missed a question on the multiple-choice entrance exam and offset all of her answers by one, resulting in a poor grade. Her bad luck is supposed to be legendary, but how this will impact the future episodes (such as whether or not she’ll begin resenting Akeno’s captaincy) is something that will only be told with time.
- The Flood of Halo were discovered in a similarly innocuous manner, although in Hai-Furi, the box is labelled “Abyss”: while it’s said to be a container for moving magazines around in, anyone who’s seen Kantai Collection would doubtlessly grow suspicious of the box’s contents. In Futurama, Leela finds a box of boots while fishing with the Planet Express crew, although their adventure is wackier and more focused on humour.
- Akeno’s luck has been shown to be exceptionally good, as she wins a year’s supply of toilet paper here, more than enough to resupply the Harekaze. My prediction is that Akeno and Mashiro were assigned the positions that they were to help one another mature: Akeno would learn to be a more responsible captain under Mashiro’s influence, while Mashiro would learn that luck has less of a bearing than she presently believes. So, I hope that a rift between Akeno and Mashiro will not become a reality.
- While carrying their supplies back, Blue Mermaids’ safety division capture Akeno. The dialogue gives the impression that she’s been arrested for her earlier actions, and the atmosphere certainly conveys such a feeling, but on closer inspection, the Blue Mermaid’s lack of weapons suggest that their actions are not what they appear to be.
- Back on board the Harekaze, Isoroku exhibits a strong sense of protest when Shima picks it up: I previously remarked that the girls themselves have no relation to cats whatsoever, but Isoroku’s presence on board the Harekaze would be a blessing: cats naturally have an inclination to hunt and are highly effective for taking out rodents. As such, they have historically been welcomed on board ships for such a purpose, further acting as a companion for the sailors and even helping estimate weather conditions.
- Shima picks the exhausted, unusual rodent while the Isoroku vehemently protests. I mentioned this earlier in the She and Her Cat: Everything Flows post, remarking that cats offer captured animals to people as a gesture of friendship; this suggests that Isoroku is particularly fond of Mashiro and is wanting to feel welcomed around her. Thus, when Shima takes the rodent, Isoroku’s reaction is equivalent to saying “that ain’t yours, pal”.
- Lacking any other information, it would appear that coming into contact with the rodent is the direct cause of Shima’s unusual behaviours. After learning that they are surrounded by unknowns, she physically blows several of the crew away, she escapes the bridge and locates a deck gun, firing wildly until its ammunition is depleted. Wilhelmina bodily throws her overboard, and while in the water, Shima suddenly comes to, before an unidentified force propels her back on board the Harekaze.
- What happened defies all conventional understanding, but nonetheless, Wilhemina expresses relief that Shima is safe. At this time, Akeno and the others are back, escorted by members of the Blue Mermaid’s safety office. The Harekaze’s crew is informed that they will be resupplied, and a glance at the vessel’s International maritime signal (IMS) flags probably is intended to indicate thus. I cannot readily identify the first flag, but the second flag, x-ray, denotes “stop carrying out your intentions and watch for my signals”, and the third flag, india, denotes “I am altering my course to port”.
- Akeno introduces Hiraga to the others, and Mashiro learns that her sister had given the orders for them to make contact with the Harekaze, having learned of their situation. From their resulting discussions, it seems that command is divided on the Harekaze’s situation, but for the time being, it is reassuring to learn that there are folks in Akeno’s corner.
- This post comes out significantly later than it normally did, because today was no ordinary Saturday: my university has passed its fifty-year anniversary, massive celebrations were held yesterday and today. The lab I work in was invited to give exhibitions and presentations on our projects as part of showcasing how far the university’s come in the past half-century. Presentations yesterday evening were a bit more muted, and I found the time to enjoy a potato martini in between the small groups who took interest in our research.
- Conversely, today was busy: although we only had a two hour time slot for presenting our work, the session was packed with excited visitors looking to see the Giant Walkthrough Brain in action, as well as the research that our lab is generally involved in. The demographics ranged from alumni to children, and everyone was blown away by seeing the Giant Walkthrough Brain in a VR environment. Some alumni said that it was amazing that things have come so far in fifty years, and I replied that things will continue to get even better by the time I attend the university’s 100th anniversary.
- It seems that cats grace the other ships, and Mashiro recoils in horror, running off with a pair of cats chasing her. This fear is presently utilised for comedic purposes, but it would be quite cool if Mashiro’s fear of cats has some sort of significance to the story overall. My stances are simple, direct and concise simply because I don’t hold my entertainment to the same standard as I do my work and research. It is of my opinion that people should treat entertainment with much less rigour, given that the intent of most entertainment is in fact to help people relax. Getting one’s blood pressure up because others disagree with a position over an anime (and an anime about military-moé, at that) does not seem to be a good pastime, although that is merely my opinion (if people enjoy doing that, then I’ve no right to stop them).
- Back in the infirmary, the rodent is being scrutinised after placed back into its enclosure. Elsewhere, discussions have flared: like Girls und Panzer, discussions have become quite heated regarding various elements in Hai-Furi, ranging from whether or not Moeka has created an emotional connection to the audience (in my opinion, limited, since we’ve not seen her full situation since episode two), how viable rocket technology is in their universe (it should be functional, but nowhere near as sophisticated as Cold War-era missiles, given that the Chinese have been using rockets, albeit of low reliability, since the 13th century) or whether or not it was fair to paint Hai-Furi as a slice of life in pre-season advertisements to conceal its true nature (unexpected, welcomed, but better damn well deliver).
- In addition to topping off its provisions, the Harekaze is also outfitted with 10 cm/65 Type 98 naval guns to replace its damaged batteries. Long considered to be one of the best anti-air artillery options available to Japanese vessels, the weapons had a much higher firing rate than the 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval guns (the former’s 5-10 RPM compared to the latter’s 20-22 RPM) and could deliver more ordinance downrange, although the lighter shells would have made them less effective against surface targets.
- In the absence of additional intel, Hai-Furi continues to hint that something is amiss with the Musashi and Moeka. With the fourth episode at a close, very brief hints are given towards the overall situation the Harekaze and Blue Mermaids find themselves in; it’s been a thrilling episode even without any naval combat. At the time of writing, I’m now one mission from finishing off Sniper Elite V2, so one of the upcoming posts this week will that. Further to this, I will be writing about Flying Witch after three episodes; it’s proven to be a cleverly crafted slice-of-life anime with subtle supernatural elements and a calming atmosphere not unlike that of Non Non Biyori.
I’ve heard unverified claims that episode five will be delayed owing to Golden Week, while other sources claim that Hai-Furi has run into production problems similar to Girls und Panzer. While that will make the wait a considerable one (the fourth episode concludes with grim imagery of the Musashi sailing through heavy fog), the respite will also be quite welcomed should this turn out to be true. Hai-Furi has proven to successfully keep its viewers on edge with each passing episode, and the fourth episode shows that the writers have largely accounted for how they will keep the narrative flowing without forcing each episode into a predictable pattern. This fourth episode of Hai-Furi manages to surprise in different ways that could not have been readily predicted, and ultimately, because of how stochastic Hai-Furi has been with its developments, each episode manages to continue holding the viewer’s attention so far. This is an anime that has presented itself to be far removed from the conventional moé genre, and stepping out from the framework of Girls und Panzer: unlike the former, stakes are a real factor in Hai-Furi, and because it will be interesting to simply see where all of this goes, I have reached my conclusion: Hai-Furi is meritorious of the episodic review pattern. If it turns out to be true that the fifth episode will be delayed, I will be quite grateful; there is a TEDx talk that I will be taking part in next week, and consequently, will be losing most of my Saturday as a result. Should the episode release as per its stipulated schedule, I will write the review on Sunday.