“In battle, you forgive a man anything except an unwillingness to take risks. Sometimes you have to put it on the line.” —Tom Clancy
The Harekaze’s crew take a morning off while its engines warm up, and they formally welcome Wilhelmina on board. Elsewhere, Kaoru Furushou is interviewed by Blue Mermaid officers, and she recalls giving the order to fire without remembering what led her to reach that decision. On the open seas, a detachment of Akizuki destroyers is deployed to secure the Musashi at its last known position. Coming under heavy fire, the Harekaze is sent to investigate and report back, but Akeno decides to take matters into her own hands and disembarks. She approaches the Musashi but is wrecked before she can board, and is thrown into the ocean. Despite being considered to be a breather episode, the fifth episode of Hai-Furi continues adding new information about the condition that’s been responsible for the various pinches the Harekaze finds itself in. Therefore, by episode five, Hai-Furi continues to push forwards in its narrative, revealing small amounts of information about the entire situation while following Akeno’s series of decisions as things seem to worsen: she’s now set to walk into the heart of things, and Moeka’s presence on the Musashi shows that she remains unaffected. The next episode will likely deal with how Akeno deals with her current situation and so, the biggest question for the short term is whether or not Akeno will be able to save Moeka.
The sum of these revelations so far would mean that a rabies-like virus is most likely the culprit: such a virus would travel along neural pathways to the central nervous system to impact its function. The rabies virus causes inflammation of brain tissue, resulting in symptoms that manifest as abnormal behaviour, paranoia, or even hallucinations, amongst others. However, given that the affected individuals in Hai-Furi are shown recover without substantial external intervention, from a mechanistic perspective, the virus is probably an ineffectual form of a bioweapon that can be dealt with by the immune system before it has a chance to incubate. This could explain why the effects wear off after a while, and similarly, the presence of strains with different virulences might account for why the Musashi’s crew remain affected for several days, rather than the minutes or hours that Shima and Kaoru respectively experience. While a virus seems far-fetched, real-world viruses can have serious neurological impacts on its host. Moreover, as seen in Hai-Furi’s fourth episode, affected individuals have access to their memories, as Shima demonstrates when she rages about curry before her rampage. Because mind control techniques must impact how an individual thinks, they usually involve impairing hippocampus function. This region of the brain consolidates short and long term memories, so for mind control to be effective, it will act on the hippocampus. Logically, Shima would not likely remember anything related to curry prior to her rampage. However, the fact is that she does remember her actions. Together with the points presented, it should be clear that the cause of all this is a pathogen of some sort, and the hamster-like rodents (which are likely synthetic lifeforms, now that we’ve seen them with ECM and communication jamming capabilities) are the vectors.
Screenshots and Commentary
- The bulk of the discussion for this post is actually set in the paragraph above, which deals with my speculations, having taken into account observations drawn from Hai-Furi and my own background in pathology stemming from my days as a health science student. I look forwards to seeing how the plot progresses in light of these predictions, because anything less would be inconsistent with the literature and therefore take away from the realism aspect that Hai-Furi seems to be striving to maintain. In the meantime, I am quite interested to hear thoughts from other viewers who can add to or refute this.
- This is the maximum amount of fanservice I will feature this post. The context behind this moment is that, while waiting for the Harekaze’s main boilers to warm up, the girls are afforded a half-day’s rest. Akeno decides to strip and join the others in the water but is stopped by Mashiro, who protests that the former hadn’t even warmed up yet. This post comes nearly twenty-four hours later than it would normally, and for that, I apologise; yesterday, I was attending the TEDx talks for my city as an exhibitor, manning a booth and explaining to the attendees what my research entails.
- As with Alumni Weekend last week, I knew that yesterday was going to be a long day, and so, had a bowl of breakfast ramen (noodles with a double-yolk egg and ham) before setting out. With the other colleagues from my lab, we moved some 360 pounds of gear to the exhibition venue, then spent much of the morning preparing the computers and displays. Our setup drew enough power to blow a fuse, but we were able to come back online after a harrowing 30 minutes without power.
- We also left behind some of our brochures and realised that mid-morning, so I hastened back to the university’s main campus to retrieve them. After the first round of talks ended, power was restored and our exhibition was mission-ready. Numerous individuals visited our display, asking to try out the Oculus Rift headset (I had rigged the Giant Walkthrough Brain to work with it) and my own research project. Our lab is quite diverse, doing all sorts of neat things with game engines, AR and VR technologies, and so, remained quite busy throughout the day.
- My supervisor was set to go on the second round of talks, and I was able to secure seats close to the front to get a few photographs. I was quite nervous, but his talk went very smoothly. After things ended, a few more visitors stopped by the exhibitions, and soon, it was finally time to pack it in and go home. Being utterly exhausted, I did not feel up to writing out the post for Hai-Furi (having just enough energy to merely sit back and watch the episode). However, today is a new day, and I am refreshed after the Mother’s Day brunch: after a warm-up plate of scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and hash browns, I tucked in to smoked ham, roast beef, steamed vegetables, herbed salmon and iron-skillet grilled chicken, plus a massive cheese omelette with ham, bacon, salsa, peppers, mushrooms, and jalapeño and shrimp cocktail. The brunch was rounded off with a slice of New York Cheesecake, and we took a stroll around the airport before heading back home.
- With the break sections over, I resume talk on the episode itself. Shima is interviewed by a Blue Mermaid Officer, revealing that she was aware of her actions, but lacks the recollection of why she acted in such a fashion. I believe that most are rejecting a biological cause on the basis that Shima’s condition wore off too quickly, but unless otherwise explicitly mentioned, a viral agent is the most probable factor.
- Shima’s experiences are corroborated when Kaoru is interviewed: she recalls giving the orders to fire on the students for being late, but not why their lateness resulted in her using force. From the report, the other crew seemed to be normal while this occurred. Given that they maintained control over their minds, and that the others on the Harekaze were not affected, it does not appear that this viral agent is transmitted via airborne means.
- Akeno encounters a dejected Rin, who opens up to Akeno and recalls that she’s used to running away in the face of adversity. However, the ocean was calming for her, and becoming a full-fledged Blue Mermaid would encourage her to face her fears. However, she feels that her actions have allowed the Harekaze to have run away from three full battles; Akeno remarks that this is not true, since retreat is sometimes a necessary action to prevent undue loss of life.
- Back in the medical section, Mei recoils after being told that the rodent could be carrying pathogens of some sort. This could be foreshadowing, and in a much later scene, several of these rodents are seen on a vessel sent to back up the fleet sent to secure the Musashi. Although this seems somewhat unrelated, I’ve noticed the hiragana of はいふり has been replaced by ハイスクール・フリート (“High school fleet”): the hard, angular Katakana is used to phonetically transcribe foreign words, standing in contrast to the gentler curvature of Hiragana, which is the first script children in Japan learn and is more suitable for representing gentler environments (K-On!, Tamako Market and Tamayura use Hiragana exclusively in their titles).
- The modern Akizuki-class destroyers serve the JMSDF and have a maximum speed of 35 knots (56 km/h). The Mark 45 5-inch gun it carries is secondary to its role as a missile destroyer: it carries a variety of anti-ship and anti-submarine missiles, including eight Type 90 missiles (the Japanese replacement for the Harpoon system), and the RUM-139 VL-ASROC, a vertical-launch system deploying light anti-submarine torpedoes such as the Mark 46 or Mark 54 MAKO (both of which have 43.9 kilogram warhead, rather than the 22.68 kilogram warhead a certain individual has been stating as fact). This engagement is one of the first times I’ve seen World War Two era battleships go toe-to-toe with modern destroyers, and at present, the bulk of the discussion is whether not there is any way to stop the Musashi.
- After the Musashi opens hostilities and damages several of the other destroyers, the captain of one of the Akizuki’s order for training torpedoes to be fired in the hopes of causing it to list and render the batteries unusable. The torpedoes will probably not have any efficacy against the heavy armour on the Musashi’s sides, and Hai-Furi further rigs the fight: this universe has decided to casually dismiss missile technologies and so, there are no so over-the-horizon solutions. If a naval group were tasked with securing the Musashi, it would be most logical to target the ship with enough Harpoon missiles or equivalent to mission-kill it, rendering its main guns useless. Then, fast-roping can be used to deploy boarders to secure the vessel. This method would result in the fewest casualties while completing the mission, but since Hai-Furi lacks anti-ship missiles and helicopters (propelled blimps would be too slow), this simply isn’t possible.
- Suzuki Takaaki manages to level the battlefield such that WWII-era weapons have the advantage, creating suspense: modern destroyers are lightly-armoured compared to their WWII counterparts, placing a greater emphasis on speed and mobility. In an engagement, modern destroyers depend on their missiles: these can be used to cripple the battleship by attacking the superstructure, creating an opening for the destroyer to flank a battleship and hammer it with torpedoes. However, lacking such missiles, the Akizuki-class vessels are at a clear disadvantage. Back on the Harekaze, it turns out that the girls were avoiding Wilhelmina so they could throw her a bit of a surprise party, formally welcoming her on board.
- In the previous episode, Wilhelmina was ridiculed for using washi (“I” as used by older men) in referring to herself, and she clears up that she’s picked up a bit of Japanese by watching old war films. She immediately gets along with Kouko Nosa, with their impressions of lines from these films. I am slowly starting to learn the names of characters after five episodes, like Girls und Panzer, will settle with learning the names of the bridge characters (Hai-Furi‘s equivalent of Anko team).
- Here, Akeno shares with Rin a small locket carrying a photograph of her and Moeka. In the midst of the girls’ day off, they get an urgent transmission ordering them to ascertain the situation on the Musashi without entering combat. It’s been three episode since the Musashi was endangered, and by this point in time, Moeka’s situation can be reasonably reconstructed: the virus spread amongst the Musashi and rendered most of the crew hostile. The vectors also appear to have some form of ECM capabilities, disrupting communications amongst the destroyers and implying that they are synthetic life forms.
- Akeno’s decisions are not consistent with those of a captain, and Akeno’s friendship with Moeka has been the point of no small debate: intense arguments are flaring as to whether or not Akeno is justified in reacting in such a way in a military setting (reminiscent of the absurd nature of whether or not Miho was justified in saving a tank’s crew when they’d fallen in a river during a rain storm, leading them to lose the championship match). While Akeno is violating just about every line of the naval handbooks out there, this is an anime, so I am willing to treat her desire to save Moeka as a reasonable one.
- If Hai-Furi were intended to be as serious as some make it out to be, it would be written by Mark Greany and feature a mix of male and female characters in their mid-twenties and older. The emotional factors behind Akeno’s decisions are consistent with those of her age group, and I gather that most of the viewers are at least post-secondary age or older; with their frontal lobes having reached physiological maturity, decision making is more driven by reason and experience rather than emotion, accounting for why people seem to have a difficult time agreeing with Akeno’s unexpected, consuming desire to rescue Moeka.
- A bit of precision shooting from Shima allows the Harekaze to swat the Musashi’s shells (each coming in at 1500 kilograms) out of the air to spare it from being sunk. I further postulate that the intense disagreements arising whenever Moeka is concerned stems from the different Myers–Briggs Type Indicator personality types: some individuals are more empathetic and make their decisions based on emotional values, while others (like myself) make decisions based on the impersonal realms of logic and reason.
- If I were to take on Akeno’s role, I would stick to my stipulated mission and complete the assignment first, trusting that the other destroyers engaging the Musashi are doing so with the intent of taking its weapons offline. Akeno has remained quite consistent by doing what’s necessary, but Moeka seems to be her Achilles Heel in that regard. Therefore, I will conclude that it is not correct to consider Akeno’s actions here as “inconsistent”, especially with neurological factors and personality traits in mind.
- Again, I apologise for the major delays in posting this week’s episode, which was a thrill to watch. The future directions for Hai-Furi remain a mystery even for the present, with the halfway point approaching, one cannot help but wonder if the halfway point will bring Moeka’s story to a close, leaving the second half open for whatever Hai-Furi has planned for the audience. I’m looking forwards to things, as usual, and with this post now done, it’s time for me to take a bit of a break and tend to some paperwork for grad school, then kick back and continue my campaign in Valkyria Chronicles. That’s it for this post, so have a good one, and take it easy!
The presence of infectious agents released to the different ships suggests that a hitherto unidentified faction is interested in either destroying or disrupting the Blue Mermaids. This possibility would eliminate a final confrontation with the Musashi as the end-game for Hai-Furi, indicating that there are more sinister forces at work. If this is the case, Hai-Furi will almost certainly require more than a mere twelve or thirteen episodes to properly depict how the Blue Mermaids and high school trainees unveil their enemy, culminating engaging their enemy in the finale. It could be quite thrilling to watch all of this, as such an outcome would allow Hai-Furi to push its characters to their limits. Episode five finally has Mashiro confront Akeno about the latter’s propensity to wish to solve everything herself, and although she is unsuccessful in convincing Akeno otherwise, there will come a point where Mashiro’s by-the-book approach will need to mesh with Akeno’s disregard for convention. It would be pointless to design characters in such a manner if their personalities do not contribute something meaningful to the narrative. While the Japanese viewers have received Hai-Furi’s fifth episode positively (trends show a large increase in pre-orders for the fifth episode’s Blu-Rays), Hai-Furi nonetheless continues to run along a razor’s edge with its narrative. Things could go either way for the anime (a narrative masterpiece rivaling any techno-thriller, or a failure that matches Glasslip in disappointment), and with this fifth episode over, it’s probably safe to say that Hai-Furi will probably keep audiences guessing to the end with its progression.