The Infinite Zenith

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

In a Mined Pinch!- High School Fleet (Hai-Furi) Impressions and Review at the Halfway point

“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” —Katharine Hepburn

Akeno is extricated from the waters as the Musashi retreats for destinations unknown, and Mashiro confronts her, wondering why Akeno sees fit to personally involve herself to the extent of interfering with her duty as a captain. Wilhelmina reassures Akeno that the latter’s actions, though unusual, did save her. Meanwhile, the Harekaze enters a minefield and embarks on a minseweeping operation to ensure their safe passage. When one of the skippers strikes a mine, Akeno steps out to save her crew members yet again, ignoring Mashiro’s vehement protests. She succeeds, and later that evening, the girls find themselves welcomed by a quasi-Germanic dinner, after an earlier remark from Wilhelmina that she’s unaccustomed to Japanese food. While none of the dishes the galley’s students have put together are genuine German cuisine, Wilhelmina appreciates the gesture and finds them to be quite delicious. Back in the infirmary, Minami Kaburagi tests a prototype vaccine on herself after learning that a virus might be responsible for Shima’s condition earlier. The sixth episode is a proper breather, providing some time for the narrative to give some focus to the characters: Akeno’s actions stand in contrast to Mashiro’s expectations, and moreover, Akeno is not likely to abandon her methodology whenever trouble occurs. This forms a dichotomy: on one hand, Akeno’s decisions are inappropriate in a military setting where orders and protocol exist to ensure cohesion, but in a high school setting, compassion and empathy for one’s classmates is also expected of students.

Thus, with half of the episodes elapsed, Hai-Furi is perhaps aiming to convey a similar message as Girls und Panzer to show that empathy and compassion are assets not to be so easily dismissed even during difficult situations. Recalling the three means of persuasion, ethos, pathos and logos, Hai-Furi illustrates Akeno as relying largely on pathos to persuade most her crew in helping her out, while Mashiro depends largely on ethos (an appeal to authority, in this case, military law). While Kuro is in agreement with Mashiro’s approach, most of the crew seem more emotionally-driven. Hai-Furi‘s entire cast consists of untrained high school students placed in charge of weapons of war and so, that the Harekaze largely accept Akeno’s decisions depict individuals who are consistent with the naïveté that might be seen in that age range (in fact, it would be quite unrealistic to have high school students acting with the maturity and composure of trained naval crews). Thus, a part of what is expected from Hai-Furi now is to watch how the remaining crew will come to appreciate Akeno’s decisions and possibly, how Akeno might benefit from Mashiro’s presence; even if Akeno might not act in a manner befitting of a captain, that she maintains a strict “leave no man behind” outlook on things will invariably lead her crew to unify under her command.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Hai-Furi concludes the events of the previous episodes in a low-key fashion; Akeno is retrieved after the Musashi disappears and faces only a short reprimand from Mashiro. So, after a blazing flame war on AnimeSuki reminiscent of the time where a certain onee-sama declared Miho (along with anyone who agreed with Miho’s actions) to be “soft” and not adhering to “proper” martial arts discipline, the debates about who’s in the right have stopped for the time being.

  • The Harekaze does not leave the encounter unscathed, and an incensed Mashiro orders for the others to stop messing around to continue their damage report properly after they begin speaking over one another. It’s shown that the Harekaze’s electronic communications equipment is disabled; its restoration later corresponds to Isoroku capturing the rodent and enjoying a light midnight snack. This subtle connection is sufficient to draw the correlation between the rodents and the unusual events occurring, firmly establishing that they’re responsible for what has been seen so far.

  • A group, presumably the higher echelons that manage the schools and Blue Mermaids, wonder what it will take to bring the Musashi back. They realise that their options are limited, given the difficulties their state-of-the-art destroyers faced and consider bringing another large battleship into the group in order to even the stakes. While they consider bringing the Yamato or other equivalents, the Iowa-class would be the superior option here because they used radar in their superior fire control systems.

  • Even if the Iowa can only put a 2700-pound shell 38.4 kilometres down range compared to the Yamato’s ability to put a 3200-pound shell 41.6 kilometres down range, accuracy would probably be more useful in keeping casualties down while completing the assignment at hand. I suddenly realise that all of my previous Hai-Furi posts have been devoid of such moments. To rectify that, here’s a high-resolution image of Wilhelmina’s assets in all of their glory, and I imagine that this image alone will make up for the absence of fanservice during the previous few posts.

  • Upon seeing Wilhelmina’s assets for the first time, the girls in the background express envy. This particular aspect, this trope, as it were, is commonly depicted in fiction for comedic purposes, and I imagine that there’s probably an evolutionary factors behind such reactions. However, this post isn’t intended to be about evolutionary properties of human morphology and its impact on an individual’s fitness in a population, so there’s no real necessity to dive into that any further.

  • Akeno becomes a disheartened after Kuro’s remarks: Kuro is plainly in #TeamMashiro, while Rin and Wilhelmina are in #TeamAkeno. The use of hashtags mirrors the current #TeamIronman vs #TeamCap associated with Captain America: Civil War, a film that I’ve not seen yet. I will aim to rectify this at some point in the future because all of my friends who’ve seen it say it is worthwhile, and returning to Hai-Furi, I am firmly in #TeamAkeno because the end of the day, the Harekaze’s crew are still high school girls who have around a half season to learn and mature, not seasoned military staff with a job to do (and the requisite training to do it well).

  • My standard posts have twenty images, so with four images of the girls cleaning up in the Harekaze’s baths, this means that twenty percent of the entire post has been directed towards fanservice. I believe this fulfills the quota for the maximum permissible fanservice I may have, and as such, the remainder of the screenshots will be more conventional. The girls remark that the Harekaze’s bathing facilities, though temperamental and difficult to maintain, are worth having.

  • One of the elements that seem to have been forgotten amongst the #TeamAkeno vs #TeamMashiro debates is the shifting perspectives of the crew working in different sections of the Harekaze. After Akeno’s managed to keep everyone safe despite the odds against them, it seems that even the engineers are a bit friendlier with Akeno. Back on the outside, under the cover of nightfall, some crew are continuing on with their damage report, locating a .25 by .50 meter gash on the hull sustained during combat. As the others have stated, a single shell from the Musashi would be enough to sink them, so it is quite fortuitous that the Harekaze’s remained quite safe.

  • Wilhelmina remarks that while Akeno might be an unconventional captain who discards the command structure to do what’s necessary for her friends, this approach did save her, and for that, she is grateful. Today’s post comes after I’ve wrapped up the first draft of my thesis, and the goal tomorrow is to typeset the entire thing in LaTeX. Then, over the next week, I add all figures, captions, tables and citations. So far, I’m managing to keep on top of both Hai-Furi and the thesis paper, and I’ll let readers know should deviations to these episodic reviews arise.

  • After six episodes, I’ve finally made an effort to learn Minami’s name. She works out that the cause of the unusual behavioural changes upon contact with the rodent is a virus, and, validating my prediction. This means that mind control can finally be dismissed as a theory, although the lack of reception out there suggests that most folks did not even see a biological agent as being possible for creating the patterns that were observed.

  • Minami’s laboratory practices would violate everything in the CBSG biosafety handbook (dissecting a cadaver carrying a known pathogen without at least biosafety cabinet and using incorrect techniques to inoculate herself at the episode’s end); this stands in contrast with her meticulous regard for biosafety earlier, and I would conclude that she’s probably been affected as a result. If this is true, the inoculation could increase virulence and escalate the difficulties already facing the Harekaze.

  • According to the GPS coordinates once the ship’s electronics suite is restored, the Harekaze has ended up on Lake Biwa. It’s the largest freshwater lake in Japan, with a surface area of 670.4 km² and acts as a vast water resource for Japan. The rising sea levels would account for why it is possible to traverse into Lake Biwa in a destroyer, and the girls soon encounter numerous mines in the area.

  • A heavy mist rolls in, precluding the Harekaze from moving further without risk of running into a mine. In contrast with fog, mist is formed when surface water temperatures are warm and the air temperatures are cool, leading evaporated water to condense. Environments with a large amount of fine particles are more conducive towards mist, as these particle act as nucleation sites.

  • While we’re sitting at the fifty-percent mark for Hai-Furi, and it may seem appropriate to consider what Hai-Furi has done thus far, I recall that Girls und Panzer did not explicitly reveal Miho’s raison d’être for quitting Panzerfahren until the seventh episode. Further to this, the reason why the Student Council placed such pressure on Miho to lead Ooarai to the finals was not stated until episode nine. So, assuming Hai-Furi takes after Girls und Panzer in structuring, the motivations driving Hai-Furi have yet to be made known, but properly executed, will contribute substantially towards both the strength of the narrative and the characters’ reasons for being.

  • Encircled by the mines, Kouko works out measures for sweeping out the mines to the Harekaze’s flanks, and outlines that the main guns will be used for triggering the mines in front. This plan would be effective against older mines, but modern mines possess sophisticated mechanisms that only allow them to detonate when specific conditions, such as magnetic activity and pressure displacements associated with specific ships, arise.

  • Wilhelmina regards her nattō beans with apprehension: this particular dish presumably takes some getting used to, and she reveals that Japanese cuisine is not her cup of tea. I’ve never had nattō before, but I imagine that the initial taste and texture would dissuade me from consuming it even though nattō is a particularly nutritious food item, packed with iron and vitamins associated with maintaining bone health.

  • Through all of the troubles and tribulations the girls on the Harekaze have experienced, they’ve not lost sight of their objectives to become Blue Mermaids. They recite the chant here as they prepare to clear a path through the waters ahead, and things proceed quite smoothly; the contact sweeper begins cutting some of the mines loose and smaller guns detonate them. However, the crew riding the hydrofoil are caught in an explosion of sorts.

  • The latest accident brings out Akeno’s “saving-people thing” (coined by Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) yet again: despite Mashiro’s protests, Akeno and Rin depart to rescue the others. Given we are at the halfway point, this dynamic could grow old pretty quickly, but Hai-Furi has managed to change things up right when things appear to be plateauing, so it is possible that an event in future episodes will force Akeno to do what she can as a captain, while tempering Mashiro’s strictly by-the-book outlooks.

  • Unlike Captain Phillips, where Navy SEAL snipers eventually take out the pirates holding Captain Phillips hostage, here, Akeno rescues one of her crew from an automatic flotation device while Rin helps out the second operator. This is carried out without any trouble, and Mashiro’s final expression is one of disbelief, wondering how Akeno manages to pull this sort of thing off consistently. I therefore submit that a turning point will be reached when Akeno’s methods no longer work, and Mashiro must to step in to help everyone out.

  • The episode draws to a close with Minami testing a purported vaccine on herself, but I end my post with Wilhemina remarking that all of the galley’s dishes are technically not authentic German dishes. While they recoil in embarrassment, Wilhemina tries the dishes and finds that they are quite good. Wilhelmina piques my curiosity for some German cuisine, and since my supervisor is German, I can ask his opinion on some of the best local restaurants are for local cuisine. We now close in on the Victoria Day Long Weekend, and traditionally, I am out with the family, meaning that next week’s review may be pushed back.

The mystery of who is behind the synthetic lifeforms remains to be seen, although it would appear that my predictions about the viral agents turned out to be correct, firmly defeating the incomplete, poorly-justified theories about mind control others have posited. This isn’t the best use of a degree in the Health Sciences, but it was entertaining to accurately foresee what mechanisms underlie the strange observations here. However, very few would have predicted that the Musashi would withdraw rather than being secured, my experiences tells me that Hai-Furi will likely make the climax a proper showdown between Akeno and Moeka. If this occurs, revealing what circumstances and factions behind all of this will be left as a secondary element. With this in consideration, it remains difficult to see how Hai-Furi will turn out, given that this series has been masterfully manoeuvring its narrative left and right to portray both the shadowy events occurring behind-the-scenes and the everyday lives of the Harekaze’s crew (which likewise swings between easygoing slice-of-life and harrowing battles with hostile vessels). While the season’s halfway through, and a theme is beginning to materialise, Hai-Furi remains enigmatic in its direction. Consequently, the only absolute about Hai-Furi is that it will be surprising to watch, and there is a certain thrill in entering each episode with no concrete knowledge of what will proceed.

6 responses to “In a Mined Pinch!- High School Fleet (Hai-Furi) Impressions and Review at the Halfway point

  1. Jusuchin (Military Otaku) May 14, 2016 at 19:20

    Personally, Mike needs to learn to trust her schoolmates. She can’t go around extinguishing everything. I think that’s what Shiro is getting irked at. She is supposed to delegate, not, in her eyes, be the hero. Which makes Mike a character I can relate to, as well as Shiro. I can see where both are coming from.

    Also I blame David Weber and the Honorverse series for introducing into my mind the Mesan nanotech. Though how that nanotech worked in comparison to the virus-based deal in HSF is completely different, though iirc, the Mesan assassination nanites are virus-based. I could be wrong, and I’m unwilling to reach for my kindle in my bag.

    Like

    • infinitezenith May 14, 2016 at 19:32

      I’ve been on both sides of the fence regarding the whole notion either of wading into things myself or else counting on teammates and colleagues to get the job done. As a graduate student, I’ve grown accustomed to being self-sufficient, building my own deadlines and learning things independently. However, in the real world, delegation is critically important to ensure that the system as a whole functions: this is why micromanagement is regarded as being counterproductive.

      It ultimately depends on the task, while the latter very much holds true in the case of Hai-Furi, I still think of the girls as students, rather than trained military staff. So, I wish to see their characters mature, rather than them immediately acting as capable sailors, and that’s why Akeno’s actions, though foolhardy, remain acceptable to me. With that being said, I do not feel it’s worth driving one’s blood pressure up simply because other viewers are in disagreement (as one Kazu-kun of AnimeSuki has been doing); it is an anime, after all🙂

      I’ve not read anything from the Honorverse series, but I have strict definitions for a virus: these are carbon-based infectious agents that can only reproduce if they have a host. The Mesan nanites sound a lot smarter and probably do more than take over a cell to reproduce, so I’m not sure how well they’d fit the biological definition.

      Like

      • Jusuchin (Military Otaku) May 14, 2016 at 19:43

        Yeah, and this is why Hai-Furi makes for good watching. I can actually relate to them. As for driving up one’s bp, I guess I get too involved, and I do feel for Shiro. But actually getting stressed, I don’t. A little tense depending on the episode, but not in that kind of manner where I need to step away a bit.

        And speaking of science, I knew she had to kill that rodent sooner or later. I like how Minami went from the eccentric C/Ship’s Doctor to this somewhat odd and scary person. Well not scary but I think you know what I mean. She somewhat reminds me of TF2’s Medic…minus the accent. And accidentally locking a dove into your rib cage.

        When I posted the link on Facebook, I did note what she did isn’t really the good and proper way in testing drugs.

        And as for Captain America: Civil War? I was tentatively on #TeamIronMan…but after seeing it and discussing it…I am now unsure. You’ll enjoy it I think, I certainly did.

        Like

        • infinitezenith May 14, 2016 at 19:51

          Just watching Hai-Furi can be a little tense, attesting to how well they’ve built suspense.

          Minami’s dissection reminded me a little of the ethics approval some of my colleagues needed to get for their thesis projects back in my day as an undergrad: I’m glad that real-world clinical trials and pharma is done with ethics (mostly) in mind. Further to this, in our ethics class in the year before we were set to do our undergrad thesis projects, one of my classmates asked whether or not ethics approval was needed to test something on oneself. The response we got was not surprising: despite the individual giving consent and testing were the same, the formal process of obtaining approval would still be required. Then there’s the bit about proper experimental procedure, and I could go on for days about that (so naturally, I won’t).

          I’m trying to make some time to see the movie for myself. Friends and family have said it’s worthwhile, and that’s a big motivator in my wanting to see it. I’m looking forwards to seeing which side I’m on, to say the least!

          Like

  2. NaChiKyoTsuki97 May 14, 2016 at 20:35

    Personally, I find certain aspects of Haifuri to be tonally inconsistent: were we meant to consider Misaki a captain that’s not up to standards, or were we meant to see her as a hidden gem whose talents at being a leader are still unrecognised: the early episodes seemed to dwell on the fact that she learnt all her team members names even before leaving port, and was showcased to be rather capable at handing out orders. But later, the show starts to seemingly turn against Misaki by placing Mashiro as a replacement, with Misaki pretty much abandoning her crew for her best friend (after telling them NOT to follow her.)

    On a more personal standpoint, I really dislike Mashiro as a character: whether this bad luck syndrome is legit or not, describing her fellow crew members and captain as ‘bad luck’ really ticks the sections of my brain that makes me want to throw a chair at something. As far as I’ve seen, the premise that Mashiro makes a better captain than Misaki is only shown by a offhanded remark from a fellow team member, while the opinions of the rest of the crew doesn’t seem to place Mashiro on a pedestal above Misaki either.

    Overall however, Haifuri really does harken back to the contradictory feelings of relaxation and adrenaline that Girls und Panzer has perfected, with added tension of a more thriller-esque nature.

    Like

    • infinitezenith May 14, 2016 at 20:49

      That Hai-Furi resembles Girls und Panzer in some ways is why I’m still hanging around. Girls und Panzer, however, had the advantage that they were in a sports environment, and so, the emotional tenor and tension would be akin to the feeling that one might get while watching their favourite football team squaring off against a rival team during the World Cup. They were thus able to maintain the sense of light-heartedness without compromising the plot. In Hai-Furi‘s case, there’s a more concerted effort to make things more serious, but this comes across to me as being less successful to other viewers, who are demanding Tom Clancy levels of realism in both the weapons, ships and characters. I think that this approach might stand against Hai-Furi in the long run, but I’m also interested to see what the target audience (i.e. the Japanese viewers) think.

      As far as Mashiro’s attitude goes, I present my reply to one of my friends who was complaining about bad luck:

      “To say that one is unlucky is merely an excuse, because bad luck can always be defeated by combination of experience, resourcefulness and determination.”

      Bad luck or not, someone with enough of the above virtues will find a way to turn things around and improve their situation, and whining about it won’t solve anything. Experience would generally find this to be true, which is probably why you don’t sit well with Mashiro’s remarks about bad luck. Bad luck is being killed in Battlefield 3 by a cause the game logic can’t handle. Mashiro just happens to be at a slight disadvantage, is all.

      Like

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