The Infinite Zenith

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

In a Stormy Pinch!- High School Fleet (Hai-Furi) Episode Seven Impressions and Review

“又制水真正受氣,
又制水的確係無謂,
又制水今晚點沖涼,
成晚要乾煎真撞鬼” —Sam Hui, 制水歌

The Harekaze’s internal freshwater supply is depleted, forcing the girls to conserve water. However, they soon encounter a storm and while trying to replenish their water, receive a distress signal from a civilian vessel. Trying to keep her promise to Mashiro, Akeno reluctantly agrees not to lead the rescue team and have Mashiro go in her steed. While most of the passengers are safely evacuated, a couple asks Mashiro to rescue their cat. Venturing deeper into the vessel, Mashiro finds the cat but is trapped by rising waters. She’s later rescued by a Blue Mermaid team and the cat takes a liking to her. Akeno recounts a story about why she considers everyone to be a family at sea, and Minami passes a report to the Blue Mermaids on her vaccine’s development. This week’s episode of Hai-Furi is similar to the previous episode, taking on a much slower pace compared to the earlier episodes in that there is no conflict, and instead, capitalises on this time to delve into the characters’ backgrounds and have them mature through their experiences.

Hai-Furi‘s seventh episode yields more background on Akeno: her fear of lightning stems from losing her family when a vessel she was on sank during a heavy storm, leaving her with a strong desire to protect those on the oceans. Coupled with Moeka’s words about how everyone on the seas is family, it would appear that Akeno is aiming to rediscover her sense of family through serving as a Blue Mermaid. Her actions are driven by familial and interpersonal values, such as keeping one’s word and loyalty, and as such, it’s not difficult to imagine that Akeno’s values, paired with additional discipline and reminders that families are about two-way interactions, could make her worthy of the captain’s position. Mashiro also gains more development in this week’s episode: her fear of cats is overcome by her sense of duty, and even in the face of bad luck, she pushes forwards. When her flashlight fails, it seems that Mashiro’s claims might finally hold true, but this is strictly a matter of perspective; she smashes the flashlight against the ventilation duct’s walls in frustration, alerting the Blue Mermaids to her position. Mashiro is rescued shortly after: had her flashlight not failed, this particular chain of events would not have occurred, and in turn, she would have taken longer to return to the Harekaze. After seven episodes, Hai-Furi‘s characters are finally beginning to mature and grow through their interactions with one another.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The page quote comes from Sam Hui’s 制水歌 (lit. “water regulation song”), a cover of Paul Simon’s “Mother and Child Reunion” that was used in the movie Games Gamblers Play; in his lyrics, the song states that it’s tricky to maintain good hygiene when the government is implementing rules to conserve water. The accompanying music video has Hui keeping clean with decreasing amounts of water, until he finally decides to bathe at Queen’s Pier using sea water (the location was demolished in 2008).

  • The lack of water leads Akeno to look through the ship to see if there’s any damaged components, but this turns out to be unfruitful. Thus, water conservation measures are enacted across the Harekaze: the girls even shower using sea water, although they would require a special soap; the salt crystals in sea water would stick to the skin and be remarkably uncomfortable.

  • This week’s Hai-Furi discussion comes out much earlier than it did last week because my thesis paper is almost there now. I’ve taken a bit of a break to write this post, and once this is done, I go back to take care of what’s left: updating my table of PDB structures used so the authors are included, properly label all of the figure captions, and finally, add in-text cross-references to each figure. It’s been a brutal week: since Monday, I’ve spent around six to eight hours each day working on the thesis, and it’s a monstrosity that exceeds 130 pages now.

  • Naturally, I’ll need to start trimming it before I can go and defend my research, but on the plus side, it looks like I can finish the thesis’ full first draft by Monday. Back in Hai-Furi, Mashiro is seemingly not too good with carbonated beverages, and in a bit of irony, I had a “ginger beer” non-alcoholic beverage for lunch. This was strongly carbonated, and my nose itches from it. I’m normally quite fond of carbonated soft drinks, preferring them over alcohol, but generally, I do not agree to well with sparkling water.

  • After sailing into a storm, the girls’ first inclination is to set out vessels for catching the rainwater, bringing to mind Les Stroud’s use of rain as a source of freshwater whenever he’s out at sea: during the Belize and Cook Island episodes of Survivorman, he catches rainwater for drinking: tropical rains are indeed intense enough to drop a sufficient amount of water for consumption, and it’s, for the most part, quite safe to drink.

  • In general, a shower of 10 minutes will save water relative to a bath, and anything beyond that is a waste of water. Such conditions allow Hai-Furi to include another moment of fanservice, which I’ve included into this post. I imagine that it would be quite comfortable to shower in the rain in tropical conditions under some cases, but in the prairies, showers are generally cold: doing so would almost certainly result in a cold.

  • The weather over the past few days has been overcast, grey and cool; it’s the Victoria Day Long Weekend, and this year, the forecast calls for rain. We’ve already had a few days of much-welcomed rain, and a few more days with rain will be quite beneficial for the dry conditions that have persisted in the province. For the most part, the fires in the northern regions have moved away from Fort McMurray now, and continued weather will allow the remaining hot spots to be dealt with.

  • It’s not all fun and games for the girls of the Harekaze: the storm intensifies, and everyone retreats indoors. A few lightning strikes has Akeno recoiling, including one bolt that hits a mast dead-on. It’s quite common for folks to become anxious during a thunderstorm, and I used to hate thunderstorms for their thunder: these days, I’ll be okay so as long as I’m inside, away from the spots that make me the shortest path for the potential difference to move along.

  • While it prima facie appears that Akeno is frightened of the lightning and thunder itself, she later reveals that storms bring up an unpleasant memory for her: one of the ships she was riding in began sinking during a storm, and while crews were able to rescue her, Akeno’s parents were lost. This is Hai-Furi‘s equivalent of Miho’s story with Panzerfahren: in Girls und Panzer‘s seventh episode, Miho explains why she wished to get away from Panzerfahren.

  • Below-deck, Mashiro is studying while Wilhelmina and Kouko are watching an old war film. Akeno retreats here, but the Harekaze soon gets a distress call from another vessel in the area. By this point, the storm is over, allowing the girls to focus fully on the task at hand.

  • Deciding that Akeno needs to remain with the ship, Mashiro steps up to the plate to act as the squad leader for the rescue team. It seems that Akeno is more willing to think of her duties on board the Harekaze as being more akin to that of a friend rather than a captain, and as such, acts contrary to military protocol. However, there are times where the two overlap, and Akeno sees Mashiro’s request here as a promise between friends as opposed to orders. She thus consents to stay and leaves Mashiro to lead the others.

  • Mashiro’s constant attributing her circumstances to bad luck is at best an irritation, and at worst, is a source of demoralisation for those under her command. Wilhelmina remarks that the start of a rescue operation is no time to be pessimistic, and Sun Tzu said that a leader must appear confident so the subordinates can feel at ease in carrying out their duties.

  • While the girls are equipped to carry out a rescue operation, the start is somewhat shaky since no one appears to have trained for this previously: someone remarks that they would have desired a manual to help them carry out the next step, but soon, this doubt gives way to action as the girls begin boarding the sinking vessel to rescue the survivors. Mashiro goes looking for another passenger when a couple says they’ve lost someone.

  • It turns out that this someone is a cat, and while Mashiro manages to locate said cat, the vessel is rapidly taking on water, trapping her in a shopping area. Deciding to fight her doubts and fear of cats, she crawls into a ventilation duct with the aim of making it out with the cat. However, she tears her skirt and depletes her flashlight’s power supply along the way, very nearly giving up until she hears voices topside.

  • The Harekaze’s crew do an admirable job, keeping the situation in check until the Blue Mermaids themselves arrive in a blimp. The fastest blimp recorded is the Zeppelin Luftshifftechnik LZ N07-100, which has a maximum airspeed of 112 km/h, and the fastest blimps of all time were derigibles that were constructed in the 1920s and 30s. These were claimed to reach speeds of 140 km/h in flight, so in Hai-Furi, it’s not inconceivable that particularly fast blimps, with a maximum speed of 300 km/h, could be constructed to fulfil the role of a utility helicopter.

  • With Mashiro’s safe return back on board the Harekaze, the episode draws to a close. Minami passes along her findings to a Blue Mermaid staff, and it’s possible that the top brass will eventually reveal what’s been going on in Hai-Furi. At this point in time, the precise mechanism as to how the virus and the rodents work remains unanswered in Hai-Furi. One of the more interesting suggestions I’ve heard are nanomachines; with sufficiently advanced technology, it would be possible to design and deploy nanomachines akin to those of Crysis or biological nanomachines to create the events seen in Hai-Furi.

  • It would appear that this episode could mark the turning point where Akeno and Mashiro’s respective personalities begin working together to a better extent than seen in previous episodes, with both having experienced things from the other’s perspective. While this dynamic won’t be expected to be perfect for a few more episodes, it could help bring the crew closer together and operate in a more unified fashion (which will be important if they are indeed to face the Musashi in the end).

  • Unlike Isoroku, who is a large orange cat, the cat that Mashiro saves is a small grey kitten that immediately captures Akeno’s heart. She immediately consents to Mashiro’s request to bring a second cat on board.

  • Kuro seems quite displeased that things turned out the way that they did, and while this could act as a source of conflict in the upcoming episodes, I do not imagine that Kuro will go to such lengths to sabotage the Harekaze later on. Instead, it’s more like that she will experience something that will lead her to change her mind, in keeping with Hai-Furi‘s thematic elements.

  • Akeno recalls why she considers everyone at sea to be family when Wilhelmina asks her, and the episode concludes with what appears to be the Hiei, a Kongō-class battlecruiser that might act as next week’s opponent. While we are on the topic of next week, Girls und Panzer Der Film is set to release on Friday, 27 May, and depending on how quickly my copy arrives, the Hai-Furi post might or might not be delayed so I can roll out the review for Girls und Panzer Der Film.

Given that the Musashi continues to be shown as an elusive and enigmatic opponent, the finale in Hai-Furi will likely deal with how Akeno manages to stop the Musashi from wrecking havoc on a populated area. At present, the origins for the viral agent remain the subject of speculation, although the source can boil down to it either arising from a laboratory accident outside the researcher’s control, or deliberate deployment with the intent to cripple or destroy the Blue Mermaids for their own reasons. The former easily could be written into a twelve or thirteen episode segment, representing the “safe” storytelling approach that focuses on the Harekaze’s crew and keep the antagonists to a minimum. This method works with a smaller budget without compromising the viewers’ expectations. The latter would require more time to satisfactorily develop, given that the antagonists would need to be written with a reasonably motivation for why they oppose the Blue Mermaids (economical or political, for instance). Such a route would require twenty-two to twenty-six episodes to adequately cover. At present, it’s still too early to rule out either approach; the total episode count for Hai-Furi remains a mystery. However, given the way budgets for anime work, it would be economical to produce one season and determine whether or not demand warrants a continuation. Ergo, I predict that Hai-Furi will leave the rodents as a mystery and have the Harekaze secure the Musashi by the season’s end. If Hai-Furi continues give indications that it will sell, a second season will probably deal with the factions seeking to destroy the Blue Mermaids, otherwise, the first season will write off the virus as a lab accident.

7 responses to “In a Stormy Pinch!- High School Fleet (Hai-Furi) Episode Seven Impressions and Review

  1. Jusuchin (Military Otaku) May 21, 2016 at 14:49

    Nice writeup, and much more direct and to the point than the one I’m currently hammering out. Just a lot of interesting animation in the episode, especially the lightning hitting the Harekaze and going around it.

    Also noticed the islands they were sailing. Yap is a very familiar island to me, having grown up on Saipan (1995~2001) and it always coming up in regular conversation about other islanders. And as someone who grew up in such an island, the storms are no laughing matter. It can lead from restless sleep to having your whole house torn down around you and a trip to the hospital (or morgue).

    Apart from the examples of the Fourth Fleet Incident and Typhoon Cobra, two bad storms experienced by the IJN and USN, even mere tropical depressions which the Harekaze and Shinbashi encountered are quite serious. Which makes me wonder if anyone was actually watching the surrounding weather systems. A must for any ship.

    And also, we seem to have found the little lost Kongou, Hiei.

    Like

    • infinitezenith May 21, 2016 at 15:09

      It’s a beautiful part of the world, but as Les Stroud remarks, beautiful locations can belie the difficulty of survival there.

      In the episode, the Harekaze sails straight the tropical depression it without much thought, which leads me to wonder whether or not anyone was actually monitoring the weather amidst the chaos caused by the sudden need to conserve water.

      Concerning the Hiei, I wonder what role that ship will play in coming episodes.

      Like

      • Jusuchin (Military Otaku) May 21, 2016 at 15:11

        I was a little harsher in my accusations. The need for foofy hair trumped the need to be vigilant at one’s station.

        As for Hiei, considering she was considered lost iirc, there’s next episode’s conflict?

        Like

        • infinitezenith May 21, 2016 at 15:30

          That’s why I prefer short hair: much shorter time required it keep it clean. I look forwards to reading your assessment of the episode, and also towards what the next episode entails. Of course, with Girls und Panzer Der Film finally approaching, I’ll probably prioritise writing about that first :p

          Like

          • Jusuchin (Military Otaku) May 21, 2016 at 15:39

            Yep, posted. Though right now I think a couple salmon steaks is a priority. I look forward to the GuP writeup, I’m not going to do one even though I started my episodic blogging with Girls und Panzer. Maybe a quick thought, but I aim to enjoy this one first.

            Like

  2. Plymouth Pinoy (@PlymouthPinoy) May 22, 2016 at 01:36

    Wilhelmina and Kouko were watching a Yakuza (gangster) film as indicated by the stereotypical dialogue they were quoting.

    Like

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