“To capture the enemy’s entire army is better than to destroy it; to take intact a regiment, a company, or a squad is better than to destroy them. For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the supreme of excellence. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence.” —Sun Tzu
On orders to track the Hiei’s motions after encountering it, Akeno is informed that the Blue Mermaids will be on course to intercept the Hiei within four hours. However, the girls determine that the Hiei is moving towards a residential block, and fear that the virus will propagate if the Hiei reaches this area. They resolve to stop the Hiei and, after gaining authorisation to utilise a risky manoeuvre, successfully run the Hiei aground. Armed with the vaccine, the Hiei’s crew are saved, and the Blue Mermaids, led by Mashiro’s older sister, show up to find the situation well in hand. Meanwhile, the origins of the virus are explored: the result of a genetic experiment intending to improve survival in submersibles, but ended up producing a virulent hive-virus. The vessel where the research was conducted was lost, but volcanic activity pushed it back to the surface, and research teams were deployed in secret to recover the intel, but became infected in the process. While the viral mechanism is quite fantastical and implausible by any known mechanisms, especially in regard to its ability to interfering with the action potentials strongly enough to affect electrical circuits, that Hai-Furi provides their in-universe explanation is satisfactory in accounting for why the events of the previous episodes occurred. Moreover, now dubbed the “Totalitarian Disease”, this virus is most similar to the hive viruses seen in the Star Wars extended universe: seen in Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy, a hive virus of unknown origin and mechanism caused the crew of the Katana fleet to go mad. They slaved their ships together and executed a random hyperspace jump, resulting in the fleet’s loss until 55 years after, when Thrawn manages to locate the lost fleet. So, this chapter of the mystery in Hai-Furi is now over, and the signs point to a final showdown with the Musashi.
Beyond providing an explanation for the virus, the eighth episode of Hai-Furi also illustrates the changes seen in Akeno, Mashiro and the other crew. The Harekaze’s crew seem to be more cohesive now: Akeno is willing to obtain feedback from her subordinates before executing her manoeuvres, and is further comfortable with leading her crew from the bridge (as is expected of a captain). Similarly, Mashiro is comfortable with Akeno’s proposed course of action, and together, their unity rallies the remainder of the crew: in the previous episode review, I predicted that only Kuro would take exception to Akeno’s leadership and beyond that, would not take further action. This is indeed the case, so looking forwards, it seems that for the most part, the Harekaze’s crew have accepted Akeno as their captain and moreover, the dynamics between Akeno and Mashiro have stablised sufficiently for the two to complement one another in leading their fellow students. That the Harekaze succeeds in neutralising the Hiei with no casualties is a sign of this new-found synergy, and with Hai-Furi gearing up for what appears to be an inevitable showdown with the Musashi, the unity amongst the Harekaze’s crew will be an essential asset in helping them secure the Musashi to rescue its crew.
Screenshots and Commentary
- This is probably the latest that I’ve gotten an episodic review post out, and given the way my schedule is looking over the next period, it is more than possible that the posting patterns for Hai-Furi‘s final quarter could be all over the place. However, I will aim to get the posts out on time as best I can; if I allow posts to accumulate, it will only increase the difficulty in completing them.
- The bridge crew initially mis-identify the Hiei as the Musashi, but soon make the necessary corrections. It does feel a little strange to be stepping back into Hai-Furi after pushing out a full review for Girls und Panzer der Film, and I must admit that there is a certain charm about Girls und Panzer that is quite difficult to find anywhere else.
- This episode, things gear up as the plot delves more into the nature of the virus. On the bridge, Mashiro notices the kitten she’s rescued and promptly takes him to a proper spot for doing its business. The new kitten and Isoroku’s use of pipes as passageways in the ship later inspire Akeno to devise a new strategy against an opponent with superior firepower.
- The Harekaze takes evasive action once the Hiei begins firing. A Kongō-class battleship, the Hiei had four turrets, each mounting a pair of 14-inch cannons as its primary armament. Though more lightly armed compared to the Musashi, its loadout nonetheless presents a threat to the Harekaze.
- It seems that the virus returned to humanity’s attention when volcanic activity pushed a derelict submarine back to the surface, where it had been previously submerged and considered too difficult to salvage. That Hai-Furi answers the question here simplifies much of the mysteries behind the series; knowing where the virus originated is sufficient to answer additional questions about Hai-Furi, such as what themes are likely to be prevalent in the anime or even how many episodes there will be.
- Conversation with friends who are in medical school and virology corroborate my own background readings: the virus in Hai-Furi does not behave as any realistic virus would. The inactivation by salt water and premise that its electrostatic properties can interfere with organic and inorganic circuits are implausible (for one, the potential differences would be enough to fry nerve tissue if they could generate a magnetic field strong enough to disrupt electronic devices).
- With that being said, science fiction has had some fanciful viruses, such as the hive virus from Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy. I suddenly realise that today is the first day of June, which means summer is fast approaching. Ordinarily, I’ll do a season preview, but I’m going to stop doing so from here on out: my watching tendencies can’t really be predicted ahead of time, so I’ll stick to the simple practise of watching and writing about whatever is interesting for me. For the summer season, only Amanchu! and Planetarian catches my eye thus far, which will present me with a chance to finally catch up on the ten or shows that I’ve accumulated in my backlog.
- After Akeno dawns her captain’s hat, it’s go time: the page quote is yet another excellent remark from Sun Tzu. Even in video games, I find that capturing an opponent without harming them is much more difficult (and therefore requires much more skill) to execute because one has to consider additional factors to ensure they succeed, whereas a kill operation is much simpler.
- This episode answers the question of the virus’ origins: coming from what appears to be a purely scientific experiment, this revelation shows that speculation about an unknown faction with the aim of interfering with or destroying the Blue Mermaids will be set aside for the present. This would have yielded a more suspenseful story, but also would have required more episodes to adequately cover.
- It turns out that Minami is an prodigy: an expert in virology and immunology, she skipped ahead in her education and returns to complete her training. Her situation is similar to how Alice Shimada of Girls und Panzer Der Film entered university at a young age on account of her prowess in Panzerfahren, although in Hai-Furi, Minami is firmly in the protagonist’s corner to begin with.
- After Akeno lays out the Harekaze’s game plan, she asks for her crew’s opinions on the operation. A handful of the girls are enthusiastic and supportive, rallying some of the others to place their faith in Akeno’s plans. The galley crew’s reactions were quite amusing: they’re not directly involved in the operation and can only continue cooking.
- Kuro’s the only person to doubt Akeno; as per predictions outlined in my previous post, when Mashiro herself states the operation is reasonable, she reluctantly allows Akeno’s plans to proceed without any resistance. I’m curious to see how she and Akeno will warm up to one another in later episodes.
- While the Harekaze does have weapons capable of disabling the Hiei, Akeno plans to use the weapons to control the space and force the Hiei into a particular course. Akeno aims to run the Hiei aground without compromising its hull, allowing her crew to board and vaccinate the students on board.
- With the support of more or less the entire crew, the Harekaze begins on its risky operation. It was most welcoming to see that a large number of the Harekaze’s crew now trusts Akeno more than they had previously. Even the engine crew are more understanding of Akeno’s actions; they previously did not appreciate Akeno’s orders placing a high degree of strain on the Harekaze’s engines.
- Thus, amidst the narrower islands, the Harekaze evades fire from the Hiei, all the while returning fire in order to push the Hiei down a certain path. Their initial attempts are not successful, and Akeno decides to order the Harekaze for another pass: they succeed owing to changes in the tide bringing the bottom of the Hiei closer to the submerged rocks. Rin’s performance as the Harekaze’s helmsman has improved since Hai-Furi started: although she’s still prone to tearing up in fear during battles, she nonetheless does her best to follow Akeno’s orders.
- Kouko and Wilhemina have definitely struck up a friendship by this point in time, as evidence by their shared interests in movies. Off-site, I’m reading numerous opinions about how Hai-Furi‘s atmosphere seems inconsistent during this engagement. The earlier episodes ostensibly had a tenser feel to them during combat, especially considering that the Admiral Graf Spee was already a formidable opponent for the Harekaze, so some feel that the lighter tone during this engagement felt out of place.
- From my perspective, this difference is probably to convey a sense of purpose to the audiences: the earlier battles were tense because the Harekaze’s crew, Akeno included, were still new at operating their vessel and were not familiar with one another. Against the Hiei, everyone is unified and places their trust more readily in Akeno (doubly so when Mashiro consents). So, their teamwork is probably meant to be reassuring to the viewer, hence the shift in atmosphere.
With this operation successful, Akeno and the others have a brief moment to themselves before Mafuyu, one of Mashiro’s older sisters, appears. It was quite pleasing to see Akeno and the others complete their objective before the Blue Mermaids themselves arrived.
- Boisterous and energetic, Mafuyu puts Mashiro in a headlock and prepares to impart some “energy” upon Akeno. At this point, only four or five episodes are left in Hai-Furi (unless there are forces at work in the deep places of the world that make it otherwise): the remainder of the anime could give two more episodes for character development (one of these could be how Kuro reconciles with Akeno), and the remaining two will be the long-foreseen showdown against the Musashi.
- Readers will have to readjust to the fact that Hai-Furi posts are conventional posts, so unlike the two previous Girls und Panzer posts, there are no 1080p options available for the screenshots. This post has reached its end, and I take on a new-found appreciation for the shorter format; these can be finished in one sitting and don’t take more than two hours. Thus, this post is now done ahead of the next Hai-Furi episode’s airing, which means that I won’t need to do a double feature or similar (that would be exhausting), and thus, it’s time to go practise for that presentation.
Hai-Furi appears to be doing a reasonable job of bringing all of the different pieces together to link all of the chaotic and seemingly-disjoint elements seen in previous episodes to form a cohesive plot. After eight episodes, this is slowly becoming apparent, as the virus’ origins are explained, and the Harekaze’s crew begins to unify. With the explanation provided in this episode, Hai-Furi is indeed going to execute the safer narrative: the virus’ origins do not result from a malevolent faction, but rather, a scientific experiment gone awry. Going from what was discussed in the seventh episode post, we can conclude that, even if sources are still unable to provide an episode count for Hai-Furi, it’s likely that this anime will probably conclude with the Spring 2016 season, with themes of friendship, cooperation and acceptance at its core. Considering these themes, I think that I will continue viewing this anime from a very high level, concerning myself less with technical details and more with how the characters each mature as they spend time with one another to operate the Harekaze.