“Don’t be dismayed by good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.” —Richard Bach
Akeno agrees to take on an assignment and investigate the Admirality Islands, learning that they will be going up against the Admiral Graf Spee once again. Wilhelmina proposes a strategy where they assault a weak point on the Graf Spee, but when they encounter the vessel, the Harekaze sustains damage after their initial plans fail. Switching their approach, Akeno leads a boarding party while Mashiro is tasked with distracting the Graf Spee. Once on board, Akeno’s forces neutralise and inoculate the crew. Wilhelmina finds her captain and succeeds in administering the antibody. The Graf Spee’s guns fall silent, and the girls later celebrate, with Kouko and Wilhelmina exchanging a tearful farewell before parting ways. Hai-Furi delivers another thrilling episode this week, which doubles to highlight a crew emboldened by its successes under Akeno and Mashiro’s leadership now. Similarly, the trust between Mashiro and Akeno appear to have strengthened: Mashiro accepts Akeno’s decision to lead the boarding party, and although she’s nervous about the task facing her, manages to keep the Harekaze safe while allowing Akeno’s group to board.
With the ninth episode past, Wilhelmina disembarks the Harekaze and returns to the Admiral Graf Spee. A welcome addition to the cast, Wilhelmina plays a role in helping Akeno and the others out of their various pinches. Of all the characters, she bonded most quickly with Kouko over their shared interest in old films: the two often used dialogue from these films to motivate one another, bolstering their morale and helping them retain a cool head in the face of danger. Thus, when the two are to go their separate ways, Kouko grows disheartened, wishing it were not so. Mashiro remarks on just how important their friendship was, in helping Wilhelmina acclimatise with life on board the Harekaze and allowing Wilhelmina to understand the others. In return, Wilhelmina offers her expertise for the Harekaze. Now that Wilhelmina has returned to the Graf Spee, Hai-Furi itself will feel a little quieter in tone, and without her experience, Akeno and the others must now count on all of their own experiences and know-how in order to finish their fight.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Today is Saturday, which means that it’s time for another episode of Hai-Furi, an anime that’s manage to surprise and entertain at every turn thus far for me. After successfully dealing with the Hiei and saving its crew, spirits on board the Harekaze are high as the girls move to the Admiralty Islands, where they will aim to track down yet another ship. The mood becomes more grim after Wilhelmina learns that this vessel is none other than the Admiral Graf Spee.
- Ready to take on whatever is next, the girls ready themselves for boarding the Graf Spee and inoculating its crew to cure them of the virus. This episode has some of the different crew members showcasing their different skills during the boarding itself, but the first question on everyone’s mind is how they will close the distance. During this age, boarding is typically carried out by police forces on vessels where resistance is not expected to be heavy.
Thus, the girls must work out a plan to ensure that they can get close enough to the Graf Spee in order to board it: the original plan involved making use of torpedoes with the aim of forcing the Graf Spee to expose its broadside, allowing the Harekaze to hit a thermal exhaust port steam pipe. Damaging this would immobilise the vessel, allowing the boarding parties to execute their mission. I’ve taken an extensive look through documentation, and while it is true that the Graf Spee has steam pipes exposed, there’s no record that these were the vessel’s singular Achilles Heel.
- While this seems straightforwards, the Graf Spee has superior armaments that can one-shot the Harekaze. Thus, it becomes important for the girls to knock out the Graf Spee as quickly as possible. It’s a high-stakes mission, and Wilhelmina asks everyone if it’s okay for them to put themselves in harm’s way to carry this out. Led by Kouko, the Harekaze’s crew agree to help her out.
- In practise, the Graf Spee continues its course rather than evading the torpedoes. The soundtrack in Hai-Furi is an interesting one: some of the pieces feel more suitable for sports anime or beach episodes for anime. Overall, for all of its flaws, Kantai Collection easily has the superior soundtrack compared to Hai-Furi, although this is not to say that the latter has a poor soundtrack.
- With the volume of fire from the Graf Spee increasing, their initial plan is unsuccessful, forcing Akeno to improvise. Because she and Mashiro have largely grown accustomed to one another’s approaches, the two work out a solution: Akeno will lead the boarding party, and Mashiro assumes temporary command with Akeno’s authorisation, to distract the Graf Spee. This one moment goes to show how far the two have come in understanding the other.
- Speeding off towards the Graf Spee, Akeno aims to close the distance and allow her passengers to board. Ordinarily, RHIBs are used for such actions: they’re reasonably fast and can carry a large complement. In the Hai-Furi universe, these skippers (hydrofoil-like boats) fulfill a similar role: presumably faster than any RHIB, one cannot deny that the skippers are not useful.
- In command of the Harekaze, Mashiro’s initial goal of distracting the Graf Spee succeeds, and they come under fire. With every intent of keeping her crew and the ship safe, Mashiro orders the Harekaze to retreat out of the Graf Spee’s gun range after they sustain damage to the ship. To her relief, there are no casualities, as the Harekaze’s built-in safety measures appear to have kicked in to prevent any serious injuries from occurring.
- Machiko uses a grapple to quickly reach the Graf Spee’s deck. Armed with a pair of water pistols and the will to complete the mission, she engages the infected crew in close-quarters combat before knocking them out with a well-placed shot from her water gun. The water guns are presumably modified to automatically pressurise the water such that each shot can deal some serious impact.
- Once the infected crew are knocked out, Minami administers the agent to each of the crew members. I would imagine that Minami would have worked out that the Totalitarian Virus is probably not an airborne pathogen like influenza quite far in advance, otherwise, in the absence of data, it would be quite unwise to board a ship having infected occupants without at least some form of biohazard protection.
- Similarly, when Wilhelmina and the others enter the ship’s interior, they do not appear to use any proper clearing techniques, which would have made it particularly risky if infected crew encountered them. While the girls are stated to have a bit of background and training prior to entering high school, I imagine that boarding and clearing are not part of the curriculum prior to the high school level.
- At close quarters, melee weapons reign supreme: three more infected crew are knocked out and can be inoculated. From a technical perspective, Minami refers to her agent as an antibody that presumably targets the viral antigens. By definition, these injections cannot be considered a vaccine, since a vaccination involves administering an antigen, a foreign particle that can trigger an immune response in the body, to build up immunity and prompt the body to develop its own antibodies.
- Normally secreted by B cells, one thing I wonder about Minami’s antibody is how long it lasts. I imagine that the antibodies she produces binds to the viral antigens, allowing the immune system to eliminate it from the host body, but since these are artificial, the question is whether or not the memory B cells can recognise the viral antigens and stage a faster response should they be encountered again. Here, Minami performs the injection on a crew’s lower backside. Injections can be administered in the Gluteus medius, although this is normally reserved for children; the presence of fatty tissue, nerves and blood vessels in this area can slow down the medication uptake. In adults, arm or thigh injections are the most common.
- Captain Thea Kreutzer is infected: Wilhelmina hugs her to hold her still, allowing Minami to inject her with the antibody, as well. One complaint that’s reached my ears is that the application of a virus: “…robs the enemies of protagonism…so developing any emotional attachment to them is impossible”. This comment’s originator appears to have missed the point of Hai-Furi completely: anime where the antagonists are hidden or obscured serve focus the narrative around the protagonists. In Hai-Furi, the main goal of the story is to focus on how the Harekaze’s trials and tribulations drive the crew closer together, thus showing that Akeno’s remark about how everyone is family at sea holds true.
- I would imagine that individuals who look a firmly established antagonist would not be suited for watching shows such as Hai-Furi or Strike Witches: the latter is another example of how antagonists are abstracted out to keep the focus on the Witches themselves. Back in Hai-Furi, as the evening sets in, Akeno and Thea meet properly for the first time and partake in a large celebration after the crew is treated for their infection.
- Granted, there are individuals who will take it upon themselves to perform analysis of anime such as Hai-Furi for the sole aim of finding flaws in the technical details or execution. I’m not sure what motivates this, since taking a hard-line stance against entertainment usually does not result in the entertainment being changed to fit a small group of individuals’ interests. In the case of Hai-Furi, the setup now appears to be firmly setting up for a series where the character’s overall growth matter more than technical details.
- With the party well under way, Isoroku pounces on the remaining sausages before Mashiro can eat it, leading her to wilt in disappointment. While visibly so, Mashiro makes no remark about bad luck here on screen, and if this is true in-universe, it’s yet another subtle sign that she’s changed quite a bit since the first episode.
- Wilhelmina ultimately fulfils her promise to Thea, having kept the latter’s hat safe after all this time. Moved by Wilhelmina’s being faithful to her word, she begins crying but promptly changes the topic by remarking that the Harekaze is in terrible shape. She asks if they would like to accompany the Graf Spee for repairs, but Akeno declines, as they have arranged to meet with the Akashi previously.
- Saddened that she will no longer spend time with Wilhelmina, Kouko retreats to her room, but in the final moments before the ships go their separate ways, she rushes onto the deck and tearfully bids Wilhelmina farewell. The page quote was shaped by this moment, and I wonder if the Graf Spee will join in with the Hiei and other instructor vessels during the final fight to secure the Musashi. If this is the case, they’ll likely show up mid-battle.
- Mashiro tells Kouko that her friendship with Wilhelmina is invaluable. Unlike last week, this week’s Hai-Furi post comes out on time, without any delays. This was partially helped by the fact that things are a little less busy than the were previously. I had delivered my graduate department seminar yesterday, which went reasonably well, and today, I’m polishing up my thesis for the first submission to the defense committee.
The ninth episode of Hai-Furi provides a chance to see how the Harekaze’s crew executes a naval boarding: after Machiko lands on the deck, she neutralises the Graf Spee’s infected crew left and right with a pair of water pistols. The boarding party make their way to the deck and succeed in saving the crew without any casualties. With the knowledge that the virus is now containable, Hai-Furi is stepping into its final episodes. While the anime started out by defying expectations and occasionally executed some of its plot in a shaky manner, later episodes show Hai-Furi as having found consistency in its pacing. Overall, Hai-Furi has managed to keep the tempo and suspense up throughout its run, and at present, with the Harekaze’s crew coming a fair ways from when they first started out, I imagine that the final confrontation with the Musashi will be a thrilling one to watch, as Akeno does everything in her power to save the vessel and Moeka.