“Roll in strike package bravo on unknown target, I authenticate tango whisky at time 0300 zulu.” —Pentagon Officer, Transformers
The festivities of the Equator Festival wind down, and the Harekaze begin combat operations. With most of the Blue Mermaids’ forces near the Philippines, command decides to send a smaller reserve task force to deal with the Musashi. Against the Musashi’s firepower, their efforts prove insufficient. Meanwhile, Akeno loses her resolve, fearing for the lives of her crew should they join the battle. Mashiro attempts to remotivate her; though she is unsuccessful, Maron gives Mashiro an unconventional pep-talk that inspires her. Realising that everyone is in this together, they relay a message to Moeka, who’s still safe, and announce their intent to save the Musashi and its crew. Meanwhile, Principle Munetani decides to join the battle herself, with one of the command staff remarking that this was the person who disabled an entire fleet with only one ship fifteen years previously. This point is reached at last in Hai-Furi, with the Harekaze’s final showdown against the Musashi imminent; Hai-Furi‘s opening episodes proved unpredictable in nature and fun to watch, but with the revelation that the virus was in fact the result of a research accident (and the resulting thematic elements), Hai-Furi‘s become a little easier to gauge now.
While Akeno remained out of action for most of the penultimate episode, her subordinates have demonstrated a strong commitment and confidence that they will get the job done. Thus, with Akeno seemingly back in her game, expectations for the final episode will be directed towards how well the Harekaze’s crew can cooperate to take down the beast of a warship that is the Musashi. Since we’re rolling onto the finale of Hai-Furi next week, it seems appropriate to do some speculations at this point in time: based on the thematic elements that Hai-Furi have strived to convey over the past few episodes, it’s possible that the Harekaze will, unified under Akeno and Mashiro’s command, make substantial headway into securing the Musashi. If this is the case, Principle Munetani will be surprised at the Harekaze’s efficacy but nonetheless join in on the operation. Wilhelmina and the Graf Spee may also return to provide assistance. Because Hai-Furi is ultimately about camaraderie and how adventure brings people close together, it is almost surely that the Harekaze and Blue Mermaids will succeed in saving Moeka and the Musashi without major casualties — an outcome contrary would be widely seen as betraying the audience’s expectations, contradicting everything that Hai-Furi has built up thus far. I cannot imagine a pessimistic ending as being possible for this reason, and as such, entering the finale, I am anticipating a thrilling battle that brings a close to one of the more unusual anime for this season.
Screenshots and Commentary
- The page quote is taken from the 2007 movie, Transformers, and although the Hai-Furi universe lacks any HTA flight (precluding the use of Predator drones or close-air support), the atmosphere at the Blue Mermaid’s operations center feels similar enough to when the Pentagon gain a feed on Scorponok for the first time. They unsuccessfully turn a pair of A-10 Thunderbolts’ GAU-8 30mm cannons on it, and failing that, drop one-oh-five shells on Scorponok, causing it to retreat. Back in Hai-Furi, it turns out that the intel about the Musashi being near the Philippines was inaccurate, leaving them at a disadvantage.
- Thus, the Harekaze is set to participate in the operation, assisting where they can but otherwise, are instructed to prioritise their safety. Akeno’s mood throughout much of this episode is one of trepidation; the others are fired up and ready to do whatever is necessary to save the Musashi. This week’s post includes the customary twenty screenshots, but for next week’s finale, I will include thirty screenshots in the discussion, as I have done for Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka??
- Following their repairs, the Harekaze is given new 5″/54 caliber Mark 16 guns; compared to its old 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun, the new Mark 16s have an increased firing rate (15-18 RPM against the Type 3’s 5-10 RPM), as well as improved range (the Type 3 had a maximum of 18.4 km, while the Mark 16s could reach 23.691 km with a 45º elevation), and were capable of performing both against smaller surface targets as well as in an anti-aircraft role as the Harekaze’s old Type 98 batteries. New targeting equipment is also provided, as well – Mei falls in love with the new gear and is eager to put it to good use. I’m rather excited about the recent announcements surrounding NVIDIA’s Pascal microarchitecture, which is said to bring performance comparable to the top cards in the Maxwell series but with a lower energy requirement and price point.
- As of now, I’ve now submitted my thesis paper to the exam committee, and this past week, I gave a rehearsal of my presentation preceding the exam itself. The feedback I received was most useful: it seems that I just need to stick the ending slide and that will be sufficient to pave the way for the questions/discussion component of the exam. I’m set to give another rehersal presentation this week, so I’ll need to do a few more practise runs over the next few days.
- When the shells start flying, Akeno is paralysed with fear, not from the threat of the Musashi itself, but rather, from the worry that her crew might be injured or killed during the operation. Mashiro herself is also rendered unable to direct the bridge out of concern for Akeno: they step off the bridge and transfer command over to Kouko, who decides to continue with pushing the Harekaze through evasive maneuvers.
- An unspecified source reads that around fifteen anti-ship missiles would be necessary to render mission ineffectual a WWII-era battleship such as the USS Iowa: this number certainly would not be enough to sink such a ship. Against the likes of these battleships, modern naval tactics would likely make extensive use of over-the-horizon missiles to disable the main batteries, and sustained airstrikes if the intent was to sink them.
- Though still quite prone to tears under duress, Rin’s become a capable helmsman now who precisely guides the Harekaze along the stipulated headings that she’s ordered to move towards. The situation looks critical, but shortly after, a small detachment of Blue Mermaids forces arrive on scene, executing a well-coordinated strike in an effort to disable the Musashi.
- Although they are successful in disabling some of the secondary weapons, the sheer bulk of the Musashi, coupled with the rodents’ ECM properties, throws off their torpedoes. I recall a rather ill-explained Tweet claiming that no aerodynamics research stopped in the absence of air travel, but the Hai-Furi universe nonetheless possesses advanced hulls for modern naval vessels and sophisticated rocketry powering the ASROC systems. Barring official documentation, it’s more likely that aerodynamics research exists in this universe, but not for air flight.
- The crew on board the Harekaze marvel at the precision that the Blue Mermaids exhibit while engaging the Musashi, whether it be their movements or firing patterns. By this point in time, Hai-Furi has demonstrated itself to be rather more solid (from a storytelling perspective) compared to 2015’s Kantai Collection: the one aspect of Kantai Collection that is easily superior to that of Hai-Furi is the soundtrack.
- This impression comes strictly from just listening to the music from within Hai-Furi, and with the soundtrack’s first volume coming out in four days, I’ll soon have a better idea of whether or not Hai-Furi‘s musical accompaniment is appropriate, or if a stronger orchestral component would have been beneficial towards the anime.
- Moeka and the Musashi ultimately serves as a MacGuffin, a narrative device that motivates the protagonists but otherwise has limited explanation. With some (begrudgingly bestowed) credit to some vocal individuals griping repeatedly about Moeka’s lack of development and seemingly exaggerated importance, it is quite clear that Moeka is a MacGuffin that impacts Akeno to some extent. However, the use of a MacGuffin here ultimately is inconsequential: Hai-Furi is about the Harekaze, not the Musashi.
- In a flashback, it turns out that much of the Musashi’s crew became infected with the virus, leaving Moeka and a few others to survive on the bridge. Her actions throughout the crisis suggests that she’s a capable captain, and consequently, any time spent building her character would have taken away from the time otherwise spent focusing on the Harekaze’s crew. Hence, I do not mind Moeka’s nonexistent development as a character; I consider complaints about thus a waste of time and bandwidth.
- The Blue Mermaids deploy their airships to obstruct the Musashi’s line of sight, but these are shot down by the anti-air defenses. The Musashi’s anti-air weapons included thirty-five 25 mm Type 96 guns mounted in triplets, twenty-five single Type 96 guns and two 13.2 mm Type 93 machine guns. Although missiles are now the preferred anti-air measures for most naval vessels, CIWS systems are the modern incarnation: these multi-barrel weapons have a much higher firing rate than their WWII incarnations and fulfill a similar role in providing some measure of defense against missiles and enemy aircraft.
- Below-deck, Akeno discloses her fears to Mashiro: gone are the days when the latter would berate Akeno for her way of thinking, and she tries to reassure Akeno to limited avail. Manifestation of these behaviours is reminiscent of the negative potentials of Valkyria Chronicles and would ordinarily prove debilitating towards morale on a ship: if a captain cannot grit their teeth and fight, the sailors under them will also falter.
- With their ordinance depleting, the Blue Mermaids sustain losses to their forces: three of the four vessels are mission-killed and unable to continue. With reinforcements still a fair distance away, and the Harekaze ineffectual for the moment, the Blue Mermaids have their hands tied. I suddenly find myself drawing comparisons between Hai-Furi and the 2012 film Battleship. Both films push a nostalgia for the might of battleships: in Battleship, the USS Missouri plays a pivotal role in damaging the alien vessels when the USS John Paul Jones is destroyed.
- Battleship favours bombastic escapism over narrative strength, although for the time being, I will wait until the finale before making the call as to whether or not Hai-Furi does the same. Back in Hai-Furi, a well-timed pep-talk from Maron, and the courtesy of translations from Kuro, is sufficient to bring Mashiro back to her feet. The gist is that the fundamental differences in character between herself and Akeno allows the two to complement one another, allowing the two to do things in parallel that would otherwise be quite difficult for each to achieve independently.
- Thus, even in light of clear and present danger, Hai-Furi continues to push light-hearted moments into the flow of events to remind viewers that, while this is an anime with serious moments and plenty of military hardware. Today’s post comes around five hours later than it normally would: it’s Father’s Day this weekend, and I was out with the family for most of this afternoon. The day ended with a prime rib buffet dinner at the Elbow River Casino, which was excellent. There was a good combination of Western-style and Asian-style offerings, including grilled chicken, Southwestern-style ribs, succulent prime rib, potatoes, sweet-and-sour pork, fried rice, fried noodle, spring rolls, fried Caribbean basa, snow crab and various vegetables. For desert, I had cheesecake, a brownie and some fruits.
- Armed with renewed motivation, Mashiro succeeds in bringing Akeno back to her feet. With her crew behind her and finally ready to take care of business, Akeno receives a message from the Musashi: Moeka is safe and she clarifies that her ship’s in a right state. Upon receiving this message, Akeno’s resolve strengthens: she orders the Harekaze to rescue the Musashi’s crew.
- The main reason why I’ve remained more forgiving about Hai-Furi than some is because I’m not looking for subtle technical details or inconsistencies in the plot: my eye is trained on the overall theme, the “big picture”, as it were. This is not to say that other methods are wrong and I’m right, but rather, to show this is how I do things. So, I’m not terribly worried about what causes Akeno to suddenly suffer a nervous breakdown or the fact that the two-man system on the Musashi appears to have been somehow negated. What matters to me is whether or not Akeno and Mashiro’s complementing personalities and approaches are sufficient to get the job done, or at minimum, paint a compelling picture to show the two have matured in one another’s presence.
- That’s pretty much it for this post; next week, I will return to write about the finale, or at least, do my best to do so. My thesis defense has been set on the 28th of June, so depending on how I feel, I may write about the finale after I finish defending. With that being said, I’ll spend much of the upcoming week preparing, so I should be okay for most questions and discussions: this is not like the MCAT, my supervisor reminds me, in that the topic gives me home ice advantage. So, I’ll prepare the best I can and defend the best I can.
I will reserve my final thoughts for next week’s finale review: news has reached my ears that ever since the origins for the virus was revealed, interest in this series has dropped. This is not particularly surprising, given that it entrenched the idea that Hai-Furi would scale the story back away from any international conspiracies or political instability in favour of a safer, more familiar narrative dealing with friendship, teamwork and trust. Had Hai-Furi opted to go bigger with a Tom Clancy-esque story, it would have become remembered for treading into new territories for the military-moé genre, differentiating itself easily from Girls und Panzer and Kantai Collection. However, even in its current form, Hai-Furi remains a rather curious anime that is quite entertaining. Heading into the finale, it’ll be interesting to see what happens post-rescue for the Musashi, and I look forwards to seeing, once the denouement has passed, what Hai-Furi‘s place amongst the likes of Girls und Panzer and other military-moé anime will be.