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Tag Archives: The Hunt For Red October

MythBusters meets High School Fleet: Addressing Claims Surrounding Hai-Furi and Akeno’s Pinches on the High Seas

“You must never feel badly about making mistakes…as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons, than you do by being right for the wrong reasons.” –Norton Juster

In the aftermath of Hai-Furi: The Movie, I felt the inclination to revisit 2016’s Hai-Furi, which first began airing in April that year. Back then, it took many viewers completely by surprise: all indicators had suggested that this was going to be an easy-going series around discoveries made while training to become Blue Mermaids, a venerable organisation whose duty is to patrol the oceans and provide assistance and defense where appropriate. On her first day of class, Captain Akeno Misaki leads her destroyer, the Harekaze, into training, only to come under fire from her own instructor. In the aftermath, the Harekaze becomes wanted for alleged mutiny. In the ensuing chaos, Misaki and her crew get to know one another better as they work to clear their names, eventually unearthing a mystery behind their pinches. As the series continued running, viewers created their own speculations and theories regarding what was occurring. While generally interesting to read, some of these theories became increasingly ingrained as fact even as Akeno’s adventures began proving them to be untrue. Hai-Furi is the sort of anime that really requires an open mind to appreciate, and there are some claims that absolutely must be ascertained before one can start this series. In this post, I will be covering four myths surrounding Hai-Furi, which came about during and shortly after the first few episodes aired. When accepted as true, these myths significantly degrade one’s experience of the series, where the extraordinary events ultimately form the backdrop for a simple and straightforward theme: that bad luck is often-times only an excuse, and that the outcome of a given action is more likely to be successful when everyone is working as a team where the individuals trust one another to perform their role in a satisfactory manner. As Mashiro Munetani learns, luck has very little to do with things, and even what appears to be a setback, or the bad luck she is quick to cite, can become an asset with enough creativity and forward thinking.

The inert torpedo from the Harekaze sank the Sarushima

In the first episode, after the Harekaze arrives late at the rendezvous point with the Sarushima to begin their first class, Akeno and the others find themselves under fire from their instructor. The girls initially assume that this is a reprimand for being late and attempt to signal the Sarushima, but when nothing is effective, Akeno orders a training torpedo to be launched: realising that they’ll be pummeled to death if they continue to evade, Akeno chooses a course of action that sets in motion the events for the remainder of Hai-Furi. The crew thus put their training to use, firing a single inert torpedo that impacts the Sarushima and buys the girls enough time to escape. In the aftermath, the Sarushima appears to have suffered from noticeable hull damage, listing to the port and leaking oil. However, claims from Myssa Rei suggest that the Harekaze outright sank the Sarushima:

Wrong, in fact this is one of the things that the people at /a/ immediately contest — an armed 93cm Long Lance would have blown the Sarushima in half, as LSCs literally have no armor (or modern missile destroyers for that matter). They simply weren’t built to defend against an attack like that, because torpedoes no longer figure in modern (Cold War and onward) ship to ship combat. The Kagerou class could only launch one type of torpedo, as the Type 92 launcher was only made for the Long Lance in mind.

In every source I’ve looked and read, the Type 92 launcher, which is rendered EXACTLY how we saw, was only designed for the Type 93 1933 61 cm Torpedo, aka the Long Lance. IJN destroyers carried nothing else, and the torpedos that came later — the Type 95 and Type 97 — were made to be launched from subs, and would be too small to be launched safely from the Type 92. We’re talking a big difference here, as the type 95 and 97 were 53 cms. They wouldn’t fit snugly into a Type 92.

Now the fact that an UNARMED Long Lance would have sunk the Sarushima though? That’s where conspiracy theory and wild mass guessing steps in. According to the usual military enthusiasts, a PRIMED 93 cm Long Lance would have blown the Independence-class to smithereens, yet an UNPRIMED dud wouldn’t have made it list so much as in this episode… which could point that it was all a set-up.

  • Myssa Rei’s reasoning was that, since these mounts were designed for the Type 93, it stood to reason that the Type 93 was the only torpedo the Harekaze could have carried. However, discussions immediately deviated from the topic – while Hai-Furi had established Akeno specifically ordered a dummy torpedo loaded and fired, things immediately turned over to the question of how much damage a live Type 93 would do to the Sarushima, which is an irrelevant question with regard to what had been happening at the time.

  • The reality is that the Harekaze was equipped with Type 93 torpedoes with an inert warhead for training: Myssa Rei’s implications, in omitting mention of Akeno’s order, here would be analogous to suggesting that a rack for launching the AGM-114 Hellfire would only be compatible with live variants, but is otherwise unable to accept missiles outfitted with the M36 training device in place of its usual warhead. This is evidently not true: launchers are agnostic to the type of warhead the torpedo or missile is loaded with, as long as the missile casing is the right size and type, it will fit into the launch mechanism.

  • Thus, the torpedo mounts on the Harekaze would’ve accommodated both training and live torpedoes without any issue. There was never any doubt that the Harekaze had a stock of training torpedoes to use for exercises. The bigger question that this myth created was, how could a training torpedo have sunk the Sarushima? The answer itself is actually simple enough, and looking back, I now wish that I did take the time to step into the discussions and make my presence more visible: I imagine that by debunking Myssa Rei’s claims, discussions would not have gone in a cyclic, unproductive manner as it did.

  • The reason I did not actively correct or counter-argue with Myssa Rei had been because at the time, I had just been gearing up for my graduate thesis defense, and had simultaneously begun to do episodic reviews of Hai-Furi. Together, this was a very busy time: I was juggling the final draft of my thesis paper, the defense presentation itself and keeping abreast of all of the different speculation and theories that had surrounded Hai-Furi to ensure that my own posts adequately answered questions that might’ve been raised. Arguing with Myssa Rei did not seem the best use of my time, so I did not act, and in retrospect, the decision was both wise and foolish: by focusing on my work, I was able to pass my thesis defense with flying colours, but on the flipside, I allowed myths about Hai-Furi to endure.

  • Once the training torpedo hits the Sarushima, it leaves a sizeable dent in the hull. The ship begins listing to port, and evidently, the fuel tanks must’ve also sustained damage. However, even though the Harekaze’s crew imagine that they were in trouble for sinking an instructor’s vessel, no such thing has occurred. It typifies forum and image-board discussions to immediately jump to conclusions in a hive-mind like manner, and it was this mode of thinking where many of the misconceptions and errors about Hai-Furi came from.

Firstly, the Type 93 “Long Lance” was a 610 mm (24 inch) torpedo, not a 930 mm torpedo (probably a typo on Myssa Rei’s part). Being one of the most sophisticated Japanese torpedoes of WWII, the Type 93 utilised compressed oxygen as the oxidiser, greatly increasing the torpedo’s range and speed. Together with the 490 kilogram warhead, the Type 93 allowed small destroyers like the Kagerō-class to equip weapons capable of dealing damage to battleships at a range of 40 kilometres at a speed of 70 km/h. To put things in perspective, the best Allied torpedoes were the 530 mm Mark 15, which carried a 375 kilogram warhead out to a maximum range of 14 kilometres at 49.1 km/h (although the Mark 15 could reach a maximum speed of 83 km/h at a cost to its range). There were risks associated with these torpedoes, but in practise, the Imperial Japanese Navy recorded successes with the Type 93: for instance, four Type 93 torpedoes were used in sinking the USS Hornet at the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in 1942. As it stands, modern warships are much more lightly armoured than their predecessors, instead, depending on electronic countermeasures to evade enemies over heavy armour. The Sarushima is modelled after the Independence-class littoral defense ships, which use an aluminium alloy hull and only possesses light armour, counting on its speed and ECM to evade enemy fire. Intended for shore patrol, intercepting smaller ships and anti-submarine warfare, the Independence-class represents a completely different use-case, and it is the case that a single live Type 93 could have rendered the Sarushima inoperable, overwhelming multiple bulkheads and creating a catastrophic situation where water would’ve filled enough compartments to eventually sink the ship, had the torpedo hit the wrong spot.

However, in Hai-Furi, the Sarushima only suffers from moderate hull damage; the very dialogue has made it clear that a training torpedo with an inert warhead was used. As for the amount of damage the training torpedo did to the Sarushima, we recall that the Type 93 torpedo had a mass of 2.7 metric tonnes: capable of reaching speeds of up to 96 km/h, at the close quarters that the Harekaze fired it in, even if no warhead was equipped, a glance at the relationship between velocity and mass finds that the amount of kinetic energy imparted by a direct hit is non-trivial. The light armour on an Independence-class would at least buckle a little from the impact, especially if the torpedo had struck whilst moving at high speeds, and given Akeno’s unusual luck, it is not out of the realm of possibility that she could’ve hit somewhere critical, breaching the hull and allowing water to seep in, creating the list seen in the anime. However, modern naval vessels possess watertight compartments so that, if one compartment is breached, it is immediately sealed off, preventing water from entering other areas. When the Sarushima was hit, systems on board would’ve prevented the hull breach from causing the ship to sink. Owing to their engineering, naval ships are very difficult to sink outright; for example, during a 2016 RIMPAC SINKEX exercise, a Perry-class frigate was used in a live fire exercise. With no crew on board, and all of the watertight compartments sealed, other vessels hammered this abandoned Perry-class. Without a damage control crew, the vessel still took a day to sink. Moreover, the Independence-class has a Trimaran hull, so the port impact would not have affected the starboard hull. Hence, it is clear that a live Type 93 is not guaranteed to have immediately sunk the Sarushima (even if it does mission-kill the ship), and moreover, an inert training warhead certainly did not sink the Sarushima. It is important to reiterate that at this point, the Sarushima was damaged, but not sunk: the vessel was later towed to port for repairs, while instructor Furushou was transferred to a different vessel.

Verdict: Busted

The Hunt For Red October‘s plot influenced Hai-Furi‘s plot in its entirety, and the entire staff watched the film ahead of production

Shortly before the third episode aired, the Hai-Furi production team released a special interview with script supervisor Reiko Yoshida on their official website. In this interview, Yoshida remarks that Hai-Furi had always been intended to be about overcoming difficulties, and that crossing the ocean became a metaphor for the series’ themes. As such, the series placed a particular emphasis about camaraderie on the high seas, and to this end, showcased different members of the crew and their unique points to really emphasise how life on a ship was conducted. As a part of the interview, Yoshida was asked about whether or not she was inspired by any other works while writing for Hai-Furi.

According to this the production crew watched The Hunt for Red October as reference material. Let that sink in.

問: なかなか参考資料が少ない作品だと思いますが、参考にされたものはありますか?
答: 吉田 鈴木さんから参考資料を貸していただいたり、映画はいくつか観ました。『レッドオクトーバーを追え』などですね。船内の生活の参考にしています。

Whether its[sic] for script reference, of just crew conditions, is up to debate.

Q: This is an original work with few references to existing works, but are there any references to other works?
A: I mostly referred to materials from Suzuki, but I also saw some films. For instance, I used The Hunt for Red October as a reference for what life on board (a ship) was like.

  • It was indeed Hai-Furi that led me to pick up and read Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October – at the time, I’d already been a fan of Tom Clancy, having read a handful of his Jack Ryan Jr. books, which followed the clandestine off-the-books group, The Campus, as they work to collect intelligence and action it in order to stop plots that threaten the United States. The Hunt for Red October had been described as “the perfect yarn” by former President Ronald Reagan, and upon reading it, I was very impressed with how the book managed to weave so much technical detail into a compelling story. I subsequently watched the film, as well, finding it to be every bit as engaging as the novel.

  • However, one thing also became apparent to me: all of the memes online that suggested Hai-Furi was The Hunt for Red October with hawt anime girls were wrong. A bit of tracing found that all of this ended up from Myssa Rei: originally, the interview at Hai-Furi‘s official site was posted to Reddit and initially did not receive too much traction. When Myssa Rei found it and posted the above quoted passage to both AnimeSuki and Tango-Victor-Tango, the idea immediately took off like a wildfire. Some fans even create fan art of The Hunt for Red October‘s movie poster featuring Akeno and Mashiro, while at Tango-Victor-Tango, a troper would write that there were enough similarities between the two’s plots: both involve pursuit of a “rogue” naval vessel.

  • When I first watched Hai-Furi, I had not read nor watched The Hunt for Red October for myself, and so, I could only remark on it. However, once I did finish, I found next to no similarities beyond this, and so, I dug a little further into the interview. Armed with my own rudimentary ability to read Japanese, I quickly learnt that Myssa Rei had, in fact, left out a great deal of context and (inadvertently, I’m sure) mistranslated the interview passage. The interview had been with one of the script supervisors, Reiko Yoshida, who mentioned that she specifically watched the film to gain insight as to the conditions inside a ship.

  • Nowhere in the interview did she suggest that other members of the staff also watched The Hunt for Red October. Yoshida’s mention of The Hunt for Red October was in the passing, and wasn’t an integral part of the interview. In spite of this, the lack of any other information resulted in memes being created, and misinformation being spread. When one reads the interview in full, it becomes clear that The Hunt for Red October was but one part of Hai-Furi, which had been intended to be a story about overcoming difficulties as a team.

  • The lesson learned from this myth is not to always trust someone’s translation work in full unless they are a professional: languages have their own subtleties, and Myssa Rei’s partial translation left out enough details such that it completely changed what the interview’s answers had been about. Instead, folks should always strive to reason through things themselves, and where applicable, use any appropriate resources to assist in the process.

Yoshida largely used scriptwriter Takaaki Suzuki’s notes to help with her work, and in the interview, she explicitly stated that she also watched The Hunt for Red October to gain a measure of how other works presented life on board a ship (in this case, the submarine, USS Dallas). In the interview, however, there is absolutely no indicator that the entire production crew had sat down to watch The Hunt for Red October, nor is there any truth in the claim that the overarching narrative in Hai-Furi was inspired directly by The Hunt for Red October. The Hunt for Red October was about CIA analyst Jack Ryan struggling to convince his superiors that Soviet Captain, Marco Ramius, was intending to defect, and the novel’s themes had been about the complexities of politics interfering with one’s ability to do what is right, as well as the idea that not everyone in another nation is subservient to their ideology. These themes were framed around a submarine chase and technical expertise from the submarine crews, as well as Ryan himself: the US Navy had intended to capture Ramius and the Red October, a Typhoon-class submarine equipped with a revolutionary silent propulsion system, something that Ryan was familiar with. Shortly after this interview came out, Myssa Rei quoted the passage above out of context and mistranslated it, resulting in the impression that The Hunt for Red October had served as the primary inspiration for Hai-Furi. This resulted in the preposterous claim that Hai-Furi was, in effect, an anime adaptation of The Hunt for Red October, since both series involved “a rogue ship is being hunted down by the world’s navies”.

When the interview is read in its entirety, however, Hai-Furi was written with a very different objective in mind: even before the anime’s story was fully presented, the full interview shows that Hai-Furi had always been intended to show how people grow and mature when placed into difficult situations. The idea to use a naval setting was simply because on a naval vessel, quarters are very cramped and narrow. Things that people take for granted become valuable or even absent, and so, it created an environment where trouble and adversity awaited around almost every corner. Thus, Akeno and the others needed to adjust to this environment and rise above their problems. Conversely, in The Hunt for Red October, the metaphor of using sonar to hunt for a rogue submarine was chosen to represent navigating political circles: finding the answers is akin to searching for a needle in a field of haystacks, but even then, skill and perseverance carry the day. It becomes clear that Hai-Furi and The Hunt for Red October only share the most superficial of similarities: both works take place on the high seas, but beyond this, strove to accomplish entirely different goals, tell different stories and present different themes. There is no basis to suggest that Hai-Furi was inspired directly by The Hunt for Red October at scale. This particular misconception resulted as a result of a mistranslation, and as a consequence of taking Yoshida’s words out of context; the lesson learnt here is not to take fan-translations of interview materials at face value, especially if they are sourced from individuals who do not have the skill or willingness to provide a correct, complete translation.

Verdict: Busted

Takaaki Suzuki tweeted a full justification for why powered flight doesn’t exist in Hai-Furi

The absence of heavier-than-air flight in Hai-Furi became immediately noticeable by the events of the third episode, when Kouko comments on how she wishes she could fly like a bird, without the need for hydrogen or helium, and Mashiro remarks it’s outright impossible. I myself had immediately noticed the absence of aircraft carriers out of the first episode and found it absurd that they’d be absent, especially considering that smaller carriers have been successfully used as helicopter carriers: while there may be no need for super carriers and power projection, helicopter carriers would be immensely useful for deploying rotorcraft, which have applications as emergency transport vehicles, search and rescue, observation and even carrying loads. Their utility would be immediately apparent in a world like Hai-Furi: helicopters do not require a runway to take off, and given how that the land had been submerged by rising oceans, it stands to reason that these aircraft would only become more valuable as a part of the Blue Mermaid’s tool set. This apparently was not the case: it soon became clear that heavier-than-air flight had never been developed at all in Hai-Furi. This was evidently a plot device: the presence of heavier-than-air flight would’ve allowed for the Blue Mermaids to trivially solve the anime’s story, and the restrictions were present precisely to give World War Two era naval vessels a chance to shine. For the same reason air and infantry support are absent in Girls und Panzer, Hai-Furi dispensed with heavier-than-air flight altogether to accommodate the story. This is understandable, but things became murkier once Myssa Rei claimed to have found a series of tweets from Takaaki Suzuki himself.

I think that people should be MORE worried about another tweet by someone connected with the production itself, rather than getting angry at how airpower was just taken out of the picture by authorial fiat (because the sheer butterfly effect this would cause is already driving some people up the wall). The extra information you seem to be referring to were kind of Q&A Tweets from Military Adviser Takaaki himself:

In addition, I wonder how many people watched script writer Takaaki Suzuki’s commentary on the setting for Hai-Furi. According to the commentary, it’s “a world where powered flight was unsuccessful”, so there are no blimps, aircraft or rockets that use onboard propulsion to fly. As such, aircraft carriers do not exist, either.

Furthermore, because Japan became resource-rich as a result of methane hydrate mining, there was no need for a Pacific War. World War Two became a strictly European conflict, and without aircraft, there was no need to develop effective anti-air weaponry. As such, more advanced anti-air weaponry from the latter half of the war will not appear.

  • Early in Hai-Furi, Kouko expresses a wish for heavier than air flight, only for Mashiro to reply with a blunt “no”, that it’s impossible. I did not particularly take exception to this fact, since Hai-Furi would’ve progressed very differently were air power available as an option. The choice to remove air power was done deliberately so naval ships from the World War Two era had a chance to shine in Hai-Furi – as aircraft carriers became more integral to naval power during World War Two, battleships were quickly pushed out of the picture. The Yamato, Japan’s greatest battleship, was defeated not by the USS Missouri, a similar battleship, but by aircraft launched from carriers.

  • Instead, I disagreed immediately with Myssa Rei pushing a few Tweets as being sufficient evidence for why air power never developed. Looking back, it was suspect that Myssa Rei chose to screencap the Tweets and upload the images to an image host, as opposed to providing a direct link to the Tweets themselves. While this was likely done out of convenience (e.g. if the Tweets were deleted, or the account were to become deactivated), a record of them would remain. However, this also prevented others from grabbing the text and translating it for themselves, which meant that for ease of discussion, forum-goers simply accepted Myssa Rei’s translations and interpretations to be true.

  • I was able to use Twitter’s findfor-since-until query to locate the original Tweets and grab the original text for a bit of machine translation. The results should not be too surprising: the original Tweets had not actually been from script writer Takaaki Suzuki as claimed, and moreover, were again, translated in an incomplete manner. Through Myssa Rei’s translation, it was implied that air power had simply been too hard to figure out, so people gave up on it. The actual text simply supposes it was unsuccessful, and gives no further explanation, meaning it was equally likely that powered flight went the way of the earliest electric cars after the internal combustion engine was developed.

  • As it was, I disagreed with Myssa Rei on this particular detail, and was met with a stony silence on the forums. It typified Myssa Rei’s usual modus operandi: since I was deemed unworthy of talking to them at the same level, I never got responses for any of the information or theories I put forward. However, in a curious bit of passive-aggression, Myssa Rei later edited Tango-Victor-Tango to read that I was a part of the “broken base” over the absence of air power. I had not been opposed to the lack of heavier-than-air vehicles, but rather, the assertion that it was simply too hard and therefore unnecessary to develop aircraft and helicopters.

  • I’m not sure how Myssa Rei would’ve actually found the Twitter posts in question, but I imagine that it was probably through imageboards. I’ve never particularly liked image boards, since their anonymous nature meant that people were often prone to abuses, with users posting fan theories and outrageous guesses that almost always turned out incorrect. For instance, 4chan’s anime boards speculated that the phenomenon caused by what was later known as the Totalitarian Virus was actually mind control, whereas I contended it was a virus. When I made this suggestion on AnimeSuki, I was told that this was impossible, and mind control made more sense. Once the later episodes revealed the phenomenon had a biological origin, discussion on that topic immediately ceased.

I will open by remarking that the Twitter account in question does not actually belong to Suzuki: Suzuki operates a Twitter account under the handle @yamibun, and specifies his birthday as being June 9. This profile is definitely Suzuki’s, as it openly specifies that he works as a writer and does screenplays. Conversely, the account that Myssa Rei cites, @hunini181202 (formerly @xBbZcxGT3KAVmR9) belongs to a military enthusiast who enjoys uploading military photos to Wikimedia Commons and lives in Ujitawara in the Kyoto Prefecture. Furthermore, @hunini181202’s profile lists the user’s birthday as November 16. The lack of overlap indicates that @hunini181202, who Myssa Rei cited as being Suzuki, is in fact, not Suzuki, who uses the @yamibun account. Thus, the conclusion is simple enough: the individual who made those Tweets about heavier-than-air flight in Hai-Furi is not Takaaki Suzuki, and in fact, is only stating that he has source material from Suzuki. We can thus discard Myssa Rei’s assertions that the lack of air power in Hai-Furi is justified on the basis of “authorial fiat”, having shown that Myssa Rei’s initial premise is false. However, in proper MythBusters style, this isn’t any fun, so those claims from the anonymous user are still worth considering. Thus, let’s suppose for a moment that Takaaki Suzuki did, in fact, argue that the lack of heavier-than-air flight stems from setbacks dating back to the Wright Brothers in 1903.

The primary point here is the assertion that heavier-than-air flight, like fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, don’t exist simply because the attempts to develop it failed, and as such, humanity simply discarded the concept and walked away without ever considering the idea again in the future. This is, quite frankly, an insult to Wilbur and Orville Wright, as well as every aviator who attempted to carry out powered flight prior to 1903: the Wright Brothers had struggled extensively to design a vehicle capable of powered flight. After testing various designs between 1900 and 1902, they determined that the Wright Flyer design was the most suitable and set about testing it. On their first trial, Wilbur crashed the vehicle, but it was repaired, and Orville took to the skies for a total of twelve seconds on a subsequent attempt. Although short, and their initial efforts resulted in the destruction of the original Flyer, the Wright brothers had demonstrated that powered flight was indeed possible. History would’ve dictated that, had the Wright Brothers failed, early aviators like Karl Jatho, Samuel Pierpont Langley or Alberto Santos-Dumont would have succeeded given enough time. History is dotted with individuals who were met with failures before success: the Dyson vacuum under went more than five thousand iterations before it worked, and James Dyson ended up creating his own manufacturing company to build them when large manufacturing firms declined to, Robert Goddard’s concept of a liquid fuel rocket was originally dubbed “impossible” but would form the basis for all modern rockets, and Thomas Edison famously experimented with a thousand designs before succeeding in creating the incandescent lamp. The lesson here is that humanity is largely a species characterised by a desire to explore and discover, so to suggest that humanity gave up on powered flight is to imply that as a species, we are not driven by innovation. So, for the sake of discussion, let’s suppose that is the case. Writing letters is effective enough of a form of communication, but it hasn’t stopped Hai-Furi‘s universe from developing tablets of the variety that Kouko uses. Consequently, innovation and advancement does exist in Hai-Furi, and since this contradicts the original idea, that humanity in Hai-Furi has stagnated, we can conclude by saying that it is the case that humanity is still advancing, the idea that humanity simply lost interest in powered flight is not an acceptable answer. As such, barring a more detailed explanation from Suzuki, this is not the answer we’re looking for.

Verdict: Busted

Methane hydrate mining cannot cause land to subside, so the alternate time-line in Hai-Furi is implausible from a geological perspective

At Tango-Victor-Tango, one of the tropes I’m least fond of are the “artistic license” ones: inaccuracies committed for the sake of story, in their own words. Tropes seem to love these, because it gives them a chance to show off their own knowledge and intellect. In Hai-Furi, it is supposed that because Japan was involved in the mining of methane hydrate (simply, methane crystallised into a ice-like material as a result of pressure extremities), their economy was stable and therefore, there was never any need to engage in any expansionism. However, Japan became highly dependent on the mining and sales of ice hydrates to the point where they over-mined, causing Japan to sink. Myssa Rei immediately posted the “artistic license” trope under geology, stating that:

The explanation given by Mashiro’s mother for the reason for the subsidence of Japan’s landmass being partly due to the over-mining of the undersea deposits of Methane Hydrate doesn’t make any sense. There’s a chance that she was genuinely misinformed, however.

  • There was actually one more myth I was originally looking to write about in this post – shortly before the first episode aired, a blog post argued that all of the characters’ nicknames had been based on popular cat names in Japan. I ended up asking for a source to prove this and received a link for a pet name ranking for dogs, dated for 2018. The names “Mike” and “Shiro” do not even appear in 2018, so that myth was so busted, it didn’t merit a full entry. As it stands, Akeno and Mashiro are not named after cats.

  • As Hai-Furi wore on, it became apparent that my speculations were consistent with what ended up occurring, and I found the series to be more than it let in on. Looking back at the discussions at various forums, it became clear that they were likely the reason why Hai-Furi had not been enjoyable for some: people spent more time arguing the withertoos and whyfores that the series original themes, which Yoshida had touched in in her interview, were completely forgotten. In my finale post, I praised the series for having a clear theme despite the hurdles the plot faced, noting that the inaccuracies and liberties taken did not detract from the messages of trust and teamwork even if they had been numerous.

  • However, in retrospect, beyond the mechanism for the Totalitarian Virus, everything else in the series stands up to scrutiny: Hai-Furi is not realistic by any means, but how the world was presented was sufficiently well thought-out that the story did work despite the fact that the series felt distinctly cobbled-together. Once the finale to Hai-Furi ended, many of AnimeSuki’s most active participants did not show up for the OVAs or film that followed. In the aftermath, I ended up working with another netizen to iron out the remaining issues at Tango-Victor-Tango. This individual was an active editor there, and I would help them with writing out the Hai-Furi page such that all of the speculation and outdated information sourced from image boards were removed.

  • This is the overhead view of Japan that led me to conclude that Hai-Furi‘s geography had resulted from a mining accident, rather than a global rise in sea levels. As it stands, I believe the four myths discussed, and busted, in this post are likely the main details I wished to address. The Totalitarian Virus is a central part of the story and therefore, one’s reception to that is a more accurate determinant of whether or not Hai-Furi would be enjoyable for them. That is to say, dismissing Hai-Furi on account of a torpedo’s damage, whether or not it lined up with The Hunt for Red October, plausibly explained away heavier-than-air flight or was realistic in its geological description of the mining disaster is to be mistaken.

  • Admittedly, re-watching Hai-Furi without any of the forum drama going on is how I prefer to watch this series. It’s now time to finish busting the last myth, finish off this post (which has reached 6649 words in length and took seven hours to write altogether), and then return to regularly scheduled programming: immediately on the horizon is Wednesday’s post for the tenth Road to Berlin post, and I need to get a move on the post for Halo 4, having beaten it last Thursday.

Evidently, the Tango-Victor-Tango Department of Geological Sciences does not have mining subsidence as a part of their syllabus: subsidence is the sinking or settling of ground downwards with little horizontal motion, and it has been shown that extensive mining activities can cause the ground to sink. In the case of natural gas deposits, there is a limit to how much the gas can be compressed before it enters the liquid phase, and liquids, being incompressible, will support soil layers above the gas field. Extracting the gas then results in a reduced pressure, and the mass of materials above the deposit will begin sinking. Methane hydrates do indeed have commercial applicability: the deposits around the world are thought to contain as much as ten times the volume of natural gas as known deposits, and Japan has expressed interest in using this as a fuel source: their geologists estimate upwards of 1.1 trillion cubic metres of methane hydrates in the Nankai trough alone. Real-world geological research has thus indicated that Japan does indeed have sizeable reserves, and in the realm of fiction, things have simply been scaled up. As such, excessive mining, coupled with the fact that natural gas extraction could in fact cause land subsidence, is not too far-fetched a concept for setting up how Hai-Furi‘s Japan ended up the way it did.

Experimenting with sea level maps, the image of Japan shown near the first episode’s ending suggests that Japan’s sunk by anywhere from 50-80 metres. However, the Korean peninsula looks relatively unaffected, whereas a 60 metre sea level rise (occurring if all of the world’s ice caps melted) would also be noticeable in that overhead image. The sum of these observations indicate that the sea level rise in Hai-Furi did not result from global warming as a result of burning natural gas: this was something that a few folks at Anime News Network concluded was the actual cause of the events in Hai-Furi, and the anime had simply gone with a different route to avoid the topic of climate change and its impacts on the world. When everything is considered, catastrophic climate change resulting from greenhouse gases was not the cause of Japan sinking: investigation of the consequence of extracting natural gas and assuming that a similar model can be used for methane hydrate extraction at scale finds that it is plausible for such a disaster to occur. Consequently, the claim that Hai-Furi‘s world-building is an example of artistic license in geology is untrue: while admittedly far-fetched, Mayuki wasn’t misinformed in any way. Such an occurrence is not beyond the realm of what is possible given the distribution of methane hydrate deposits around the world and is consistent with what is potentially known to occur with natural gas extraction.

Verdict: Busted

Closing Remarks

Having shown that the theories and research surrounding for Hai-Furi were oh-for-four in this post, the conclusion I leave readers with is really just to approach Hai-Furi with an open mind. Misplaced expectations will inevitably result if any one of these myths were on the viewer’s mind while watching Hai-Furi. The observant reader will have noticed that all of these myths came from Myssa Rei. It is not the intent of this post to cast Myssa Rei in a poor light, but to demonstrate the consequences of basing one’s interpretations and speculation about a series from incomplete details missing context, or speculation from disreputable sources like 4chan. Had I agreed with Myssa Rei, Hai-Furi would not be enjoyable. Akeno making a decision that resulted in the Sarushima’s sinking would paint her as bumbling and incompetent. If Hai-Furi had really been a retelling of The Hunt for Red October, the vastly different themes between the two works would mean that certain events would never reconcile. The lack of powered flight would speak poorly of society in Hai-Furi, giving very little incentive to suppose that the people in charge are competent and able. A lack of a plausible mechanism for explaining why the world was the way it was would imply the writers did not care enough for the final product to make a reasonable world for Akeno and the others, and consequently, there wouldn’t be a reason to root for Akeno, Mashiro and the others. All of these are untrue, and Hai-Furi is, in fact, a moderately enjoyable series.

The point of this post is to demonstrate how exercising my own judgement and forming my own conclusions allowed me to enjoy Hai-Furi. As such, in retrospect, I probably should’ve written this post much earlier, as this would’ve helped to smooth out any inconsistencies as a result amongst the other viewers. Looking back, a common problem that I’ve noticed with news and information of any sort is that, the first person to release it inevitably gains all of the credit for it, and their work is automatically assumed to be correct. Consequently, even if it can later be shown that the first person had been in fact, wrong, and a retraction is issued, the misinformation continues to endure because most people will not be interested in the recanting of outdated, incorrect information. I realise full well this is what’s happening here with this MythBusters-style post: even though I’ve busted four myths in a succinct manner, it is doubtful that Hai-Furi fans will read this post, much less realise that Myssa Rei had been completely mistaken about a great many things. While the ship has sailed for busting Hai-Furi myths (pun intended!), there are two take-away lessons from this post for readers that certainly apply to other series. The first is that when a series is airing, one should always make their own judgements and not allow influential-looking individuals to affect their impressions of a work. The second is that, for a series that has finished airing, someone who sounds authoritative about the work might not always be correct, and again, one’s assessment of said work should be based on their own judgements.

Greyhound: A Movie Reflection, and Some Remarks on Expectation Management in the Military-Moé Genre with a Case Study in Hai-Furi

“This is the captain. We are running down the target. Let us attend our duties well. This is what we’ve trained for.” –Commander Krause

Commander Ernest Krause is assigned to the Atlantic convoy as the captain of the USS Keeling, call-sign “Greyhound”, with the goal of escorting cargo ships carrying vital supplies bound for Liverpool. When the convoy enters the Mid-Atlantic Gap, a treacherous stretch of ocean out of the range of Allied air cover, the Keeling and other Fletcher-class destroyers begin picking up German U-boat signals. They manage to defeat a U-boat before moving to assist the convoy rear on their first day in the Mid-Atlantic Gap. Krause orders his sailors to rescue the crew from a sinking tanker. On the second day, the U-boats resume their attacks, and with their depth charges running out, the Keeling and Dodge manage to sink a U-boat using a broadside from their main guns. In the attack, Krause’s mess attendant is killed. Entering their third day, Krause comes under attack from the remaining U-boats, and manages to evade them long enough for a shore-based Catalina bomber to sink a boat pursuing the Keeling. Relief has arrived, and the convoy cheers on the Keeling’s crew. Exhausted, Krause heads below deck for some much-needed rest. This is Greyhound, a World War Two film starring Tom Hanks as Ernest Krause that was originally intended to be screened in June. However. owing to the global health crisis, the film was never screened theatrically, and instead, the distribution rights were sold to Apple TV+. At its core, Greyhound is a tale of valour and commitment to duty during the Battle of the Atlantic: the whole of Greyhound‘s run is characterised by a sense of unease and dread at the unseen enemy, as well as admiration for Krause’s ability to effectively lead and command his ships despite this being his first-ever wartime command. The result is a gripping and compelling film that accentuates the sort of leadership and teamwork that naval combat demands; to overcome a merciless, invisible foe, every single member of a ship’s crew must do their duties well. I certainly had fun watching Greyhound, and during its ninety minute runtime, I was riveted by the film. The emphasis on anti-submarine warfare in a World War Two setting, however, also brought back memories of Hai-Furi: this 2016 anime dealt with an alternate world where high school students learn to operate World War Two era naval vessels and train to be effective members of a naval patrol to keep the world’s oceans safe.

Hai-Furi: The Movie‘s home release will be coming out later today, making it appropriate to consider how differences between war films and the military-moé genre require an accordingly different approach: one of the leading challenges I’ve seen in finding any good discourse on the latter stems from a consequence of mismanaged expectations. In particular, regardless of which military-moé series I follow, it seems inevitable that I will always run into a certain kind of viewer who deems it necessary to gripe about some minor detail in said work, ranging from the fact that Darjeeling besting Miho in each of their engagements was an insult to her, or how the Long Lance torpedoes carried by the Harekaze should’ve done more damage to the Musashi than was portrayed. The reason why viewers fixate on these details stem from the fact that they approach military-moé as a “military work with high school girls in it”, rather than “high school girls doing military activities”. The former presupposes that the military story is given greater emphasis, akin to a work such as Greyhound, Saving Private Ryan or The Hunt For Red October, where the focus is on an event and its people. In a war film, the characters might be drawn from history, and the plot is dedicated to telling how something unfolded, as well as how people responded to the aftermath. Such works feature trained personnel and professional soldiers with background, so the characters’ competence is never a major point of contention. Viewers then watch the work with the expectation that these characters put their knowledge to use in exceptional circumstances: for instance, in The Hunt For Red October, sonar technician Ronald Jones is able to use an innovative manner in order to track the Red October because, in addition to possessing the background as a sonar operator, Jones was also characterised to be very bright, with an eye for small details. Conversely, in the latter, seeing high school girls as ordinary people operating extraordinary gear means accepting that they are going to make rookie mistakes, commit to decisions on the basis of emotion rather than experience and even forget the fundamentals. A major component of this story is learning skill to be effective with their tools, and the discipline to work cohesively as a team; with time, these mistakes go away, and this journey is an essential part of the journey.

These two different approaches in mind are the difference between night and day; a viewer who enters military-moé on the assumption that they are watching students learn, discover and make mistakes along the way will interpret an event very differently than someone who watches that same work with the expectation that high school girls will have the same degree of competence, professionalism and experience as soldiers would. The disconnect between this can be disappointing if one’s expectations are not appropriate. Two particularly vivid examples come to mind here. In Girls und Panzer, protagonist Miho Nishizumi had left her old school after making a decision to save her classmates, who’d fallen into a river during the championship round. Her call costs her school the match. From a military perspective, Miho’s decision was unsound: the correct call would’ve been to communicate and have a higher-up make the final decision. Had Miho been leading a retreat, she may have led to the death of her entire armoured column, rather than lose her school the championship. However, the same decision, seen from the viewpoint of someone who sees Girls und Panzer as a high school anime with an uncommon activity, Miho’s decision makes sense: she cares about her teammates, and values those around her over victory. This paints Miho as a kind-hearted individual, a positive outlook on the same decision. Whereas those who view military-moé from the armoured warfare perspective would’ve found reason to disagree with Miho, those who saw Panzerfahren as a high school sport will find positivity in what Miho did. There is no question that the latter would be more accepting of Miho than the former. Similarly, in Hai-Furi, when Akeno left her ship in a bid to save Moeka, the all-serious perspective would be that Akeno’s decisions are rash, and that delegation would have been the correct answer here, which would have allowed her to retain command and keep abreast of a situation while her subordinates carried out her orders. However, at the same time, this moment had occurred very early in the series, and from the perspective that Hai-Furi was about learning, this moment simply shows that Akeno was not mature yet. Indeed, Akeno does learn to trust her subordinates and delegates leadership of a rescue operation to Mashiro later on. Seeing this was rewarding, and similarly to Girls und Panzer, it becomes evident that military-moé confers viewers with the most enjoyment when treated as a story about high school girls, doing activities that are military in nature, rather than a military setting that happens to have high-school aged girls in it.

Commentary and Other Remarks

  • Krause commands a Fletcher-class, a venerable line of destroyers that was designed in 1939 and was involved extensively in every aspect of naval warfare during World War Two. Besides the original specifications to carry at least five 5 inch guns, a pair of depth charge racks at the stern, six smaller launchers and ten deck-mounted torpedo tubes, the Flecher’s large size allowed it to carry a pair of 40 mm Bofors cannons in a quadruple mount, as well as six 20 mm dual anti-air guns. The Flecher class could reach a maximum speed of 70 km/h, and altogether, was a formidable vessel that would’ve been more than a match for Japan’s equivalent, the Fubuki-class.

  • If and when I’m asked, Tom Hanks has become one of my favourite actors for his ability to wear a variety of hats well. In Greyhound, he presents Commander Krause as a dedicated leader who leads by example. Out of combat, he is a polite, devout individual, who says Grace before taking a meal and breaks up fisticuffs amongst his crew. During combat, Krause is concise, focused and calm: he congratulates his crew where credit is due, looks out for them by doing the best he can despite limited resources and wastes no time in making the call to help ships in distress.

  • With Hanks’ skill as an actor, Krause really comes to life. Previous films saw Hanks play similarly capable characters, whether it was John H. Miller in Saving Private Ryan, Sully‘s Chesley Sullenberger or Bridge of Spies‘ James B. Donovan. Hanks has a very matter-of-fact, down-to-earth style about his performances. Where he is cast as a professional, he wears the role exceedingly well, giving viewers a reassuring sense that no matter the challenge ahead, Hanks’ character will lead the others towards their goals.

  • The sort of leadership that Krause has in Greyhound is exemplary, and leaves no doubt in the viewers’ mind that the Keeling’s crew are in capable hands and therefore, able to do their duties well. In most war movies, it can be safely assumed that the characters will be generally competent. Conversely, in Hai-Furi, when viewers were first introduced to Akeno and her crew, they seemed quite incapable of surviving even a training exercise. This was deliberate; the point of Hai-Furi and other military-moé anime is typically to place emphasis on the experiences characters have en route to becoming a proper team.

  • Consequently, I have no issue with story choices presenting characters as being incompetent or making rookie mistakes in anime: we are dealing with youth in situations that are either completely out of their depth (Strike WitchesIzetta: The Last WitchHai-Furi, Warlords of Sigrdrifa) or are in a setting where mistakes are forgivable (Girls und Panzer). In the context of anime, the story typically has a theme surrounding teamwork, friendship and hard work, all of which require the occasional mistake-making to accommodate the lessons being learnt. Conversely, in movies like Greyhound1917Saving Private Ryan and Hacksaw Ridge, the objective is to tell a specific story about a group of people and their experiences.

  • There is a very large gap in what war films aim to do, and what anime in a military setting aim to do; this accounts for the discrepancy between something like Greyhound and Hai-Furi. As a result, when I watch an anime, I’m going to enter the same way I’d approach judging a youth science fair. Because I am adjudicating projects made by youth, who may not have the same depth of knowledge an adult might, I am much more forgiving of their mistakes, and care more about how well they understand what they’re doing, as well as whether they gave any thought to the implications of their results and applications of their findings.

  • Conversely, when I’m sitting in on seminars and presentations made by peers, I am able to look at their projects more critically and really probe to see whether or not the project is sound, as well as how the presenter handle any constraints in their process. Because a peer is going to be knowledgeable in the field, I can poke further and try to enrich my own learning by asking trickier questions. The same holds true in films: in war movie like Greyhound, it is okay for me to expect characters to act professionally and with competence because that is the background the movie has established.

  • Indeed, Krause’s leadership was probably one of my favourite aspects of the film: one subtle detail I particularly enjoyed was how courteous Krause was to his mess officer, and how despite being offered his meals on the bridge, Krause would always politely refuse meals mid-combat, preferring to take a coffee and eat once he was reasonably certain there were no more sonar contacts. Seeing this doubtlessly would’ve inspired his men to keep at it: if fighting under a leader who was willing to give it their all, this would be highly motivating.

  • Greyhound was a very suspenseful movie: even though the film’s outcome is a foregone conclusion, how the film reaches said conclusion always leaves much to the imagination. A good film is really able to make viewers feel as though they were right there with the characters, and in Greyhound, the tension felt when the sonar officer begins seeing blips on their screen, signaling the presence of U-boats, was palatable.

  • As the Keeling engages U-boats and begins to run low on depth charges, Krause is forced to improvise, eventually using a surface broadside to sink one of the pursing U-boats. U-boats were equipped with either the SK C/35 or SK C/32 deck guns, allowing them to engage surface targets. These guns were nowhere near as powerful as a surface vessel’s main guns, and indeed, began to be phased out as surface vessels became increasingly powerful: submarines would turn to stealth as their ultimate defense. However, the weapons are still lethal, and during this engagement, Krause’s mess officer is killed.

  • After a short ceremony to pay respects to the fallen, Krause returns his focus onto the task at hand: it may seem callous, but grief can be a distraction from the remaining danger, and it speaks volumes to Krause’s resolve as he shifts attention back to his duties. In a manner of speaking, the dead would have truly died in vain had Krause allowed grief to consume him, costing him the mission and the lives of those serving under him. The ability to compartmentalise emotions from duty makes a leader, who recognises that carrying out their responsibilities is also a way to respect the fallen.

  • Of course, in an anime, I wouldn’t expect the same of high school students. Besides a gap in emotional maturity as a result of life experiences, the differences in brain chemistry between a teen and an adult are dramatic. In teens, the frontal lobe is not fully developed, and this leads to decisions that may come across as rash to an adult. Conversely, adults, with their fully-developed frontal lobes, are able to slow down, regroup and reason out a solution even during more challenging, stressful situations. As such, when anime characters overreact during times of crisis (such as Rin Shiretoko’s tendency to dissolve into tears whenever the Harekaze comes under fire), I do not count this against them.

  • Having firmly established how I watch military-moé anime and war movies with a different mindset, backed with both literary and scientific reasoning, I am curious to know why some folks expect high school girls in military-moé settings to behave as trained professional adults would: it is one thing to take real life seriously and do a satisfactory job of one’s occupation, but people turn to entertainment to relax, not shout themselves hoarse trying to convince others of a particular perspective regarding said works of entertainment. As such, the severity that some approach military-moé with is a bit confusing for me.

  • At the height of its run, Hai-Furi discussions were focused purely around the improbability of its premise, and discussions ran on everything from how no known pathogen could cause the phenomenon observed in Hai-Furi, to how Akeno’s behaviours should have landed her a court-martial. Very few people chose to focus on the actual developments between Akeno and Mashiro. Hai-Furi was never meant to be a speculative fiction portraying the survival of humanity in a world with higher sea levels, and so, the lack of realism was never a problem – at the end of Hai-Furi, Akeno learnt to be an effective leader without thoughtlessly wading into a problem, while Mashiro accepts Akeno as her commander. As such, while the series was far from perfect, it remained quite enjoyable.

  • During the course of Greyhound, the German U-boat commanders occasionally will open up the radio and taunt Krause. He simply ignores them and continues on in his duties, placing his faith in his crew to do their jobs better than the U-boat crews will do theirs. In the climatic final moments before the convoy exits the Mid-Atlantic gap, Krause and the Keeling are pursued by a dogged U-boat, and having exhausted their depth charges, all Krause can do is attempt to out-manoeuvre their foe. Just when it seems the Keeling’s luck has reached its end, a PBY Catalina arrives and drops its payload of depth charges into the water, sinking the U-boat.

  • The idea that Hai-Furi is an anime form of The Hunt For Red October is a mistaken one, and one that has its origins on Reddit, after a user found an interview where scriptwriter Reiko Yoshida, in response to a question about whether or not external sources had been used for Hai-Furi as references, replied:

吉田 鈴木さんから参考資料を貸していただいたり、映画はいくつか観ました。『レッドオクトーバーを追え』などですね。船内の生活の参考にしています。

Besides the reference materials that director Suzuki lent me, I also watched some films. For instance, I referenced The Hunt For Red October as a source for life on board (a ship).

  • This particular Reddit post received very little attention (amassing a grand total of eleven up-votes and seven comments altogether), and the suggestion that The Hunt For Red October was related to Hai-Furi was only of tangential interest to viewers, at least until one Myssa Rei found it and decided to rephrase the interview as “the entire staff watched The Hunt For Red October as a reference. Let that sink in”.

  • With Myssa Rei’s claims, suddenly, the community felt it necessary to analyse every nut and bolt in Hai-Furi to ensure the series was accurate. Many viewers began to assume that Hai-Furi was an anime counterpart to The Hunt For Red October, which naturally resulted in the series failing to meet expectations. Hai-Furi‘s story is completely different, and submarines only figure in one episode, whereas in The Hunt For Red October, the focus had been on proving the captain of a cutting-edge Soviet submarine was defecting. Conversely, I would argue that Greyhound is more similar to Hai-Furi than The Hunt For Red October ever was: both Greyhound and Hai-Furi have a destroyer as its focus and focus on World War Two-era hardware.

  • Of course, had I attempted to correct Myssa Rei, I would’ve at best, been ignored, or at worst, been called out for being rude to an idol. Her impact on anime discussions remains an excellent example of how misinformation can spread – for reasons beyond my understanding, she was regarded as an expert on all things military-moé, and even where she made mistakes, people continued to consider her claims as fact. Compounding things, Myssa Rei would become very defensive when her mistakes were pointed out, resulting in flame wars. I can only imagine how exhausting it was to maintain such a confrontational, know-it-all attitude for over a decade. This was evidently not something that could be maintained – Myssa Rei eventually faded from prominence, leaving behind a legacy of negatively influencing how people would approach military-moé.

  • Hai-Furi: The Movie released mere hours ago to BD earlier today (October 28 in Japan, and October 27 for me): this post was deliberately timed to coincide with the release, and I remark that I have every intention of writing about the film once I’ve sat down and looked through it. Admittedly, with Myssa Rei absent, more rational, level-headed folks are free to continue their own discussions without needing to pay her deference in order to have their perspectives considered. I anticipate that conversations surrounding the recently-released Hai-Furi: The Movie will be rather more peaceable, and so, I look forwards to checking out this movie for myself.

  • While Hai-Furi: The Movie might’ve just come out today, I imagine it’ll be a few days before the BDs start making their way to folks who’ve purchased them. In the meantime, anyone looking for an engaging naval film will find Greyhound to be an excellent watch: despite being only ninety minutes long, Greyhound is a veritable experience that captures and conveys the dread of anti-submarine warfare in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Because I subscribe to the idea that military-moé is “high school girls doing military activities”, I generally have a great deal of fun with these series, seeing how the hardware fits together with the slice-of-life pieces and discoveries made during battle. This is why I typically end up finding something positive to say about a given series, whether it be Strike Witches, Girls und Panzer, Kantai Collection, Hai-Furi and even Warlords of Sigrdrifa: I do not expect the characters to be professional soldiers with extensive experience in their area of expertise, nor do I expect the characters to carry out all of their missions with the focus of a soldier. My expectations therefore liberate me from having to worry about what’s realistic or reasonable, leaving me to freely enjoy the story that comes from the characters and their experiences. It is often disappointing that some folks often forget how to have fun whenever they partake in military-moé series: such stories, while making extensive use of real-world military equipment and tactics, still feature high school students as their protagonists, and consequently, it would be unfair to expect of students what we would of adults. To approach military-moé with such a negative mindset creates a diminished experience, and one must wonder if there is any point to taking anime this seriously to begin with, especially when considering that anime is intended to entertain, first and foremost. With Hai-Furi: The Movie on the horizon, I’ve been fortunate to avoid all spoilers for it during the past nine months, and I have every intention of writing about it once I finish. I have no idea what’s coming, but I am fairly confident that the approach I’ve taken towards watching such films will allow me to have a pleasant time. For like-minded folks, I’m positive that this film (and other military-moé works) will prove enjoyable, whereas those who find my methods to be unsavoury would do better to steer clear of military-moé and stick with other fiction dealing in war: movies like Greyhound or The Hunt For Red October should be more palatable for those who prioritise detail and realism, as well as competent characters who carry out their duties with utmost devotion.

The Hunt For Red October: Review and Reflection

“Once more, we play our dangerous game, a game of chess against our old adversary — the American Navy. For forty years, your fathers before you, and your older brothers played this game, and played it well. But today the game is different; we have the advantage.” —Captain Marko Ramius

Dubbed by Ronald Reagan as the “perfect yarn”, Tom Clancy’s The Hunt For Red October (1984) began his career as a techno-thriller novelist and was adapted into a movie starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin in 1990. While some minor differences arise between the film and novel, the general plot in the film is consistent with its novel counterpart. Soviet submarine captain Marko Ramius (Connery) plots a defection from the Soviet Union while commanding the Red October, a Typhoon-class equipped with a revolutionary magnetohydrodynamic drive that renders it nearly silent to sonar. CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Baldwin) successfully deduces Ramius’ intentions and struggles to convince his superiors that Ramius is planning to defect before the American and Soviet forces engage one another in combat. The Hunt For Red October was a superb novel, characterised by its matter-of-fact writing style and incredibly detailed explanations of some of the technologies utilised on board submarines. The film, although different from the novel in some places, manages to capture the atmosphere and technical details of the novel: despite the plot’s slower progression compared to contemporary movies, all of the moments are integrated well with one another to create an ever-present sense of suspense that would doubtlessly permeate submarine operations.

Tom Clancy’s The Hunt For Red October marks the beginning of the Jack Ryan universe, and my first Tom Clancy novel was Threat Vector: by this time, Jack Ryan Sr. is the President of the United States, having defeated Ed Keatly in elections. However, in The Hunt For Red October, Ryan is a CIA analyst working in London. While Ryan has training as a marine, he is not a sailor and therefore finds himself uncomfortable at sea once he is tasked to prove that his theory holds true. Throughout The Hunt For Red October, Ryan is presented as a dedicated academic in search of the truth with the aim of halting a war. By comparison, the government and military officers are more set in their ways, and find themselves bemused by Ryan’s tenacity. However, even then, there are exceptions: sonar technician Petty Officer Jones of the USS Dallas is a bright mind, devising a clever means of tracking the Red October: his actions are instrumental in helping Ryan locate the Red October and convince his superiors that Ramius is indeed planning to defect. Through Ryan and Jones, Clancy suggests that the military’s capabilities are closely tied to the quality of the intelligence that they receive. While Ryan encounters some resistance to his theory from senior US officials, Commander Mancuso of the USS Dallas is willing to take a chance on Jones’ ideas. It is therefore unsurprising that the USS Dallas does manage to find the Red October, while Ryan is given limited help to demonstrate that Ramius is defecting until he boards the Dallas. This contrast suggests that unorthodox conclusions can still have some relevance, and that solid intelligence is necessary for a plan to execute well: in general, Tom Clancy held the view that the worth of good intelligence acquisition and analysis should never be underestimated, and this theme returns in his novels quite frequently.

A superb movie on all counts, The Hunt For Red October is also said to have inspired for some of the events seen in Hai-Furi. This led some viewers to develop unrealistic expectations for Hai-Furi, and some individuals spent the anime’s entire run complaining about every conceivable element when their expectations were not fulfilled. According to the staff, Reiko Yoshida drew elements from The Hunt For Red October to guide some of the narrative elements seen in Hai-Furi. While long-held to be significant amongst those who watched Hai-Furi, it should be abundantly clear that The Hunt For Red October and Hai-Furi share only similarity in the fact that it is set on the high seas: there are no strong indicators that specifics from the former’s narrative entered the latter. The Hunt For Red October is firmly guided by the narrative, whereas the flow of events is much looser in Hai-Furi. While The Hunt For Red October deals with Jack Ryan’s adventures to prove that Ramius is defecting, Hai-Furi is about the growth the the Harekaze’s crew as they encounter one misadventure after another. The former places a great deal of emphasis on technical accuracy and even allows the military hardware to shine ahead of the cast on some occasions, whereas Hai-Furi was first and foremost about Akeno and her crew. Similarly, there is a very real suspense and sense of urgency in The Hunt For Red October: had Ryan and the USS Dallas failed, hostilities between the United States and the Soviet Union may have resulted in a shooting war. In Hai-Furi, limited world-building prevents the implications of the Totalitarian Virus from being a true threat; this was acceptable in Hai-Furi for the reason that the anime never was intended about a larger perspective about the dynamics between two superpowers. Taken together, while Yoshida and the remainder of Hai-Furi‘s staff may have watched The Hunt For Red October as a reference for Hai-Furi, the similarities between these two disparate works remains superficial at best, and consequently, I hold that it is unreasonable to approach Hai-Furi with the same mindset and expect that the anime satisfy the requirements that made The Hunt For Red October such an enjoyable film.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Sean Connery is Marko Ramius, a Lithuanian submarine commander whose father was a high ranking Soviet officer. A highly competent strategist, Ramius is highly adaptive to situations and is counted as one of the USSR’s best minds on submarine warfare, having written the Soviet doctrine on it in-universe. I remark that the screenshots in this post are of an unusual aspect ratio owing to the original: my image capture software crops out letterboxes automatically, resulting in narrower images.

  • In The Hunt For Red October, Jack Ryan is portrayed by Alec Baldwin: this role goes to Harrison Ford in The Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, and while Ford does an excellent job in conveying Jack Ryan as a highly earnest, devoted analyst, one downside is that Ford’s dialogue can sometimes be difficult to hear. Baldwin, on the other hand, presents Ryan as a wide-eyed but competent analyst who’s just starting out on his journey.

  • The interior of the three submarines in The Hunt For Red October are coloured differently to ensure that they are easy to differentiate from one another: much of the film is set within submarine interiors, and according to production notes, actual filming inside a submarine would have been remarkably difficult, so in the film, large sound stages were created instead with special apparatus to simulate the motions of a submarine.

  • After Ryan obtains some photographs of the Red October in dry dock, he notices the presence of unusual doors on its superstructure. The images are sent to submarine expert Skip Taylor, who suggests that the Red October is equipped with a magnetohydrodynamic drive. Such a propulsion system would make use of magnets to draw in water and expel it to create thrust, but such technologies remain experimental for the present.

  • Ramius takes full control of the Red October after disposing of political officer Putin. He announces that their mission will be to conduct missile drills off the US Coast, and then sail to Cuba for recuperation once their assignment is complete. Carefully planning each move, Ramius betrays nothing to the other crew: impressed with the mission orders, the bridge crew begin singing the Soviet national anthem.

  • The sonar operator on board the USS Dallas, Jones is presented as being highly attuned to his equipment; he is able to differentiate between submarine signatures and the movement of whales in the ocean. In the novel, he states that he was a Caltech student with aspirations to complete his Master’s and Doctorate dissertation, but created an accident that led to his dismissal. In the meantime, he’s joined the navy, and his expertise with electronics play a vital role in helping the Dallas track the Red October.

  • Ryan is asked to present his findings to US government officials after he discusses the theory behind Ramius’ defection to Vice Admiral Greer. Played by James Earl Jones (who had supplied Darth Vader’s voice in the original Star Wars trilogy), Greer is shown to be open to whatever ideas Ryan has, and furthermore, is also quite fond of coffee. The Red October is described as being an immense threat to US security: being able to move undetected would have allowed it to position itself anywhere along the US coast for a nuclear strike.

  • Ryan describes the Soviet fleet’s movements as an indicator that Ramius had intended to defect, reasoning that as a high-ranking officier, Ramius would be able to hand-pick his staff, making it easier to defect. Coupled with the fleet’s deployment is in response to Soviet fears that the Red October will indeed defect based on a letter, and orders the Soviet fleet has received, this leads Ryan to his conclusion. The officials fear a full-on war in light of the risk that the Red October may be “in the hands of a madman”, but nonetheless ask him to investigate such that a war might be avoided.

  • The novel, more so than the film, gives ample exposition for all of the characters that play a significant role; Tom Clancy is meticulous in detailing even some of the secondary characters’ backgrounds in order to illustrate that they are highly competent for their occupations. This style carries over to his final novels, Threat Vector and Command Authority, and serves a powerful function in ensuring that there is no doubt that the characters’ actions are motivated by their experience and expertise in their given field. This stands in stark contrast with Hai-Furi (or even Girls und Panzer), which leads some viewers to challenge the appropriateness of the characters’ actions in their respective universes.

  • Adding to the realism factor in The Hunt For Red October is the fact that shots are not fired for the sake of action. As a thriller that strives to maintain some factual realism, there is a very rigid structure that ensures shots are not fired out of anger. Much of the fun aspects in the movie come from suspense resulting from close encounters, and watching the different characters draw upon their expertise in response to difficult situations.

  • One of the things about The Hunt For Red October that I initially found a little surprising was that the Russian characters started out speaking Russian, and halfway into a conversation between Ramius and Putin, the language switches out to English. This was done to aid the audiences in viewing and reduce the need for subtitles; when the Russian sailors and Americans are in the same scene, the Russians speak Russian again. In Hai-Furi, there are no Russian characters; Wilhelmina is German, but like Ramius, she is bilingual, being able to communicate with Akeno and the others in fluent Japanese.

  • The Red October’s situation is obfuscated by the Russian ambassador, who claims to know little beyond what Moscow has told him and later settles on the Soviet fleet’s activity as being part of a major rescue operation.

  • The Red October’s voyage is not smooth: a ways into their trek across the Atlantic, their magnetohydrodynamic drive, known more simply as a caterpillar, develops a malfunction arising from sabotage. The identity of the saboteur is not known until later in the film, but Ryan’s remarks earlier, that the senior officials on board the Red October must have been handpicked, would suggest that one of the lower-ranking crew must be responsible for things.

  • Moody grey skies and rough surface conditions define the Atlantic ocean. Ryan is not particularly fond of flying: he states that he’s never slept soundly on a commercial flight before, but the rough ride over the Atlantic makes any discomforts of a commercial flight trivial by comparison. Ryan is sent to make contact with the USS Dallas. Running low on fuel, the helicopter makes to return to the carrier after failing to insert Ryan into the Dallas, but driven by determination to see his task through, Ryan cuts himself loose, falling into the frigid Atlantic.

  • Once Ryan is on board the Dallas, he exchanges messages with Ramius and confirms that the latter is indeed intending to defect. With this knowledge in mind, Ryan boards a rescue submarine (explicitly given as an Avalon-class in the novel) and meets with Ramius for the first time. The comparisons between Hai-Furi and The Hunt For Red October first appeared on April 21, two days before the third episode aired and brought to attention of the anime community courtesy of one Myssa Rei. Discussions at Tango-Victor-Tango proved nonexistent, and it’s more than likely that none of their members have watched The Hunt For Red October in full.

  • Returning to The Hunt For Red October, after establishing contact with the Americans, Ramius is surprised that they have guessed what he was seeking. I find that Ramius resembles Chino’s grandfather of GochiUsa. If folks are tossing around wild theories about how Hai-Furi and The Hunt For Red October are related, then I get to throw an inane theory of my own into the mix. I posit that after landing in America, Ramius takes on a new name and lives in the US for several years before moving to Colmar, France, where he starts his own coffee shop, calling it Rabbit House.

  • The US Navy drops a torpedo in the water, but it is self-destructed by Vice Admiral Greer. In order to quickly evacuate the other crew, Ramius stages an emergency with the Red October’s nuclear reactor, and once the surface, Ramius will remain with the other officers to scuttle the ship. Shortly after this news became known, some folks later would claim the staff drew from The Hunt For Red October, models for the characters’ roles.

  • Continuing on from the above bullet, the only character who could have been inspired by The Hunt For Red October‘s characters is Akeno, and even this is a weak claim, as the only commonality the two share is an uncommonly good eye for overcoming adversity. Beyond this, the two characters are as different as night and day. Further to this, sonar does not play as substantial a role in Hai-Furi compared to The Hunt For Red October, and complex political elements are absent in the former. Back in The Hunt For Red October, once Ryan is on board the Dallas, he exchanges messages with Ramius and confirms that the latter is indeed intending to defect. With this knowledge in mind, Ryan boards a rescue submarine (explicitly given as an Avalon-class in the novel) and meets with Ramius for the first time.

  • The action-heavy sequences begin in the movie’s final act: besides Ryan, Mancuso and Jones also boards. Ramius speaks with Ryan about asylum in the United States and also asks about Ryan’s role. Ryan is asked to help with operating the Red October, and Ramius remarks that he’s doing a fine job for someone who’s operating a submarine for the first time. Ryan surprises the others when he reveals that he’s a CIA analyst.

  • It turns out that Ramius’ motivations for defecting arise from a combination of factors: his dissatisfaction with the Soviet Union stem partly from the death of his wife at the hands of an incompetent doctor. Because the aforementioned doctor was related to high-ranking party officials, he was allowed to continue operating without any consequences. Furthermore, upon being assigned the Red October, Ramius realised that such a weapon was built purely for a first strike mission, growing disillusioned with serving the USSR.

  • We’re now approaching the autumn season, and this year’s September has been something of a different one compared to previous years. However, while I no longer return to classes, the ceaseless flow of the season continues along: trees are beginning to turn a deep golden colour, standing out against azure skies. In another week, it will be perfect to go for a stroll in the aspen groves nearby: the temperatures now are ideal for an afternoon stroll.

  • It’s a little bewildering as to how quickly time’s flown by; this is likely a consequence of work, although this also means that I now look forwards to weekends with double the appreciation as I did during my time as a student. Yesterday, I had a chance to attend the Illuminasia festival at the zoo: under a cool and clear evening skies, I was able to watch several Chinese performances and see the meticulously-constructed paper lanterns around the zoo. A piping-hot cup of hot cocoa rounded off the evening, and today, I spent most of it going through DOOM.

  • Back in The Hunt For Red October, the sabateur, revealed to be Loginov, a cook, opens fire and wounds Borodin before fleeing into the missile bay with the intent of launching a missile and sinking the Red October in the process. During a tense standoff in the labyrinthine quarters, Ramius is wounded, but Ryan manages to kill Loginov before the latter could destroy the missiles.

  • I have no doubt in my mind that, had the submarine crews of The Hunt For Red October been assigned to immobilise the Musashi of Hai-Furi, they would have succeeded within a much shorter period than the Harekaze and its allies during the final battle. The logistics of how exactly the Blue Mermaids work in Hai-Furi notwithstanding, I found that the relative lack of world-building meant that numerous elements were poorly-expressed: I recall a particularly awful set of Tweets where someone claiming to be staff attempted to explain away modern aerodynamics and heavier-than-air flight.

  • The Red October faces one final threat: the Konovalov and its captain, Tupolev. One of Ramius’ former students, Tupolev both admires and despises Ramius, making it a point to personally sink the Red October to demonstrate the might of the Soviet system. By capitalising on the arming distance for the Soviet torpedoes, however, the Red October escapes destruction from a direct hit.

  • A second torpedo fired from the Konovalov is set with no arming distance in order to avoid a repeat of the first torpedo, but skilful maneuvering from the Red October results in the second torpedo impacting the Konovalov, sinking it. In the novel, Red October rams the Konovalov broadside, suffering damage to its hull but otherwise sinking it all the same. Either way, the final threat is ended, and thus, the stories enter their denouement.

  • Back on the surface, the rescued Soviet sailors watch as an explosion breaks the surface, leading them to believe that the Red October has been destroyed. The Red October’s fate is not mentioned in the movie or in the novel, but Tom Clancy makes an aside in The Cardinal of the Kremlin, where it’s revealed that the Red October was analysed extensively. Its technology was reverse-engineered, and the vessel was then sunk in a remote ocean basin to minimise the odds of its wreck being discovered.

  • Like my Pure Pwnage: Teh Movie review, one of the greatest challenges faced during the acquisition of photographs for this post was to find those that were not blurred. Live action photographs can be quite difficult to capture when movement is involved, in comparison to anime screenshots, and I needed to go through some sections, frame by frame, to pick those with the least amount of blurring.

  • Despite the vast disparities in terms of emotional tenour and technical detail between Hai-Furi and The Hunt For Red October, I nonetheless enjoyed the former for the elements that it was able to execute well. Even at present, I’m not sure why some individuals are so vociferous about an anime when such a wide selection of more technical, fully fleshed out stories are available for enjoyment.

  • When Ramius cites Christopher Columbus, Ryan responds with a cordial “Welcome to the New World, sir”.This brings the movie, and this post, to a close: intended to partially be a discussion of the movie and, partially be a rebuttal to dispel any remaining notions that it is reasonable to expect Hai-Furi to match the same standards as The Hunt For Red October, it marks the second time I’ve done a review for a live-action film. Upcoming posts will include my impressions of DOOM after the halfway point, and later this month, a talk on New Game! once its finale is out. As well, I’m planning on reviewing Rick and Morty‘s first season at some point in the very near future, now that I’m only one episode from finishing (consider that I started watching during May 2014).

Hai-Furi will likely be consigned to oblivion within a year’s time, but The Hunt For Red October remains immediately recognisable and has been counted as a timeless film: its narrative and capacity to keep audiences guessing is masterfully executed even some twenty six years after its release. Coupled with a fantastic soundtrack from Basil Poledouris (whose Prokofiev-esque “Hymn to Red October” summarises the entire tenour in The Hunt For Red October completely), The Hunt For Red October was an absolute joy to watch. With its wonderfully detailed presentation of the hardware and depiction of competent naval staff for both sides, The Hunt For Red October is able to connect the significance of every character’s actions with respect to the bigger picture. These aspects result in a film that remains quite memorable and definitely worth watching, and on a similar note, Tom Clancy’s novel is likewise a solid read. With both the novel and film finished on my end, I’ve set my sights on reading Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising, which is set outside of the Jack Ryan universe and deals with a third World War fought entirely with conventional weapons. I’ve heard that there is a fantastic section dealing with armoured warfare and that the novel satisfactorily captures old Soviet military doctrine such that Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy was motivated by Tom Clancy’s works to some extent.