Haifuri, high school girls on the high seas, battling submarines and German destroyers alike!
So we pick up from the first episode, and the crew is alerted that they are suspected of mutiny. While they are trying to figure out what to do next, they are attacked by a German ship, the Admiral Spee. The Harekaze is on the watch list for mutinied ships and considered dangerous.
The Admiral Spee is a ship also run by students that was brought in to assist with the training they are participating in. When the ship attacks, a skipper breaks free from the Spee but crashes, so Misaki jumps in her own skipper to rescue her.
The episode ends when they escape the Spee, but in the third episode they are battling another vessel, this time a submarine. A lot of technical terms and strategy was implemented in these episodes. Red 15, 30 degrees, port, and various missile types were called out. After each command and movement the camera showed the ship, so it wasn’t as confusing as it could have been. You were able to see what movement the order referred to. I didn’t think this anime would be so technical. Although, I ask again, how do newbies know this much about being on a ship, and where is the adult supervision?
During the attack, the rescued girl, Wilhelmina Braunschweig Ingelner Friedeburg, later known as Mi, takes command of the ship. She doesn’t do this with force, she is just the voice of reason in this situation when they are all going to die if she doesn’t. She understands strategy’s and tactics that Misaki and Shiro do not.
The submarine is from an all-boys school participating in a training session as well. They, like the Spee, are alerted to the fact that the Harekaze is known as a mutinied ship.
There are short glimpses of the politics behind the debacle. The principal of the school, and Shiros mother has a conversation with a staffer about the missing ship Musashi and the supposed defection of the Harekaze. With her daughter being on board, Ms Munetani does not believe in the mutiny. This gives us some hope that maybe they wont be shot and sunk in future episodes, despite all other schools being on alert.
After the final battle, Mi opens about what happened with the Admiral Spee. Apparently their captain went all Aerys Targaryen and rampaged, calling out orders. Mi managed to escape, but she knows something is wrong. She is close to the captain and her behaviour was not normal for her. Her goal is to return to the Spee and take command if she has to.
Misaki, the captain of the Harekaze, goes through a character progression. Her ideal type of crew is one like a family. She has nicknames for all of the crew members, and she asks of her crew instead of demands. For now people are obliging her mostly because this is a new crew, they are not all comfortable with each other and no one else wants to or knows how to take command. The school assigned the roles so it may be a ‘stay in your place’ type of mentality. But she is rather incompetent as a captain from a structured point of view. Shiro, her deputy captain is the strict crew member. She often scolds Misaki for being childish or not taking the captain position seriously. Shiro was aiming for the captain spot.
Misaki seems to notice her incompetence after rescuing Mi. She is scolded by Shiro for abandoning her crew mid battle to rescue an enemy. From Misakis point of view it is easy to see how she thought she was doing the right thing, and in the long run it may be the right thing. But in that moment it was the wrong thing, she abandoned her crew and left on her own. Shiro had every right to be angry.
After the battle Misaki is alone and resolves to be a better leader. Whether she cleans up her act or not is up to later episodes. Her personality doesn’t really allow for a more serious role. Her attitude is one of ‘as long as we have each other we will be fine’, or Dazai from Bungou Stray Dogs. Except without the competence. Shiro is a good choice for her deputy, as she does not indulge her.
Now if Disney gave girls unrealistic body images, then Haifuri gives me unrealistic food expectations. The food created by these 14 year olds at sea makes me jealous. I wish I knew how to make curry..
ANYWAYS, past my jealousies now.
Now we did learn why the sea training and Blue Mermaids are more important. After a Japan-Russia war, Japans methane hydrate mining corroded the earth and the government had to construct floating islands to sustain the populations and replace the sunken cities. Ships that had been used for the military had been repurposed for civilian use and as a sign that they were not war tools any longer, women were made captains. This was the unofficial beginning of the Blue Mermaids. So its not a ‘whole world’ type scenario like I thought.
Back to the animation!
A few scenes had a haze filter, namely memory scenes (why do they do that?) and bath time scenes. When Mi was pulled from the water her wet clothes clung to her body in certain areas, but were never see through. Her hair spiraled awkwardly as if it was wet. Bubbles from under the water were done nicely as well as the way water would repel off of the metal of the submarine as it breeched the surface.
The Harekaze itself was CGI most of the time, except for the internals. The bridge was fairly crude depending on what angle you were looking at it from. Other times it was immaculately detailed. The schematics images are intensely detailed as well, as if they were real blueprints.
Wide shots seem to be this shows kryptonite. During close up and medium frames, the details in the characters remain, no matter how many characters are in frame. When it comes to those wide shots, seeing a full bodied character, the quality drops like an anchor.
Small details are still beautiful Easter eggs. Seeing the background moving through the window is one of those happy occurrences. It takes the detail one step further. It did not have to be included, with positioning the character could block out that window, but in order to keep up the feel of motion, it is left in.
The final point I would like to criticize is the use of lighting. The sunset lighting is used a lot and warms up the screen. The orange red light covers the characters, and creates accurately angled shadows. Within the ship there are no shadows, and you don’t see the actual light sources. The lighting on the bridge is pretty widespread, with no clear light source. Light from the windows don’t affect the characters all that much, when in reality natural lighting would over power any artificial light in the bridge.
The progression of Misaki will be an interesting one to follow, to see if she steps up her game or flops like a dead fish. Im kinda rooting for Shiro to take over. She sneaks off with the captains hat enough times.