So, to start off this season’s Three Episode Rule, is Hai-Furi, or High School Fleet. Already the general fandom seems to have called this GuP on Ships, Haifuri might end up being my guilty pleasure of the season. If anything, it might be the only one I would watch, and it seems I’m not alone with it, as others have picked up the series.
The show starts off with two childhood friends waving at a passing Yamato-class warship. Having noticed that those aboard had noticed them, they both vow to try their hardest to achieve becoming like them. Nine years later, Mike (Akeno Misaki) arrives at the dock for her personal jetski. Other students are filling in for their entrance ceremony.
One of them seems to be scared of a random stray cat, and Mike, missteps and trips over a crack on the pier, crashing into the cat-phobic girl (Mashiro Munetani). Getting up, she brushes Mike off and tells her to watch where she was going, only to step on the banana peel from the banana Mike had been munching on in the way to school, and ends up in the drink, owing to her unluckiness.
Helping her out of the drink, Mike had cleaned up the poor girl’s clothes only to be ushered out of the changing room after attempting to strike up a conversation. Mike manages to meet up with her old friend Moka, who had thought she’d be late. After the entrance ceremony with some words from the principal of the Yokosuka Maritime High School, it seems that Moka had been assigned to the “Extra-Large Training Ship” Musashi as its C/Captain, while Mike was placed aboard a lowly destroyer, the Harekaze.
While Mike feels a little down (a dessie commander isn’t even accorded the rank of Captain she says), Moka reassures her that she’s still a Captain, and with a smaller vessel, she can be more intimate with it. It seems that in this world, a degree of automation has allowed a ship like the Musashi to be crewed by the same sized of cadet/student sailors as of that on the Harekaze.
Moka seems up to the challenge of commanding a tricky ship like the Murashi, while Mike is unsure, having only studied C/Captain’s courses in preparation for the exams. Moka just seems a little forlorn, having been separated since elementary school, only to reunite and be separated again. They both utter a motto, to which some passing upperclassmen recount how they did the same on their first day, much to their embarrassment.
After an encounter with the same stray from earlier (named Isoroku), they separate to their respective classrooms and vow to meet again after the two weeks of training. The Harekaze classroom is abuzz with activity as we go back again to the unlucky girl who can only look at her misfortune on being assigned to the destroyer, commenting on how she became one of the leftovers. It seems someone else knew her, and was comforting her on how it must be a mistake she didn’t get the top spot because of her grades being so high up. It was at this point that Mike appears, and notices they’re on the same ship. It seems that the unlucky girl is to be her second-in-command. The other girl is C/Assistant Engineer Hiromi Kuroki.
Later, the instructor, Furushou arrives shortly afterwards. She calls on Mike, who has her crew rise to attention for their instructor (much to Mashiro’s surprise), and gives them a little pep talk about how ‘calm seas never made a good sailor’. After the speech, Mike flags down her instructor, expressing her doubts on being the Captain of the Harekaze. Furushou only asks her what she envisions a captain being, Mike states that a captain is a ‘father to his men, and that the crew are family’, to which Furushou tells her to live up to her own expectations.
Back on the ship, Isoroku seems to have snuck aboard, and while Mashiro isn’t fond of it, the rest of the Bridge Crew had nothing wrong with it. They’re introduced as C/Secretary Kouko Nosa, C/Torpedo Officer Mei Iraki, C/Chief Navigator Rin Shiretoko, and C/Artillery Officer Shima Tateishi. As everyone gets to their stations, the Harekaze sails out of port with the rest of the Trainee Vessels, Mike waves at Moka, who is aboard the Musashi.
Later, the trainee flotilla awaits the arrival of the Musashi and Harekaze, who were coming in late. While the source of Musashi’s tardiness is unknown (to us the viewers), but the Harekaze suffered some navigation errors and problems with the engines. Up on the crow’s nest, the lookout is bored, asleep even, while Mashiro again says her luck is going downhill by being late to her first training session.
Noting Mike’s absence, she was on the deck feeding Isoroku when Mei calls her. After explaining that she had already had C/Comm. Officer Tsugu radio in their late arrival, it was more that Mashiro was looking for her that she finally goes up to the bridge, where she gets an earful from her second-in-command.
At that point, they are fired upon by Instructor Furushou’s ship, the Sarushima, an Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship (or a Japanese copy, most likely keeping the Mk. 110 57mm Gun). Various damage reports flow in and Mashiro corrects Mike in her name, preferring to be called by her proper name and not a nickname. After this, she gets on Mashiro’s shoulders to get on a hatch on top of the bridge, and through binoculars, see the forlorn face of their instructor.
Wondering why they were firing at her, Mashiro says it was due to them being late, but the usage of live ammunition in their near misses leads them to think otherwise. Mike attempts to explain themselves as she has the Harekaze take evasive action. While Mei thinks it’s just a bluff, Kouko says they’re not responding to any hails, leading Mike to think they’re mad. Mashiro attempts to contact them, using a more formal and textbook response, to no avail, the same goes with signal flags.
The Harekaze is taking on damage, the worse of it being a broken rice cooker (a joke, the engine room is taking on water and the quick reloader for the weapons is damaged). Mashiro notes for the weapon fitted on the Sarushima, its tracking is slow and accuracy is down. Mike makes the decision to fire back, even though all they’re in a position to do is withstand their attack.
Mei is all excited while Mike explains as Captain of her ship, she is in charge of all aboard her. She intends to fire a training shell. As the ship positions itself for a torpedo run, it seems the Sarushima stopped firing. IN the end, the torpedo hits true and the Sarushima is stopped. The Harekaze vacates the area while it can (with the engine room crew stripping due to the heat generated by their greater-pressure engine).
Back aboard the Sarushima, Instructor Furushou is sending out a Morse code message on the heavily listing ship. The bridge is out and her crew gone, she is the last aboard the damaged ship. The signal reaches the mainland. Various Tokyo locales are shown to be underwater, with Tokyo tower surrounded by Venice-like remnants of the city, the water reaching halfway up towards the first observation tower.
Various broadcasts between agencies and government bureaucracies show that Harekaze had attacked the Sarushima, with frantic calls for some action to be taken. This also pans out to above Japan and Korea, showing several coastal regions are now under water
Back aboard the Harekaze, the bridge crew discuss why they were bombarded. While it could be a training exercise as Mei and Mashiro thinks, Rin and Shima wonder if it’s true since they were quite serious in using live ammunition and near misses. Kouko comes up with this fanciful explanation that the Sarushima became a sovereign nation after a coup d’etat. Mike is just glad no one was seriously hurt, and that they should make a report to the school, though before they could do so, Kouko receives word from their radio room that the Harekaze was just declared mutineers.
This was a bit of a surprise. Like I said elsewhere, my first impression, apart from this being GuP on Warships, was that it was something like a mix of things from Tactical Roar and Starship Operators. A friend also pointed out it had tones of Mouretsu Pirates added in. All I know is it’s yet another military slice of life school drama…until the end.
As much as it amuses me that the Independence-class LCS got screwed over by the training torpedo, another friend brought up some points here, in what could be foreshadowing the plot of the current arc, if not the rest of the series. This was a nice bait that I, and several others it seems like, was taken in hook, line, and sinker.
I also thought a little bit on introducing the characters. I characterized them as the cadet sailing crew of the USCGC Eagle with less supervision and heavier firepower (really, a rebuilt Musashi as a training ship), but I didn’t exactly want to put C/-position- in regards to the characters. In the end decided to append the “C”/Cadet prefix only when introducing a student for the first time.
I was curious in what kind of relation the ‘training’ ships would have in a world where tectonic shifts had brought much of the world underwater. I can only imagine that the United States would’ve built as many carriers and Burkes as it can to continue the USN’s mission of freedom of movement and trade, but that might seem utterly impossible to guess at the political situation of the rest of the world. Let alone the fact it seems that Japanese Girls High Schools are given nearly paramilitary levels of firepower and responsibility as navies. Maybe it’s to curb around the (already abused) restrictive Article 9?
It’s that level of “wtf” that reminds me the most about Girls und Panzer, and I’m not exactly questioning it. At least not everything aboard the ships are out-of-date. Heavy automation, mentioned earlier, added with clearly modern touches (like a seemingly more comfy interior and modern RADAR) is a nice marriage of the old and new. And can assuage my ill ease in training high schoolers on older ships and weapons systems before moving up to Academy to handle newer systems. Much like how beyond the steel and cannon of the tanks in GuP, lots of technology is put in to actually make the ‘sport’ safe. I imagine the same is in the Yokosuka Girl’s Maritime Academy’s ‘training’ fleet.
But really, even if they are modern reproductions of the past IJN ships, who the hell would let freshly minted high school students to command such things, on their first day even, with no instructor on-board? Even if the rate of automation aboard allows something like the Harekaze, let alone the Musashi, to be run by a class of 30-ish. It’s one of the areas where I see some part of my mind saying it’s not right before I dispel that thought.
Anyways, as for the episode, I think it has potential. After the fizzle that was the KanColle anime, this may be the series us KanColle Teitoku may be looking for. Something slice of life with a plot and all. I look forward to seeing how this all unravels. For a better in-depth analysis of the first episode (and of the series to be honest), I ask that folks head on over to Infinite Zenith’s post on HaiFuri as well as the thread on HaiFuri that had popped up on the North America World of Warships forum, who seem to have figured out the ship numbering system/hull classification symbol as well as who each girl on the Harekaze is a shoutout to (though are merely reposts from Japanese findings).