And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why already by episode 2, folks are preferring this over the Kantai Collection anime. There is definitely something very fishy going on here, and something seems to be calling for some chaos, dragging the girls aboard the Harekaze into something they never would’ve signed up for.
Back at Yokosuka, the Principal (Mashirou’s mother), is briefed on the current goings on. Back aboard the Harekaze, the bridge crew react in their own ways to the radio broadcasts over their ship’s alledged mutiny and the sinking of the Sarushima. From Mei’s brashness, Rin’s worrywart self, and of course, Kouko’s conspiracy plays.
Mike merely has them continue course to their next rendezvous point, as the unlucky girl sighs at her poor situation. We are then treated to a flashback to Mashirou’s past, where her mother (much younger looking with her two older sisters), give a little bit of the history of the world. It seems over time, Japan’s focus on methyl hydrate mining led to the submerged urban areas and the creation of the floating cities.
Former warships were put into civilian hands and to further emphasize their peaceful nature, were given to women to command. Mashirou’s Great-Grandmother was the original ‘Blue Mermaid’, and it seems all generations of the Munetani women have served. It was at the shrine visit to Suwa that led Mashirou’s mom to announce she was retiring to take up a teaching position, and where Mashirou’s unlucky streak came about.
Back aboard the Harekaze, Mike goes around her ship to check up on the various departments. It seems that she has managed to put in a data/wireless ban to reduce the chances of their pursuers to locate them. Making her way to the various departments, she greets the deck teams repairing the damage to the hull, get chastised by the engineering section, and makes a visit to the sick bay, showing a familiarity with her crew that seems to upset some folks, but amaze others with the fact she already has everyone’s names memorized.
Mike is then called aboard the bridge, where she explains the sorry state of affairs. With damage to her deck, they’re reduced to one depth charge and torpedo, and the engine room requires an overhaul due to having pushed it to maximum military power. Mashiro chastises Kouko for playing with Isoroku rather than record the damage report, while answering Mike in the negative if the school had contacted them, with Mei claiming they most likely abandoned them.
Mike says they could be looking for the truth, and they’d still head to the rendezvous point off the coast of Torishima. Rin is worried though they might be captured them there, leading Kouko to go into her one-woman plays again. Mashiro states that they have no intention to mutiny, and suggests heading to the nearest port, which she agrees. Rin says that they’d reach Yokosuka in 38 hours with cruising speed. Mashiro makes another ‘woe is me’ unlucky, this time emphasizing being put into the class of misfits and low-scorers. Mei counters this, saying her scores might be bad as well, to which Mashiro reveals that she knew she got the top scores, but forgot to do a line, while Mike passed by a miracle, thus showing the contrast between the degree of luck between the captain and executive officer.
Looking at the seagulls outside, Kouko wishes she could fly to port, and asks if it’s possible to make a flying ship without hydrogen or helium, annoying Mashiro. At this point, a ship-wide announcement from the galley announces mealtime, and since it was Friday, it was the traditional shipboard curry. As the various girls start looking forward to the meal and wondering who would take first meal shift or second, or a bath first then food, Noma, the lookout aboard the crow’s nest, spots a silhouette over the horizon at 30 kilometers. It’s the German exchange student vessel, Admiral Spee (hull number W207, no doubt indicating her homeport is Wilhelmshaven).
Mike orders action stations, and in the nick of time as well, as Admiral Spee’s speed indicates it intends to open fire. Ordering the white flag of surrender, the Admiral Spee responds with a barrage from her forward turrets. This astounds the bridge crew, though it was noted that they’d have to stop the engines as well. Since their intentions were clear, there is no other choice but to escape. Even with their best speed, the Admiral Spee will still be able to harass the Harekaze with it’s powerful main and secondary batteries.
With their only options being to run and maneuver (having only one torpedo and weaker guns), they weigh their options. Engine room reporting that they could get her up to fourth battle speed, though it wouldn’t be of any use since the Admiral Spee could still maintain the same speed, Shima makes a suggestion to go round and round, to which Mike understands and orders Rin to turn hard to port to hide in their smoke while ordering the engine to combust unevenly, creating a smokescreen. Ordering Rin to create an irregular course with varying speeds, Mei notes the only way to stop them is by using live ammo.
Mashiro is against it, noting it’d be the same as the Sarushima all over again, but if they hit their screws, they can stop them while they escape. With the Admiral Spee’s shots getting closer with each volley, Mashiro approves and both exec and captain turn their keys to allow the usage of live ammunition to be loaded onto their guns.
After figuring out the distance for a screw shot and taking into account that without the specialized below-the-waterline rounds, they’d need to close to 3 kilometers to pierce the broadside armor of the Admiral Spee. Rin is scared of this prospect but Kouko teases her by covering her eyes. They take a hit, disabling their rearmost turret, before the lookout reports a small craft heading towards them from the Admiral Spee, which has opened fire on it.
Seeing the escaping launch taken out by the Admiral Spee, Mike passes command to Mashiro. Ordering the medic to the deck, she tells them to distract the ship. She refutes the fact that the girl is the enemy, and goes out after her under the barrage from the Admiral Spee. The Harekaze manages to strike at the larger pocket battleship and manages to disable it to allow them to escape.
Mike manages to reach the other girl and finds that she’s still alive, and brings her back aboard the Harekaze. She thanks Mashiro, who only says she was following orders, and the Harekaze leaves in full battle speed, much to the annoyance of the Engineering section.
After the excitement happens, Mike wonders what they’ll do next, but she tells herself she can’t look nervous due to her status as captain. After her shower, she checks in on the patient, relieving the Medic to allow her to go and eat. The rest of the ship though enjoys themselves on the curry that was initially denied to them with the engagement.
Hiromi notices that Mashiro is not in the galley, and brings up a tray for her to eat, Mashiro having volunteered to take watch while the crew eats below. Before she could really dig in, the radio buzzes. Calling Mike up to the bridge immediately, the radio transmission originated from Moka aboard the Musashi (located northwest of Asuncion Island in the Marianas Island Chain), clearly in distress and calling for help.
This is clearly the naval anime we have awaited for. Arpeggio was good, but could’ve been better. Kantai Collection had potential but did not deliver. It seems Hai-Furi is going to be that show that sparked the same kind of interest and discussion that Girls und Panzer had, allowing it to be a lot of people’s anime of the year. I doubt Hai-Furi would fully capture that, but it’s looking to bring that same kind of excitement I haven’t had in a show since Madan no Ou to Vanadis.
It does that relentless thing, where it always builds in nice, predictable segments. We get a shot of the characters, keeping focus on the bridge crew and department heads but allowing the minor characters some moments to shine. Now with the addition of the German exchange student to the main cast, her addition maybe allowing us to shed some light in to the situation. Especially since the Admiral Spee might have been able to deduce what was going on but still followed the request of the Japanese Blue Mermaid higher ups or conspirators.
The whole series knows its pacing, and that shows where we’re given just enough of a break from the excitement before we’re back in it again. I’m absolutely loving Mike as a character. There are many leadership styles out there, and the one she’s pursuing, being a father to her men, is one of the older ones. She’s leading by doing and by commanding at crucial times, creating a reputation of ‘we can rely on her’ when it comes to the crew of the Harekaze. I think that’s what will save them from this conspiracy. Her decisiveness and calm demeanor allows her crew to work to their fullest, and certainly takes a little bit of the edge away, just enough to prevent the girls from going into full on panic I believe.
Late Edit: Was discussing the engagement, and Miyanagi_Saki pointed out that someone at Animesuki noted that going for a shaft hit is like trying to take out a car by going for the axle. A more logical alternative was to go for the bridge, which would kill the command structure but the guns would still be active on local control (and with pissed off crewmates). I think though, the whole scene makes sense due to the fact the ships can be crewed by the average Japanese high school class size, there’s pretty much heavy automation going on. Piercing the armor to score a shaft hit would be doable but unnecessary, I think the case here was they were going after the automation machinery. If anything, they probably got the servers or something that allows the Admiral Spee‘s Engineering section to control the ship. So in a sense, and this is just conjecture, I thought it was weird they’d be using these older ships when they’d graduate into something like the Independence-class LCS like the Sarushima, which reduces crew size by going with automation. But now that I think about it, the fact the when discussing crew sizes, Mike and Moka were talking about the ships being automated to a degree, it makes sense.
I would like to also say that the ED song, Ripple Effect, seems rather nice and light-hearted. Again, I highly recommend going to the Hai-Furi thread on World of Warships NA, particularly of some of the posts done by Miyanagi_Saki and others that brings along their knowledge and experience into what could be casual viewing of an episode. It seems that through the thread, the distributor in China pulled the anime, which not even GATE received, so little tidbits and tie-ins to real world affairs can be found there. I would also like for folks to check out Infinite Zenith’s take on the episode, which I find more illuminating due to his style of posting as compared to my “summary + reaction” style.