That was a nice turn for the better. I mean sure, they had to fight the Hiei, but that was highly entertaining. And the fog finally lifts on the mystery surrounding the rodents, and it isn’t all as I’ve feared. And that ending.
As the fog lifts on the Harekaze, Noma spots what appears to be the Musashi dead ahead. After a bit of indecision from Mike. After realizing their range being 13 miles from each other, Noma takes a closer look and more accurately identifies it as a Kongou class, the Yokosuka school’s Hiei.
Coco notes the similarities between the Hiei and Musashi, and thus the reason why it was misjudged. Mike asks orders from the school as Shirou tends to Tamonmaru, the Hiei fires at this moment. Evading the shots, the school responds that it has asked for a Blue Mermaid deployment which will arrive in four hours, and that the Harekaze will continue to shadow the Hiei but their safety is of utmost concern.
Coco though explains that with the Hiei’s current course and speed, it would arrive at the Chuuk Lagoon (Truk Lagoon) a transport hub and population center of 10,000 people in approximately three hours. Mike and others on the bridge crew understand the significance of the dilemma, not wanting to increase the infection, and aim to stop the Hiei. Shirou points out though such a course would be more dangerous than plainly shadowing the Hiei, though Mike has confidence in their ship and has Rin catch the Hiei’s attention.
Back at Yokosuka, Mashimo meets with her mother and presents her findings. It seems that a research submersible had sunk and was deemed irrecoverable, but the formation of the Nishnoshima New Islands pushed it back up into the surface.
A research team was allegedly sent to study the marine life around the newly formed islands, but were really meant to recover the data aboard the submersible before destroying it. Having overheard some researchers from the Sarushima from when she last visited Instructor Furushou, she started to dig deeper into the Sarushima’s secondary mission.
She uncovered the name of the organism that was created in the undersea research lab, named ‘RATt” or “Totalitarianistic Disease”, the creatures carry a virus that effects bioelectric currents and causes those infected to obey and act to one will, much like an insectoid colony, thus explaining the lasp in memory of the infected in trying to find reason in their actions. It also seems that the virus also is responsible for the disruption of electronic equipment.
At this point, Principal Munetani explains they received a report from the Harekaze detailing nearly exactly the same thing, as well as an anti-body. While surprised that a student came up with a cure, it seems that Minami is a medical genius and while having skipped grades, has put off her maritime training until the current year. According to Minami’s report, it seems that saltwater will cure an infected person if the exposure is brief, but only the developed antibody can cure those who had been infected longer.
The scene though shifts back to the Harekaze, now evading shots from the Hiei as they enter an archipelago. Maron is pissed at the constant usage of full power. Coco and Mina explain that their strategy to use speed to overcome the Hiei’s larger cruising radius wasn’t working, and they need to act soon or they will hit their limit. Shirou tells Mike that they can’t keep this up, though Mike knows what would happen if they gave up. Shirou though proposes that the only thing they can do is stop the Hiei, even if it means sinking her. This shocks the bridge crew, while Coco explains that while their guns won’t penetrate the Hiei, a torpedo will, leading Mei to go all ecstatic at a chance to shoot.
Ignoring their gung-ho torpedo officer, Shirou does point out no one has ordered Mike to sink the Hiei, but it’s an option of last resort. Mike can’t bring herself to do so with their classmates aboard, though it would limit their option to only trail the Hiei. This leads her to explain they have to stop her without sinking her.
Attempting to do the same thing to the Hiei as they did the Admiral Spee would be suicide due to the 7 casemate guns on either side of the Hiei turning them to wreckage before they could even get close, but at this point it seems Tamonmaru and Isorouku has annoyed someone enough and they crawl out of the vent system. Tamonmaru makes it out fine but Isoroku’s more prodigious girth has him edged at the opening of the pipe, granting Mike a stroke of genius.
Back at Yokosuka, the Munetanis are contacted by the Harekaze, and explain that the situation on the Hiei is the same as that of previous vessels, and that the Hiei would arrive at Chuuk in two hours. She asks permission to execute their strategy to immobilize the Hiei. Mashimo doesn’t like the odds of a lone destroyer engaging the battleship in daylight, but her mother is a bit more supportive. With the strategy they came up with they do have a chance, and after checking off that they are all set for fuel and equipment status, she gives permission but tells her to discuss it with her classmates.
Asking if it would be alright, Principal Munetani explains to Mashimo that the strategy is sound and that the cat they picked up seems to have not be infected when it caught the rat, and thus is a sort of good luck charm for the ship.
Back aboard the ship, Mike finishes her explanation to the crew. Minami cuts in and explains the specifics of the virus; that it is making people act outside the norm as it did to Tama, but she had developed an antivirus. She had sent the data to the school and notes that if they stop the Hiei, the students aboard will be cued, but if Hiei makes it to Chuuk, the residents may be infected and since it’s a trade hub, it is only a matter of time before it spreads worldwide.
The crew think this over, as Mike explains she wants to help everyone. Hiromi fires back if she will act on her own again, to which Mike responds that for the plan to succeed, they need to work together. Since the plan is dangerous, she is asking for their opinions. The crew would talk among themselves, but the first vote of confidence comes from Rin, the normally shy, frightful girl.
After that, everyone starts to stand behind Mike, noting to use their skills to the utmost fullest or to remember a debt they feel towards the captain. Outvoted by the rest of her section (led by the dramatic Maron), Hiromi asks Shirou if she thinks it’s impossible, Shirou merely responds that considering their two ships, she doesn’t think so, and asks Hiromi to lend her her strength, to which Hiromi finally gives in and agrees.
With the crew firmly behind their captain, they execute their plan. It seems Coco has created a map of the various currents within the small shallow archipelago. Amazed at the data, she thanks Coco, who goes off on play act indicating if she doesn’t work hard here, the stage won’t come to her, only to be joined by Mina who closes it by saying it may be the kind of work without a payoff.
Having Mei and Tama get ready, Coco has routed several courses for them to choose, and she chooses one. Noma and Mike help maneuver the ship around the Hiei’s shots, while Shirou is tasked with ordering Mei and Tama in focusing their fire to have the Hiei guided to where they want her to go. Meanwhile Kaede is on the lookout for underwater obstacles while Mina and Coco continue their two-girl play as events unfold.
Having made it through the fire, the Hiei isn’t run aground at their desired point. The Hiei manages to fire a shot close enough that it damages the engine, the engineering section wondering just how long they can take this. Asking for 10 more minutes, the Hiei made it past the second grounding port as Shirou asks Mike how long they can go. Mike merely pushes them forward.
Shirou recognizes a landmark, realizing they came back to the first grounding point. At that point though Mike orders their ballast to be dumped, and for the engines to go on full power. Shirou notes the instability it would cause but the Harekaze zips by the arched landmark as the Hiei gives chase. The Hiei is then led to the same course from before due to the Harekaze’s baiting. Maron calls out that the engines can’t take any more the abuse but at the last moment, the Hiei is grounded with its engine disabled.
Later that day, as the crew relax, Mike explains that due to Coco’s information on the tides, she anticipated when the tide would go out, allowing them to entrap the Hiei on a shallow bit that they could pass when they lightened the ship but the Hiei can’t due to its deeper draft. As the girls realize their success, Shirou praises Mike in saying she acted much like a captain (to a degree). The relieved celebration ends as a black coloured Independence class LCS arrives, much to Shirou’s chargin.
Jumping from the other ship, a Blue Mermaid officer in black uniform and cape (and looking distinctly like a pirate), boards the Harekaze (without permission) and announces herself as Mafuyu Munetani of the Blue Mermaids. Spotting a familiar face in the crowd, she then proceeds to harass and embarrass her sister. Asking if she would like an injection of confidence, Mike asks if she could.
Agreeing to it, she has Mike turn around, only to reach for her rear. Shirou saves Mike from a potentially embarrassing fate by getting between Mafuyu and Mike, only to bear the brunt of the sexual harassment, as the girls on deck look on with varying degrees of want and Mike apologizing to Shirou.
And thus the growing darkness lifted from the plot just as the fog did in the start of the episode. My thoughts on how deep the plot can get were getting darker and darker, and talk of a conspiracy breaking out to usurp the rule of the Blue Mermaids was coming in thick and fast.
Only to be discounted when it is explained that the viral disease is merely a mutation from a sunken research submersible and brought back to the surface after the formation of new islands. There are still a bunch of questions I’d like to answer, much like how the Admiral Spee and the Toumai reinforcement fleet, and Musashi itself, was infected. They weren’t at the site of the rendezvous so how? And was the Toumai sub really infected or just following the orders to sink the Harekaze?
That said, I do like how the potential source of conflict was neutered this episode. I was fearing that Hiromi would lead a mutiny to place Shirou in command, but with Shirou fully backing Mike and asking for Hiromi’s help, that was nipped in the bud.
Other than that, I can’t really explain much. Mike’s plan was a stroke of genius. The first thing I had thought of was the last battle of Blackbeard, where the pirate’s ship was grounded on the sandbar when pursued by his foes. An acquaintance (Panzerfan) brings up a legendary Korean Admiral Yi, who also utilized the tide to his advantage in combat.
I think that battle was the true forging of fire the girls needed to come together as a crew and to trust Mike with their lives and ship. It is only due to the combined efforts of the whole of the crew (yes, even the cooks in some way) did the vastly outgunned and lighter-displacement Harekaze outmaneuver and outsmart the Hiei.
That said, the Hiei would probably not fallen for the entrapment that Mike developed. Since the infected crew acted as one, there isn’t time for individual knowledge or insight to be gleaned most likely. Each member of the crew can do her job in regards to their training, but the initiative, the knowledge isn’t there. This is why the Hiei, in my mind, was able to be baited to sail into the shallows and risk being grounded.
Speaking of intelligence, there is a bit of a back and forth between Panzerfan, Sumeragi, and I concerning the level of training the girls have. I’ve always written under the assumption that the Blue Mermaids take from feeder schools that start at middle school. In a very maritime-based nation, it would seem essential that basic seamanship is at least taught to every gradeschooler as it would be a significant chunk of their lives being spent in the water.
Bits of this can be seen in episode 1 and episode 4 and 7, with Mike being a skilled operator of an advanced jetski, as much as one would do the same operating a bicycle; and of the floating outlet malls and trade hubs. So to me that’s how it’s covered. The basics are taught in middle school. Seamanship, navigation, the underpinnings of the world’s automation and propulsion systems. And if episode 7 is to believe, basic SCUBA and disaster assessment.
The more doubtful of readers might think this is too farfetched, but I’d only have to dig into my Boy Scout handbook to find such underpinnings of training, disaster prep, medical aid, and the like. Another guess at the world of Haifuri, such specializations can be part of advanced studies or afterschool club activities. Continual training and more advanced foundations would mean these early certifications can be kept and advanced as a candidate for Blue Mermaids or any other marine-based employment goes through school.
Panzerfan does put out a good point that getting such ratings in real life would cost a person a huge number of years and experience in comparison to the nearly 8 years (assuming starting at middle school), and is unfeasible, though Sumeragi seems to be straddling the middle between the two views.
I did answer back to Panzerfan’s view that such antiquated ships do not make proper Coast Guard vessels, but again, I labor under the delusion that since a good number of students going through Yokosuka and other Maritime High Schools would be picked up by the Blue Mermaids, the ships are merely training aids.
I proposed that there is a gradual technological advancement between first to fourth years. With the foundations hammered into them in middle school, first year high school would be the true test of their middle school years as they handle old but reliable vessels with known equipment, minimal automation, and the basics. Much like some folks learn how to maintain the engines on a clunker car, the girls are learning the start of their Blue Mermaids-focused career on former war machines that are completely different from what their future employer uses, but still carried the basics. Second year would jump a generation in technology, I proposed early Cold War/Korean War era; third year would be mid-Cold War/Vietnam War era, with fourth year being late or post-Cold War/Gulf War era of technology.
Actual entrance to the Blue Mermaids service would end with training aboard the most modern vessels.
In terms of how they received their education, I equated the girls going through school as someone in our timeline would go through a non-service academy ROTC program. Classroom instruction and laboratory exercises would take up a good deal of the semester, culminating in a single or multi-school field training exercise and smaller FTXes that last anywhere from a three-day weekend to several weeks.
The world of Haifuri just did it backwards, with the big FTX happening at the start of the semester.
Anyways, I think I ranted on too much. Time to get screenshots and then food.