That was an enjoyable ride, and as far as last episodes go, it wasn’t too bad. The battle was just as exciting as the others from earlier in the series, and it was a bit of a downer to know that this is the last we’ll see of the crew of the Yokosuka Maritime Girl’s Academy Harekaze.
The Musashi leaves the scene of its latest victims, battered and smoking. With three Blumers ships dead in the water and the fourth barely keeping a speed of 6 knots, there seems to be no stopping the super dreadnought as it sailed closer to the absolute defense line.
Principal Munetani starts organizing a defense at the top of her watch tower before receiving a call from the Harekaze. Mike requests permission to engage the Musashi, her crew solidly behind her decision. Principal Munetani approves it, though notes they have only one shot as ground forces are assembling to deal with the battleship.
Director Munetani tries to point out the absurdity but Mike and Shirou explains that they may not be able to stop her, but can slow the ship down. They also have confirmation that the captain of the Musashi is still able to communicate with them on the Musashi. With that, she countersigns the permission to the attack.
The Harekaze steams in (much to Moeka’s horror) and starts hammering the Musashi with shots from its 5” guns and scoring 8 direct hits at the Musashi’s stern, slowing it. The resulting counterattack though practically lifts the Harekaze from the water, causing massive damage to the Kagerou-class destroyer, knocking out several systems including their radio.
The Musashi’s counterattacks deprive it a path to escape, while back on the Musashi, Moeka starts breaking down the barricade to try to stop the bombardment, but is stopped by her crew. As the Harekaze starts to take on water in its boiler rooms, it seems the only recourse the ship has is to abandon ship. Just as Mike is about to order it, the Musashi is bracketed by inbound shells by friendlies.
Catching up to the battleship and destroyer, the destroyers Maikaze, Hamakaze; battleship Hiei; the battlecruiser Admiral Spee; and the Independence-class LCS Tenjin, with the cured Instructor Furushou onboard. They managed to make it in time and while everyone seems to be reconnecting, Noma signals they can’t use their radio. With everyone there, they continue fighting, a decision supported by Shirou.
Signaling to the others that they require assistance, the other ships organize with the Tenjin and Admiral Spee off the Musashi’s starboard flank, the Hiei, Maikaze, and Hamakaze alongside its port flank. The Musashi starts to fight against the other ships, the other ships keeping their course and laying down an impressive amount of fire and torpedoes, with Instructor Furushou reminding the others not to aim at the bridge.
As the Harekaze sails ever closer to the Musashi, Coco points out one of the equipment given to them by the Akashi, a Type 4 Rocket. Thinking it can be, Mike has Tama and Mei head to the stern to ready the rocket. Cutting across the Musashi’s bow, the ad-hoc flotilla speeds up its attack to keep the Musashi’s attention on them and not on the Harekaze.
Maneuvering the ship to be directly ahead of the Musashi, Tama is unfazed by a nearby hit. Firing the rocket, the exhaust covers both ships in heavy smoke, allowing the Harekaze to come alongside the starboard side of the Musashi, only to have its steering disabled. Thinking quickly, Mike has the damage control officers toss a sea anchor (or a parachute doing double-duty as one) out the rear starboard side, increasing the drag. Maron yells to keep the engines running at full tilt while Mike has the parachute cut, and the Harekaze slams onto the Musashi’s starboard flank, getting wedged against the ship.
As Noma, Kaede, Hime, Momo, and Minami (with Isoroku) storm the ship, Shirou pushes her captain to board, noting that her face is betraying how she truly felt. As Mike runs off, Coco embarrasses Shirou for exhibiting a bit foo coolness. Passing the boarding crew as they fight off the infected crew, Mike reaches the bridge where Moeka and her surviving uninfected classmates remove the barricade, allowing the two friends to finally reunite after a long harrowing month.
Pointing out how she’s been so reckless, Moeka nonetheless thanks her. The ships are all ordered back to Yokosuka after the successful operation, much to the relief of everyone. Back at the Blumers HQ and High School command tower, Principal Munetani and Director Munetani note that the older Munetani missed a chance to create an even bigger legend of herself, but in her stead, her students did it for her.
As the Hiei and Admiral Spee tow the disabled Musashi back in, the Tenjin does the same for the Harekaze. With Principal Munetnai and other Yokosuka/Blue Mermaid representatives wait on the Harekaze’s dock, the crew disembark. The girls are jubilant on finally being on solid ground and are happy over their accomplishment. With Mike being the last to step off the ship, the Harekaze starts to sink from all the battle damage its taken.
The girls can’t believe what is happening and start screaming for their ship, only for Mike to bravely send it off with a salute, to which several with covers on (exception: Coco) follow while everyone else stand at attention, several with tears in their eyes, ending the series.
Episode and Series Summary:
Overall? That was a damn nice ride. It didn’t manage to capture the same kind of ‘OH GOD ANIME OF THE YEAR’ feeling Girls und Panzer had, but it was close. It was cute girls doing cute things aboard ships. While many people would like to point out that of the most recent anime, Arpeggio of Blue Steel would probably fit that more, I disagree. Arpeggio of Blue Steel –Ars Nova- was a good series plagued with the ‘it isn’t like the source’ bug.
To me, HSF didn’t have that kind of baggage (having never read the source), and was surprisingly well executed in terms of character development, especially with such a large cast. There was the core cast, and even the secondary cast had some form of character trait that allows them to stand out, either visually or story-wise, or both.
The show itself raised more questions than it did answers, and mostly in its world building. I made the case for aspects of the shows in this blog, and no doubt will never really get to the bottom of it unless I decide to go and read the source material.
Speaking of the source material, according to a tip by a fellow member of Weapons Grade Waifu’s loyal customer base, apparently what we’ve been presented isn’t what the writers had envisioned. This is his paraphrasing the contents of this blog:
“The writing team wanted to have real naval battles and the Aniplex producer vetoed that idea. They didn’t have the time or the chance to scrap what they had and start from the ground up under the new conditions, so they just salvaged what they could off the story and came up with bullshit to fill the gaps.”
So in a sense is reminds me of Girls und Panzer with the disconnect between the production team and higher-ups. So we could’ve really gotten a much more action-packed show. But due to budget and the need to recoup their losses (i.e. merch and BD sales), no doubt they had to work with what they had.
I don’t really fault them for this, especially since there is some inkling that Studio Actas may be headed into the deep blue after the wildly successful Girls und Panzer der Film due to some budgetary shortfalls, industry mismanagement, and general all around drama that we don’t see on a daily basis and don’t really think of.
Going back to the episode, I thought as well that Principal Munetani would be aboard a ship to fight the Musashi. Some folks erroneously said she’d be aboard the Yamato, which I found rather weird since the ship is based in Kure, and would never make it back to the fight in half an hour. I suggested one of the cruisers still in Yokosuka. Assuming that lighter than air vehicles are the norm, I expected her to fight the Musashi aboard the Tosa-class Battleship Akagi.
I am happy that the Admiral Spee managed to make it in time for the big battle, amused too that Furushou managed to be cured of the hive-mind and take part in the last episode. Of the little nitpickings, at 10 minutes, 14 second; the production team’s shortcuts had the Harekaze revert back to her original armament of 12.7cm double gun turret rather than the 5” single gun turret, as seen through the bridge windows.
Then there was the parachute scene that made the ‘drop anchor’ maneuver from the Battleship movie seem like a logical course of action. Even if it was a purpose built sea anchor, I doubt it would b able to force enough drag for a ship going that speed and that heavy. It was stretching it just a bit too much. But then, I could be wrong.
Another nitpick I have is Coco not saluting or removing her cover at the end. Damnit girl you bring your hand up in salute or remove your cover. I could be wrong but damnit it irked me.
The episode felt like a good enough cap to the series, and it was alright. It holds the same kind of rewatchability I have with Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai, and might consider buying a DVD of the series. I think I’ve exhausted my views on the show.
As usual, I had other shows I wanted to watch, but have failed to do so. Karabineri was backlogged on episode 2, Flying Witch at episode 6, and Macross Delta not even started. Why I kept up with Haifuri when there are ‘better’ shows out there is a matter of personal preference. I can care less of what my fellow fans think, I blog what gives me that oh-so oft-quoted James May quotient of the ‘fizz’.
Haifuri gave me that ‘fizz’ this season. Enough to have me stick it out for the season and have me look forward coming home from a tiring 8-hour workday to spend roughly 5 hours watching and blogging the show.
In short, the show thrived on the characters with quite idealistic notions of naval combat, a setting that illicit discussion between myself and others, and tried with its earnest best to be much like Girls und Panzer. While not capturing that spirit, it came close and for someone who was mildly annoyed at the Arpeggio of Blue Steel –Ars Nova- adaptation, Haifuri’s season-long run was a bit of fresh air.