Living by the sea, protecting the sea, and journeying across the sea... They're the Blue Mermaids!
Because of a shift in tectonic plates around 100 years ago, Japan lost much of its area to submergence. To preserve Japan's territories, coastal cities sprung up, one after the other. Eventually, they became marine cities, and along with the expansion of sea-lanes to connect them, the need arose for a sizable staff to protect the seas.
At the same time, maritime jobs were becoming more popular among women. Hence, the Blue Mermaids, tasked with keeping the seas safe, had become every female student's dream job. This is when childhood friends Akeno Misaki and Moeka China enroll in a marine high school in Yokosuka, along with other girls who share their goal of becoming a Blue Mermaid.
Haifuri, one of the WORST promoted anime of all time. Okay that might be exaggerating, but not a lot of promotion is of this anime I have to say this season and to be absolutely frank (not Dave, we don’t talk about Dave), it was infuriating. Why? Because it’s completely the opposite to what people think it is and it was in my opinion absolutely fantastic.
Okay, short rant over, let’s get down to it since I’ve been itching to write a review but I wanted to finish the anime first and now that’s happened let’s get going with the review.
Unlike some people’s first impression of “this anime is a slice of life, loli anime with no plot (in both senses) at all”, Haifuri actually has an over arcing plot and story and it is introduced to the audience in the most dramatic way possible in the first episode. Now what is interesting about the story is the fact that it’s a semi-mysterious-esque plot line which is fairly fresh compared to say Girls und Panzer (I recommend that anime as well) which was a tournament based anime or KanColle, which has the generic story of “fight the bad guys because the narrator said so at the beginning”. Now there’s obviously the ideas of friendship power and team work in this anime as well which isn’t surprising but it’s not intrusive to the plot but rather helps the characters to overcome certain problems, which most of the time they can't overcome regardless of the friendship power and it’s these plot twists and subtle differences that make the story unique and interesting. However, I have to mention the fact that there are a two “filler” episodes in that there’s not really too much naval action and breaks the tension generated by the other episodes but they weren’t intrusive and helped to develop the characters so can’t complain too much.
Art and Animation: 9
The ships are really well animated and they do feel like the girls are on board a real ship with all of its related equipment and weapons. Explosions are also eye candy and pairs well with the sound effects. The ships move realistically, shakes and rides the waves like a ship would. The water animation is of note as well and makes you feel like they are at sea. If you just came for the battles and fights, you’ll be pleased as the weapons are also fairly well animated (torpedoes especially). If you came for the cute girls then you won’t be disappointed either. 31 cuties each with a different style to match their persona and all of them will leave at least some impressionable image in your mind. Although for some reason, it might just be me, but the ships seems to be in a higher resolution than the characters sometimes. However, it’s nothing too significant that can affect the enjoyment of the show.
OP is catchy and gets stuck in your head, ED is soft and calming. Both fits the theme of the sea very well. The sound track during the anime isn’t used to fill the silence but rather used to great effect adding lots of tension to the scenes. Those sound tracks can really get your heart racing during the fight scenes and your heart throbbing in some of the more emotional scenes, and trust me, the feels will hit you like a truck. Other sounds worth mentioning is the sound effects which are pretty good. You can hear the whistle of the shell getting louder as it get nearer to the ship, the heavy explosion during impact, the creaking of the ship under stress, the echo of detonations of torpedoes in the water and the list just goes on. All these sound effect adds more excitement, tension and action to the scenes and boy they feel satisfying.
Now you might be asking why the low score with characters after the praises I’ve sung for in previous categories? Well it’s simple, the problem with casting 31 girls is the fact that there is definitely no way every single one will get developed to a significant degree that you can remember their names and their personas in a 12 episode season (hence this needs a second season please!). So some the supporting cast had very little to say and aren’t presented to us fully which is a downer. However it’s understandable and unavoidable with such a huge cast, but credit to where credit’s due, they did at least try to make every member of the crew memorable in the second to last episode. Now the positives is the fact that those characters that we do see often and remember more are developed very well. The MC, Mike-chan, goes through a series of transformations from slightly clumsy airhead at the start to full blown determined captain by the end, whilst the also uncovering some of the back stories behind her which was “interesting” (used “interesting” to avoid spoiling the feeling, go watch to find out). Shiro-chan, the deputy-captain, started off strict and harsh, but we all knew she was a soft person inside and eventually she shows it as the relationships between the characters grew. To name but a few more; Tama-chan, Rin-chan, Maron-chan, Mei-chan, all these had much differing personalities and each developed and grew in their own way as the story progressed and it really made the series lovable. Also there are two cats. (Personal favourite: Tama-chan)
The entire series was enjoyable to me. Each episode made me yearn for more. The tension was brilliant and the story flowed nicely. The action scenes and battles were the highlights for me and was full of excitement and a joy to watch. The characters are definitely lovable and undoubtedly cute. The series was definitely the highlight of the season for me and I want a second season so bad!
If you like cute girls, this anime will be your piece of cake whilst also be surprising.
If you like military and battles, this anime will still be your cup of tea since that is the anime’s focus which is different from say GirlPan.
If you like moe, give it a shot, but it won’t be the main focus, but I think you’ll enjoy some parts of it at least.
If you like suspense, well I wouldn’t say it’s very suspenseful but there are elements of it.
If you don’t like cute girls, then turn around and leave via the door behind you because there’s no way I can convince you.
If you are looking for FANSERVICE, this anime WILL DISAPPOINT you to no end! So follow the cute girl haters out as well and go watch Strike Witches instead.
So the show has been fairly standard. Nothing particularly great or terrible comes to mind. The plot was intriguing, and the characters are developed enough that I can partially invest myself.
Up until this point there have been hints of something sinister and nefarious running in the background, driving the plot. We've had some build up in tension, and we get a boat-fight as the climax of each episode. Doesn't really break conventions at all, but it doesn't drive us away. The third episode ends with a ray of hope that the protagonists might have some external allies
And then episode 4 rolls out. We start the episode by completely dissolving all the dramatic tension. We are alerted that the school, where they can hopefully solve the conflict, is only 26 hours of sailing away. Just over a day's journey. That leaves a large window for something to go wrong, but gives the impression that they are close to success.
And then the entire crew falls into disarray because they're out of spare toilet paper. Further dialogue suggests that they are not right out, indicating that there is likely some in the bathrooms currently. They suddenly break into worry over their dwindling supplies, and there is talk about stopping in a nearby town to restock, despite the current ban on their ship from entering all ports other than the schools. This is the premise of the episode
On its own, the shopping subplot isn't terrible. What makes it so, is that they just affirmed with the audience that they'll arrive at the school (where the ship would normally restock) in 26 hours time. That means that at this time tomorrow, the girls will be 2 hours away from salvation.
Why on earth would they go on a shopping excursion!? Surely they have enough toilet paper to last them a day if they all choose to be as conservative as possible. They already indicated they have plenty of food, and even if they didn't, 26 hours is less than the 30 hour famine that many people take on in support of starving communities! If they'll be at the school soon, why would they risk stalling their journey for another couple hours just so that they can wipe with as much as they want?
The first five minutes of episode 4 just absolutely shatter the suspension of disbelief. There is no reason why these girls would make such a stupid decision. I can't even finish the episode now, but I'm fairly certain that attempting this risky excursion gets them caught, they enter into another sea battle (as that seems to be how every episode ends) to fend off the pursuers who found them, and the entire sequence makes it harder to return to the school (because solving a conflict before the end of cour would illustrate just how little content there is).
If this is how they're going to try and keep things dramatic, it's not something I can watch. There is nothing more to keep me invested in the series, unless I just want to watch cute girls pilot a ship.read more
You know, if there’s one title from the top of my head with a misleading promo poster, then High Fleet Girls would be the first title this year to be named. Initially, the series was promoted under the title ‘Hai-furi’ before the revelation that it’s more than just about “cute girls doing cute things”. Much, much more.
Before starting the show, I think it’s also important to understand the background and setting of the story. It takes place in an alternate modern world although events from 100 years ago (shift in tectonic plates) has changed much of Japan. The country attempts to preserve territories and establish costal colonies and cities. The primary focus of the story is about the Blue Mermaids, a group that is tasked to keep the sea safe and is also apparently every female student’s dream job.
The series starts off quickly and reveals that a girl named Akeno Misaki (nicknamed “Mike”) with a big dream. She enrolls at an academy known as “Yokosuka Girls' Marine High School” with the goal to join the Blue Mermaids. For the first episode, the show establishes that Akeno and her crew faces unexpected circumstances as they are accused of mutiny. Furthermore, Akeno becomes the captain of the destroyer ship Harekaze. Make no mistake though, the show has a rather serious vibe despite the misleading atmosphere. The crew faces against battleships armed with real firepower capable of destroying them. Furthermore, Akeno is a newbie with lack of experience and tries hard to earn the respect of her crew. In essence, the show makes it clear that it’s no joke and pushes the idea of naval warfare to a level that you may not be prepared for.
Among the crew, there is a variety of characters. One thought that crossed my mind is how the show can fit characterization with so many. After all, introducing all the girls at once seems like a mistake because there’s nothing in particular that makes them stand out individually besides the main protagonists. Most of them seems to have generic characteristics as well ranging from being stubborn, class clown, nervousness, etc. It’s also hard to ignore the similarities between this and Girls und Panzer especially with how talent is developed from both series. In some ways, the show does a neat job at making each episode relevant with its premise. In other ways, I have to say that the character cast is perhaps just too big for its own good.
Either way, you’ll probably find some characters from the series to be more noticeable than others. Besides Akeno, we have Mashiro Munetani, the deputy captain of Harekaze. Unlike Akeno, she seems more like the serious type that takes everything a bit too straightforward and even has a case of allurophobia. Then, there’s quiet girls like Shima Tateishi with elite gunning skills, Mei Irizaki with her passion to fight, Kouka Nosa with a theoretical mind, and timid Rin Shiretoko with decent steering abilities. They make up the bulk of the characters’ screen time so keep in mind while watching their roles. What I also find insightful about the show is that it divides the Blue Mermaid crew well with division to make each of them unique. For instance, there’s the Bridge of the crew with their central command objectives, the combat unit with their fighting talents, navigation division with their abilities to navigate under any circumstance, engineering department for construct and repair, and Logistics for aid in operations. The point is that the show doesn’t neglect any part of the Blue Mermaid crew and makes each role important to ensure the team’s success. On the downside, there isn’t much concrete characterization. The sheer amount of characters for this one cour show just seems a bit too much and perhaps the most characterization we’ll get is between Akeno’s childhood with her friend.
Between the story and the slice of life feeling, High School Fleet feels more like a marine school/military hybrid adventure. The show makes it clear that Blue Mermaid is in danger at times especially when combating other ships (the most prominent one being the infamous Musashi). At other times, it feels like a school floating on water. This is because of the inner storytelling that goes inside the ship with the girls living their dream job. They want to have fun while working so on occasions, there will emerge “breather” episodes to show their lifestyle. At other times, they must be prepared for what’s ahead. That is, one particular part of the story baffles me with the way it’s executed when it involves peculiar experimentations. I’m all in for surprises but that took me by storm, almost like the way that Akeno is taken by her unexpected role. For some, this could drive away viewers from further pursuing the series but for others, it may also spark more interest. In retrospect, High School Fleet is one of those shows that you’ll have to expect the unexpected.
It’s an anime original first and produced by TMS Entertainment. For artwork standards, it’s fairly well done in terms of ship designs. This is important because it gives more viewers interest to see how they work. I’m also impressed by the way Harekaze is designed with its 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun turrets and MK 16 naval guns. The 5"/54 caliber Mark 16 and Mark 37 also looks surprisingly realistic. In terms of character designs, it’s generally moderate with a decent effort and budget poured towards making the girls look adorable and professional. Remember, there are at least 30 girls on just one ship alone! Like most shows that takes almost exclusively at sea, expect fan service with an even inevitable “beach episode”. However, the show itself excels the most at combat choreography. Even the night battles gives a strong impression of what naval warfare about. And in essence, the series knows how to expand its limits to make the fights believable.
On the subject of soundtrack, the show is crisp and knows what it’s doing most of the time. This is especially true for the intense battle orchestrated OST that really gets the adrenaline pumping. Character voices are also accurately portrayed to reflect their personalities and expressions. Remember, these girls are practically part of the military so it’s interesting to see how they react under extreme circumstances. The voice mannerism does just that. OP and ED theme songs are catchy as well that gives the marine vibes and cool atmospheric feeling.
High School Fleet is like the love child of Girls und Panzer and Kantai Collection. If you’ve seen either series, then you may find yourself quite familiar with this show. Still, as an anime original, the show has its own merits with the storytelling, characters, and overall style. For the majority, the show is perhaps a refreshing idea by taking cute girls and put them on a warship for their adventure. For others, it may be more of a forgettable attempt to revolutionize the female gender role. Still, I’d give this show a try because it’ll be an experience that sails with high spirit. read more
High School Fleet or Haifuri (which will be what LA will be calling it from now on) is another "girls doing cute things" this Spring 2016 however it's not focusing on misfortune, bread or motorbikes, but naval warfare a la Girls und Panzer.
In terms of characters, considering the huge cast, you'd think that the development to these girls are minimal at best and sure that is true as the majority of the characters gets something of a "running gag trait" however considering the screentime and teamwork needed in naval warfare, their screentime is plentiful. The majority of the character focus goes to the captain, Akeno Misaki voiced by Shiina Natsukawa, the vice captain with bad luck Mashiro Munetani voiced by Lynn, the German stowaway Wilhelmina Friedeburg voiced by Hiromi Igarashi and Misaki's best friend Moeka China voiced by Sora Amamiya. However where the character development goes to are the entire Harukaze's teamwork thus the relational teamwork helps with the naval warfare of this anime. AAAnd if your wandering, LA's favourite characters were a tie between Akeno and Wilhelmina.
Now why the naval warfare instead of just naval fair?, this anime actually has a Cerberus syndrome early on as this anime has a mystery element to it making this "girls doing cute things" rather dark and intense but still having the atmosphere of a moe anime.
The battles?...is actually the best thing about this anime and reminds LA of Girls und Panzer in this sense, sure the battles that the Harekaze cast isn't off the rails like Girls und Panzer did, but to be honest they were on the borderline of doing utterly insane naval moves, not insane, more "innovative".
The animation by Production IMS, is overall above average, from the character designs being "moe" and bright typical of the girls doing cute things anime genre but the battles are pulse pounding and gorgeously animated (sure it has CGI on the naval ships, but the CGI hardly ever irked LA).
The voice acting range, well we have mostly "moe" voice actors, ironic due to the contrasting naval warfare, however there are some notable voice actors LA needs to point out, those being Hiromi Igarashi as Wilhelmina, not only because of her shy tsundereness, but her German accenting was rather outstanding, on the other hand we have the impressionist bridgehand navigator Kouko Nosa voiced by Yuuko Kurose as well as the ever-genki Maron Yanagiwara voiced by Natsumi Takamori the chief of the engine room came out as a standout and Natsumi Takamori took out as LA's favourite voice actor in Haifuri because of that.
The ending gave a bittersweet yet impactful ending, the final battle was awesome with all regards with a small plot twist making that final battle even better, the yuri undertones helped immensely too. The bittersweet moment of the ending felt like a salute to the Harekaze as a character though. Overall the ending was just great.
LA will be quick about the conclusion of Haifuri, if your a fan of Girls und Panzer and want something VERY similar, then watch Haifuri as that is the naval warfare equivalent of Girls und Panzer just with a mystery element to it. If that statement interests you, Haifuri is set to sail for ya!read more