OP: 「High Free Spirits」 by TrySail
「初航海でピンチ！」 (Hatsu Kōkai de Pinchi! )
“In a Pinch on Our Maiden Voyage!”
Somehow, it seems that warships are all the rage in Japan right now. Your guess is as good as mine as to why. And I suppose Hai-Furi could well be simply anime’s next attempt to cash in on the warship craze—and even as I typed that sentence I realised how silly it sounded. On my part, though, I actually went into Hai-Furi looking for an ARIA substitute until the Amanchu anime next season, and somehow I don’t think I pegged it right. To put it mildly. Now, that wasn’t actually entirely apparent from the beginning though, what with its notably fluffy start. In fact, one got the impression that Hai-Furi itself wasn’t too sure what it was as it cut slightly stiltedly from rose-tinted flashback to awkward slapstick to various yuri-shipping to high school slice-of-life. Also, this blob of cat. But then the ditzy lead (Natsukawa Shiina) puts on her inappropriately cool hat (without the snazzy uniform, to my disappointment), with which Hai-Furi seems to pull itself together and eventually lead to EXPLOSIONS—though not without some quizzical cluelessness about exactly why it was being serious all of a sudden.
The cute girls + warships formula will no doubt attract comparisons to Kantai Collection, which is unfortunate because I considered that anime to be, in a word, bad. It’s not completely inapt, I suppose; I can imagine somebody watching KanColle and thinking, we can do warship school better than this, and so they did. Military vessels as young girls was always rather silly and bringing it one level closer to earth as just young girls operating military vessels is… well, still silly, but I think it makes for a better aesthetic here, either by design or execution. The naval combat, at least, felt much more like naval combat than it did in KanColle, perhaps for no other reason than that it actually involved ships instead of cosplayers standing on water. For the military buffs, Hai-Furi is certainly the more technical show making it steer more to the way of Girls und Panzer, which may not be too much of a surprise considering Hai-Furi is the brainchild of Suzuki Takaaki, GuP‘s military advisor, and the two series share Yoshida Reiko as scriptwriter. I can see the similarities already, what with the large cast being separated into discrete groups like like the tank teams of GuP. For example, I think the bridge crew will be the main focus, or at least I hope so, because there’s no way I’m going to remember all the other yahoos any time soon.
But perhaps there is one more apropos comparison to be made: Sora no Woto, a favourite of mine and something that the setting of Hai-Furi reminds me of in ways. The cheery mood of a world sinking into the sea evokes fond memories of the gentle post-apocalypse of Sora no Woto and I daresay this setting was more interesting for me than any other aspect of Hai-Furi. Sure, the cozy high-school setting suddenly being plunged into combat and mutiny was a pleasing turn, but it could still turn into an over-complicated trial-by-fire in the end, and even if it doesn’t there’s still the question of why they’re doing any of this in the first place. This future where people travel around town on jet-skis yet have to learn to man not at all futuristic ships, all while civilisation as we know it is dying—that’s where most of my curiosities lie. As is the norm for Random Curiosities these days, coverage decisions for this season’s shows will be made at a later date, but on my part Hai-Furi has my interest piqued, and I think it will be worth watching to see what it intends to do with itself.