「武蔵でピンチ!」 (Musashi de Pinchi!)
“Pinched by the Musashi!”
I suppose it’s commendable that Hai-Furi tries to do a bit of everything. A bit of cute girls doing cute things, a bit of fanservice, a bit of action, a bit of drama—the appeal of the show is broad indeed. Alternatively, maybe the appeal is too diffused to really be a smash hit with any demographic; it’s a tricky juggling act, to be sure. I wonder what the pitch for Hai-Furi was. ‘It’s high school girls, on 20th century warships, that get jacked by gerbils. Brilliant!’. I suppose we can thank Kantai Collection for proving the financial viability of girls + warships in advance, though it does feel like Hai-Furi should have come first before they decided to mash together into a single abomination. Since KanColle did come first—and let’s just talk about the anime from now—we already know the kind of mistakes a show like it can make, specifically a lack of focus and violent mood swings. Unlike the oft compared Girls und Panzer, the warships in Hai-Furi are not just a sport from which the narrative can take a break from at will. These girls are on their ship all the time, and when they go vacationing by their high school girl ways it doesn’t feel all that appropriate. At least they try to give an excuse for it (‘we have nothing better to do while the boiler heats’) and there’s an angry German around to call out the foibles of the crew, so I don’t find it frustrating or anything, just a bit strange. But the general episode rhythm of goof off => sirens ring => get serious has been fairly consistent so far, so maybe it’s just a matter of settling into the norm for this anime.
And to Hai-Furi‘s credit, this does seem to be the episode where the ‘high school’ and the ‘fleet’ halves of the show come together a bit more, to squeeze some drama from the natural tension that should be arising. The Captain, faced with a tough decision this week, appears to have chosen poorly. It’s understandable why she would want to rush off to the aid of her bestest friend in the whole wide world, but she is the captain. This is dereliction of duty, right? This is the part where she should be relieved of command, right? I empathise, since she already chose to abandon the Musashi once before, and watching it go berserk firsthand must be heartbreaking, but it just goes to show that it’s not so simple to slot a high school kid into a command position in a pseudo-military outfit. Hardened soldiers they are not.
It’s a shame that Captain Misaki bucks under the pressure, when she is otherwise mostly capable of acting like a responsible authority figure. People are starting to spontaneously tell her their life stories, which should be a sign that she is trusted. In practice, it’s more an excuse to squeeze in some character development for the bridge crew; the navigator gets some flesh, and the German is integrated into the cast via cake (even though everyone seems to have forgotten that her ship got hijacked as well). It’s all probably necessary writing, but I can’t say I actually care to know that much about the supporting cast, and not just because of my sociopathic misanthropy. Since there’s still a lot of them, it’d actually be easier for me if the navigator remained the girl who spins the wheel and tears up. And I think Hai-Furi had teased us with the fate of the Musashi for too long; I mostly just want to know what happened to it. Thankfully, the payoff was pretty good, watching a battleship blast things, even if the climatic scene raised an eyebrow (shooting shells out of the sky seems… improbable).
Since Hai-Furi ended on a cliffhanger this time, I expect them to jump back into the action immediately next week. But I don’t think it’ll exactly be the Harekaze vs Musashi showdown I’m sure some of you crave. More likely, one side runs, and the Musashi subplot will remain en prise for the rest of the season. I won’t mind that particularly; I’m fine with letting the mystery build up a bit more right now. The battleship is probably Hai-Furi‘s highest trump, and I doubt they’ll expend it quite yet.