「嵐でピンチ!」 (Arashi de Pinchi!)
“In a Stormy Pinch!”
Hai-Furi continues to be unable to maintain seriousness for more than half an episode, so per the familiar formula this week we need to goof off for around five minutes before we get to the juicy stuff. I don’t think I necessarily have a problem with this, but perhaps Hai-Furi is too obviously a show of too halves. While I do think that Hai-Furi shouldn’t be serious all the time—I don’t think the relatively idealistic nature of the world can sustain it—it’s hard to tell, sometimes, whether Hai-Furi wants me to take it easy or wants me really invested in life or death. I suppose it’s mostly okay, since there is clearly two conflicts in every episode, one trivial and one less so, but it does require one to exercise something of a mental switch when inevitably ‘suddenly stuff happens!’ and the cast goes action mode (some less willingly than others). In particular, I think this could have been an episode that could have been all serious, if it wanted to. Perhaps if this were an anime featuring older ships, galleons and such, the risk of running out of fresh water, of being becalmed, and of being wrecked in the fog would all real dangers. And then celebrating the rain could be more akin to a scene from Robinson Crusoe or something, instead of first world problems.
(Rain’s not entirely clean either, too. Better than sea water, I guess.)
The second half, though, was definitely serious business, though I couldn’t help but wondering whether Hai-Furi is going backwards. Not in terms of quality—that has been mostly consistent, thankfully—but in plot. We started, if you recall, with warships blasting at each other, and a rescue mission is arguably a de-escalation. Helping distressed ships on the high seas is what the Blue Mermaids actually does, as opposed to shooting each other, which would make the distress call this week the kind of world building that I feel should perhaps have come first. Arguably, only now do we actually see the status quo. I don’t have a complaint about this, really, but it is interesting to wonder why it was done this way. Perhaps it was all to sync up with our captain’s tragic backstory, which probably wouldn’t have worked shown earlier without us already having seen her ‘crew is family’ philosophy or her predilection to running off to save people. More cynically, perhaps Hai-Furi was easier to sell as a ‘war machines fight!’ anime, leaving a meatier but less pyrotechnical episode like this one to be smuggled in later.
If this is the true form of Hai-Furi, I approve, because once the episode got rolling I found it to be quite strong. I had been looking for more word building in Hai-Furi, because that’s the kind of thing I enjoy in my science fiction, and just watching the Blue Mermaids function as intended was disproportionately interesting for me. Beyond just the subject matter, the execution was also great. The rain effects and submerged corridors really set the scene, and it managed to maintain throughout the tension of a disaster movie (like a compressed version of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0). All very gripping. And of course, the personal touch, tying back to character development for both the Captain and the Deputy Captain. Mike actually staying put and staying captain is a significant step for her, and Shiro-chan has always been the kind of stoic character who works best when struggling (plus, she manages to get over both her cat phobia and her professed misfortune). Sure, it was a bit of coincidence for the distress call to come right when Mike was telling her life story, but the storm did link both so I’ll forgive it. And it was a bit silly for Shiro-chan to end up having to risk her life to save a cat, but Japanese is that kind of language so I’ll let it slide. Ship Mum and Dad coming to an understanding was quite satisfying, so I’ll forgive the minor contrivances needed to get there. It’s suspension of disbelief.
Good though it was, this may be the only episode of actual Blue Mermaid-ery that we’re getting, since there can’t really be that many ships getting wrecked around the Harekaze. And an Evil Red
Musashi Some Ship is around, and beckoning at the plot to notice it. For those of you who much prefer the gunpowder and explosions to this slight diversion rescuing civilians, rest assured that Hai-Furi has not abandoned you.