「赤道祭でハッピー!」 (Sekidōsai de Happī ! )
“Happy at the Equator Festival!”
This week, Scotty has gone completely insane, which means there’s nobody to keep the Harekaze together for this episode of Hai-Furi. One can certainly feel a general lethargy in both the cast and the plot, though this does seem to be a self-aware choice on Hai-Furi‘s part, with this the only episode so far where the Harekaze has not been ‘in a pinch’. I suppose Hai-Furi has been pushing out mostly serious episodes for a while now, something which it cannot seem to sustain, like somebody holding their breath, and now has to take a big gasp of goofiness before it’s good to go again. We’re in the calm before the storm right now, it seems, before the Blue Mermaids go all out on Operation Perseus, though on my part I consider any episode of Hai-Furi where nothing explodes to be filler.
To be fair on Hai-Furi, besides the zombie warships plot, it has also concerned itself with things that generally goes on at sea (showing off research, perhaps), though some of it is more interesting than others (the rescue episode was standout, the sea mines somewhat less so). Superstitions and sailors go hand and in hand, which is not surprising in a profession where traditionally survival involved healthy amounts of luck. To be becalmed and stranded in the open seas was every sailor’s nightmare, and many bizarre rituals evolved to win favour with the fickle weather. Keeping a cat, whistling up the wind, offerings of shoes and oil to the seas—the firmly land-bound can scarce understand the strange religion that their seafaring brothers separately developed (and it was almost always ‘brothers’—letting women on ships was unlucky, the irony). These are all Western seafaring traditions, though, and the ones I’m familiar with; I don’t much know what the Japanese did, and don’t think they even had the large vessels capable of long-distance voyages (though being a string of islands, Japan had plenty of sailors). If you’re interested in Japanese rituals, then Hai-Furi is good for those, though it does get weird after a while once the festival devolves into a party with a standard random talent act. The end effects reminded me of those variety shows that the Japanese seem to love, and if you enjoy those then this episode may work for you. On my part though, I treat them with the same disdain I treat all reality TV. Perhaps a gaijin like me will never understand the appeal.
This wasn’t an episode entirely devoid of purpose, I suppose. It’s probably the last chance Hai-Furi will get to give its crew personality, and to that extent it did what it had too—a character only needs one quirk to be potentially memorable. And character development is not for nothing, and we got a fair bit of that here. In particular, Kuro and her captain really needed to sort out their tension before the end, and there’s nothing more tried and true than violence. That said, I don’t know if letting a crewman act on urges to brutalise a superior officer makes for a healthy command relationship in the long term. Hopefully, the opportunity to vent her frustrations physically was all she needed.
Also hopefully, now that Hai-Furi has indulged in its fun and games it will really put its girls through the grinder in these last two episodes—especially now that they’ve all sang a song together and feel good about themselves. It’s the Principal of Narrative Sadism. Hai-Furi is certainly well set up for a big finale. With five ships still at large, there should be plenty of action to go around for operation Perseus. And the Musashi will make for a worthy final boss.