「ラストバトルでピンチ！」 (Rasuto Batoru de Pinchi! )
“In a Pinch with the Last Battle!”
No surprises: this is the final battle, and the Musashi is the last boss. The fight takes much the same shape as one may have expected it to have. The Harekaze is way outgunned. They’re literally blown out of the water. They have to make use of all their remaining toys. The cavalry arrive. The day is saved! Predictable, perhaps, but I don’t really have a problem with this. Finales should be clean. Worse would be if Hai-Furi overreached, tried for a big last minute twist, and messed up its so far steady pacing at the last minute. No, there’s no need to be revolutionary with the ways stories end. It’s not like what we got was boring; stakes were still high, with plenty of explosions to go around. Give the people what we want.
There were three things I was expecting, yet didn’t happen, though. I was expecting the principal to show up like a big damn hero and display whatever hax thing Hai-Furi was foreshadowing, but I suppose she’s leaving it to the younger generation etc etc. I was expecting somebody to ride the rocket, which would have been completely ridiculous but I would have liked to see it nonetheless. And I was expecting the Harekaze needing to sacrifice itself to take out the Musashi, but turns out it didn’t need to go that far. That last one I should talk more about, because while the much-abused Harekaze did sink in the end (which was a fine way to send off the story as a whole), but I think they could have made a bigger deal of it in the body of the episode (as opposed to being just a bit of a deal, like what we got). Not only will evacuating the ship and floundering about with lifeboats sound pretty interesting to watch, there’s probably also plenty of drama to be milked out of giving up on their trusty home of 12 episodes. I can see where that subplot, with all its wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth may have been cut from the script of this episode, since we’ve had other sources of drama and the time could be better spent to let the girls stare meaningfully at each other. I suppose I can just go watch Titanic instead.
(And now, the song is stuck in my head. Damn it all.)
So, yeah, very competent finale overall, and competency is all I ask for in my anime, really. Since I have nothing much I feel like griping about or dissecting, let’s jump right on to the final impressions.
Final Impressions ~ Girls just want to have fun
I know Hai-Furi is oft compared to Girls und Panzer (perhaps crossed with Gakkou Gurashi), and while I can see certain similarities (including in pedigree) I think the two are fundamentally very different shows. Girls und Panzer is a sports anime, and follows many of the conventions of that genre, while Hai-Furi is a bit harder to pin down to a single genre. I’m tempted to actually just lump it under science fiction and sort out details later. Genres are a very loose categorisation, as far as I’m concerned, and since Hai-Furi has a rather curious sci-fi setting I consider it sci-fi.
The main sell of the show, though, is more obvious—it’s combat between antiquated war machines. This is where the comparisons to Girls und Panzer usually come in, even though the reasons for these machines fighting, the driving narrative, are quite different. Even in this area, though, Hai-Furi has a somewhat different, and arguably harder task—to make naval combat interesting. Perhaps it’s just me, but while battleships and tanks are both essentially just big metal things with guns, the latter tend to have more interesting battles than the former. The scale plays a big part, because ships are more glorified artillery than tanks are, but I think the main factor is terrain. Let’s face it, the sea’s a bit of a boring battleground. Mostly, it’s blue. There’s just not much to work with there. To Hai-Furi‘s credit, it tried its hardest to keep things fresh, sometimes with harsh weather, sometimes with shoals, sometimes underwater with subs. I’d chalk up most of its efforts as successes; the battles never got repetitive, if only because there was always a new gimmick to pull out. And with regards to ships, Hai-Furi is sometimes almost educational. Here is where Hai-Furi diverges from Girls und Panzer again, because while both have slice-of-life segments on ships the former is actually (loosely) about life on ships while the latter has aircraft carriers for no reason. Even if you’re sick of cute girls doing cute things in anime, cute girls doing cute things on a ship may have just enough extra spice to keep things interesting.
What of the plot that holds all these battles together though? Since I consider Hai-Furi to be a sci-fi, I found the episodes where the plot was most in tune with its setting to be the strongest. By this I mean episode 07, rescuing the liner, was standout as a great episode of anime all round. It’s where the drama is fully function of the world Hai-Furi takes place in, as opposed to mind-control-rat-zombies, which is harder to believe as not being a contrivance for the purposes of getting a bunch of ships to fight. That said, while the rodent hive mind was a bit out there, I didn’t really mind it all that much by the end. I think the only thing a plot needs is internal consistency; as long as it follows its own rules and a set of logic, I’m fairly generous with my suspension of disbelief. To that end, Hai-Furi managed to be both consistent and coherent (aided no doubt by a very measured pacing), and so I give it a passing grade. Actually, considering how many anime melt down into a confused mess half way through for lack of sensible direction, I’d even give Hai-Furi‘s writing a credit. By which I still remember the bad aftertaste of Kantai Collection, which Hai-Furi has gone far to scrub from my palate.
Unlike Kantai Collection, Hai-Furi at least knew exactly what it was. High School. and Fleet. It wasn’t trying to be a war flick. It wasn’t trying to be a gritty maritime epic, on the hunt for the white whale. It had a world, it did some interesting things within it, and then it ended, all in the name of good fun. Which is why I don’t quibble with realism and such in this show, because realism wasn’t the point. Entertainment was the point. For a show like this, if it’s kinda cool and goes well with popcorn, go for it, I say. Maybe it’s because I blogged two other heavy shows this season, but the light entertainment of Hai-Furi every week was a welcome diversion. Sure, Hai-Furi isn’t high art. It’s not the best show. Perhaps it’s not even a ‘great’ show. But it provided me at least some entertainment regularly for twelve weeks, and so it’s a good show. That’s a fine thing for any anime to aspire to.