Wait, what the fuck?
Holy shit, that got dark.
I completely fell for the bait. I was still unwilling to believe it even when Akeno realized they were being attacked by live ammunition. Literally every piece of promotional material (and all the key visuals) thus far has indicated that Haifuri (which is short for ‘high school fleet) would be a comfy slice-of-life. I was expecting lots of classroom antics and fun conversations about meaningless, mundane things with an all-girl cast. I was expecting them to eventually visit the beach, or enjoy fireworks at a summer festival. I was expecting there to be lots of implicit yuri and lolis everywhere. And they would have gotten onto a ship one episode and there might have been a competition between all the classes. But unfortunately, I’m sorry to say, we’re not going to get any of that (except maybe the all-girl cast, yuri and lolis). This isn’t a regular slice-of-life. This has a plot, and we’ve all been baited magnificently (no doubt because money grows on trees at Aniplex). These girls have been attacked, framed for mutiny and are now on the run.
I can’t remember the last time this sort of unexpected twist happened. Muv-Luv Alternative, I think. And before that, Madoka. I knew about the Gakkou Gurashi one because I only watched it after the season had finished. By the time Yuuki Yuuna aired it had already become standard to make cute girls suffer, so the impact of the plot twist in that was lessened slightly. But this was completely different – it was advertised as a CGDCT. I was expecting to finish the episode feeling healed. I did a little research just now and found out that, now that it’s aired, all the key visuals have changed – the official website no longer has this fluffy picture around. It’s now become this. In fact, they even went to a lot of trouble and intentionally put up a misleading billboard in Akiba which, as you can see, was taken down a few hours ago and replaced with the real advertising material. It’s crazy, right? I then wondered how Production IMS were able to afford all this, and apparently it’s being backed by Aniplex and their big bucks. Which of course perfectly explains it. Haifuri is surprisingly well-made compared to the past stuff IMS has churned out, after all. Really good production values. Most of their previous works have been harem stuff like Date A Live, Shinmai Maou or this season’s Hundred – their best anime so far has been Joukamachi no Dandelion, and all those (as good as I think Dandelion is) haven’t had particularly noteworthy animation.
All the girls are super cute. All of them. Look at this fluffy loli to the right. Don’t you want to adopt her? I’m surprised Atto (who designed them all, also the Non Non Biyori mangaka) managed to come up with so many diverse character designs. Think of it this way. If each one of these girls was placed in their own sub-par slice-of-life anime, they would probably be best girl. It’s like a best girl collection. I also like the fact that there seem to be a disproportionate number of lolis in the class. The production staff clearly has some individuals amongst them with patrician taste. I wouldn’t classify them all as lolis (some of them are treading a really fine line) but there’s quite a few, even though they’re all supposed to be in high school. Akeno will be a great main character – she would have fitted perfectly in both Haifuri the slice-of-life and Haifuri the… whatever this is. She’s like a cross between Nanoha and Honoka, and I think her smile, cheerfulness and spirit will help get the Harekaze through some dark times. Shiro can be her foil once she’s melted a little more. It’s only a matter of time until she gets befriended. Shiro makes some hilarious expressions by the way, she was definitely my best girl candidate for the first half of the episode. But this is a cast where everyone is a potential best girl, remember? And there can only be one. After some thinking, I’m proud to announce that my best girl is…
Isoroku, the cat.
I’m joking, I’m joking!Even though best girl is not a laughing matter I do love the cat though, his expression is priceless. It was a really hard decision, but eventually I settled on Mei. I think that’s her name, she’s the genki-looking torpedo girl with the red hair ribbon who’s always energetic and got really happy when she heard she could fire on her own comrades. And I love ponytails. I think her design is pure sex, so it’s absolutely perfect that she has such a bubbly personality to go along with it. I think someone on the animation team must like her too, because they put a whole lot of effort into her scenes. As they should, because she’s the cutest and the best. Even if this show is terrible (and it isn’t by far) I would still watch this for her sake. I want to protect her smile.
Now. This instructor lady. She’s also cute, but a bitch and very perplexing at the same time. I hope she doesn’t think I’ll forgive her for framing her students just because she’s a little bit cute. I know one of the girls on the bridge were saying that it might just be some glorified method of training, but I really don’t think that’s it. She was definitely trying to frame them, and all that’s unsure is exactly how much of it she’s set up. It’s nothing to do with them being late. Attacking them with live ammo is way too dangerous a response, and there was nothing to indicate that this is what training would be like. The instructor didn’t respond to anyone’s apologies over the radio. Was the Harekaze’s engine problem artificially created in advance so that they’d lose time? It’s true that the Sarushima fired inaccurately on purpose, but was that just to provoke the Harekaze to attack back? It’s also interesting that ‘Munetani’ is the surname of both the high school principal and Shiro – are they related, and does the instructor have some sort of grudge that she’s trying to indirectly satisfy by putting Shiro on a small-time training ship and setting her up? Why else would she go to all this trouble to antagonize some fresh recruits?
I guess it’s a good thing that they’ve gone to all these lengths to hide what the show really is about. Haifuri is an anime original, and given what they’ve done so far I think we can really hope for something interesting from this. I didn’t expect it at all, but I’ll take it. It’s still right up my alley after all, even after the twist. It’s stuffed full of cute girls with wonderful character designs and plot-wise is some sort of mix between Kancolle and Girls und Panzer, both of which I’ve blogged. A few questions remain to be answered, the most important of those being exactly how much suffering there’s going to be. Will the Harekaze have to fight the other students? Will they be on the run from all the Blue Mermaids? Will there be angst when Akeno runs into Moka again? Are we going to end up with another Kisaragi incident? Is that why the cast is so huge – because some of them might be killed off? I was initially unsure about blogging this precisely because I thought it’d be a comfy slice-of-life with nothing much for me to say each week, but that’s definitely not the case any more. I don’t know where this will go, but it’s worth paying attention to for sure.
Possibility of Watching: Guaranteed
Possibility of Blogging: Very High