The Duties of an Anime Reviewer:
- Give quality reviews
- Don’t give away the endings
- Be fair in all reviews
- Note trends
That last one is important, as I am noticing another trend and it is what I call “Women and Weapons”. Shows that can be flung into this mix are “Strike Witches”, “Girls Und Panzer”, “Upotte!”, “Arpeggio of Blue Steel” and “KanColle” (although those last three can be seen as “Women AS Weapons”). The latest title to come to us is “High School Fleet” (“Haisukūru Furīto”) and operates in an alternative future.
At some time in the past, excessive mining throughout Japan caused severe water intrusion to the point where about 25% of the land mass is now submerged. People live on great floating cities. All ladies are compelled to go to Naval Schools, as another edict was passed that no men shall captain any battleship, which effectively bars them from serving as any member of the crew for any reason. We are at Yokosuka Girls’ Marine High School, where student Akeno Misaki (Captain’s hat, second from right) is expected to not only follow in the great and grand tradition of her family, but wishes to become a Blue Mermaid (or Blumer, as they are called). This is a kind of naval equivalent of the Green Berets.
She is given the captaincy of a destroyer, the Harekaze, as part of some naval exercise. Things start to go off the rails (or out of the sea lanes, so to speak) when they are to rendezvous with the Sarushima, who then opens fire on them. They make their escape, but now the word is out that they have mutinied and the rest of the fleet is after them. Ahh, but there is more afoot than meets the eye, at least initially. It is up to this plucky band of barely-teens to figure out what is going wrong with things. At these coordinates it really falls apart.
I would bet a nickel that none of them are older than 16 and Akeno comes off as 14-ish. Yet, you are going to let this group of gals operate a 5500-ton destroyer as though it is an outing to the water park. Adding to that concern is Akeno does not inspire a lot of confidence with her crew and even less with her Deputy Officer, Mashiro Munetani (far left), who sees her duty more as if she was a den mother or running a cram school. I just felt the show was a thin excuse to see young teens in flirty outfits and whatnot, and the actual nuts-and-bolts portion of the show can get moved off to one side.
I don’t understand naval tactics, so when they do battle, it washes over me. I was also shocked as to how bad of a shot they are. It’s like they could never hit their target and if they do, it is more luck than math. Naval battles are hot, grimy and noisy and there is little time for shrieking and falling apart and running about, but that’s what they did. The sub story about why the people tend to go batty was telegraphed too soon and that took away some of the surprise for me. I don’t want to guess the issue too early, just like I don’t want to miss out on the whole thing.
I realize that in watching anime, I have to surrender a whole lot of things to allow it to work, but in some cases, it’s a bit steep of a price to be asking. At the end of the day, it is a mildly successful series, but one that can wait for your “B” list to hunt down…unless you like ‘em girly and squealing.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (OK, they are cute and girly)
Plot 7 (Mixed purposes)
Pacing 6 (The internal fight scenes slow it down)
Effectiveness 6 (Misplaced, owing to forced uncertainty)
Conclusion 2 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 6 (It lacks true grit)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. The radio isn’t working…..again.