Hai Furi(ハイスクール・フリート) or High school fleet is a science fiction military anime airing during the Spring 2016 season. It is a adaptation of a manga with the same name and story that is published in the monthly magazine, Alive. The show is produced by Production IMS a mediocre studio who deal mostly in echii series. They are also making the series “Hundred “that is airing this season.
Hai furi takes place in an alternate history where much of world has become submerged underwater due to shifts in tectonic plates. Small islands that emerged become fully fledged coastal cities. 100 years later our heroes Akeno Misaki and Moeka China decide to join the Blue Mermaids a military group that serves to protect Japan and it’s ocean.
This is very interesting setting and serves to create a lot of cool visuals. The idea of high school girls joining/being in the military isn’t a brand new idea (Sabagebu, Girls und Panzer) it’s still a breath of fresh air in a sea of bland high school comedies. And while I don’t wish to spoil anything the first two episodes took a story in a completely different direction that I expected and I give the writers credit for that. Despite all that going for it though, I couldn’t help but feel extremely disappointed.
There is a lot of wasted potential on the animation side. Character designs are bland and lack detail, there’s no features that really separate them. With the navy theme there was a lot of space for cool military uniform designs but instead we’re stuck with the blue and white school-girl outfits that have become a stock design in almost every anime. Characters movements are stiff and feel like pre-set renders, with almost every reaction arriving a second too late to feel natural. Facial expressions are extremely basic and lip flaps are embarrassingly bad barely more than just an opening and closing black Circe. Lips don’t match the tone or emotion and lead to any comedic moments falling flat.
The ships though they have a lot of detailing and feel large and powerful but sadly are fully CGI. And when they are in combat it feels like you’re watching a ps2 cut scene. There really isn’t a need for CGI in a show like this yet way more things than needed to be are computer-generated. For example in the first episode there is a scene where one of the girls is pulling a obviously CGI chain. It looked odd and completely took me out of any tension the show was trying to create. If a show from the 90s with half the budget could animate 2d battleships I’m sure a modern one can to, it’s just a lazy choice that shows a lack of passion.
The idea of the coastal cities is an interesting one and it translates to a futuristic setting. However despite that the backgrounds are still lazy as can be. Whenever the show wants to make a transition it simply slaps a still frame with sound over the screen. Whenever there’s a character in the foreground all background character turn into paper-cuts with no faces that just stand there. The environments aren’t reactive and nothing feels alive.
There’s not a lot of variety of shots either the first episode alone was composed of only three basic archetypes with little else. A close in of a character’s face, an overhead shot of a ship or a group shot. This marginally improves as the series goes on. But we never see anything truly interesting.
The opening is the only redeeming feature. The animation fast and snappy with awesome character shots and intense battle scenes played over a pop song that slowly transform into more of a rock. The in show soundtrack isn’t bad either but often the track playing doesn’t fit the scene and instead of blending in as it should stands out and take the viewer out of what’s going on.
While , as I said before , the story is fairly interesting and not what I expected. The dialogue really isn’t that good. Every character talks and responds as if they’re reading a script for the first time. There’s no flow, someone says something another responds. It’s very hard to care for any of the characters as they have barely any personality and motivations that could be copy-pasted into the script any other show and no one would notice. Characters are so muted and lifeless that I can’t even call them cliché since even the most over-used of character clichés have more personality.
This is one of the most mediocre shows I’ve seen all season and I couldn’t think of any one I would recommend it to. If you’re looking for a semi-interesting plot and have seen every single anime in the world then maybe. But if you came for, comedy, watching awesome ships and seeing them fight, cute girls doing cute things. Then Hai Furi won’t be for you.
Due to the reason I’ve explained above I can’t say I’m optimistic on Hai Furis’ chances of getting a second season and if it was up to me I wouldn’t green light one.