At the start of the season there was this interesting anime called “HaiFuri” that appeared to be a marine anime and had something to do with something called “Blue Mermaids” and that was really it. After airing in Japan suddenly the title changed to “High School Fleet” (HAI sukuuruu FURIto) and suddenly we’re looking at a navy type show with the entire crew being cute anime girls. While the hidden stuff was confusing I decided to give it a shot anyway and here we are at the end of the season.
Our story starts with protagonist Akeno Misaki and her friend Moeka China who are inspired by the Blue Mermaids, a group that is similar to a combination of navy and coast guard in our world, and go to a marine based high school in order to become Blue Mermaids themselves. Once there they end up being split on different ships with Akeno being the captain of, the worst regarded ship, the Harekaze with the second in command being Mashiro Munetani. These two are pretty much the exact opposites with Akeno being your typical active anime girl and Mashiro being the stern “by-the books” type character. I use these vague terms to describe them because at the start that’s basically all they are. Something I was not expecting is the amount of development they go through. I was hoping for some but at points they seem like completely different characters while still being in character (sounds really weird but somehow true).
There is quite a big cast but the rest of the important ones include Rin Shiretoko the scaredy-cat, Mii-chan (really long German name that’s never used) is from a German ship and saved by Akeno and helps on the bridge until they can get her back on her ship, Kouko Nosa who likes gangster movies and sometimes talks like the characters in them, Mei Irizaki who’s obsessed with weapons and Shima Tateishi who is the quiet one. While these are probably the only crew members anyone will be able to name off-hand the show doesn’t expect you to memorize the rest. If you need to know a character they will make sure you know them (my biggest complaint with Kankolle) and while it would have been nice to get to know the other characters it makes sense since the captain probably wouldn’t be hanging out in the engine room all the time so the brief interactions Akeno has with other crew members (and by extension the viewer) make sense in context. When the characters do interact I don’t recall disliking any and the interactions seem pretty natural.
My biggest complaint with the show is how the first 4 episodes start feeling really samey. I’m trying to avoid spoilers that Aniplex apparently didn’t want us to know before watching but basically they fall in a rut of: ship attacks, Harekaze tries fleeing, fails, has to attack, escapes. With I never got bored and this stops being an issue in episode 5 it ended up feeling like they only had 10 episodes worth of content so repeated the steps a few times to get 12 episodes. The mystery is actually fairly well done however.
Visually it looks nice but nothing special. I really like what the sunken Japan looks like but wish this was maybe a P.A. Works show just to give it that extra flair. The opening was really great but aside from that the ED and rest of the soundtrack were pretty forgettable.