High School Fleet (also known as Haifuri) is a twelve-episode military science fiction anime series. It was produced by Production IMS, and the director was Yuu Nobuta. Reiko Yoshida handled series composition, character designs were by Naoto Nakamura and the original character designs were by Atto, of Non Non Biyori fame.
High School Fleet focuses on the crew of a ship called the Harekaze. Said crew happens to be high school girls, who have enrolled at Yokosuka Girls’ Marine High School in order to become Blue Mermaids.
Blue Mermaids seek to protect the oceans, and are highly regarded. Of course, pretty much everyone who enrols at the school looks up to them.
Throughout the entire show, there is a strong Girls und Panzer vibe. This would be due to the fact that many of the staff that were involved in the production of Girls und Panzer were also involved in the production for High School Fleet.
Another thing that adds to that is lots of details come up about the various ships that could have easily been glossed over or outright ignored. These pieces of information actually tend to prove incredibly vital to when it comes to the naval warfare.
There is a bit of artistic license here and there, but it would only really bother those who are really into their military ships. For those who don’t know much about battleships and such, it’s not an issue.
The Harekaze is pretty much thrown in the deep end right at the first episode, when they come under attack from an instructor’s ship. From there, it seems like the Harekaze stumbles from encounter to encounter, with almost no time for any breaks.
A couple of breather episodes throughout the run give the viewers a break from the action, giving the characters a chance to become more developed. Though saying that, the action scenes involving the Harekaze are varied throughout, with limited supplies, ammunition and battle damage meaning the crew have to change their tactics on the fly. This keeps things interesting.
The plot here revolves around discovering why the instructor attacked their students, and finding a way to put a stop to it. Of course, some of the other ships affected by this mystery include ones from Yokosuka Girls’ Marine High School.
Though the Harekaze is a small destroyer, a large number of high school girls make up its crew. As with any other show with a huge ensemble cast, certain characters are going to get more focus than the others.
The characters can be split up into groups based on the different roles necessary for sailing a ship.
First up is the bridge, which is where you’ll find the captain of the Harekaze and the other characters that probably get most screentime.
That’s pronounced ‘Me-kay’, by the way. Anyway, she sees the whole crew of the Harekaze as her family, and is even able to remember everyone’s names without any aid – which is probably a lot more than could be said for most viewers. Whilst she may not the brightest or most talented, she does possess incredible luck.
Her mother and sisters are all Blue Mermaids, and she seeks to follow in their footsteps. She’s convinced that she suffers from bad luck, and it quite critical of Mike’s actions during the earlier parts of the show.
Tama is a quiet girl who tends to only talk in single-word sentences and has a fondness for curry. Her gunning skills are top notch.
Mei is always keen to fire the Harekaze‘s torpedoes – she’s pretty much a trigger-happy character.
Coco has an incredibly active imagination, often speaking out loud completely made-up scenarios in a dramatic fashion. She feels that fiction is far more real than non-fiction.
Rin is the one responsible for steering the ship. Whilst she would ideally would like to run from most encounters due to being scared, she diligently carries out her captain’s orders.
Those six make up the bridge of the Harekaze, and that’s just a fraction of the crew. Other divisions are combat, navigation, engineering and logistics, with each one consisting of at least six members.
Whilst certain individual characters get more focus than others, all the crew have opportunities to contribute to the Harekaze in their own ways.
There’s also a few characters who hail from other ships who play important roles – again, some with more screentime than others.
Whilst some characters provide greater contributions than others, it definitely feels as if everyone has a role to play – pretty impressive considering there’s more than thirty characters aboard the Harekaze.
It’s also worth mentioning the crew of the Harekaze are supposed to be ranked the lowest when it comes to grades. Whilst there are some questionable tactics employed early on, the crew of the Harekaze gradually improve – particularly with the introduction of a certain German character who actually knows a fair bit about naval warfare.
Of course, with that many people cooped up together, there is going to be a bit of hostility. For example, Mashiro is critical of Mike’s decisions in the early episodes, and Mashiro herself has a fangirl who believes Mike shouldn’t have been captain.
Over the course of the series, the hostility tones down – either by characters actively winding it back as they understand each other better, or by other characters finding indirect ways to help.
Another effect of having thirty plus girls together is bonds being formed between certain pairs. There’s certainly a joke about shipping in there considering the theme of the show, but readers can make that one for themselves. The first prominent pairing we’re introduced to is Mike and her childhood friend Moeka China, AKA Moka. Unfortunately, both end up captains of their own ships, so there’s very little time with both of them together.
The aforementioned naval battles are arguably High School Fleet‘s strongest point. The Harekaze is pretty much always the underdog whenever it comes to combat, resulting in some rather creative methods used for dealing with enemy ships.
It’s worth remembering that a fair few of the tactics used by the Harekaze run on rule of cool. Yes, there’s lots of tiny details featured, but having rule of cool prevalent throughout the battles makes them much more fun to watch.
High School Fleet‘s OST does a serviceable job, with the music reflecting the mood of the different situations. It’s not quite the same as Girls und Panzer‘s military marches, but it does a job. The opening and ending themes are enjoyable enough, too.
This anime will certainly appeal to fans of Girls und Panzer, since it pretty much takes the same formula and just switches tanks out with ships. That’s by no means a bad thing – the formula works incredibly well, so it’s a case of if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
High School Fleet takes cues from Girls und Panzer, and makes for a really enjoyable series set on the blue seas. A strong cast of characters and great naval battles combine into one brilliant experience.