May 30, 2016

My Credulity is Being Pinched



Sadly, I think they are talking ABOUT the plot, rather than anything occurring IN the plot.

High School Fleet is an absolutely amazing mess. 

Something has been nagging me about this for several episodes and I couldn't put my finger on it until now: This series has very good animation, an overarching plot and some very Japanese moments...but the generally PC feel of the world, the didactic resolutions to the various pinches the girls find themselves in, and spectacular catastrophes with body counts of zero all result in an overarching tone that actually reminds me of a Hanna Barberra adventure cartoon from the '70s or perhaps a Rankin Bass show from the '80s. 

There are some neat bits, the tactical use of tide-tables being a particularly good moment, and the overarching threat is a global one that the girls thus far have been able to stave off via their wits (and the Deus Ex Machina of having their corpsman in training be a prodigy). However High School Fleet continues to steer erratically through the strait separating naval otakuism from the great derp reef. So far the show has run aground on both shores multiple times. 

But enough forced metaphors, I cannot in good conscience recommend this show to my readers, though I will continue watching this train wreck because it amuses me for some reason (most likely a deep-seated character flaw on my part).

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May 22, 2016

Though it Pinches my Patience, I Persevere



In my review of episode one of this show I mentioned that, while I was unsure about it, I thought it had considerable potential. Now, 5 episodes in...I find my position unchanged.

You see, High School Fleet, is one of the most bi-polar shows I've seen in years.

Watching this can be rough, since like the waves upon which it is set, it alternates between crests of utter win and troughs that bottom out and threaten to break the very keel of the plot. 
Part of this is due to the fact that Crunchyroll's subtitle job on this looks to be a bit off, at least in the early episodes. The background regarding the world setting and even the year (is it set in the future or an alternate present /past?) is sufficiently self-contradicted that I think the confusion is actually a translation issue. Furthermore, the translator seems simply not aware of many nautical terms and of course there are (presumably) many (understandably) unfamiliar Japanese nautical terms adding to the general perplexity. 

The show starts out as "Cute girls doing cute things...on warships" an obvious attempt to cash in on the Girls und Panzer phenomenon from a few years ago. However whereas that was essentially a sports anime with tank fighting being the sport, the tension in this series comes from rather higher stakes than loosing a sporting event. There is something quite sinister afoot and the girls unexpectedly find themselves fighting...for their lives. The show, however retains, most of the time the feel of an ensemble 'cute girls in high school' show with the training destroyer's departments serving the same function as school clubs or the individual tank crews in Girls und Panzer

This leads to a highly schizophrenic alternation between "cute" and "thriller" that was beginning to give me a headache.

Just when I was about to pick up the towel and throw it in however....



Sena from Haganai showed up!

OK, canonically her name is Wilhelmina Braunschweig Ingenoh, but come ON! It's Sena without the butterfly pin. Sena Miss. Ingenoh was the student XO of a German school ship, the Graff Spee, which was built to look exactly like it's World War 2 antecedent right down to the plaque on the bridge.  



Our heroine's encounter with the German school ship is not as congenial as they might have hoped, but through an unlikely set of circumstances Ingenoh ends up stuck on the Harekaze. This is fortuitous, as their newfound Teutonic shipmate apparently has a genetic affinity for submarines and talks the crew through a nicely portrayed ASW evolution using World War ONE techniques (all they have is a set of paravanes and a single depth charge). 



Thanks to Frau Ingenoh's timely intervention our heroines survive long enough to learn a valuable lesson about conserving toilet paper...and  to develop a mouse problem. 

This show seems almost to be a satire of several different genres. It's a bizarre mess at times but is making me smile in spite of myself. 

In any event,  Sena's in it, so sacred honor dictates I should watch a few more episodes at least, if only to figure out what the HELL this completely gratuitous catgirl is doing here. 



Admit it. You did not expect that sentence to end that way. The individual appears to not even a main character. All the students seem to be baseline human, but during an interrogation of one of our heroines, a naval investigative officer with all of three lines of dialog just happens to have unremarked upon cat ears poking out the top of her head. This comes out of the blue and if one blinked it would have been missed. 

I think this show may just be trolling us...but I'm curious enough that I've got to watch more. 

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May 08, 2016

Coral

There should be coral, barnacles and sea squirts all over the submerged portions of Tokyo Tower and the surrounding edifices.




From episode 1 of High School Fleet, which is exceedingly odd. It's set in a future where the sea level has risen dramatically. The fact that society has adjusted quite well is a nice departure from the norm, and probably a more accurate prediction than most. Likewise their portrayal of the survivability of an LCS is quite astute but there are issues besides the growth rate of barnacles that do give one pause.

You see, our heroines are on a school ship that is built to broadly resemble a WW2 Japanese destroyer....



Despite the vessel's high pressure steam plant, Harekaze is highly automated and is crewed by a mere 36 high school students who are unsupervised except indirectly from an instructor's flagship. 

The student CO, one Misake Akeno, is quite astonished at her assignment given that she just barely made it into the school academically. 

The crew's first training cruise hits a snag, partly due to human error and partly due to the ship's finicky steam plant. While the crew does get these matters battened down, things nevertheless turn pear shaped quite suddenly, and not in a way anyone would expect.

I'm not sure what to think at this point. It looks like Girls Und Panzer with destroyers rather than tanks, but with a completely incongruous bit of...edginess.

Anyway, though it appears to be a collection of current anime fads this show has a certain potential. 

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May 05, 2016

Meanwhile, in Gensokyo...

...Rossini appears unexpectedly.

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