Monday, July 4, 2016

High School Fleet Complete Series Anime Review

Comrades at sea are all family.

What They Say:
Living by the sea, protecting the sea, and journeying across the sea…They’re the BLUE MERMAIDS! Because of a shift in tectonic plates around 100 years ago, Japan lost much of its area to submergence. To preserve Japan’s territories, Coastal Cities sprung up, one after the other. Eventually, they became Marine Cities, and along with the expansion of sea-lanes to connect them, the need arose for a sizable staff to protect the seas. At the same time, maritime jobs were becoming more popular among women. Hence, the Blue Mermaids had become every female student’s dream job.

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Okay, so I don't know much about boats apart from what I learned from Kantai Collection (Which was still literally nothing) but I'm pretty sure it isn't ideal to have an entire crew comprised of fifteen-year-old girls. That being said, High School Fleet dives (Pun intended) into a world in which roughly 75% of the Japanese navy isn't even old enough to buy cigarettes. The result from this isn't an economical boom in the naval industry or increased maritime production, it's a complete, utter mess in which no one really has any idea what the hell they're even doing on a ship in the first place. But that's fine as long as you throw in scattered fan service, right?

Wrong. High School Fleet (Or Hai-Furi if you're that guy) seems to have no idea what it's trying to do throughout its entire 12-episode voyage (Pun intended Part. 2). What starts off as an interesting concept (That totally wasn't piggybacking off the success of KanColle), quickly becomes a jumbled battle or friendly-fire and some girl with twintails that was completely misplaced in an aptitude test and should never be driving (Piloting?) a boat ever in a billion years. Oh, and it's all caused by an alien rat or something. Yup.

Allow me to elaborate on that last sentence...Oh wait, I can't! High School Fleet never even attempts to clarify why there are weird alien rat creatures that are able to infect and consume the minds of Japanese schoolgirls and force them into attacking literally everything that they see. Instead, the mature doctor-type fifteen-year-old is just like, "Hey guys, I figured it out. It was the rats, lol" and everyone else is just like, "Ohhh yeah, that makes sense" and they just leave it at that. WHAT?! You can't just throw in a plot device like that and not ever explain anything about it! Did they leave that episode out or something? Or were the alien rats simply just a means of forcing teenage girls into naval combat with actual boats instead of just cute girls with cannons on their backs in order to tailor to the twenty-five people in the anime industry that are actually interested in that.

If there is anything High School Fleet succeeds in, it's making naval combat look like a complete cakewalk. Misaki Akeno, the "captain" of the Harekaze, has literally no idea what she's doing and her entire crew knows it. Hell, even Akeno knows it and, at various points throughout the series, is just like, "Hey can someone else do this please?" but none of the others girls ever step up -- probably because, I don't know, they're teenage girls?! Instead of actually commanding her ship, Akeno just yells, "Hard right rudder!" over and over again until the series ends and the Harekaze still somehow manages to come out on top of every battle -- further proving that teenage girls shouldn't be in command of the navy.

What High School Fleet should have done instead of relying so heavily on boring naval skirmishes would be to focus more on its characters because, in all honesty, most of them were pretty great. The Harekaze had an incredibly lovable roster with tons of unique, cute girls that could even compete with Kancolle in many aspects. This, of course, brings me to the question of, "Would I have liked this series more if it was just a straight up slice-of-life?" Strangely enough, the answer to that question would probably be "yes". The fact of the matter is that everything in High School Fleet apart from the characters is just flat-out bad. I think the real sin is that the writers actually knew this and threw in swimsuit-filler any chance they could get before reluctantly saying, "Okay, time for another battle," and begrudgingly getting back to work.

When the screen isn't completely taken over by the ocean (So probably around 30% of the series), the artwork is actually nice and refreshing. Character designs are clear, vivid, and overflowing with moe. The diversity of the girls is a huge plus and, I hate to keep making this comparison but you literally have to, harkens back to Kancolle and how its different artists were able to design different, specific types of boat girls. The only problem with this is that the majority of the girls in High School Fleet should have never set foot on a boat in the first place.

In Summary:
High School Fleet is essentially what happens when you try and turn Kantai Collection fanart into a full-blown anime series. While the characters are endearing and absolutely adorable, everything else (Particularly the naval skirmishes) falls flat. When you get down to it, this entire series is built on a plot that is not only confusing but straight-up stupid and inexplicable. If you take away the alien rat things, High School Fleet would have just been a bunch of teenage girls sailing around on boats all day which, in all honesty, would have been better than what it actually was. Even the niche fans that watched this show for all the boat-stuff will easily be able to decode how hard this series tried to cater to them. But when all you know about boats is the term "Hard right rudder," it's probably best to stick to slice-of-life.

Grade: C-

Streamed By: Crunchyroll/Funimation

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