High School Fleet
by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 9 of
High School Fleet ?
I've heard of “monster of the week” shows before, but High School Fleet might be one of the first series ever to qualify as a “battleship of the week” show. Hot on the heels of last week's encounter with the Hiei, this episode sees the crew of the Harekaze take on Mina's old ship, the Admiral Spee. The girls decide to help Mina rescue her captain and crew from the effects of the virus, even if it means sailing straight into a barrage of cannon fire. Akeno helps get a party on board the Spee, and the girls quickly bring the battleship's crew to their senses. Mina returns to her old crew, but not before bidding an emotional farewell to Coco.
We've got another “little ship fights big ship” story this week, though this episode's setup is perhaps more conventional than last week's. The fast pursuit through shallow waters is gone, replaced with a traditional gun battle on the open ocean. Apart from a moment or two of what looks like reused animation, it's a visually engaging battle full of big explosions and speeding torpedoes. The one new gimmick here is the decision to have some of the Harekaze's crew board the Admiral Spee and take over the ship in person. Swift character movements may not be this show's bread and butter, but the hand-to-hand stuff does a respectable job of providing some variety. It's a competent action scene in general, combining good pacing with simple but compelling twists and turns.
One interesting note on the character development front is the new dynamic between Akeno and Mashiro. Now that they've both had a chance to see things from one another's perspective, they seem to have finally gotten comfortable working together. Mashiro is no longer surprised or annoyed when Akeno wants to charge headfirst into danger, and Akeno has figured out that she should at least talk through her plan before running off to lead the boarding party. It's been a very gradual process, but High School Fleet has finally found a way to get these two on the same page without discounting either of their approaches to leading the crew. Maintaining that fine balance should go a long way towards endearing both characters to the audience.
Of course, the stars of this episode are Coco and Mina (or Mi, as her nickname seems to shift depending on who she's talking to). In an ensemble cast full of largely one-dimensional characters, their ability to bond over quoting yakuza movies has stood out as one of the show's better running jokes. We run through the full range of “friends support each other” moments between them this week and occasionally sprint through those moments when screen time starts to run short. Their inevitable farewell jumps from sad to bittersweet like the flick of a light switch, but at least things end on a strong note. This has made for a pleasant and occasionally emotional side story, though I'm glad the show was able to wrap it up before moving on to the final act of the main plot. I'm willing to bet that we'll see Mina and the crew of the Admiral Spee again, probably as they charge in to help the Harekaze in a future moment of crisis.
This episode reminds me of some of High School Fleet's early efforts: not all that spectacular but pretty solid across the board and free of any major problems. It's just solid, respectable genre storytelling without much ambition beyond providing an excuse to have high school girls run a warship. Sometimes that's all you want out of a series, and it's encouraging to see this show get back into its old groove.
Paul Jensen is a freelance writer and editor. You can follow more of his anime-related ramblings on Twitter.
discuss this in the forum (75 posts) |