The year is 2xxx and Japan, through a series of disastrous tectonic plate movements 100 years ago, has sunk almost entirely underwater and become a sea-faring nation living near-entirely on boat-cities. This plays absolutely no part in the story and as interesting as it could still be as the setting it’s actually not where the show spends any time. Now it’s time for the new high school age girls to get practical training for a UN-style global naval organization on warships from WWII even though the ones they will be using in actual duty (which we see multiple times) clearly don’t function the same way at all, making the training we’re about to get completely moot.
Some years before our outing though a research submarine full of rats being used to find a way to survive in low-oxygen environments for long periods of time has been damaged and stuck at the bottom of the sea. These rats manage to survive in special cages which are also in special locked boxes with no food, water, or any intake of air (at least that last one proves their experiments worked I guess) for however long it’s been since this incident to the beginning of this series. We know they are kept in cages within boxes because we find one at one point which hints at a large conspiracy featuring the very focused on shipping company at the time yet actually is completely irrelevant and is just something we happened to come across that never comes up again in any way aside the creature itself.
These super healthy, lively, and incredibly capable rats are stuck under water in a broken submarine that’s also probably flooded. It’s okay though because, you see, the damaged vehicle landed perfectly on the tip top of an underwater volcano which erupted soon after and launched them – without causing any damage to the ship or the creatures within – up, out of the water, and perfectly onto the island that we happen to be on our way to train at. Over time the rats multiplied and took over the island, and now on our trip here with our high school fleet we also were asked to bring a group of researchers which nobody had any questions about. Don’t worry, they don’t actually DO anything at all and the mention of them was completely pointless because they never did anything but something after-the-fact only and all that is is “say some things they shouldn’t very loudly”.
Now we’re here at this island in the present and within a matter of 30 to 90 minutes, the entire fleet of trainee ships and the instructor’s vessel have – somehow even though they were all at sea and didn’t dock with this island or anything – completely overtaken by these rats covering their hulls with their giant shiny purple eyes nobody seems to question. These are no ordinary rats though, these are RATts.
RATts are interesting in that they are one of the stupidest fucking things any human being could possibly think up and, even worse, in this case they weren’t even thought through nor are they ever actually explained really. The concept of them was thought up, used, and never made sense of – the way they work has absolutely no logic or reasoning behind it, is inconsistent as fuck, and implies rats for some reason hold strong grudges against the Philippines, one city in Japan, a floating shopping mall, and specifically the Harekaze. You see, RATts are mind controlling evil critters, and this is the entire plot of this show. Evil rats with brainwashing magical powers which they got somehow that wasn’t bothered to be explained and they work in a simple manner. One RATt takes over someone on a ship and then – somehow, never explained – this ‘disease’ (which, by the way, IS canonically an actual illness in the bloodstream even though nobody is bit or anything and being near them never got anyone infected on the Harekaze aside ONE character so it can’t be by touch or their fur in the air or anything either) will spread among the entire crew…except some people who are important for the plot or sub-plots, and then make all those under their control do their bidding. Their bidding happens to have no explanation but is always “seek out and destroy the Harekaze” or “blow up the Philippines”, and the show also says the first person it takes over has their will forced onto the rest who are taken over, so these are some very fucking hate-filled incredibly racist teen girls who ironically are trying to get jobs as defenders of the entirety of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans or just the same but…rats. Oddly enough, on our ship, the one character who gets taken over by RATts just tries to defend us, she also does inhuman hops in and out of the ocean all the way to the deck somehow which absolutely no other person taken over or not shows any ability for such insane feats. She also runs around on all fours while growling which is also not something anyone else the RATts take over do but it needed to be dramatic!
From this, the Harekaze is immediately attacked by the teacher’s ship which is a top-of-the-line new cruiser against a rustbucket destroyer from WWII. Somehow we aren’t ever hit at all, take no real damage, and only get bounced around by some shots landing nearby. Apparently RATts make you real shitty at aiming as well. We end up having to fire back, sinking the instructor ship…and yet another odd thing the RATts never ever do again, the teacher makes a false emergency call to headquarters saying the Harekaze has mutinied against them. Now, backing up a bit to when all the ships got taken over, why did none of them attack each other? They were all controlled by different unrelated RATts and even ON EACH SHIP there were multiple RATts which should have had people fighting each other. In fact, people DO fight each other – but only infected vs non-infected and only in special story-important situations. RATts are explained as simply taking the will of one person and spreading it, yet everyone’s wills are ultra-violent towards a few members of their ship (which happen to not be infected, never any in-fighting with infected people) and towards the Philippines and a floating shopping mall.
Anyway, by episode 8 we learn all about these RATts which weren’t revealed until around then, by the fact that one of the billion super-high-ranking conveniently related to our second in command family members (seriously, her mother is a super famous vet of the Blue Mermaids who is now principal at the training school, one of her sisters is the leader of the Blue Mermaids in this region, and two more of her sisters are leaders of Blue Mermaid fleets) is visiting the teacher in the hospital and JUST NEXT DOOR are the loudest shrieking researchers screaming at the top of their lungs about their research about the living in low oxygen places thing and how somehow their test subject rats went wrong and became mind-controlling monsters of doom (that’s all the explanation there is for the “how?” by the way – IT JUST SORTA HAPPENED). We learn that their brainwashing abilities also have a fantastic name, “Totalitarianistic Disease”. Yup. But it’s okay, we’ve figured out how to cure this and thanks to yet another high ranking family member of the same girl we’re able to get this information spread quickly. We had the solution right under our noses because we just happened to have, on the Harekaze, a super-genius prodigy the likes of which the world has never even come close to seeing.
A canonically 12 year old girl who has already graduated all levels of education, gotten a masters degree, is a professional surgeon and physician, and also the most intelligent researcher and scientist known to mankind. That’s not me exaggerating, that’s all canon and it’s treated as not incredibly fucking stupid. So with her we’re able to solve all of this instantly and create a cure with the lacking supplies on this training ship that’s been stuck at sea with no support for awhile now.
Throughout the show we’re confronted by ships that have fallen victim to the RATts evil schemes and, every time, they fail to actually damage us and easily fall for childish tactics – even instructor ships run by real navy men and women. We never kill anyone of course even after the big dramatic moment of turning on the live ammunition, and nobody on our crew ever receives any actual meaningful injuries, even when we outright blow up a submarine it survives without any damage and is simply stuck with it’s emergency signal pinging for a pickup. Oddly enough, every enemy ship simply stops shooting if they’ve taken ANY damage whatsoever. One of the “dramatic” fights from later in the show involves a big plan where we run away and get it stuck on a rock that’s just deep enough for us to go over it but not this larger ship. It does get stuck – and immediately it just quits bothering to fight us, yet when we go to help cure it’s crew they’re all still insane and violent, so why did they just say “well the ship can’t move SO WE CAN’T USE THE CANNONS ANYMORE!”?
It doesn’t matter, anyway, we take over this and many other ships via boarding them and sending our raid team on to beat the shit out of everyone and shove needles into their assholes. No, really, this happens as a joke at least once. However what happens EVERY TIME is that our crew of teenage girls has a professional naginata fighter who has a wooden one with her by chance and, of course, a gunkata expert with a grappling hook gun.
I forgot to mention something important that’s come up throughout up to this point – the Musashi, the ship Moka, Misaki’s best friend, is the captain of. She herself isn’t taken over, but all her crew aside a few other girls has gone crazy from the RATts. The Musashi is a gigantic, old, barely working WWII Yamato-class Battleship (only 3 were ever made in real life, the Musashi itself being one of them) while the rest of this ‘high school fleet’ is made up of small destroyers and cruisers only really about a sixth of the size of it at largest. Yet, oddly enough, ABSOLUTELY EVERY SINGLE SHIP is tracked perfectly fine by the Blue Mermaids (the global Navy) and the high school – EXCEPT the Musashi which, no explanation given, is shown to just constantly disappear from all tracking, radar, satellite imagery, etc. It’s not some magic thing, it’s not the RATts putting some a magical forcefield, no, it’s just because it happens to have Moka on board and that needs to be reserved until the finale to be dealt with! Not only that, but any time the Musashi IS found it immediately – somehow in this old piece of shit crewed by a bunch of teenage girls under control of evil rats – manages to destroy multiple fleets of PROFESSIONAL ACTUAL NAVY WITH MODERN AND SOMETIMES FUTURISTIC WARSHIPS COMING TO STOP IT with complete ease always by pure chance leaving only the Harekaze afloat which is always involved in the battle because of course it is as it has the main cast on it. Oddly enough, the Musashi never runs low on any supplies – be it ammo, which they expend an insane amount of constantly because any time they’re in combat they just fire all their cannons nonstop at random (which is how the shitty aim actually ends up working because when you fire that many cannons all over you do tend to hit targets eventually), or food and water which I can’t imagine RATts being good at rationing out SO WELL that somehow this ship outlasts the Harekaze by almost 3 times the time period without having any issues while the Harekaze is shown a few times absolutely needing basic food and water even after over-stocking the ship.
It’s finally time for the final confrontation with the Musashi though, as it charges towards the Philippines to wipe out the sometimes referred to Mexico-of-Asia with all it’s might and to spread it’s evil RATts even further. Somehow the Musashi evaded all tracking again and so is almost right on top of it’s target when we finally notice it, and by chance there isn’t a single ship there to stop it…except, of course, the Harekaze! ONWARD! SAVE THE DAY! GIRLS BE AMBITIOUS! Well no, actually a fleet of Blue Mermaids shows up, blows the FUCK out of the Musashi and it takes no damage then immediately and very swiftly wipes out the entire fleet yet again. That’s okay though, when there is factually NOBODY ELSE BUT THE HAREKAZE ANYWHERE NEARBY AT ALL and the show makes clear that nobody can make it there in time? Ah. The day is saved by a small fleet of ships all of which happen to be only those we’ve dealt with in sub-stories up to now. Every ship we battled is here, and the Germans who speak Japanese on their German ship are here as well of course. All this happens because IT’S THE FINALE so it HAS TO HAPPEN, right? And they do in fact save the day after teleporting in magically. On top of retconning them in, we’ve now magicked up a special missile platform onto the Harekaze that even the characters themselves straight up say did not fucking exist, but it does now because it’s what we need now and so it TOTALLY got installed before even though absolutely none of them recall that happening and even the captain and gunners had no clue it existed and it was never drawn on the ship either up to this point. Thanks to this we’re able to control a giant battleship with one normal sized parachute under water which clearly has enough drag to overpower the massive weight of this warship and it’s engines.
Anyway, we win. The end. The evil RATts are defeated and Moka is saved.
Now I just literally explained the entire goddamn show to you for two reasons: 1. to point out how much this is NOT Girls und Panzer and 2. to express the stupidity of it all and the unfathomable level of contrivance found in absolutely every aspect of this show. It’s not something I felt I could get across in any other way or without people “forgetting” about how bad it was throughout about it.
Somehow this shit isn’t the ONLY problem with the show either, nor the plague of shitty QUALITY art that constantly pops up and rather lackluster battles. The third largest flaw with this series doesn’t actually lie with the incredibly contrived plot and plain fucking stupid story though, it falls to the lead character and captain of the Harekaze – Misaki (who somehow believes that can be shortened to Mike). Throughout all twelve episodes, including the finale and through to the last second of it, she takes absolutely no steps forward in her development, in maturing, in changing as a person, or in doing her job as captain of the ship. Worst of all, she’s made an incredibly selfish person right off the bat who puts her wishes above even the safety of her crew on a regular basis and abuses her rank to be as self serving as possible at the expense of everyone beneath her. She’s ripe for development, a purposefully flawed stone to grind away at and create something great by the end. The strangest part about it all is that she’s portrayed in a way that’s clearly meant to be endearing and lovable to the viewer yet every single action she takes makes her an unlikable little shit who consistently puts her crew and ship in danger of death and destruction on a regular basis for absolutely NO REASON. She consistently ditches out on her ship DURING BATTLE and in other equally important CAPTAIN-NEEDED situations. She’s the exact opposite of someone like Miho in Garupan who only risked her life and the others in her team (in not-even-real combat, unlike here) to save the lives of ones in even greater danger.
For example, one of the MANY times she leaves her crew in very bad danger – this time almost all of them literally nearly dying because of it – she ditches out on her captain duties (again again again again) to lead the raid on another ship they’re currently at battle with. Now there’s a lot of reasons that’s fucking stupid for a captain to do, but put all that aside for a moment because it gets worse; she does absolutely nothing during this raid. She pilots one of the small boats they send a team on and…she sits there while the rest get off and take the ship over. She sits and chats with the other girl who is sitting on the other small boat who brought some other members, talking about nothing important. It’s not like she went to actually help in the fight, it’s not like she’s providing support or backup or aid in any way at all, she’s LITERALLY just sitting on this thing in safety while her ship and most of her crew are bombarded by cannon fire fighting for their lives and the crew she brought along are in physical combat feet away while she gently floats around giggling with one of her crew mates. The absolute only reason she went – the same reason that applies to most of her actions – is that she completely refuses to take the responsibility of being captain seriously at all and doesn’t want to deal with the stress during any dangerous situations. Another quick example would be when she ends up forcing her way onto the “go hang out at the big shopping mall undercover” because she simply wanted to go there – and even then after putting her ship and it’s crew at risk, ends up getting the members she took with her and herself all caught by those who are (at the time) after them for mutiny because, oh, a small boy fell on his butt lightly so she stopped to make sure he was okay and put her entire crew at risk for it. Or that time she goes out while being shot at and the ship is taking heavy damage to…oh wait this happens like 3 times and she accomplishes nothing in all but 1 which she could have sent someone else to do.
EVERY SINGLE TIME a situation of any type comes up she’ll immediately find an excuse to leave the ship or go to her room and cry, there are only a couple times very early on where this isn’t the case and where all she does is stand on the bridge waiting for everyone else to tell her what to do anyway. She isn’t just bad at being a captain, she actively avoids any situations where she’d have to be held accountable for fucking ANYTHING or ANYONE so basically ALL DUTIES OF A CAPTAIN she shirks so she doesn’t have to have any weight on her shoulders and can say “well I wasn’t there so it isn’t my fault”.
In the penultimate episode she becomes worse than she had at any point up till then – upon meeting up with the Musashi she’s shown crumbling to her knees, crying and literally praying on the floor of the bridge and refusing to do her job at all. This is the ‘endearing’ lead character we’re supposed to love and who was supposed to have developed over the past 12 episodes. All while her ship is being bombarded yet again and some of them just barely escaping death even as this goes on. Misaki is a disgrace and someone that should be hated by her entire crew and by every viewer of the show. She avoids growing up, refuses to protect her people, and time and time again puts everyone at risk for the sole purpose of obsessing over her best friend who is locked away on the Musashi. She’s the least fit person to be a captain and it boggles the mind how the staff of the show thought she came off as this great character they clearly believe her to be when they went out of their way to make her useless even during the final episode of the entire series.
She asks in episode 1 why she was stationed as the captain, and this “hint” at her growing into one was, instead, left as a question that you’re stuck still wanting an answer for by the end. Don’t worry, the rest of the crew isn’t developed any better, as they all have one quirk/personality trait and absolutely nothing else to them, and even with that “one” thing they fail to actually present that much for most of them. The girl who loves mobster films loves mobster films, the girl who is a lesbian is a lesbian, the girl who comes from a shrine family is a shrine maiden, the second in command has a family lineage that covers the entirety of every single important person they need in the show, the engineer chief is an angry loli, and so on – yet it doesn’t even go that far with this it’s just the most basic imaginable rather than a more fleshed out Working!! style thing. It’s just laziness for people who are fan of waifu collectathons to pick their favorite girl, the same goes for their physical designs which are all just generic idol anime types.
This came out really strangely but you get my point and yet even still I feel this leaves so much unsaid that needs to be said about how fucking stupid this show was and how even just as plain dumb entertainment it became a heaping pile of horse shit. Even fucking Crane Game Girls has a more well thought out and explained plot than this – and it was about girls playing arcade crane games to shoot lasers at asteroids that an evil gorilla from another planet was sending towards us.
At the very least the show ends perfectly – the Harekaze sinks.
Haifuri is ultimately a cheap lifeless and very insincere marketing scheme about evil rats that’s just trying to cash in on the waifu-collectathon craze, Garupan fandom, and Kancolle all at once yet failing to achieve anything but one of the dumbest stories since Erased and making it clear that Japan is fine not developing any of it’s cast as long as they can slap their face on a can badge for the idol otaku to buy up. There’s even a captain in the actual Blue Mermaids who wears cat ears for no reason aside le epik kawaiis and a german who wears striped thigh highs as her navy uniform.