「茉莉香、波に乗る」 (Senchou, Nami ni Noru)
“The Captain Rides the Waves”
This was not your average swimsuit episode by any stretch. Turns out it wasn’t a mere filler episode at all, instead serving as the introduction to what looks like the most serious arc yet, one that’s fraught with peril and nefarious elements that will probably end up threatening Marika herself. Color me excited!
After watching Ai lovingly embrace the dinghy she stumbled upon last week, I had hoped that we’d jump right into some spectacular action involving it in this episode. However, in true Mouretsu Pirates tradition, I had a feeling that that there would be no diving headlong into anything… everyone needs to go through some training first! This isn’t some show where every character is automatically an expert, after all. What I didn’t expect was that the creepy looking man in the slicked-back hair and sunglasses seen in last week’s preview, was actually our mild-mannered helmsman (and new gym teacher) Kane. Can’t say I like his sadistic side or his choice in swimwear at all, but you can’t argue with the results he was able to achieve with all the tests and trials he put those poor girls through. Maybe he knew of the trouble Hakuoh Academy caused in the Nebula Cup five years ago and is trying to prevent a repeat? In any case, I do understand where he’s coming from; you have to push people to their limit to see what they are truly capable of, even if it meant using the Bentenmaru to create a wicked “storm”. (Even with their letter of marque, that has to be illegal somehow, right?)
There were a couple of aspects that I really liked about Kane making the girls hold a windsurfing race, and no, seeing them in swimsuits is not one of them. Windsurfing is actually an ingenious choice because I feel that sailing a dinghy in the solar winds of space is a skill that cannot be taught completely inside a simulator. The strength of a gust, the pull of the sail, and the balance of the board – these are sensations that must be felt in person, and experiencing them will undoubtedly be useful in helping the girls grasp the nuances of piloting the dinghies. Probably the best aspect of the race was actually letting some of the lesser known girls shine in the spotlight. Marika actually wasn’t the winner for once, and now I can write about some of the other girls too! I definitely did not expect that the three Yacht Club representatives in the Nebula Cup would all first-year girls who haven’t taken the marine sports class. I can understand Ai winning as she’s already shown her impressive piloting talents, but Natalia and Grunhilde coming in ahead of her? Talk about coming out of left field (not to mention in Grunhilde’s case, adorable too). It’ll be fun to learn more about these girls as they take center stage while Marika works in the shadows protecting the Nebula Cup.
Speaking of shadows, I’m curious who the group of men meeting in the dark club were. From what I can gather, they seem like some sort of syndicate who have a treaty with the Katous and will now intervene to protect Marika from the Bisque Company, whose ship can also be seen in the previews and are going after her personally. Another question is who the hooded mysterious man is, the one that Ririka recognized, and the one who set up this treaty in the first place. It is these shady elements to the story that make this arc even more appealing to me because it shows that the Mouretsu Pirates universe isn’t all rosy and moe. Even though I really don’t want this series to end, consider me very excited for the final arc.