「決戦! ネビュラカップ」 (Kessen! Nebyura Kappu)
“The Final Battle at the Nebula Cup”
Don’t mess with the girls of Hakuoh Academy! At first glance, they might be appear to be your average high school students, but underneath their innocent exterior are the hearts of determined competitors.
When the Yacht Club came to register for the dinghy race, I figured everyone was fearful of them because of what happened six years earlier, but what I really wanted to believe was that their reputation as pirates had preceded them as well. That said, it’s understandable the other high school girls were visibly intimidated after hearing about the stories of the disaster from their upperclassmen, but seeing the tournament’s adult organizers anxious and even the chairwoman of the race visibly shaken made me wonder just how bad the incident in the 13th Tournament was. It would have been nice to see a little more of what exactly transpired back then in addition to just from the chairwoman’s brief flashback and Lynn’s retelling, so that we would have more of an emotional basis to why all the other schools were training so hard to take down Hakuoh and to exact payback for their alumna.
To be honest, the way the race played out was pretty much exactly how I expected it to be, but it wasn’t really what I wanted. Even though there was constant foreshadowing that the Bisque Company would be gunning for Marika in this episode, I really wanted more of a focus on the race itself. More drama from all the parties affected by the nightmare six years prior would have been great, whether from the other schools which had been spending these last five years raising their skills in order to beat Hakuoh, or from the chairwoman herself, who had recreated the exact same course to presumably beat the girls at their own game. It would’ve also been nice to have more of a spotlight on the other Yacht Club members who have been training for two weeks for this race such as Grunhilde and Natalia, and this show can never go wrong with more Chiaki either. The small role that Calmwind’s turbulent weather played (what a misleading name for a planet!) was a bit of a missed opportunity as well as I feel it could have been used to draw out the girls’ strengths and develop their personalities further, like the EMP blast highlighted Ai’s love for the stars and her natural aptitude for being a navigator.
It’s definitely understandable why the series once again focused on Marika however, since they basically have to set the stage for what is likely the final arc. Fortunately, the gunship’s pursuit of our lovely captain allowed her showcase the piloting talents that we haven’t been able to witness in a long while. The sight of the Bentenmaru appearing out of nowhere definitely caught me off guard in a good way, as it was a bit like seeing Gandalf and his white horse on top of the hill, gallantly riding in to save the day – although I do think the tension could have been heightened a great deal by having Marika’s dinghy severely damaged or something similar.
However, putting characters in real danger doesn’t seem to be modus operandi of this show, so it doesn’t really bother me in the slightest. Mouretsu Pirates is all about the romanticism of space, sailing, and piracy. Whether it’s predicting an incoming jet stream or navigating by the stars like sailors did in the days of yore, time and time again this show reminds us that an ocean of stars is in many ways just like our terrestrial seas; there is more to sailing than battles, and there is more to space than just ships/mecha shooting one another. We’ll get back to that soon enough though, since there looks to be several new ships entering the fray, and plenty of explosions in the next episode – which I don’t mind at all.