「傷だらけの弁天」 (Kizudareke no Benten)
“The Wounded Benten”
I nearly ran out of fingers trying to keep track of how many plot twists and surprises there were in this episode. Okay, so maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but that’s basically how I felt after watching it. Although it’s an anime original storyline, Mouretsu Pirates’ pirate hunter arc has been a surprise in itself and a top-notch affair that I have very few quibbles about.
For starters, Marika and the Bentenmaru crew really showed why they are among some of the brightest stars in the galaxy when it comes to pirate ships by becoming the first ship to survive an encounter with the Grand Cross. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching our adorable captain giving out orders without a hint of hesitation or trepidation; it’s basically a breath of fresh air to have a show that doesn’t always rely on turning an incompetent character into a competent one to show their development, and to have a show with a main protagonist who rarely shows any doubts in her abilities. Even though given the title and the style of this series I knew nothing too terrible was going to happen to the Bentenmaru, its escape from the pirate hunter vessel was probably the most exciting battle yet, with every crew member working to the best of their abilities just to escape destruction by the tip of the blade.
Once the crew was back on land the surprises really started rolling, starting off with the upgrades to the Bentenmaru and the lady who went to negotiate for a better deal by using her feminine charms. Let’s just get this off our chests: like Oreimo’s Makishima Saori, Coorie is actually stunningly beautiful behind those thick glasses. I loved hearing Horie Yui switch to her ‘proper’ voice and then going back to her ‘fun’ voice once Coorie got what she wanted. The plan for the upgrades was a surprising revelation as well – the idea of Marika commanding an entire of fleet of pirates has me salivating at the thought of an all-out war between the pirates and the ones hunting them.
Some of the surprises were more abrupt than the others, like Marika suddenly running into the Grand Cross’ captain Quartz Christie (Sanpei Yuuko) on the Pirate’s Nest. Their subsequent conversation also felt like it came out of nowhere, and really didn’t give us any additional information beyond what we already knew about them, other than alluding to a spy on board the Bentenmaru. I’m guessing that just like many others, I fully expected the spy to be whoever was posing as Kane, especially since Misa had been reviewing a file on him when Luca voiced her suspicions. I had somehow missed seeing Misa reading a file on Luca right before switching to the one on Kane. Never in my most outlandish theories would I have predicted that Luca was actually an android spy belonging to the same faction as Quartz. This also raises the question of what happened to the real Luca, as there weren’t any signs that I can recall of her being a fake other than the fact she actually talked in real sentences instead of short, mysterious, and foreboding phrases. I’m also curious about Kane’s twin/clone’s purpose for impersonating the Bentenmaru’s helmsman, and when the switch was made. The one twist that didn’t surprise me at all was finding out that Ririka really was the pilot of the Parabellum – that swimsuit fanservice in the previous episode didn’t throw me off at all. I do wonder what she meant by her cryptic words about fate while looking back at Ironbeard, so thankfully we won’t have wait long to find out from the look of the previews.