「そして、海賊は行く」 (Soshite, Kaizoku wa Iku)
“There Go the Pirates”
This series may have started with a whimper, but it most certainly ended with a bang. For me, the conclusion to this final arc was thoroughly entertaining and spectacular because it showcased what made Mouretsu Pirates one of my favorite recent shows in the first place: Katou Marika.
The battle between Marika’s frontier pirate fleet and Quartz’s three Grand Cross-class battleships was one of the most entertaining ship-to-ship action scenes I’ve seen in a long while, even if it was completely one sided thanks to Marika’s tactical prowess as the fleet’s commander. Quartz never stood a chance because she relied too much on using her technologically superior vessels exactly the same way she used them before, which was simply charging in and then overwhelming the enemy with firepower. Unlike the pirates who worked beautifully in concert thanks to Coorie’s coordination of their data sharing, Quartz divided her ships up and made them easy prey for each of Marika’s task groups. I thought it was great that Marika stayed one step ahead of Quartz by employing a different strategy in each task group’s encounter with a battleship: Captain Spoonbender (not his real name, I think) and the El Santo played the decoy while the rest of the ships emptied their missile payloads, Kurihara Kenjou and the Barbarossa just used one enormous missile, and the ninja pirate captain (best of both worlds!) used the Shangri-la to punch a hole in the side of the Grand Cross. The end result was a victory so swift and efficient that I don’t think anyone saw it coming, probably because we didn’t expect Marika to be this talented.
As for the conflict at the center of this arc, which is Quartz’s charge that the frontier pirates are no longer needed as they only seem to be concerned with performances and putting on shows, I did not expect Marika to reply the way she did. She put on this whole show of bravado and confidence like she usually does, but this was an unexpected and unorthodox reply which even seemed a little childish at first. Yet after a bit of thought it also made a lot of sense – why should it be a question what pirates do or do not do? For Marika and the rest of frontier pirates, the spirit and pride of a pirate is that they are free to sail under their own flag and free to do whatever they please. They are not something that is needed or unneeded; they simply exist because “the seas of space belong to everyone”. I feel that this is something Quartz finally came to appreciate and understand, and why she tells Marika to “come to a vaster sea”. Out of all the pirates operating in the Serenity system, it was a high school girl who possessed the purest spirit of a pirate.
Marika is basically the center and lifeblood of this show and she deserves to be developed as much as possible, which is why even though I had a sinking feeling that Ironbeard would turn out to be Gonzaemon, I didn’t want it to turn out to be true since too many questions would be left unanswered. Sure they both have the same blue eyes and a connection to Ririka, but then why couldn’t the Bentenmaru crew recognize him by his voice or general mannerisms (not like that mask hides much anyway)? For a series that focuses so much about Marika, leaving unanswered questions about the very reason she became a captain in the first place leaves a bit of a black mark on such an enjoyable show. The only missing aspect of her character is her relationship with her parents, and it would have been well served by being filled out with background stories about Gonzaemon and Ririka.
Even though this finale was extremely satisfying emotionally, intellectually I still had a lot of loose threads I wanted to be either tied up or explored further. Many of the characters, especially the Bentenmaru crewmembers, have not had any real backstory, and then there’s also the vast unknown expanse and intrigue of the Galactic Empire waiting Marika once she finishes her third and final year of high school. Fortunately, there is a way to fix all these issues: Bentenmaru, set course for a second season!
With this being the last episode of the series, it’s also my last chance to follow Chiaki’s example and
confess pen a love letter to Marika, so here goes:
I don’t think I will ever cease being in awe at how talented you are, how good at practically everything you are, and how endearing and lovely you are. In addition to watching your impressive skills as the captain of the Bentenmaru week in and week out, I’ve also seen you excel in a variety of roles throughout this series. You’re a capable pilot in your own right and an excellent and shrewd negotiator, and even as the commander of an entire fleet, you’re still the brightest star in the sky. I don’t think there’s a limit to what you can accomplish once you set your mind to it – whether it’s singing, cleaning, or racing a dinghy, you always excel at it. Well, you’re not exactly perfect either. You have trouble waking up for class and your grades slip easily, but I still find I can’t help but stop whatever I am doing so that I can admire you even when you fail. If you’ll have me, I-I’d like to spend the rest of my days by your side. But it’s not because I like you or anything!
Final assorted thoughts and notes:
- The boarding action was something I had wanted to see in this entire series the whole time, and no, it’s not because of Marika’s skin tight spacesuit – it was because we could finally see Schnitzel in action. Even though the fighting was all too brief and nothing we haven’t really seen before, it was still highly enjoyable thanks to the pirate captains’ antics and the low-gravity combining to hilarious effect.
- Gruier’s pirate outfit and the Yacht Club girls’ outfit were awesome. Good job Mami! No surprise Gruier wanted to come and help Marika though.
- So many of these pirate captains deserve OVAs. Ninja captain, vampire captain, Captain Spoonbender, the list goes on…
- Coorie has a fanboy, and rightfully so… she can even type with her feet!
- Wonder what Jenny will be up to now?
- If you haven’t heard already, there will be a sequel movie.
- Full-length images: 0.5, 02, 04, 11, 19.5, 22, 28, 28.5, 34, 40, 40.5, 50.
Some people may have thought this series started with too slowly and ended up dropping it, but they’re missing out on a great series because there’s no denying it ended on a high note. More than anything, Mouretsu Pirates showed that a space opera with pirates doesn’t necessarily have to be a traditional serious affair, but it can be a light-hearted one with an almost perfect blend of humor, political intrigue, and good old space pirate action.
I think Mouretsu Pirates actually does many things very well, if not necessarily great. It really delivered on its premise which was to tell the story of an average high school girl becoming a pirate captain, and it accomplished this with a great balance between appearances by the Yacht Club girls and the Bentenmaru crew. The main complaints I’ve heard are that some people didn’t like that vast majority of pirates in this show were more involved in putting on stage shows than what we would consider traditional pirating, while others felt that the show was too clinical and too safe. However, I enjoyed both these aspects of the show very much and would not change a thing because they helped turn this series into a light-hearted, fun, and romantic take on what can often be a staid and serious genre.
This is also a series that really takes the time to explain or at least show every minor detail. The first several episodes might seem slow for some, but I actually greatly appreciated that time was taken to develop Marika from your everyday high school girl to a pirate ship captain by actually having her go through training and practice cruises. The same attention to detail extended to the depiction of science and technology, which I often felt was explained more than in many other series and an aspects that really appealed to me. Above all, I loved the detail in the show’s portrayal of space. In Mouretsu Pirates, many little stylistic touches were added to paint an image of space as a romantic setting which hearkens back to the seas of yesteryear, and connects the space pirate who sails in a cosmic ocean of stars to their forebears who plied the terrestrial oceans.
Being based on a light novel series, Mouretsu Pirates has plenty of material left to adapt. Much of the universe, like the Galactic Empire, still needs to be expanded on, many more space pirate battles can be animated, and there’s always the continuation of the overall story as well. Perhaps the element of the series that needs to be expanded on the most are its entertaining cast of characters, many of whom haven’t even received a proper backstory. Yet the main reason why I think Mouretsu Pirates deserves a second season is because its legacy is one that shouldn’t be confined to a single season. This is a series that brings a light-hearted and romantic take to the piracy and space opera genres, and one which never ceases to bring a smile to my face.