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[R2 DVD box art (Japanese)]
AKA: モーレツ宇宙海賊(パイレーツ)(Mouretsu Pirates)
Genre: Pirate sci-fi action
Length: Television series, 26 episodes, 24 minutes each
Distributor: Currently licensed by Sentai Filmworks, also available on Crunchyroll
Content Rating: 13+ (Light violence, some mature situations, lesbianism.)
Related Series: Upcoming movie.
Also Recommended: Stellvia, Last Exile, Nadesico
Notes: Based on the "Miniskirt Space Pirates" light novel series by Yūichi Sasamoto.
Rating: Four StarsFour StarsFour StarsFour Stars
 

Bodacious Space Pirates

Synopsis

Due to the death of her father, Marika Katou is fated to inherit his position as the captain of the Bentenmaru, an officially sanctioned-by-the-government pirate ship. From that day, she has to balance her life as a pirate captain, a member of the yacht club and a student while earning some money on the side as a waitress in a maid cafe called "Lamp House" because it's got... many lamps in the ceiling.


Review

Pirate schoolgirls. Just let that sink in for a second. Is there any part of that NOT making promises of awesome all around?

Well, after a couple of episodes, I wasn't so sure anymore. Its opening story arc is a real endurance gauntlet of tedium where the show introduces us to the main character -- a really good character, actually, so don't get me wrong -- but then proceeds to convince us that, this being the future, cyberwarfare is where it's at. The following episodes are so incredibly tedious that I almost fell out with it.

But soldier on, brave viewers, because that is the only stumbling block you have to endure. The show still has a few pacing issues throughout its runtime, but much like magic, someone in the production committee must've waved their wand at the staff, because the step-up in viewer quality is going to whiplash the hell out of you.

The one thing that made this show bearable through these tedious episodes can almost solely be attributed to the main characters, especially the Katou family. Marika in particular steals the stage with her can-do attitude and the hard working ethic the Japanese love so much. She's actually a tactical genius, but isn't automatically brilliant in anything she does, and her having to balance the many elements of her life is refreshingly... realistic.

And that's not even getting started on her mom. Formerly known as "Blaster Ririka", you can tell she had a big foot in the pirate business herself back when her husband lived. It's not entirely explained why she seems to have chosen to be a "stay-at-home" mom, but if Marika is any indication, she did a damn good job. A particular nice touch later in the series, too, is when she talks to her daughter, stating that; now that she's ready to be an adult and look after herself, mom'll put the plans she had for her OWN life into action. She isn't even just brushed aside now that Marika's on the job either, but becomes an integral part of the last story arc, which is another plus in favor of the show.

Really, most of the cast is great assets to the show. Marika's crew on the Bentenmaru, including the awesomely designed but severely underused Schnitzer, the neat Sailor Moon homage in Princess Gruier Serenity and Show, the head of Harry Lloyd Insurances and someone whom I actually thought would end up being a villain, but actually turned out to be one of the Bentenmaru's -- and by that extent, Marika's -- better supporters, providing advice and taking care of most of the paperwork for Marika and her crew. Honestly, the only weak spot in the cast list is the yacht club, where most of them are relegated to "fun-loving cosplay maniacs who doesn't take a whole lot of stuff seriously", which only serves to put the focus on those who do. And while we're on the subject of underused characters, Moretsu Pirates also introduces us to a gorgeous schoolgirl with long, dark hair who provides the meganekko fetishists with what they want, has zettai ryouiki up to the... uh.. thigh AND has a little bit of a tsundere personality, and then proceeds to keep her offscreen for most of the show? Personally, I'd like an explanation for THAT decision.

I said earlier that this show has some serious pacing issues, and that's mainly the reason why the first five episodes are as tedious as they are. Well, I'm mainly blaming episode three to five, where, once the introductions are done for the most part, the show spends three episodes showing and doing what could have been limited to one. The strange part is that Moretsu Pirates continues to move at a glacial pace, though admittedly less of one than the opening segment.

So, why is this show so much fun? Why, action, of course. Despite its insistance on relying on online warfare, that aspect of piracy gets showed into the background in favor of more exciting stuff, like laser fights and swashbuckling adventures in space, but also not completely abandoned since it makes sense in a sci-fi enviroment. The story arcs vary between (arranged) pirate raids, treasure hunts and defending themselves against pirate hunters or large corporations that aren't too fond of the concept of pirates, even seemingly nonthreatening theatrical ones, and generally last three or four episodes each. By the end, we already knew there was going to be a movie, so the somewhat open ending didn't really bother me, nor do the opening episodes. Not any more.

So go on. Give this show a go. If you have no patience for slow episodes, just think of episode three to five as the mandatory ship (and cyber) warfare introduction episodes and jump straight to episode six, which is where the entertainment level really gets off the ground. This show is only one to avoid if you really dislike the concept of fun.

It's got some pacing issues and occasionally focus on the relatively uninteresting yacht club a little too much, but all in all, is one of the most entertaining shows I've watched all year.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: The show is surprisingly free of fanservice despite starring a whole bunch of girls in really short skirts. No, really. There is NO nudity in this one, or even any pantyshots. Nor any particular humor based around it.

Violence is mostly played straight, if very light despite its subject. There are no particular character deaths in Moretsu Pirates, but the seriousness of some of the darker situations are played surprisingly straight. And speaking of "straight" (in that "not quite" way), Moretsu Pirates also portrays a surprisingly straight lesbian couple somewhere in the middle of the show.



Version(s) Viewed: Crunchyroll stream
Review Status: Full (26/26)
Bodacious Space Pirates © 2012 Satelight, Moretsu Pirates Production Partners
 
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