Alright then, hello. This is review number forty three. I finally finished Moretsu Pirates. This is part of the Winter 2012 lineup despite finishing on the spring season. It took me two days to finish this because I fell asleep thrice watching the anime. Haha. Is it good? Twenty six episodes of piracy and space travel. I wonder if it’s good. Let’s read on.
An ordinary high school girl named Marika Kato is happy with her life in school. She has a part time job and she enjoys her time in her club. One day, she suddenly finds herself becoming the captain of a pirate ship. It looks like her normal school life is about to get a lot more interesting.
Taking the Pants Off
First of all, this isn’t the anime you expect it to be. The title is Bodacious Space Pirates and your Otaku radar might have pegged it to be an ecchi/action anime. I honestly think this anime is about a rag tag of unruly pirates going from planet to planet and hijacking innocent people. I was expecting a dangerous anime full of money, fighting and kidnapping women. Yknow, I was expecting the typical pirate stereotype experience but in space. With Bodacious in the title, I was thinking there is a huge serving of fan service on the side.
It’s not. The anime isn’t about a motley crew of unruly people. The anime is like a cross between Star Trek and Rinne no Lagrange. The anime is mostly about these people in the main bridge of a spaceship travelling space like Star Trek. There are a lot of technical talks here that was very hard to follow at first. The thing that makes this anime stand out is that the main character is an ordinary high school girl. I’m no Star Trek, by the way. If you’re expecting an action packed anime about pirates travelling space then you’re not going to find it here. The anime doesn’t suffer from the lack of action though because the main attraction of the anime is the beautiful tactical play and moments of brilliance by our main character that can squeeze out of any bind and succeed no matter how difficult the situation is.
Even though the anime lacks the action and the thrills, it is packed with a lot of good things though. The anime is more about a light hearted adventure of a girl as she ventures the world of piracy. It sounds absurd, I know but the anime makes this simple premise shine. The anime was able to mix simple School genre elements with space travel and piracy. It works well too but it depends entirely on how you receive it. Some people love the light hearted elements but some people expected some action.
The plot of the anime is fairly simple. Marika Kato is a normal first year high school girl who happens to be the daughter of a pirate. She was chosen to be the new pirate of this spaceship despite being so young. They are no ordinary pirates though. They are “legal” pirates that have permission to loot granted by the government. That’s the first thing that seemed wrong with the anime. It immediately crippled its chance for any action. Pirates need to get approval and the government only renews licenses and no longer give out new ones. So there are very little pirates in this anime. They are more like hired mercenaries that functions only when a client issues a job for them. Passenger vessels and cruise spaceships are actually happy to get boarded by pirates. They scream like little fan girls and it was out of place. It wasn’t the usual pirate response you expect.
The anime is all about Marika and her adventures as a pirate and as part of the school’s yacht club. Not your ordinary yacht club too. As the anime moves along, it focuses solely on Marika as she ventures with her pirate crew or the yacht club. The anime has a lot of characters and there was no introductions to them. They just appear out of nowhere rather casually. The viewer just gets to know them as the story progresses through the way they act and how much they do in the situation. They do flesh themselves out as the anime progresses.
The anime is easily divided into five arcs and specific characters are on the spotlight because they serve a role in the story. I was greatly disappointed that the other interesting girl in the anime, Chiaki Kurihara, wasn’t featured at much. She only appears when the story needed her and that is personally a letdown. There are no sub plots or a main plot that ties the entire anime together. There are just five different arcs that make up the anime. The worst part is that majority of the episodes are just talks between the characters to set up the arc.
There’s a simple formula in the anime. It starts with a light hearted opening focusing on Marika and the other characters then a mission or a conflict then some planning and strategy then a little action where Marika’s quick thinking shines and then resolution. All is fine and dandy. The audience is drawn in with this simple plot.
The anime ultimately impressed me when Marika and Chiaki first had an electronic warfare. It’s where you hack the enemies’ spaceship through an open line and then control the ship. If you can control their oxygen lines and life support then you have them in the palm of your hands. It was great because there was a bit of planning and the buildup was interesting. The best part is that Marika was really quick on her feet. She was able to create a counter offensive while engaging the enemies in electronic warfare. There was technical terms thrown around but the plot was simple and easy to follow. The anime did great on making Marika its main focus while letting the side characters have their moment.
The second battle with the yacht club was great as well. A moment to strategize and good build up. The climax hits and I was completely in awed as the anime do its brilliance. The light hearted pirate sci fi anime certainly works. There is good balance to the anime and even though there are a lot of characters, they never got in the way of the excitement of the anime.
The anime has some huge problems though that ruins the experience for me. Looking back on the character introduction, the rather unimportant way of introducing the characters back fires sometime though. In the first half of the anime, a lot of characters are flat and one dimensional. They weren’t properly introduced so they just appear and talk casually as if they were introduced a long time ago. They only play their role as the story moves along. It was one of the weak points of the anime. They do not bother to introduce the characters because you’ll eventually know them on later episodes. The problem is that there are a lot of them. You see it in the opening sequence just how many there are. It’s overwhelming at first because most of the times, the episodes are boring and there is nothing but talking. I usually expect the characters to make the anime interesting but since they are molded as the story progresses, you are left with only focusing on Marika.
The anime is also more talk than action. When they are in an action tensed situation, all you see is the characters in the bridge, basically a small room, describing the action to you. They got hit a missile, one character would say “we got hit. It’s a missile.” Majority of the anime happens in the spaceship’s bridge and all we get are the characters talking. I don’t really care about all the talking because after episode twelve, I was craving for some action. Sadly, this light hearted anime prefers to talk and plan strategies than to grab a gun and shoot each other.
I know light hearted anime doesn’t have much action but the anime did have some moments where the characters shoot each other and there were some stand offs. The anime balanced everything that makes the arcs unique but it couldn’t balance the elements well. The disappointing part is that there is no element of danger in the anime. Sure, they are getting blasted by the enemies but the way Marika does her brilliance; you know that there is no way the characters would ever be in danger. It kind of sucks because just a bit of danger, some characters flirting with death, would’ve made the anime much better.
The anime is also too one sided. They are having this brilliant chess game with the enemies yet we never see the enemies. The anime is all talk but they never even consider giving some time for the enemies. Majority of the enemies are unknown. They have no personality because we never see them. We just know that they are trying to defeat Marika and she is able to read the enemies movement. There was no moment to even introduce a villain and it was such a gaping hole in the anime. No villain means no danger that results to this one sided light hearted anime.
Despite the problems I point out though, the plot was never compromised. Each arc was plot driven and the characters was utilized very well despite all my complaints. The more you watch the anime, the more the elements and the characters comes together. The moment Marika spends with the yacht club was cute and it certainly makes the anime special. The crew of Bentenmaru is all likeable despite the lack of introduction. Each arc of the anime was different and it provided a great moment for Marika to elevate herself. It’s a different kind of space pirate anime that certainly proves to be enjoyable.
Sight and Sound
The character design is unique and even though there is a large cast, they do not look alike. They aren’t like other anime where the faces are the same but the hair is different. They are all conceived nicely and even with little introduction, you can still differentiate them by their looks.
The CG is impressive. The design on the spaceships is amazing. I personally love the scene where the spaceships dodge the beams the enemies are firing. The lights on the beams are nice and the CG movement wasn’t that stiff. The scattering rockets on the final episodes are really impressive.
The music was really different. At first, it was a bit hard on the ears because it was loud but as you watches more and more, it grows on you. The opening song, “Mouretsu Uchuu Koukyokyoku: Dai Nana Gakusho ‘Mugen no Ai” by Momoiro Clover Z, perfectly fits the anime. It represents all the energy of the anime and the action despite there is very little of it.
The best thing about the OP and ED is that they were composed by Nico Nico Douga musician, Hyadain. He is known for his remixes that gets 2o million hits on youtube and Nico. He also did the OP and ED of Baka to Test. He’s super talented for sure.
4/10 “A nice twist about pirates and space adventures.”
No ecchi or shounen like battles here. It’s just a brilliant anime about strategies and outsmarting your opponent. Marika is a great lead and the story is great. It’s a lighthearted story but full of interesting moments.