Title: Mouretsu Pirates aka Bodacious Space Pirates
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 8 Jan 2012 – 1 Jul 2012
Synopsis: Katou Marika is a normal girl who spends her time in her school’s yacht club and works part-time at a cafe. However, her life is thrown for a loop when she is visited by two people who claim to be subordinates of her dead father. Marika’s father was the captain of a space pirate ship, the Bettenmaru, and upon the captain’s death, the ship must be inherited by his next of kin. Marika is swept away in the life of a space pirate and must learn to balance captaincy with school.
Characters: Most have fun, bright personalities that bounce well off each other.
Piracy: A unique view of a subject that has been done to death, although less exciting than one might expect.
Anticlimax: Most plotlines are solved with shocking ease, which becomes bizarrely amusing but may bother those looking for a more straightforward story.
The main refrain when speaking about Moretsu Pirates during its run was how expectations of the series shifted from beginning to end. Not necessarily from better to worse, but from a harder sort of science-fiction story about growing up to a more lighthearted adventure on the high seas of space. It didn’t totally abandon the former, but the focus on cute antics and the ease of conflict turned some off from a series that at least stayed fun even amid ridiculous plots.
The greatest joy from Moretsu Pirates comes from its cast of characters. Marika is a capable captain with a bright personality who is straightforward about everything she wants to accomplish. It’s kind of weird that every pirate aboard the Bettenmaru is cool with taking orders from her, but there’s so much emphasis placed on the Bettenmaru as a well-oiled machine that it stops being strange after a while. Marika has a capable, and arguably underutilized, foil in Kurihara Chiaki, the daughter of a pirate captain, who is also learning the trade. Chiaki goes through the typical modern tsundere motions at times; however, when her cooler personality is allowed to bounce off Marika’s infectious energy, it’s undeniably fun.
Other characters in Mouretsu Pirates are fun in their own ways, too. What helps a lot is that many are part of identifiable groups, which gives them plenty of room to form natural relationships and have fun interactions. Marika’s Yacht Club, in particular, is filled to the brim with strong-willed girls who support Marika when the going gets tough, and are not afraid to get their hands dirty when it’s time to adventure. A senior member of the club, Jenny Doolittle, is a particular delight; unfortunately, she is more underutilized than Chiaki, and her time to shine comes during one of the show’s more ridiculous plots, but she’s great when she’s around.
The series’ unique view of piracy also adds to the charm. These pirates are government-sponsored; they attack cruise liners that are covered by insurance, essentially pirating so that the rich can get a cheap thrill. It’s an interesting idea that comments on how figures like pirates or cowboys or samurai or whoever else have evolved throughout history, and what they’ve turned into in modern times. These painless events are intertwined with genuine intrigue and battle, though, and this is where the series may go astray for some.
Mouretsu Pirates spends a lot of time building dangerous scenarios that are unraveled quickly by the heroes. One of the first is taken care of before it even begins. The day is saved in another due to inexplicable stupidity on the part of the villain. Another sees the villain desire to take on the pirates in honorable combat and then proceed to get destroyed due to basic tactics. “Everything works out when you’re a pirate!” is a common refrain in the series, and indeed everything does tend to work out when the plot shifts everything in your favor. I was amused throughout at the ludicrous means by which the pirates won their battles with the least possible effort, but others may not be so forgiving.
Ultimately, Moretsu Pirates is a cute, fun series with some interesting ideas and execution that may not be to everyone’s tastes. It’s difficult to take seriously; however, with its premise, it could probably be said that the show doesn’t want to be taken all that seriously, anyway.
The Rating: 6
Reviewed by: Shinmaru