Bodacious Space Pirates Part Two (Episodes 14-26) (Cert 12)
2 Discs (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 301 minutes approx.
If we learned anything from the first volume of Bodacious Space Pirates it is that throw Mariko Kato in at the deep end and she’ll assuredly come up swimming. After discovering she was of pirate descent Mariko was literally whisked off her feet and in charge of the pirate spaceship Bentenmaru, learning the ropes as she went and making a surprisingly good fist of it. But the challenges aren’t about to end yet.
During a rare break from pirating Mariko is back at school when she gets a message from her crew that they have all been quarantined after picking up an infection from a group of monkey creatures they were transporting. Unfortunately this doesn’t lead to an extended break for Mariko as another job comes in for the Bentenmaru and she has no crew. Actually, she does – her friends in the Hakuoh Academy yacht club.
Cue lots of moe fun and shenanigans as the giggling school girls get to grips with the inner workings of a pirate spaceship. Much like Mariko, this talented bunch pick the rules up pretty quickly and when a rather unusual request is to put to Mariko, they are more than willing and able to step up for some real pirating.
Much like the first volume, the first half of this follow-up set is a pretty lightweight affair aimed at delivering the same high spirited, easy going hijinks that make this such an enjoyable and fun little show. However the mood is about to change when during a friendly space dinghy racing competition a number of pirate ships were suddenly under attack from an unidentified craft.
As the attacks continue the pirate community learn of the Grand Cross, a quartet of Imperial built prototype ships with extreme new weaponry and capabilities created for a group of pirate hunters, lead by the mysterious Quartz Christie, who resent how piracy has become a commercial and corporate affair and plan to wipe out what they believe to be ersatz pirates.
It is the content of the final batch of episodes that viewers have no doubt been patiently waiting for since the first episodes – or possibly hoped the show would be full of. It has an intriguing storyline with some curious twists and is full of some explosive space battle action pitting the Grand Cross and the coalition of pirates under Mariko’s command.
Providing a suitable and exciting climax to the series, the viewer’s patience is rewarded with a visual splendour that mixes 2D and CG – sometimes successfully, sometimes not – that ups the energy level to maximum and delivers some much needed drama to boot. While some may lament that this was a long time coming, it is worth remembering that Mariko is a rookie captain so being caught up in intergalactic warfare from the get go is a tad unreasonable even for an anime heroine!
But this also raises an interesting point about Mariko’s adeptness and subsequent progression as a pirate captain throughout the series. At the very beginning she was just an ordinary high school girl handy with the old space yachts who is literally thrust into the world of piracy out of the blue via her hitherto unspoken heritage. The problem is that despite a few bumps along the way, Mariko never really experienced much of a learning insofar as suffering a few humiliating defeats or a crushing loss of faith in herself to set her back.
Every obstacle is faced head on and overcome with minimum fuss, either by luck or through Mariko’s amazingly incisive guile for a teenage newbie. Thus we have a show that doesn’t have too many conflict points for our heroine to create a steady sense of drama or emotionally involvement. With the template established early on, one just knows Mariko and crew will luck their way out of s situation so where is the hook?
Presumably it comes from having an excitable and, despite her apparent imperviousness to failure and drawbacks, likeable lead with an equally bubbly if sometimes faceless supporting cast who are largely inoffensive and again, oddly likeable. With nothing too taxing in the story department and the mood kept light and frothy, this show should be as fulfilling as a bag of air but in fact it is deceptively enjoyable. There is the palpable frustration of waiting for some thing major to happen but there is never a dull moment to be found in this show and maybe that is the skill of this series – the viewer is blinded by the high production values, effervescent characters and moments of astronomic wonder that they aren’t aware that things are coasting along. A neat trick if you can pull it off.
Even without taut and densely plotted storylines or endless laser blasting action, Bodacious Space Pirates doesn’t feel like a waste of time and one is effortlessly drawn into the charmingly playful universe of Mariko and company without regret. Granted the potential scope for adventures and drama has yet to be fully realised in this first series making a second almost a dead cert.
However to test the waters so to speak, a feature length film is currently in production and due for release in early 2014 in Japan. Perhaps with the characters and world of new age space piracy now firmly established all future outings will live up to the high expectations of the genre fans.
For now there little else to do except to say sit back and enjoy the second half of this ride in the company of Mariko and the crew of the Bentenmaru.
Japanese Language with English Subtitles
Disc 2 only:
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animation #1
Clean Closing Animation #2
Rating – ****
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