Marika’s fleet arrives in the area of space where the Golden Ghost Ship appeared to face not one but three Grand Crosses. Coorie leads an EW attack, with all other EW techs working in synch. With the fleet fully cooperative and coordinated, they can focus their attacks on the enemy without risk of hitting each other. The two escort grand crosses are eventually blown up, and Marika leads a boarding party to the lead Grand Cross. All three ships were fully automated, with Quartz Christie the only one aboard. After exchanging a few words, Christie escapes and activates the self-destruct. Victorious, Marika sets a course back to Sea of Morningstar to continue her studies and cafe job, determined to continue being a high school girl pirate.
The Grand Cross-type battleships were built up as formidable, perhaps indomitable force to be reckoned with, and the episode wisely raises the stakes by introducing a fleet of three rather than one against Marika’s fleet of ten ships. Numbers make the difference though, as it’s really one spoiled brat (Christie) with three very expensive and flashy toys up against thousands of dedicated pirates hungry for glory; with centuries of combined experience. The battle is the highlight of the series, featuring lots of stuff getting blown up, and Coorie working keyboards with both hands and feet. Christie never had a chance, though she didn’t go quietly. We were a little amused when she told Marika she “won’t run and hide”, right before running and hiding, but someone like her would never allow herself to be a prisoner.
Who would have thought the young, earnest, but sometimes scatterbrained and often overstretched high school freshman Marika Kato would become the first pirate in more than a century to lead a coordinated pirate fleet against a foe? And not only lead the fleet to battle, but lead it to victory? Looking back to the first episode, not us…and yet here we are. She did it. And she did it without flunking out of school or losing her part-time maid cafe job, two things that were then, and remain now, crucial parts of her life. She’d be the first to admit she couldn’t have done anything without all of the help from her amazing crew and loving friends and family, be they involved in her daily life or working in the background. So ends an immensely enjoyable sci-fi pirate series with a lot of heart, easy-to-like cast, and above-average production values.
The real Luca returns from vacation, and Quartz Christie also returns, where the pirates encircle her with guns. Marika agrees to engage her in a fair fight, which she plans to win. Ironbeard butts in, announcing he is there to retrieve Christie on orders from the queen. Ironbeard’s entourage includes the real Kane (his younger twin brother had been filling in for him) and Ririka, who is back to her “Blaster” role. After a huge feast, Marika challenges Christie to a battle, and Christie assents.
It’s all going to come down to one huge battle between Christie, with technologically-advanced Grand Cross, and Marika, with her band of plucky “frontier” pirates. Who will prevail? We’re guessing Marika, but that isn’t decided here. This week, like any good penultimate episode, gets everyone caught up, checks in on nearly everyone, and basically does the housekeeping that will allow the finale to flow unfettered by loose ends. This episode was a buffet of light and tasty hors d’ouvres.
Lberally peppered throughout the episode were fun little moments. Christie trying to avoid the spotlight (literally); a group of EW techs fawning over Coorie in non-hot mode; Chiaki reacting to her singing voice being transmitted across piratedom. While guys like Ironbeard remain mysterious, at least his motives aren’t: he’s there to fetch Christie, whom we imagine to be some kind of priviliged loose cannon who ran away from home to play with her awesome new toy. That being said, Marika challenged Christie to a fight, and he can’t interfere any more than Christie can refuse. So it’s on like Donkey Kong.
As Marika prepares for final exams and to take over for Lynn as Yacht Club President, the Bentenmaru crew brief her on the emergence of a fierce pirate hunter. With only 20 days remaining on their present pirating license, Marika arranges an escort mission where their client is another pirate ship, the Big Catch under Captain Stone. En route to their destination, a mysterious and immensely fast, agile, and powerful white ship ambushes them, making mincemeat out of the Big Catch. Another, even larger ship jumps into the battle, with its apparent pirate captain announcing “The Time Has Come.”
While a stock-taking easing back into the piracy tub would have been welcome, we got a little something extra this week, as we not only get a heavily Bentenmaru-focused episode, but one that presents a new and formidable threat. But that doesn’t mean stock isn’t taken before the big-time adversary reveal. Marika’s future is starting to appear over the horizon, and it’s up to her to form what that future is. As Kane pointedly puts to her while chaffeuring her up to space for the umpteenth time, she can either keep being a space tourist who commutes to the Bentenmaru, or start “living like a real sailor”, like her father and the Bentenmaru crew.
But in the meantime, there’s an obstacle to Marika surviving the day: some particularly ruthless pirate hunters led by…the narrator??? In the cold open, when we see a ship nearly identical to the Bentenmaru have its ass handed to it, we knew the Bentenmaru would be in for a rough ride. When the Big Catch, one of the oldest and toughest pirate ships, meets a similar end, well, let’s just say shooting probably won’t solve things…nor will cosplay. We wonder if Marika’s cleverness will be able to get through to these unyielding hunters, or if they’ll hear nothing but the bleating of their prey before they make the killing blow. As for “The Time Has Come”, well, that could mean any number of things…but for now, it seems to mean the time has come to end all pirates. Killjoys…can’t they see the whimsical charm of piracy?
The representatives of the Hakuoh Academy, led by Lynn, arrive at the space station in orbit of Calmwind, where the dinghy race will be held. They recieve a most unfriendly record, and Lynn recalls when she was a middle schooler, the Yacht Club at the time employed her hacking skills to change the race route, causing all but two of the 142 entries to crash. The memory of the fiasco is still fresh in the minds of the rival teams and of the chairwoman. When Marika arrives with the Bentenmaru to provide security and the chairomwan learns Marika is a student at Hakuoh, she suspects more treachery afoot.
When the race commences and the dinghies enter the atmosphere, a gunship from the Bisque company opens fire on them. Marika draws them away from the other pilots, winning the chairwoman’s trust, and the Bentenmaru risks atmospheric flight to deal with Bisque. Ai helps the pirates by telling them which winds are coming, so the gunship will glide into the line of fire. Before their ship goes down, Bisque launch an EM ulse that knocks out Ai’s electronics, but she opens her canopy and finishes the race, navigating by the stars above.
We can’t get enough of races done right, and Moretsu Pirate’s version puts a novel spin by making it a race of dinghies with limited propellant in which the race pilots must make use of the planet’s unique atmospheric properties to succeed. Add to that a couple of different palls: the one cast by a past Hakuoh Yacht Club’s deviousness, and the one cast by jealous parties who want to put the young pirate Marika Kato out of comission. And for good measure, the sun Calmwind orbits decides to unleash a massive solar flare in the middle of the race. There’s a lot going on here, but it’s all under control.
There’s a lot to like, too: Hakuoh’s desire to clear their name by flying a clean race; the intriguing physics of the dinghies free-falling from orbit in a gorgeous waterfall-like cascade; the surprise high-risk appearance of the space-only Bentenmaru in a very tricky planetary atmosphere. We also like Ai Hoshimiya in this episode. She’s a smart cookie who knows how to use the stars to navigate – like mariners of yore – and a seemingly inocuous scene of her buying a book of Calmwind’s constellations proves crucial to her being able to finish the race. We also like how she didn’t win; realistically she just wasn’t going to be able to overcome a total lack of avionics and make up the time lost helping the Bentenmaru. Chiaki won. And, for one glorious moment, Ai wasn’t wearing that stupid roast turkey hat…though unfortunately it seems she has spares.
The Yacht Club begins a thorough cleaning of the Odette II while an exhausted Marika cleans the Bentenmaru on her own. Grunhilde is concerned that her sister Gruier has gotten too close to Marika. While spacing on, Marika loses her father’s ring. When the Bentenmaru crew is discharged and returns to the ship, it is locked down. Grunhilde arrives with the rest of the Yacht Club and the ring, and expertly starts up the ship, impressing the regular crew. When Marika sets the ring down on the desk in her quarters, it reveals the secret recipe to Kato pot-au-feu.
There’s not much to say about this week’s episode. It contained pleasant enough sci-fi slice-of-life, but contained a whole lot of needless worrying on Grunhilde Serenity’s part, had a needless red herring in Marika losing the extremely important ring, and tried to say something about the bond between Marika, her father, and the Serenity sisters, which is a stretch in our opinion. Sure, her dad gave Gruier his ring, but we feel like there was more pragmatism in that then sentimentality. A princess would make a powerful ally for Marika when she came of age and took over from her father.
The ‘bond’ stuff just seemed a little heavy-handed…and we don’t appreciate Gruier shoving huge bags of junk food in front of Marika’s face…is she trying to gorge her into an early grave? What we did like was how Marika was finally portrayed as being worn out and losing her edge as a result. After everything she’s been through, a couple days of sleep and relaxation are a good idea, even though she didn’t really get that. We also like that the Bentenmaru crew is finally out of quarantine and can take their rightful places aboard ship. We have nothing against the Yacht Club, but it’s composed of an awful lot of people, many of whom are extraneous.
With the crew getting more comfortable with the Bentenmaru’s systems, Marika announces their first piracy job: the plundering of the luxury liner Princess Apricot, a regular client. The tactical maneuvers prove tricky, but after a rocky docking, the crew boards the liner dressed in cosplay, initially confusing but ultimately charming the customers, and the mission is a surprising success. When Grunhilde reports seeing Lynn talking to someone over the comms, Marika confronts her. Lynn tells her she has a new mission for the Bentenmaru: the kidnapping of former Yacht Club president Jenny Dolittle.
Moretsu (or mouretsu) translates as ‘bodacious’, which is defined as either “excellent” or “audacious in a way considered admirable.” The normal Bentenmaru crew fits the first definition: they’re pros and they’re excellent at their jobs; so much so, they weathered the changing of captains without breaking a sweat. The Yacht Club fits the second definition: it indeed takes audacity to field a trainee crew for a piracy job meant for the first-string crew, and they do an admirable job.
True to the spirit of this series, the mission doesn’t go off without a hitch. There’s nothing routine about it for these kids; it’s hard both to maneuver the ship into position and to provide the proper combination of entertainment and intimidation for their customers, while maintaining their confidence. Chiaki fills in nicely for Misa as Marika’s right-hand-woman, sweating details like finding the crew quarters and even playing the mom at times. And the episode leads on that Lynn is Up To Something like espionage or treachery, but it turns out she wants the Bentenmaru to assist her in abducting her former president, Jenny. Why, we’ll find out another day.
Using a false image of Kane, the Yacht Club is given clearance to depart from base under the guise of a practice cruise, but their true goal is to intercept the powered-down Bentenmaru, board her, and commence piracy under Marika’s command. The Bentenmaru crew observes from a series of hidden cameras, and through Show, secretly transmits hastily-compiled manuals crucial for the ship’s startup sequence. But the manuals do not include FTL info, so Marika has to go by memory to jump the ship and evade Alliance ships. The Serenity sisters and Chiaki learn about the help Marika’s crew gave her, but decide to keep it a secret.
Is Marika Kato an incredibly bright, resourceful, talented, driven young woman? Darn tootin’. Can she singlehandedly get the Bentenmaru properly started-up and running without the aid of her crew? In a word, no. But that’s okay. Marika needs help from both friends, family, and classmates, whether she knows it or not. Otherwise she wouldn’t need a crew at all. The series has done a good job keeping her out of Amazing Flawless Perfect Girl territory. This is the future, after all; even if her crew is quarrantined, the technology exists for them to give her quite a bit of assistance from afar; as well as keep an eye on her progress. Misa told her they wouldn’t be around to bail her out, but she really meant they wouldn’t be able to help her as much as if they were free.
The Yacht Club girls ooh and aah as a group of high school amateur spacefarers are expected to do, and seem more than up to the challenge of operating the ship once they learn how. The hiccups in the process – a girl accidentally firing the ship’s laser cannons; stalling the engines on the first go – aptly illustrated that there was a learning curve. The Serenity sisters stow away yet again (thanks to Chiaki, interestingly enough), and their contribution consists of pumping up the club’s blood sugar with a bevy of decadent desserts (perhaps the reason Chiaki helped them). A little silly, perhaps, but not offensively so. And of course, most importantly, no one was killed!
Marika leaves the bio-container delivery to her crew so she can catch up on her studies, but they open prematurely, infecting her whole crew with flu-like symptons and forcing them into mandatory isolation for up to a month. It falls to Marika to confer with their insurance agent Show, who gives Marika three choices: pray for her crew’s recovery, rescue them before they’re well, or assemble a new crew. If the Bentenmaru is out of action for a month, their license will be revoked, so she choses the third option. Gruier follows her in disguise, and after fashioning a disguise for Marika, they attempt to find new crew members with no success. Chiaki and her father Kenjo meet up with her, warning her not to pick random sailors, but to turn to people she can trust who were right under her nose all along: the yacht club, who are ready and willing to step in to help her.
Moretsu Pirates is about Marika leading the Bentenmaru and its gallant crew on piraty adventures, no? Well, what if you take the crew out of the equation, eh? This episode (or “sailing”) explores this, while introducing Marika to yet another of the less glamorous but still necessary aspects of her job: the business side. It’s a great concept that’s well-executed, thanks to help from Gruier, now a main character, and Chiaki, who suggests the most obvious course of action for Marika to take: recruit the Yacht Club. They have the skill and personality she desires in a crew, but unlike random sailors, she can trust them, too. It’s not surprising that the club president (and former hacker) Lynn Lambretta jumps at the chance to do some piracy; she’s always had that rebellious streak.
Would the academy really be okay with a bunch of minors turning to piracy so willy-nilly? We don’t know, but we do know the Yacht Club was the first thing we thought of when Marika told Ririka she needed to find a temp crew. That she didn’t arrive at that conclusion immediately shows that she’s still not perfect when it comes to running her ship and her business, and she still depends on friends like Chiaki and her dad to steer her to the right decision. While we hope the regular crew gets well soon, we’re looking forward to seeing what Marika and the Yacht Club crew can do in their stead.
Marika is awarded a medal for her services to Gruier and makes the news, turning her into a local celebrity on Morningstar. The Gruier sisters return there to enroll at the middle school and join the Yacht Club, of which Lynn is now president. Gruier gives Marika the ring she used to stow away; a ring that was Marika’s father’s. She has both Serenity sisters over for dinner. Now that Marika is well-settled into her role as Bentenmaru’s captain, Ririka quits her job and looks to return to space.
This was an impresively-executed slice-of-life episode. It was calm and quiet respite after the high-stakes Serenity arc, and a perfect opportunity to get some character work and make some of the changes we knew were coming to Marika’s life. The producers didn’t waste this opportunity. Not only does Marika have to deal with the fact that she’s now famous, even to mainstream society (not just space pirate circles, that is), but her new position means she can take care of herself, meaning Ririka’s role as her doting mother is coming to an end.
In this regard, Marika is almost like royalty herself. Ririka stepped down as a pirate in order to make sure her daughter got the childhood and upbringing she deserved, while grooming her for command should she choose to take it when her father passed. This was the plan all along – including letting her make the choice herself – it just came sooner due to her father’s sudden demise. We for one am glad she chose both. School, yacht club, pirate captain – it’s a lot to juggle, but she’s certainly comporting herself well so far, and its been a joy to watch. That Ririka seems to be returning to space should make things interesting too.
Coorie confirms the identity of the Serenity battleship: it’s the Queen Serendipity, the flagship. The Bentenmaru observes the Serenity fleet as it prepares to lure the Golden Ghost Ship. Marika orders an FTL jump into the space-time quake, and the ship endures gravity rings and massive shock waves. At the end of the ordeal, they finally find the massive ghost ship. The Queen Serendipity hails Gruier by name; it’s her younger sister Grunhilde, who insists Gruier withdraw at once, presumably so she can destroy the ship. Gruier refuses, and the Bentenmaru docks within the ghost ship before the fleet gets there. The ghost ship re-enters subspace and prepares to make an FTL jump with the Bentenmaru inside her.
It’s out of the frying pan and into…a larger, meaner frying pan this week, as the danger gets kicked up to 11. After flying through one hell of an astronomical gauntlet, the Bentenmaru emerges in a clearing and the Golden Ghost Ship gets a regal reveal that’s full of awe. The damn thing is 24 kilometers long and made of gold, after all! Gruier finds herself at odds with her sister, whom she believes is being manipulated. Their conversation isn’t exactly cordial, and it’s a strong moment for Gruier, who’d been a little mousey up to this point. We came away from this episode liking her a lot more.
While the space gauntlet, princess face-off and ghost ship reveals were the main set pieces this week, this episode has a lot more to offfer. Marika continues to progress as a fine pirate captain when she has Gruier leave the bridge to suit up while she reiterates to her crew that their safety, and that of the ship, is her top priority. “If things get bad, we run,” she says – they’ll help Gruier as much as they can, but they aren’t about to die for her. Kane also exhibits some boss flying skills by performing a backwards combat landing into the ghost ship hangar, leading to Marika’s line of the week: “We got smacked in the butt!”
Princess Gruier orders the Serenity ships to stand down, and the Bentenmaru docks with the Corback they were chasing, which bears a royal chaimberlain who provides the princess with a parcel that contains the chip that contains the info on the Serenity Golden Ghost Ship. Back at the Yacht Club, Chiaki tells Marika that other pirates, including her father, have been contracted to find the ship and eliminate anyone in their way. After the club makes Gruier an honorary member of the Yacht Club, she and Marika rejoin the Bentenmaru, which has extrapolated the likely path of the ghost ship, and they set off in search of it.
Not a lot actually happened, and some of it didn’t make much sense. Why was a ship fulfilling the wishes of the princess being pursued and even fired upon by her own defense forces? Why did she have to dress up as a pirate to tell them off? Why did Gruier need the Yacht Club member for their “attendence faking” skills when she’s not a real student anyway? Unless, of course, the king/queen of Serenity aren’t on board with their daughter’s plan…but we know nothing about Serenity’s motives; only Gruier’s.
Finally, knowing there’s something of a race to find this ghost ship, why did Marika go back home at all? Perhaps so she and the crew could have a nice meal at a messy restaurant run by a most surly chef. We’d be a little more forgiving of the dawdling this week, as the series typically does dawdling very well, but this was the second episode in a row of building up. We’re ready to go explore that ghost ship now. Bottom line: pleasant enough episode; we were just hoping for a little more progress.
The stowaway turns out to be Princess Gruier of the old and powerful Serenity royal family. She boarded the Bentenmaru of her own accord to request that they investigate the legendary Golden Ghost Ship. When media reports the princess is missing, Marika decides to enroll her at her school on Morningstar, limiting her enemies’ moves. A sudden job hits, in which the Bentenmaru must intercept an escort ship from Serenity carrying palace records relating to the ghost ship. When it arrives, it appears damaged, and is being pursued by a battleship and four other escorts – also Serenity affiliated.
Whether she’s there by her own will or not, the whole “Princess stowaway” premise was very well represented in the annals of Star Trek. Members of royalty often tend to act spoiled and aloof to their reluctant spacefaring hosts. Princess Gruier may be a downright silly-looking character, but she’s very polite, once she learns Marika is indeed the father of the captain she sought out. It seems a bit rash for a young princess to sneak aboard a pirate ship to make such a seemingly odd request, but perhaps we can chalk it up to no one in Serenity taking her seriously.
Of course, the events in the closing moments of the episode, like those last week, will likely have the biggest effect on where the story will go next week. We’ve got apparent Serenity-on-Serenity battle, and a Bentenmaru that will need to take a side. For now though, the main crew is formerly introduced in the guise of Gruier meeting them. They’re a most colorful group. With all these sudden royal circumstances, Marika’s pirate captain training has already burst out of its cruise ship-raiding mold.
Now that she’s a pirate captain, Marika is working twice as hard and her grades at schol are dropping. Still, she refuses to drop out, and vows to do better. The Bentenmaru’s next mission is to plunder the Frigard Liner Symphony Angel, which is being accompanied three escort ships, necessitating ship-to-ship combat. After bearing the Bentenmaru’s teeth, the fleet surrenders, and the mission is successful. While unwinding in her cabin, Marika is called back to the bridge with news that they have a stowaway – a small child who managed to hack the ship’s security systems.
This week’s teaser is played straight at first, but as the situation gets more and more dire, it’s clear it’s only a bad dream. But the dream does present the theme of the episode: can Marika handle everything on her plate? Of course, that’s kind of the theme of the whole series. With both of Marika’s lives now established, this episode could delve a bit into the workaday. We even see her back at the maid cafe with Mami, where Chiaki also stops by for another parfait. The mission is fairly elementary – pains are taken to make it clear the Bentenmaru doesn’t simply choose who to board and raid – they have a contact with a client to provide an entertainment to the crews of these liners.
These conceits may seem to kill the peril of this series, but we don’t think the peril is the point. We’re out in space, and many wars have been fought, and now most everything seems to be pretty nice and peaceful. There also seems to be quite a bit of wealth out there, and the wealthier people get, the more elaborate their entertainments become. It isn’t enough to go on an intergalactic cruse, oh no…you have to be attacked by pirates! It’s all in good fun, but that doesn’t mean the crew ofthe Bentenmaru don’t take their job very seriously, and demand that Marika do the same. Now she’s facing an unexpected new challenge: a stowaway kid.