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.
Lynn asks Marika to take on a mission to board a liner and ‘kidnap’ Jenny Dolittle, who is being forced into an arranged marriage by her uncle so he can make his son the heir to the massive Hugh-Dolittle company. Marika agrees, but Jenny arrives aboard a state-of-the-art spacecraft before they get started. Lynn and Jenny reveal they’re in a relationship, and Jenny requests asylum, which Marika grants. Jenny’s uncle tries to pressure Harold Lloyd to make Marika give her up, but Marika is able to negotiate a deal with Show that will work out for everyone, which he agrees to. Not long afterward, the Hugh Dolittle fleet opens fire on the Bentenmaru, which jumps away in retreat.
For Marika Kato, an awful lot can happen in a day. One minute you’re assembling a subsitute amateur crew of novices who work out how to operate the ship and pull off a standard pirating job by the skin of their teeth; the next, you’re in quite a bit more potential trouble, taking on a job that places you, your ship, and the insurance company that covers you in a very powerful interstellar corporation’s crosshairs. We can only salute this episode for it’s sheer scope, ambition, and for sweating the details.
We love how the initial plan – which really sounds like how the episode will unfold – is suddenly and totally subverted by, of all things, the client herself, Jenny. Despite her looks she’s no damsel in distress; she can take care of herself, and when she sees and opportunity, she takes the initiative. Justice is on Jenny’s side: her uncle has no right to push her out of the picture by marrying her off, but it’s interesting how there’s more to this than business. Lynn didn’t just do it out of a sense of duty to her former captain, but out of love for her; love Jenny reciprocates. Marika can hardly stand by while two friends’ hearts are at risk of being torn from one another.
We have to point out that Marika makes some initially very questionable command decisions (agreeing to a mission that could cost her her license; allowing Jenny’s ship to dock before confirming it’s her) but her utter conviction in making them (there’s a reason she’s the captain, and she’s her father’s daughter), and the way events unfold, everything manages to Come Up Marika. The cost of failure is high, but the cost of success is damned high. All they need to do is protect Jenny from her uncle and his big bad corporate fleet…with rookie high school students manning the helm and FTL drive. The training cruise is over.
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!
As Chiaki continues normal pirating activities posing as Marika, Marika, Gruier and the Bentenmaru enter a stormy corner of space where the ghost ship was last seen and explore. They discover a Serenity surveillance buoy network and Coorie hacks into it. Using it, they discover a massive spacial anomoly that is most likely the ghost ship, but a large fleet of Serenity warships are also in the vicinity. Marika orders them to intercept the smallest of the fleet’s three squadrons and successfully disable their sensors. Gruier offers to make them stand down, but it would give up the game too early in Marika’s judgement. Her plan is to stay silent, shadow the fleet, and swoop in when they find the ghost ship.
Funny; a minor can command a pirate ship into ion storms, but she can’t legally work more than eight hours a day. In any case, our confusion about Gruier joining the yacht club was cleared up, leaving us feeling quite foolish in retrospect: it’s supposed to be a secret that she and Marika are off in search of the ghost ship. Thus, as far as anyone’s concerned, Marika is pillaging cruise ships, Gruier is on a practice cruise with the club, and Bob’s theoretically yer uncle. We like the subterfuge…and it seems Chiaki likes Maria’s pirate uniform – after a couple minor alterations.
Our concerns of the series getting too “comfortable” in the Tau Ceti system were also put to rest, as we join the Bentenmaru deep in remote, stormy “seas” being pelted by cosmic debris. Marika shows she’s her father’s daughter once again by taking charge, making quick decisions on the fly, and sticking to them. Her daring charge on the two Corbacks was a great little maneuver, and denying Gruier’s request to clear up the “misunderstanding” with their opponents was a good decision. The Bentenmaru can observe the fleet’s search, thus hastening its eventual discovery.
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.
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.
Marika has the Odette II shorten its course, and their opponent begins hacking their dummy systems. When Lynn launches a counter-cyberattack on the ship – called the ‘Lightning 11’ – it shuts down all its systems and starts firing shots from a beam cannon at the Odette II. Seeing that they’re using their eyeballs to target, Marika has the ships sail’s concentrate the sunlight of Tau Ceti into one massive beam of their own, which blinds them. Reinforcements arrive: the Bentenmaru, Stellar navy escorts and a second pirate ship, the Barbalusa, which Chiaki announces his her father’s ship. Her cruise successful, Marika agrees to become captain of the Bentenmaru.
Marika proves herself to everyone that she’s skipper material by making confident decisions, sticking with them, and thinking outside the box to defeat her foe, whom she and the yacht club believed was a legitimate threat. While there’s a bit of space battle eye candy in this episode, we witness the lion’s share of the battle from the bridge, on console readouts and schematics and alarms. The ship is alive with activity, and the reports and commands fly rapidly. It’s all about the procedure, the process, and the details – the real nitty-gritty of running a ship under duress. Weapons finally come into the equation, but the electronic warfare and solar sails werewhat proved decisive. Great use of strategy, tactics, and resourcefulness.
We now also learn that Chiaki Kurihara isn’t just someone Marika met by chance who’ll serve under her command on the Bentenmaru. No, Chiaki is also a pirate’s daughter (though hers is still alive); which makes her and Marika potential allies, rivals, even foes, depending on what paths they take. And so concludes the five-episode arc in which Marika shows not only her observers but herself that She Can Do This, and in which she makes her decision to take her father’s chair, was very well-orchestrated, and offered what we hope will only be a taste of the adventures to come. Next week we board the Bentenmaru and meet the rest of her crew. Should be fun.
As the Odette II’s practice cruise around Tau Ceti continues, Marika and Chiaki detect what they believe to be an enemy masquerading as the ghost ship Alcyon, lost more than a century ago. Marika informs the crew that she’s a candidate for the captaincy of a pirate ship, which is why the enemy is targeting them. Jenny already knows who she is, but agrees with the plan to take the fight to the ghost ship rather than ask adults for help and risk a ban on future cruises. Marika draws up the battle plan, which Dolittle approves. Only Kane and Misa know the truth: this is all an elaborate test of Marika’s skills.
Sometimes the chops required of successfully commanding a ship are naturally inhereted by one’s offspring, and that certainly seems to be the case with Marika Kato. She’s picking up on things at a strong and steady clip, impressing her pirate observers and fellow Yacht Club members alike. But the series doesn’t forget that this is still a training ship full of students, with no battle experience, so this impending battle won’t put the Odette II in mortal peril, the crew believes that’s exactly what they’ll be in, and act accordingly. This is for all the marbles: if they fail, they know they’ll risk having the Odette II taken away.
The episode is full of preparation and urgency, and we’re starting to learn a little more about some of the huge group of students. Important ones like Jenny and Lynn are touched upon, and the latter’s hacking abilities are integral to Marika’s plan. We like how ships can fool one another depending on the scan thrown at them, how basic analytical methods are used by Marika and the crew, and especially how Marika draws up both a strategy and specific tactics despite not being quite certain of the distinction between the two. This is seat-of-the-pants spacefaring; learning as she goes the conventions and pitfalls of space combat. Next week, we’ll see how she and the Odette II do against the pirates’ faux attack.
Rescued by Chiaki from the numerous groups that meant to kidnap her or do her harm, Marika meets up with her mother, who takes her to an isolated space graveyard to try out weapons. She and Chiaki then head up into orbit with the Yacht Club to start up their ship, the Odette II, for a practice cruise under Mr. Kane’s supervision, which Marika finds suspicious. While sitting on the bridge, Marika notices Chiaki working vigorously at her terminal. It turns out another ship in the port is waging electronic warfare on the Odette II’s systems. Chiaki suggests they cut the cable to kill the network, but Marika decides they should fight back, despite their dubious skills.
Last week we were a bit surprised Ririka never told her daughter that both she and her father were pirates, and that Marika was the heir to her dad’s ship. This week, she explains: she was going to tell her when she graduated, assuming her dad would still be alive. That makes sense: let her have a more-or-less normal high school life. The thing is, this series’ idea of a normal high school life includes a club that has their own frikkin’ spaceship. We especially love how this spaceship has such a long and illustrious history, from a prototype to a transport to an explorer, and even served as a pirate ship during the revolutions. One nitpick: how exactly do miniskirts not cause mayhem in zero gravity…?
In any case, this episode introduced Marika to a little more of her pirate future (the mother-daughter gun session was pretty cute) and got her into space, where she immediately starts to assert herself with the e-warfare incident. She and Chiaki look like they’ll work well together, even if Chiaki may harbor a little envy towards Marika. We’re just glad they’re letting Marika dip her toes in the pool with this practice cruise rather than immediately heaving her into the deep end. She’s definitely not quite ready to take command of the Bentenmaru, but she’s getting there.
In the distant future, on a frontier planet called the Sea of the Morningstar, diligent high schooler Marika Kato lives a fairly ordinary life, until two friends of her mother Ririkia arrive one night and tell her she is the heir to the captain’s chair of the pirate ship Bentenmaru. While mulling over the decision, she goes back school, where she meets transfer student Chiakai Kurihara. While at her job as a cafe maid, a large group of strange people are there watching Marika. Kurihara saves her from an assassination attempt and they flee the cafe.
Moretsu (Bodacious) Pirates makes a very good opening argument into why we should – and will – watch it. It immediately and efficiently sets up a whole universe, from a quick history lesson, to a very comfy seaside city setting with just the right blend of traditional and futuristic details. A school yacht club where the yachts fly into orbit? An automatic chalkboard? Why not! Also, young Marika, while good at most everything she does, doesn’t come off as arrogant or annoying. Seiyu Mikako Komatsu (only her eighth role) does a good job with inoffensive voice acting alongside standbys like Kana Hanazawa (who plays the raven-haired four-eyes Kurihara) and Chiaki Omigawa (Marika’s friend Mami).
It’s a great start to a coming-of-age story too: since Marika does everything she sets her mind to well, there’s no reason to believe she won’t turn out to be a great captain. But can such a goody-two-shoes become a good pirate? Most people on her planet only think of pirates as a bunch of stories, legends and ancient history (much like in real life). Of course, pirates probably like it that way. But they’re real…and interestingly enough, they’re legal too (like privateers). With the stage set, Marika is about to embark on one hell of an adventure, and we can’t wait to see what happens.