Moretsu Pirates – 21

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.


Rating: 4

Moretsu Pirates – 20

The Yacht Club decides to enter an unpowered dinghy race called the 19th Nebula Cup, and have two weeks to prepare. They learn that Hakuoh had been suspended from the cup five years after foul play. Kane volunteers to whip them into shape with tough simulations and a windsurf competition at the beach which will decide which three club members will represent Hakuoh at the race. Natalia, Grunhilde, and Ai win, which the latter just beating Marika, who had pirating duties anyway.

When Marika observes how enthusiastic and passionate Ai is about All Things Yachty (that just sounds wrong…), it doesn’t take long for her to wonder to herself: why did I join Yacht Club? Beause she liked yachts? When she sees a spaceship rising in the sky, then blasting away into orbit, it comes to her: she joined so she could get to space. Mind you, this was before she knew she was destined to get there anyway. Marika’s energies may not be focused like a laser on one specialty like Ai, but she’s definitely gotten what she wanted from joining the club, and then some; even if she wasn’t a pirate captainess.

About that status: while the episode focused on competitive windsurfing and leaving nothing to the imagination vis-a-vis Kane’s physique (seriously dude, cover up for the young ladies), peeking out from the episode’s periphery were little reminders that Marika’s life is far more complicated than any of her fellow club-mates: there are invisible powers protecting her as she clubs and pirates away. There’s a “treaty” in place, that will be honored…until Marika graduates, and then she’s on her own. The Serenity princesses may also have complicated lives, but they have a whole military at their disposal; Marika just has her pirate crew and the yacht club, which may not be enough against all the foes that potentially await her…but probably will be, because everything always works out in the end!


Rating: 3