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.
Thanks to some creative evasive maneuvers, the Bentenmaru is able to just escape the Grand Cross’ clutches and jumps to the Pirates’ Nest. Coorie dolls herself up to get preferential treatment from the maintenance unit, and the ship undergoes repairs. Marika meets with Barbalusa, who believes they’ll be lucky if ten pirate ships make it there. Marika is also confronted by Quartz Christie, captain of the Grand Cross, who states the reason for her actions, then vanishes. Misa discovers Luca has been replaced by an android, there are two Kanes, and Ririka is a secretly member of the crew of the Parabellum.
This episode was full of surprises large and small. We had no idea how the Bentenmaru was going to get away from the Grand Cross, but it turns out all they needed was to look the bully in the eye, sock it in the nose, and run like hell; guile, in other words. Other pirate captains tried battling it conventionally, and they were all destroyed. Marika keeps the Bentenmaru moving, makes multiple feints, uses her weapons as a diversion, and jumps out as soon as they’re able. Even then, the ship takes heavy damage. A sustained one-on-one duel with the Grand Cross is untenable.
It was also a nice surprise to see Coorie out of her baggy clothes and nerd glasses, it turns out she’s quite the hottie! But more surprising is the fact that Luca seems to have been replaced by an friggin’ android at some point (with no explanation of where the real one is), and even more confusing, there are apparently two Kanes, one of which may be another android, but both of which are up to something. Finally, the twist at episode’s end was something we were hoping for: Ririka did not in fact retire and go on vacation. Far from it; she’s back on the job, now working for Ironbeard. The Parabellum helped Marika out before, perhaps it will again, but we’re curious as to why Ririka didn’t tell her daughter the truth. Perhaps she didn’t want her to worry?
Captain Ironbeard introduces himself as master of the Galactic Empire pirate ship Parabellum. With a large light and weapons show, they scare off the pirate hunters, whose ship Ironbeard calls the Grand Cross. After evacuating and tending to the crew of the Big Catch, the Bentenmaru returns home, where Chiaki suggests they seek out the “Legendary Chef” who brought the pirates together long ago, and could again. They find his son, whom Marika knew from the times Ririka brought her to his restaurant as a reward. He activates the old-timey comms systems that all pirates keep aboard for such an occurance. As they prepare to head for the rendezvous, the Grand Cross appears again before the Bentenmaru.
With the exception of the first episode or so when Marika is being introduced to the pirate world, the series has focused more on the characters and their immediate exploits rather than the history of piracy itself. What we’ve known is that the pirates fought the empire in a war of independance, and Marika’s world (and the Serenitys’ too) were the benefactors. We’ve also known that the empire has traditionally allowed pirates to operate as long as their letters of marque are in order. With an imperial pirate hunter on the loose, all bets are off, and swift action is needed if the pirates’ way of life is to survive.
This week gave us new glimpses into the heroic, revolutionary past, when whole messes of larger-than-life pirates formed armadas that fought for their freedom…and because it was fun and exciting, no doubt. Marika and Chiaki determine the only thing to do is to call all the pirates back together and face their nemesis en force. The Parabellum, meanwhile, plays a cryptic role this week; clearly saving the Bentenmaru, only to vanish shortly thereafter…though we’ve probably not seen the last of them.