Kekkai Sensen & Beyond – 10

Just as getting shaken down in an alley one more time can lead to a city wide crisis involving a giant rage monster, Hellsalem’s Lot is the place where there’s never a shortage of work for cleaners like K.K. She’s so good at her job, in fact, that there’s no one to replace her in most operations. As such, her work-family life suffers.

This week we get a welcome, overdue look into that balance (or lack thereof), starting with how she managed not to break her promise to come to her younger son Kane’s school’s Parents Day the fourth or fifth time in a row.

I enjoyed how quickly we were caught up to speed on her lovely family: Kane, who still takes everything at face value (and assumes she doesn’t love him if she goes back  on her word), an older son who is jaded by it, kind husband who knows how to smooth things over on both sides.

Seeing the other side of K.K. really brought a background character to life, and gave all her momentary appearances in previous episodes this season more context: there’s always been somewhere she’d rather be, and that’s by her sons’ sides.

One advantage to all the work she’s been doing is that she can afford a remedy that will allow her to be with Kane: she has Patrick prepare a number of remote drones that she can control either from her shades in class or a laptop and controller in the restroom.

There are several interruptions in her presence (which a prickly Kane naturally notices), but hey, at least she’s there without having to worry about Steve and his men dying because of it.

As soon as she returns to the class and finds only one man in a green suit having a grave phone conversation, I had some suspicions about him. But K.K. is trying to be present, and when she sees a pretty girl talking enthusiastically with her son, she can’t help but get a bit distracted.

That’s when the crime boss of the organization Steve is trying to take out shows off his backup: a remote-launched missile-catching Blood Breed who cannot be picked up on any of K.K.’s remote scopes. She held out as long as she could, but she has to go—and endure Kane’s hate—one more time.

Of course, I’d already realized the man in the green suit was the real blood breed, remote-controlling the automaton facing off against Steve. It’s the reason he has to step out for a “smoke break.” K.K. senses it too, and confronts him on the school roof.

But here’s the thing: he wasn’t lying about anything: his daughter (Kane’s pretty  “girlfriend” Caroline) really does attend the school, he’s also up to his neck in work, and like K.K., has a hard time striking the right balance.

Knowing K.K. wouldn’t let him go he’s working as a bodyguard for some bad dudes, after all) he proposes the two of them go at it one-on-one right there. But anything that would have happened is thankfully interrupted by Caroline and Kane. Back at the operation, the father’s automaton stopped moving, allowing Steven to destroy it. The mission is a success, and K.K. can go back to being with her son.

Unfortunately, his failure means the father has to disappear lest he and his daughter incur the wrath of his defeated client for his failure. Just as K.K. has to disappoint her kids and let them hate her again and a gain, it’s more important for the dad to keep Caroline safe, so he had to pull her out of Kane’s school. K.K. feels partially responsible for that, so gives Kane a commiseratory hug.

In any case, it’s not like Kane and Caroline will never see each other again; they’ll surely do so once they get a little older (and maybe even follow in their parents’ footsteps). Until then, there’s always the almighty social media to keep them connected!

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Moretsu Pirates – 24

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?


Rating: 3.5

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

Moretsu Pirates – 11

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!”


Rating: 4

Moretsu Pirates – 04

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.


Rating: 3.5

Moretsu Pirates – 03

The electronic attack is resolved when the Odette II’s auto-defense system kicks in, redistributes power, and trips the ship’s breakers. The Yacht Club returns to the planet surface to take their final exams, then return to the Odette II for their practice cruise. The ship is successfully launched out of spacedock, but when they try to deploy the masts, a yard gets caught, requiring an EVA and some elbow grease to fix. Marika, Kane, and Chiaki, and four others suit up and leave the ship, successfully untangle the masts and unfurl the sails.

When Marika ultimately makes the decision to become a real pirate, it will set a lot of things into motion, and she (and by extension those around her) will no longer be protected by the non-aggression pact on the Sea of Morningstar. It’s not even clear if that pact extends into space, but the fact remains, it’s a big choice and she’ll have to be ready when she makes it. This episode really drove home the point that even if she doesn’t claim her birthright, she still leads a pretty awesome life…but is it enough? The episode also did a really good job laying out all the procedures required to launch a starship. The students comport themselves well, while also showing their age and relative inmaturity while changing into their spacesuits for instance, much to Kane’s chagrin.

While we’re at it, the Odette II is a really cool-looking ship, and  a more realistic, novel design than the sillier “galleons in space” of Treasure Planet or Rogue Galaxy. It’s cool that it’s a ship that sails the stars using solar wind and thermal radiation.We’re no scientist, so we’re not looking for ironcclad physics, but there’s nothing offensively far-fetched to pick at. The spacewalk scene ably captures the sheer awe and majesty of the inky black vastness, while cheerfully twinkling stars lessen the foreboding. Marika is a little scared (we’d be worried if she wasn’t), but she’s pumped-up and excited too.


Rating: 4