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 Misa discovers Luca has been replaced by an android, there are two Kanes, and Ririka is a secretly member of the crew of the Parabellum.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 But more surprising is the fact that Luca seems to have been replaced by an friggin’ android at some point (with no explanation of where the real one is), and even more confusing, there are apparently two Kanes, one of which may be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?
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.
Chihaya passes all her exams, so she’s allowed to compete in the Eastern qualifiers, her next step on the road to a rematch with Shinobu and a shot at her crown. Her first opponent is a child prodigy named Ririka, who initially surprises her with her speed and excellent hearing. She sees some of herself in Ririka, but at the end of the day, she combines timing with speed to put her away and move to the next round. Taichi challenges Arata to win the West, because he aims to win the East and play him.
Chihaya wants that damn crown, and she’s doing everything she can to get good enough to take a shot at it. She studied enough so her academics wouldn’t get in the way. She took away her speed and started learning more about timing, accuracy, and situational awareness to complement her natural sense for the game. She shouldn’t rely solely on speed, but that doesn’t mean she should never use it. This week it was crucial to overwhelm lil’ Ririka. When Chihaya finally has her speed limiter released, it’s an awesome thing to behold, complete with a nice metal accompaniment.
We kinda knew Chihaya wasn’t going to end up shaving her head this week, but nor was this an easy victory. It has certainly been fun watching Chihaya’s game progress. Ultimately the goal is for all three friends to end up at the top, but while Chihaya can become Queen without having to defeat a good friend, among Arata and Taichi there can only be one master. We kinda doubt Taichi would ever be able to beat Arata, but if he can memorize all the cards verbatim, heck, anything’s possible!
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.