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.
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!
The Yacht Club begins a thorough cleaning of the Odette II while an exhausted Marika cleans the Bentenmaru on her own. Grunhilde is concerned that her sister Gruier has gotten too close to Marika. While spacing on, Marika loses her father’s ring. When the Bentenmaru crew is discharged and returns to the ship, it is locked down. Grunhilde arrives with the rest of the Yacht Club and the ring, and expertly starts up the ship, impressing the regular crew. When Marika sets the ring down on the desk in her quarters, it reveals the secret recipe to Kato pot-au-feu.
There’s not much to say about this week’s episode. It contained pleasant enough sci-fi slice-of-life, but contained a whole lot of needless worrying on Grunhilde Serenity’s part, had a needless red herring in Marika losing the extremely important ring, and tried to say something about the bond between Marika, her father, and the Serenity sisters, which is a stretch in our opinion. Sure, her dad gave Gruier his ring, but we feel like there was more pragmatism in that then sentimentality. A princess would make a powerful ally for Marika when she came of age and took over from her father.
The ‘bond’ stuff just seemed a little heavy-handed…and we don’t appreciate Gruier shoving huge bags of junk food in front of Marika’s face…is she trying to gorge her into an early grave? What we did like was how Marika was finally portrayed as being worn out and losing her edge as a result. After everything she’s been through, a couple days of sleep and relaxation are a good idea, even though she didn’t really get that. We also like that the Bentenmaru crew is finally out of quarantine and can take their rightful places aboard ship. We have nothing against the Yacht Club, but it’s composed of an awful lot of people, many of whom are extraneous.
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.
Marika leaves the bio-container delivery to her crew so she can catch up on her studies, but they open prematurely, infecting her whole crew with flu-like symptons and forcing them into mandatory isolation for up to a month. It falls to Marika to confer with their insurance agent Show, who gives Marika three choices: pray for her crew’s recovery, rescue them before they’re well, or assemble a new crew. If the Bentenmaru is out of action for a month, their license will be revoked, so she choses the third option. Gruier follows her in disguise, and after fashioning a disguise for Marika, they attempt to find new crew members with no success. Chiaki and her father Kenjo meet up with her, warning her not to pick random sailors, but to turn to people she can trust who were right under her nose all along: the yacht club, who are ready and willing to step in to help her.
Moretsu Pirates is about Marika leading the Bentenmaru and its gallant crew on piraty adventures, no? Well, what if you take the crew out of the equation, eh? This episode (or “sailing”) explores this, while introducing Marika to yet another of the less glamorous but still necessary aspects of her job: the business side. It’s a great concept that’s well-executed, thanks to help from Gruier, now a main character, and Chiaki, who suggests the most obvious course of action for Marika to take: recruit the Yacht Club. They have the skill and personality she desires in a crew, but unlike random sailors, she can trust them, too. It’s not surprising that the club president (and former hacker) Lynn Lambretta jumps at the chance to do some piracy; she’s always had that rebellious streak.
Would the academy really be okay with a bunch of minors turning to piracy so willy-nilly? We don’t know, but we do know the Yacht Club was the first thing we thought of when Marika told Ririka she needed to find a temp crew. That she didn’t arrive at that conclusion immediately shows that she’s still not perfect when it comes to running her ship and her business, and she still depends on friends like Chiaki and her dad to steer her to the right decision. While we hope the regular crew gets well soon, we’re looking forward to seeing what Marika and the Yacht Club crew can do in their stead.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.