Mouretsu Pirates 03 – Parfaits, and Space Suits
January 23, 2012 Leave a comment
Mouretsu Pirates this week continued once again with its scene setting, which, for many may have meant that it was one of the most boring episodes they have watched in a while, and for others one of the most interesting.
We once again find ourselves back at Hakuhou Girls Academy on Umi no Akehoshi (Sea of the Moningstar) in order to not only prepare for the training voyage to come, but also to sit those dreaded finals – something that I have never done since I’m not from a country that has ‘finals’. We also have the conclusion from last episode with Marika and Chiaki – who Marika is now playfully called Chiaki-chan, much to her surprise it seems – managing to engage the ships ‘auto fight evil’ function, thus making the would be piratical attackers flee in terror. What was so interesting about this episode is that, while very little actually happened, I was so immersed that I didn’t notice the time go by. The character and plot development all worked wonderfully, and Mouretsu Pirates is looking like it will turn into the Space Opera that I hope it is.
While very little happened, there was actually quite a substantial amount of character, and plot development throughout this particular episode. The relationship between Marika and Chiaki is developing rather well, with a more informal feel to it, along with some playful banter on both sides. Chiaki is still a mystery, knowing an awful lot about Marika, Kane, the Bentenmaru and the entire situation, yet she says very little. She does mention to Marika that there is a temporary cease-fire until the Letter of Marque comes up for renewal, which I assume is integrally linked with the fate and overall importance of the Bentenmaru. For her part, Marika seems to be taking everything in her stride, happily chatting away to Chiaki, and generally getting on with life.
Another significant relationship in the series so far has been between Marika and her mother Ririka. Now, I have read some people talking about how Marika calling her mother by her name shows that the relationship is far more formal, with no real affection. I do not see it this way – I have never, and will never call my parents ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ – and to me, calling your parents by their first name is more intimate, and importantly, shows an element of equality that titles lack. To me, the relationship between Marika and Ririka is quite a caring one, and importantly, one among equals in a way. Ririka knows that Marika will become the captain; you can almost see it on her face whenever something new comes up about the Bentenmaru and the current situation. However, she is not willing to make that choice for her, instead, Ririka gives her daughter advice, such as the shooting lesson and talk about power and responsibility last week, but otherwise lets her make her own decisions. For her part, Marika seems to acknowledge that Ririka is keeping somewhat of a hands-off approach towards the whole issue, bringing it up at dinner, but not delving further. She seems to know that her future depends on own choices, which will affect many others around her. To me, this relationship shows an element of trust that I find fascinating, and actually quite endearing. Both mother and daughter love each other, but they know that neither can entirely interfere with the other on such matters. I also get the feeling that Ririka knows exactly what is going on, and is keeping a few secrets from Marika, perhaps to tell her in the future when she feels Marika is ready.
The other character in the series, and in particular this episode that has caught my attention has been Kane. At first he came across as a alcohol drinking, easy-going helmsman, who is quite happy to let things play out. However in the last two episodes he has grown into an integral part of the story. He has demonstrated his capability at handling a club full of high-school girls, allowing them to make their own plans and only stepping in when absolutely needed. Kane has also shown his willingness to be a proper teacher, easily seen this episode when he was actually marking and creating a proper mark sheet for all the students in his class. The point was further enhanced by how nervous he is at the closing ceremony for the summer holidays, something that I am finding really nice to see from the helmsman of a famous pirate ship.
Kane, along with Chiaki I fell will be instrumental in Marika’s growth as a captain, and while he is the advisor for the Yacht Club, and has to look after them, Kane clearly gives a little more attention to Marika. This is clearly shown this week when the Yacht Club set out on their maiden training voyage, only to have their ships masts stick. Kane allows – a crucial word here – Marika to think up a solution, not only demonstrating to us that Marika is a pirate captain in the making, but also providing problems that may crop up later on in the series for her to analyze and solve now. He has turned from a character that I may have been a little indifferent to, into one who is actually rather nice, and clearly has everyone’s best intentions – although the Bentenmaru’s a little more – at heart.
One promising aspect of Mouretsu Pirates so far has been the lack of any real fanservice – save for Misa’s usual cleavage exposing clothes. Even this episodes brief scene of the girls changing into their space suits was over in a matter of seconds, which gives me hope. I don’t mind fanservice, in fact, many of my favorite shows have fanservice, but I had worries a little that a show involving so many girls would have quickly fallen into the trap of girls playing at astronauts, with added fanservice. On the aesthetics front, I find the look of the houses and the spaceships really quite fascinating. We have a clearly very technologically advanced society, with computers, robots, space ships, and even massive laser rifles of doom. Yet there appears to be a classic, 19th century European look to the buildings, with canals, tilled roves, and cobbled roads something that I have so far found fascinating. I do like this look, and I feel that there are times when a futuristic series can go too far, and be so futuristic as to be almost dystopian – assuming that isn’t its aim to begin with – Mouretsu Pirates ion the other hand has the technology, but doesn’t flaunt it constantly. The ships themselves are also facianting, with some brilliant looking space yachts, and in particular the Odette II being an actual space yacht with sails, rather than some sort of rocket ship. The sails may look more like massive solar panels, but the overall look of it is great, and actually quite unconventional when we consider other series with space ships – and it actually reminds me somewhat of Escape from Jupiter, a show on TV in the late 90s. I’m intrigued to see the ship approach maximum speed while going around the Tau star as well, some potential fireworks there.
So far this series has had a great start for me, with excellent pacing and some really nice character and plot development, even when very little appears to be happening. This week also demonstrated rather well how wonderfully animated the series has been so far, with an astoundingly beautiful spacescape. It has also continued to impress me at how a story with a cast that has so far been most high school girls has still maintained an element of the serious, and while there are some great little comedic moments, it has not simply dissolved into a clichéd mess of girls merely being cute with no real substance. The Space cruise around the Tau star looks to present some interesting challenges to Marika and the yacht club, which I feel will give her further opportunities to grow as the pirate captain that we already know she becomes. It also looks like it will be the first taste of conflict in this series, something that we have been warned of, especially when Kane asks the Bentenmaru to keep an eye out for potential trouble. Overall, each new episode has increasingly made me look forward to the next, and Mouretsu Pirates as so far not disappointed me.