Mouretsu Pirates 11 – The Ghost Ship Has Arrived
March 21, 2012 Leave a comment
Every week Mouretsu Pirates continues to surprise me with its excellent script and continuous plot and character development. So far there have not been any episodes that did not include some element of character and story progression that has helped to create an excellent series full of mystery, and a lot of brilliant shots of lightning in space. This week was no exception with the ghost ship finally making its appearance, along with Gruier’s younger sister Grunhilde. But, and this is incredibly important, even though we were given clues as to the significance of this ghost ship, the mystery still remains. This further demonstrates how the writers of Mouretsu Pirates are capable of producing a complex story that gives the viewers little clues and hints about what’s going on, and yet we still remain in the dark.
But, one of the major draws of this show is the universe that has been created, one of breathtaking beauty, but also an unforgiving place, with cosmic storms, lightning, and quakes caused by tears in space that have the potential power of a super nova. Space in Mouretsu Pirates is a fascinating place that demonstrates how it is possible to have numerous colonised planets, and with continuous space travel, but there remains a frontier, places in space that are dangerous, lawless, and deadly. These areas of space require a talented crew that are both brave and foolish, something which the Bentenmaru appears to have in abundance. Seeing Kane steering the ship through these special storms and tears with a classic wooden ships wheel will always be a great spectacle. The Bentenmaru has an incredibly talented crew, and it needs them since one small mistake could mean the ship being shredded, a point that is made absolutely clear by Hyakume.
Within this potential death trap we begin to see the true capabilities of not only Marika, but also her crew. While Marika bears the ultimate responsibility of her crews lives, it is the bridge crew who control the ships systems, there has to be mutual trust and respect in order to ensure the safety of all those on board. Marika makes clear decisions based on the evidence on front of her, and her own intuition. Seeing her ask Misa to train Gruier on how to use a space suit was an interesting little scene demonstrating that she fully understands the importance of being able to talk frankly with her bridge crew. Not only does Marika get Gruier trained, she also gets her off of the bridge so that she can speak frankly with her crew. While Marika seems to trust Gruier, she also appears to be acutely aware that Gruier has yet to tell her everything about the ghost ship, along with its significance to the Serenity royal family. This along with her clear assessment that the safest place to be is inside the ghost ship rather than attempting to face the Serenity fleet demonstrates her quick grasp of a situation, along with the mind of a true tactician and captain.
Gruier also seems to be maturing throughout this series, although there still remains a certain, naïve innocence about her. But, this episode she demonstrated that she has a will of her own and is capable of standing her ground on any matter. The arrival of the ghost ship Queen Serendipity (in brilliant style I might add) has forced a confrontation between the Bentenmaru and the Serenity fleet commanded by Gruier’s younger sister Grunhilde aboard their flagship the Queen Serendipity. Using the same name cant be coincidence, and while Gruier claims that it is a tradition, the look that crosses her face suggests something far deeper in the name.
That aside it was fascinating seeing Gruier square off against Grunhilde, and she finally demonstrated a new side to her, along with providing a few surprises. Grunhilde seems to have declared herself to be the ruler of Serenity, and appears in a full military outfit – this also suggests that she is part of a faction intent on breaking away from the Galactic Empire. That Gruier asks her sister whether she full understands the implications of her actions suggests a division within Serenity’s court. It was fascinating seeing Gruier act more like the princess that she is, rather than a thirteen year old girl who is incapable of comprehending Marika’s actions and decisions. Although there still remains certain elements of her personality and character which demonstrate that she cannot think and plan in the same way as Marika, and often misses the finer points.
The Serenity court has been shrouded in mystery since it was first introduced to the series, and Gruier has done little to enlighten Marika or her crew. There is clearly a power struggle going on within Serenity’s court, backed up by the appearance of Grunhilde and Serenity’s flagship. The gold ghost ship appears key to whatever is happening, but remains as mysterious as the Serenity itself. It has the same name as Serenity’s flagship, and is supposed to be one of the first colony ships, lacking FTL drive (Fast Than Light I assume) the people on board were put into stasis for their journey. There may still be people on board, along with important technology that Serenity could have since lost. There is also the issue of the ship travelling through sub-space, which may be coincidence, and yet doesn’t come across as such.
Furthermore, its sudden awakening is also curious – now considering what we have learned about the Serenity royal family over the last couple of episodes, it is as if the presence of Gruier and Grunhilde called out to the ship, waking it from its slumber. We already know that Gruier, and potentially the entire royal family have a rather unique genetic makeup that is known before they are even conceived. And last week I speculated that Grunhilde or Gruier may be clones, and while that is still a theory with nothing to prove it, neither has it been disproved – yet. It is also possible that Grunhilde is being manipulated in some way – its hard to believe that a girl of about 12 (I assume that’s how old she is, perhaps younger) is capable of claiming the Serenity throne, along with leading an entire fleet without significant political backup. This suggests perhaps that Gruier had to escape the court in order to find this ship, and that Grunhilde does not truly comprehend what she is doing, along with the true significance of the Queen Serendipity (ghost ship).
The golden glow when the ghost ship awoke was a sight to behold, and the ship itself was glorious when set against such a colourful nebula. The ship designs and overall aesthetic of Mouretsu Pirates is brilliant, with unique shapes such as the 25 km long cylindrical ghost ship. The constant shifts in perspective, with part of the action, taking place in the quite claustrophobic Bentenmaru, only for the camera to jump outside and pan back to reveal the exquisite colours of space. These shifts in perspective demonstrating how space can be beautiful, and yet the space ships themselves are claustrophobic, and if things go wrong, little more than a flying coffin produce a brilliant atmosphere.
And yet, while we have political intrigue, infighting and strange ghost ships, it is the little details that make this show great. Seeing the ship jump to light speed was spectacular, and yet what made it truly fascinating was the little intricacies of interstellar travel and combat that really add character. Seeing the crew literally tying guns, tables and even food down just before the jump helped to further demonstrate how dangerous space is. This was made clear when the ship actually warped during the jump itself – seeing that corridor bending all over the place was fascinating and terrifying. It was also a nice change from shows such as Star trek where warp jumps don’t do anything; just add lights (queue angry trekkies). It was also nice to see Marika ask for a damage report once all the turbulence around the ghost ship had passed, only to follow it up by saying that it can come later. Anyone who has watched any Star Trek will know that the captain asks for a damage report as soon as anything happens. Marika has more pressing things to think about however, and considering the ship is still flying, and they aren’t exploding, the report can be left till later.
Mouretsu Pirates continues to provide us with more questions than answers – the significance of the ghost ship, along with why Gruier is after it remain unanswered. Gruier’s unique genetic makeup, coupled with her mysterious communication abilities shroud her in mystery – one that she has been unwilling to dispel, instead giving cryptic answers to some questions, and staying silent for others. This is a good thing though, with Mouretsu Pirates building up galactic intrigue, and infighting among the Serenity court. There are too many anime series that just give us the answers on a silver platter – it is as if the producers are afraid that, unless the audience know what’s going on they will stop watching. But, that often produces a dull show with little to look forward to in later episodes – and the way Mouretsu Pirates has approached it is brilliant. I hope that we get these mysteries slowly unravelling as the series progresses – they need to build up to something big.
Next week promises to be an interesting one, with a head-to-head fight between Gruier, the Bentenmaru crew and the Serenity military, lead by Grunhilde. Seeing that butler and head of the palace bodyguards amongst Grunhilde’s group is intriguing, and suggests that they are either on her side, or infiltrated her group in order to try and resolve the situation. It is also the first full confrontation in Mouretsu Pirates, and I am intrigued to see how Marika handles the situation. It also takes place on the ghost shop, and I hope we are finally given some clues about the significance of this ship.