Mouretsu Pirates 21 – Reputation is what you make of it


 

It has been hinted upon since the very beginning of the series, but at last we see concrete proof that despite her apparent easy life, Marika is being constantly watched. But more than this, we see that her life is in fact almost always in constant danger, with numerous groups envious of her current position. This helps to demonstrate that while Marika may be famous and the captain of what we are told is a very well known pirate ship, the world of pirates is not quite as rosy as their performances might suggest. Last weeks episode had an excellent example, with numerous powerful individuals, apparently from Umi no Akeboshi talking about their current protection deal involving Marika.

The life of a pirate is clearly not as simple as you might think from watching the various episodes involving what is effectively piracy as performance. Again, pirates clearly walk a very fine line between legal and illegal, but what was fascinating about this, and in fact last weeks episode was how clear that line can be. What’s more, it appears that while Marika may be protected by a none-aggression pact within the Umi no Akeboshi system, effectively giving her and the Bentenmaru safe harbour, they are not protected from other rogue elements. As such, we see that there are numerous, smaller pirate groups, or perhaps just bounty hunters or chancers who want a shot at taking down Marika.

In this case, a small pirate group from outside of the sector appear to have got it into their heads that taking down Marika might work wonders for their career path. The actual motivation for their attack is not entirely clear, and there could be numerous reasons for attacking Marika who is clearly a high-profile person within the prate community and the galaxy as a whole. However, what is clear is Marika is viewed by many as a proper target, someone who has the potential for bringing fame and fortune to those who can successfully take her down. To make matters worse, their entire plan takes place during the yacht race that Marika and the Bentenmaru have been contracted to act as security. That such an attack can happen once again helps to demonstrate how piracy is not quite as simple as it has been portrayed at certain points during this series.

Oddly, it appears that part of the reason for the Bentenmaru’s fame and high public profile is because of their constant, and consistent performances for well known shipping companies and cruise ships. But, piracy is clearly far more than performing for rich cruise goers, rather, as seen in previous episodes, there are numerous sides to what at first appears simple and straightforward. Marika’s decision to go against Robert Dolittle, along with using underhanded methods such as blackmail and hacking to come to speedy resolution helps to show a deeper, darker side to piracy.

But, this is still all on a single ship, and while we have caught glimpses of the Barbarossa, but we have yet to really see any other pirates, apart from the unknown pirates who attempted to hijack the Odette II on its first practice cruise. Piracy is therefore a faceless existence in the Mouretsu universe, and while we see the constant exploits of the Bentenmaru, it is quite clear that they, along with the crew of the Barbarossa are likely among the nicest pirates you might meet. This is something new to Marika, and while she has faced danger in the past, from both the Serenity royal fleet, and the Hugh and Dolittle fleet, it has always been in the relative safety of the Bentenmaru. This time she decides to take part in the race herself as an observer, choosing the fly a Dinghy along with the rest of the competitors.

While Kane is clearly not very happy, due to the possible threat of those who are after Marika, she has clearly made an informed decision based on her current knowledge and ability. What is so fascinating about this scene is her apparently realisation as to why she is suddenly so nervous. Marika has always been in the company of her crew, a group of highly trained and incredibly skilful individuals who are capable, under her leadership, of great things. But for the first time Marika is alone in the cockpit of a small and incredibly fragile craft. This realisation is therefore immensely significant as Marika is once again demonstrating her ability to recognise the importance of those around her.

While Marika might know that flying in a real dinghy is not the same as in the simulator, something that is quite apparent, her skill and ability is on display for all too see. Despite her lack of time in a dinghy in such conditions, her innate piloting ability shines through, along with her quick decision-making and leadership abilities as she dodges the constant fire from the pirates who are after her life. This is perhaps one of the few times when Marika’s life in solely in her hands, and whether she lives or dies is down to her quick reflexes and decisions during what is an intense and frenetic fight sequence. And while the resolution of the situation was largely down to her quick decisions, it also owed a lot to the help and knowledge of those around her, including Ai-chan, who appears to have the instincts and abilities of a true sailor.

We were also given another look at the history of the Hakuhou Girls Academy Yacht Club, one that has apparently left an indelible mark on the minds and psyches of those who hear the name. There is something incredibly unnerving when you see a simple Girls academy yacht club with as much expertise in the illegal as Hakuhou Academy has. To find out that due to some mischievous elements in the recent past (and I would not have been at all surprised if Jenny wasn’t involved in some way, knowing her track record with such murkier dealings) were involved in what has become a legendary event helps to show how odd, and dangerous the Hakuhou Yacht Club are. The reaction that greets their arrival only further demonstrates the impact that their involvement in the race six years previously has had on the other schools.

To think that Lynn was able to hack into the Nebula Cup server and change things around without thinking about the consequences, and even forgetting about her impact on such a disastrous race further demonstrates the curious and dangerous position that the Yacht club finds itself in. There is something preposterous having a yacht club who are fully capable of taking part in piracy, along with fending off an enemy fleet who vastly outgun them being part of this inter-school yacht race. But, what it does show, much like the case with Marika, is how your reputation can effect how those around view you as a group or as an individual. While this year’s yacht club may not be part of the original problem (apart from Lynn of course), they are nevertheless labelled as problematic, and potentially dangerous to the existence of the Nebula Cup itself.

What this episode also helped to demonstrate is how Marika is in effect separate from the yacht club; she is more of a pirate now than a high school girl. This is something that Marika appears to have realised only recently, while she may want to live life as a normal high school girl until graduation, she already feels as if she only truly belongs in space. By taking part in the race as an observer charged with event security, we see that Marika is already seeing herself as a pirate before she is a high school girl. This is an interesting, but importantly, it has been a gradual change over the course of the series, from Marika has the brilliant, if slightly absent-minded schoolgirl, into Marika the pirate captain.

Next week looks to be the start of what is likely the final arc of this series, with Marika pitted against an incredibly dangerous foe. It appears that the darker side of being a pirate is finally making itself known, and it will take all of Marika’s guile, cunning and ability, along with that of her crew to get through this unscathed. While the series has been both interesting and fascinating to watch, it is nice to finally see the darker side of piracy make itself known, as it is clear that space pirates are not all as nice and easy to deal with as the Bentenmaru, or indeed the Barbarossa.

About illogicalzen
An Illogical anime fan in a very Zen-like way.

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