Mouretsu Pirates 22 – The darker side of piracy


 

Mouretsu Pirates has been a fascinating series, one that has an interesting cast along with exploring specific elements of both space travel and piracy in a universe where you need to hold a licence in order to survive. Watching Marika change and grow as an individual since episode one, changing from a normal, if slightly air headed high school girl into a pirate captain who is clearly more at home in the captains chair than on solid ground has been incredibly entertaining. As a character she is immensely fun to watch, and with every episode we have learned more about her and how she views not only her own position, but her life as a whole.

This series is, however, far from perfect, and in recent weeks the focus seems to have slipped away from Marika to many of the other characters that make up the Mouretsu cast. Exploring more characters isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when you have a cast as large as that of Mouretsu Pirates, but at the same time you need to maintain a focus on the leading characters. In particular these past couple of weeks appear to have centred squarely on Aoi-chan, a character who is interesting, while at the same time appearing almost inconsequential to the overall plot.

She has had her moments, and her attitude towards sailing has clearly had a bigger impact on Marika than one might think, but at the same time, by focussing on her, the series seems to have become sidetracked. A large cast is an excellent thing is used properly, and in many ways Mouretsu Pirates has done just that, allowing particular groups screen time in order to help further the progression and growth of Marika at its centre. But, there have been times, and the recent episodes are excellent examples of this where the series feels a little lost, and while it does tie everything together, the shifting focus has slightly spoiled the what was built up in earlier arcs.

We have, however, learned significantly more about the world that Marika lives in, along with the particularly tricky place that space pirates occupy, caught between the legal and the illegal. Piracy in the Mouretsu universe is a complicated issue, and is tightly controlled by a centralised government in order to maintain an element of safety, along with controlling a potentially very profitable and useful resource. We have seen the Bentenmaru on numerous occasions perform shows, putting on entertainment for rich space liner passengers. Such shows are clearly necessary for this ship and its crew to maintain their current way of life, however, it is also important to recognise that when needed this ship can become something far more dangerous and deadly.

While we have only really seen the Bentenmaru in this series, it is clear that there are numerous kinds of pirates or simple rogue and opportunists who are willing to take on any job. We can view the Bentenmaru, as on the good side of piracy, the crew are willing to continue putting on these performances in order to maintain their pirates licence, while doing more dangerous jobs on the side. This is only one side of piracy however, and last week we saw how a small group of opportunists can put numerous lives in danger in order to make a name for themselves. That particular scene helped to demonstrate how Marika is effectively living in a particular precarious position. She is the captain of a famous pirate ship, someone with a stable living, fame and potentially much more.

Her position is maintained partly due to a non-aggression pact between various interested parties, however this will not last forever. It is clear that there are numerous groups out in space who are jealous of her position, and perhaps want to steal the Letter of Marque, or even the Bentenmaru in order to gain recognition amongst space pirates. We now see that the Bentenmaru are almost unique, and that there are far more dangerous pirates, along with other groups out in space who are not afraid to simply live life on the edge. The Letter of Marque is therefore quite a limited item, and while it offers some element of protection against the military might of individual systems, it cannot protect you against those who do not recognise the rule of law.

We now see Marika at a crossroads, having to choose between what may be considered a normal life, commuting between the Bentenmaru and Umi no Akehoshi, or a life of a pirate captain, living in space. Her choice is a particularly difficult one considering the friends she has now made, but also because she is far more comfortable in the captains chair than on the ground. This decision is made ever trickier due to the appearance of pirate hunters, who seem to appear out of nowhere, obliterate the pirate ship and disappear once again. What we do know, however, is that while Marika is an excellent captain, many others may scorn her for being a high school girl.

The captain of the ship that the Bentenmaru is escorting for example appears to dismiss her as playing at piracy, and perhaps there is some truth in that statement. Up until now Marika has never truly thought about piracy as a full-time occupation, and while she has accepted the reality of being a pirate captain, there is a certain element of distance between that and acknowledging that she may take this up as a full time occupation. To Marika this distance may in part be created due to her position within Hakuchou Academy, along with relative ease with which she has been able to accomplish her missions until this point.

This arc has the potential of being fascinating, while at the same time further showing us Marika’s growth as a person and a pirate captain. Marika has been in danger before, but never as much danger as this, there has always been a reason for the danger as well, and in this case it appears senseless. The pirate hunters ship is massive, incredibly powerful, and apparently has the ability to control gravity, this is in effect the first true test of Marika as a pirate captain, and will demonstrate whether she is truly worthy of succeeding her father. There is a curious sense of dread about this whole arc however, starting with Kane’s complicated expression when looking at Marika in the captains chair.

There is clearly something about her and her position that is far more significant to the galaxy than being a simple pirate captain. Kane’s comment of ‘you can’t deny the connection by blood’ further suggests a deeper connection between Marika, her father and their current position. And while it is not clear yet, we are now certain that the ship known as the Bentenmaru has a far deeper, and potentially darker past than we were led to believe. Furthermore, at the beginning of the series we were told that the Bentenmaru was one of the original seven pirate ships, at first this appears to be an inconsequential fact, suggesting that it was simply one of the earliest to be called a pirate. However, it now appears to hold far more importance, especially due to Kane’s comment about the connection by blood.

From this episode alone we now know that Marika may hold far more significance for the safety of the galaxy as a whole, and not just for her crew. There is far more to her life than at first meets the eye, and in particular the appearance of the massive warship at the end, along with the mention of the Pirate Council further suggests that Marika may hold far more surprises than being the daughter of a simple pirate. Several of the Bentenmaru’s crew appear to know a few things, along with the spaceports cook, but they have yet to reveal anything. Also, seeing Ririka disappearing constantly may feed into the sense of mystery and danger in this arc.

She is Marika’s mother, and from previous conversations with Kane, she clearly knows significantly more about Marika’s past and her significance than she has let on. In particular, the mysterious pirate hunter looks to be of significance, and there is always the possibility that she is someone we already know. Then again, this is all conjecture and may not lead to anything. One thing is for certain however, while we have seen a very playful side of Marika and the Bentenmaru up until this point, it has become clear very quickly that there are greater powers at work here, and that Marika may hold the key to what could be something powerful and destructive.

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

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