Mouretsu Pirates 24 – The Plot Thickens!
June 20, 2012 2 Comments
Far from clearing up questions, Mouretsu Pirates has lately only been piling more questions and mysteries onto our already overloaded plates. The countless little hints about political subterfuge, backroom wrangling and black-market dealings have built up to create a story that is as dark as it is colourful. A story that makes less sense, but also becomes more interesting the more of it you watch, further enhancing the idea that Marika may be far more significant to the pirates cause, and far more involved that even she may know. What this final arc is going however is bringing together the darker elements of the series, showing us how pirates truly live of a knife-edge, caught between the illegal worlds that they inhabit, while still maintaining the position in space through legal means.
As a series, we have seen Marika grow as a person, changing from someone who may be a bit ditzy, to a person who can command her own battleship, making on-the-spot decisions in the middle of a battle. She is capable of great things, with intelligence that many overlook due to her being a high school girl, and often dismissed as someone who is playing at being a pirate. At first this was very true, with Marika almost taking on her role as the next captain of the Bentenmaru out of curiosity, wondering what it was like to fly through space and ‘act’ like a pirate. While Marika took her training seriously, it was merely part of her character, since she is someone who takes things on board, and attempts to do the best she can with what she has. But, there was little urgency in her attitude towards the training and her first jobs, in fact we see her getting too involved in the performance that many have come to expect from space pirates.
The inclusion of more gaudy makeup suggested that Marika had only really come to terms with these performances and was getting really involved with them, without truly understanding the nature of space pirates. In a sense, she embraced the aspect of piracy that everyone has come to expect, with its flashy, but largely pointless showmanship, along with the gaudy effects and melodramatic acting. It is the piracy that many want to see, thus paying large sums of money for, something that is considered to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. And yet, it comes across as being empty, as if something essential is missing from this way of life; in a way we can see these performances as a parody of what it means to be a space pirate, all the flair without the style and action.
And yet, such performances, hollow as they are, have become essential to maintain a living as a space pirate, along with keeping their Letter of Marque. Marika recognises the power of this simple piece of paper, understanding that it represents a legitimacy that helps to keep them safe, regardless of the conditions that are attached to it. It has become essential to pirates, something that allows them to get constant work, along with having the added protection of specific fleets. But as Quartz Christie the captain of The Grand Cross suggests, the Letter of Marque has become a means with which to control the pirates, robbing them or something essential. Rather than pirates many are little more than travelling performers, using their reputation as pirates to make a living without actually being involved in piracy.
For Christie, they have lost something essential and are therefore no longer pirates, but rather useless, unneeded performers who can be replaced at a moments notice. This is her justification for using the Space Pirates as a means with which to test The Grand Cross, a new prototype weapon, suggesting that they are little more than vermin suitable for target practice. And in a sense she has a point, Space Pirates are largely no longer needed, or more accurately, they have become so used to the power and protection of the Letter of Marque, that they have forgotten what it means to be a pirate. We have already seen the terrible power that this piece of paper has in Chiaki’s reaction during the arc where they ‘kidnapped’ Jenny. Chiaki is someone who has grown up in a pirate ship, spending her whole life surrounded by pirates and by the jobs and duties that they have come to embody.
To her, the power of the Letter of Marque is absolute, controlling her every thought, action and decision, it is something that she seems incapable of rejecting. The very idea of doing something ‘illegal’ is alien to Chiaki, something that she can’t even contemplate, let alone put into action. Chiaki is therefore representative of this generation of pirates, embodying the attitudes and beliefs that have helped to maintain the power that the Letter of Marque holds. Marika on the other hand is different, she is someone who is willing to, and will take the risk regardless of the danger ahead of her. Marika fully understands how the Letter of Marque works, but is not bound by its power, instead using it as a convenient way of maintaining work and a healthy cash flow, while constantly taking on dangerous and illegal jobs, pitting her and her crew against interstellar ships and opposing military forces.
She is the opposite of Chiaki, the embodiment of what it means to be a true pirate, someone who takes whatever work is available, but is always willing to take a chance and go against the rule of law. Marika takes risks, someone who will take a job if the reward is high enough, but that does not mean that she is stupid or foolhardy. As the captain she is always thinking about the safety of her crew, but at the same time, is willing to put them in harms way when it is necessary to do so. Her strategy in fighting the Grand Cross for example shows her willingness to use risky, but above all, unexpected manoeuvres and strategy, always taking chances. Chiaki, and by extension, many other pirates on the other hand try to keep safe, but by doing so become predictable.
They have lost the vital element that made them pirates, they have lost their edge and their ability to act at a moments notice, to take risks, to be unpredictable; they have essentially lost that which is indispensible. What is interesting though is how Chiaki’s attitude has slowly changed over the course of the series, as if she is gradually realising what Marika and her actions represent to the space pirates. We can see her beginning to understand and respect Marika, seeing her as someone amazing, although she is not quite yet able to express that, even if her father seems to know about her desire to stay by Marika’s side. And perhaps in this we can see how space pirates are being forced to change because of the situation that they now find themselves in.
Marika then, becomes someone who is at the centre of the revival of the Space Pirates, she is not only representative of a new breed of pirate, but is also representative of the original pirates. Her place at the Pirates Council is not an easy one, however, and while she may have proven herself as a character who can not only take risks, but can also fight with the most advanced ship in the galaxy right now, she is still a high school girl. And yet, we see that she has a plan, what it is we do not yet know, but there are clearly the workings of a genius going on here. Her run in with Quartz Christie has shown her that the enemy they are fighting has command of amazing technology and force, but at the same time has given it a face, something tangible to grasp hold of. Marika is already thinking ahead to the future, ordering upgrades on the damaged Bentenmaru, and even thinking about what will happen after the Pirate Council. That she is upgrading it with weapons and what looks like the capability to attack and control and entire fleet suggests that she has put a lot of thought and effort into her plans.
But under all this is something darker, but also incredibly interesting, involving, not only the Bentenmaru, but seemingly the Galactic Empire and potentially even more than that. There was the suspicion before, but we now know that the Bentenmaru had a spy on board, and it was quite surprising to find out exactly who, adding further questions about where the real Luca is. Kane is still an incredibly suspicious person at the moment, and seeming his ahoge constantly jumping up is a curious little hint that there is clearly far more to his presence on the Bentenmaru than meets the eye. What we can take away from this is that Marika still trusts her crew, but she is no stupid, and was fully aware that there was a spy on board. It was simply too much of a coincidence that The Grand Cross would mysteriously show up in exactly the right place to attack them.
Marika is therefore in a precarious position, knowing that members of her crew are likely hiding things from her, but still trusting them to do their jobs. That Marika hasn’t panicked or suddenly started questioning everyone on board the Bentenmaru shows not only her faith in their ability to their jobs, but also her stoic, and intelligent attitude towards the situation. Everyone on board probably has a few secrets, and while some of them may potentially be darker, or bigger than others, she has to trust them. In a way, her air-headed and occasionally naïve nature is an incredibly strong weapon to Marika, it is precisely because no one ever truly knows what she is thinking that she can continue with her work.
There is one more piece to this ever growing puzzle though, something that is incredibly interesting and would tie into the story incredibly well. Ironbeard, the captain of the Parabellum seems to be far more involved than it first appeared. Ririka has been out of the picture for a while, apparently spending her time on some sort of resort ship as shown in last weeks episode, but seeing her on the Parabellum, and what’s more on the bridge suggests some far deeper connection between her, Ironbeard and Marika. We know that Ironbeard is a pirate of the Galactic Empire, with an immensely powerful ship, and yet he appears to know Marika, and Ririka knows who he is.
The suggestion then is that he may be Marika’s father, something that could be pure speculation, and yet, since we have never actually seen her father, with no photos or other pictures anywhere in the series, it would be hardly surprising to find out that he was never dead to begin with. The appearance of Ironbeard, along with Ririka apparently part of his crew may also tie into the mysterious nature of Kane and his strange expressions and attitude in the last few episodes. This is all speculation, but since we have seen numerous utterances about fate and the power of blood, it is becoming clear that Marika will be at the centre of this, and perhaps the salvation of the space pirates, whether they can admit it or not.
Next episode looks to be quite an interesting, but also intense one, with the introduction of Pirate Council and the unveiling of Marika’s grand plan, or at least part of it. That Quartz Christie, the person who has been killing them is present suggests something else, and seeing Ironbeard kneeling before her adds another layer to an already quite complex plot. We also appear to be getting the return of Blast Ririka, something that should be great to watch, although whose side she is on, and what part she plays remains to be seen. It is highly unlikely that all will be settled in next week’s episode since there will still be a final episode in this series, and like this week, we are likely to have more mysteries added rather than resolved. However, the pace of this arc, along with the questions that it has raised are all fascinating, showing another side to this series, one that is far more serious than the title would suggest.
As a final note, it was great to be vindicated in my belief that the blond woman shown in last weeks preview was in fact Coorie with her hair down and in different clothes. To think that she was that beautiful and sexy underneath the Fujoshi exterior, something remarked upon by Kane, and also an appearance that she is clearly not entirely happy with, although is quite willing to use it to her advantage. That one little point in a way helps top sum up elements of this series, demonstrating that you should never judge people by their appearance. Marika may be a high school girl, but she has already demonstrated a knack of command and a mind that is as vicious as it is calculating. Crossing her is not an option, and regardless of this arcs outcome, it is clear that those around her have learned to treat he with the trust and respect that her character deserves.