At long last, I have sat down and finished Bodacious Space Pirates, aka Moretsu Pirates. My original hope was to write an article on this show back in November, since it featured as one of the article ideas in Un Programme d’Articles pour Novembre. At any rate, this amusing anime features a high school student who inherits her father’s pirate ship and Letter of Marque–written permission from the government to act as a raider. Letters of Marque derive from a war which space colonies fought for independence a long time ago and may only be passed on to one’s direct descendants. After some internal debate, Mariko takes on the role as the captain of the Bentenmaru.
Perhaps that very description of the show reveals why it failed to keep my attention for long periods of time, though I liked it well enough. The show is incredibly lighthearted and fun, but lacks tension. Not until the last two story arcs does the show produce conflicts which keep the audience at the edge of their seats. The show is fun from beginning to end, but it should have focused either more on humor or increased the peril which threatened the characters. Nevertheless, the show’s plots, whether the characters are rescuing someone from a loveless engagement, embroiled in political intrigue, foiling attempted assassinations, or defeating a predatory pirate, offer a pleasant level of amusement.
Upon recollection, I can enumerate a few more problems in this ultimately fun anime. The protagonist, Mariko, starts off as a frightfully bland character. She’s very conciliatory towards others and initially suffers from confidence problems until pirating awakens the more daring side of her soul. She does grow very much throughout the series and by the end of it stands as one of my favorite characters in the show–though, I never quite accustomed myself to her voice. (Mikako Komatsu sounds like she’s attempting the Demosthenes trick of trying to speak with rocks in her mouth most of the time.) Luci Christian in the English dub must do a better job, but I haven’t watched the dub.
This show featured a ton of characters, especially when one considers the yacht club and the various pirate crews. However, the main characters were given enough screen time for us to see them develop. On the other hand, many of the secondary characters–even certain member of the Bentenmaru crew–felt one dimensional. My favorite character is the business-minded tsundere named Chiaki. She’s the daughter of a pirate captain and becomes one of Mariko’s first friends among her pirate colleagues. One might complain that the show lacked strong, dynamic male characters; but, seeing Mariko in a miniskirt and the bevy of female characters ought to convince anyone that this is not the sort of show to feature this kind of character.
Three features of the show excited certain peeves of mine. First, Mariko addresses her mother as “Ririka-san.” It never fails to bug me to hear children address their birth parents by name: it suggests that the child was adopted or does not enjoy intimacy with its parents. (Though, their interaction makes it apparent that Ririka and Mariko are close to each other–but distant to the father of the family.) As a matter of fact, I should prefer hearing children address their parents as sir, ma’am, oto-sama, okaa-sama, or–should someone write a story about ancient Roman fathers and sons–domine, which literally means “lord.” Though very formal, these terms point to the relationship between the child and the parent, which name + san–especially this honorific which enjoys such general use–does not. There was also a yuri relationship; yet, it was not too off-putting, and the opening and closing songs for this show are utterly terrible.
So, would I recommend Bodacious Space Pirates? Sure! To anyone looking for a lighthearted and exciting show. The finale offers a great interstellar battle and the characters are universally likable.