My reaction to the second episode of Bodacious Miniskirt Pirates is pretty much the same as to the first – a pretty good anime that isn’t doing anything much to excite me.
I’m seeing two trends emerge a couple of weeks into the Winter 2012 season. One of them is the continuing growth of yuri for no purpose beyond pandering (I think every high school this season outside “Daily Lives of High School Boys” is an all-girls school), and the other is a new one. Or rather, a new old one, as I think we’re seeing a good number of throwback series this season – shows that harken back to a time when anime was both less and more genre-specific. Science-fiction and action were the dominant styles of the day, but series were less caught up in specialization but rather tried to be “all-purpose” in telling a story. KamiDolls was a great example from the Summer, but I’m seeing more of them now than in any season that I can remember.
A good part of the reason for that is that we have a good number of old-time industry veterans writing and directing shows this season – something I welcome with open arms, BTW – and director Satou Tatsuo certainly qualifies. In Mouretsu Pirates he and Satelight are giving us a series that looks terrific and does a lot of things well. I enjoy the usual top-notch Satelight backgrounds – while they might not have the gloss of higher-end Production I.G. or BONES shows, Satelight really seems to present a lot of personal style and genuine love on the part of the artists for their work. It’s a high-end production all-around, with very much a classic premise, cute characters but no over-the-top fanservice and humor that falls more under the “sly” than uproarious label.
What I don’t see so far is anything that’s really compelling dramatically. Marika is fine as the MC, and Kurihara a fine foil even if HanaKana seems to be channeling her Kuroneko voice unaltered. I like the Mom, and the supporting cast from the Bentenmaru is interesting enough. But perhaps it’s because Satou-sensei is taking such a go-slow approach that I find the first two episodes mildly interesting rather than really engaging. I liked the second ep about as much as the premiere, though the second half dragged a bit. It’s obvious that the “Odette II” is not one of the original seven privateers disguised as a girls’ school practice ship by coincidence – the conspiracy runs deep here. I enjoyed watching Kane put the Yacht Club through their paces as we saw the preparation of the ship for launch in excruciating detail. Probably the best scene of the ep was the shooting expedition Ririka took Marika on in the badlands – I especially enjoyed her explanation of why pirates need guns (“90% of fights are over before the first trigger is pulled”) as it shows real insight into the nature of warfare and privateering.
I can’t say any of that excited me, though – there’s really nothing bodacious about this show yet. One thing I notice is that everyone in the series seems to have an extremely carefree, almost cavalier attitude – certainly not shocking in a show about pirates, but combined with the glacial pacing it does create a distinct lack of urgency. There’s very little real emotion here, and so far a lack of any feeling of danger, despite the attack on Marika at the maid café. I’m ready for something to happen that has consequences – perhaps that something will be connected to the arrival of Hyakume (Keiji Fujiwara, an actor who usually livens things up). Perhaps it will come when we meet the pirates on-board the Bentenmaru, who will hopefully be a madcap bunch (the ones we’ve met so far are likable enough, but pretty vanilla for pirates). I’m ready for a little swashbuckling, and hopefully we get some pretty damn soon.