I really need to reverse the order of my schoolgirl sci-fi Saturday shows, because watching Mouretsu Pirates after Senshogear is like sipping a delicate Sancerre after downing a big tumbler of Talisker single malt…
Wait, did Ririka really just say “Live long and prosper?”
So, at long last, we have a little but of action at least – though it was about as low key and dignified as action gets. I confess I was pretty close to the breaking point after the first half of the episode, which was yet more long scenes full of technical dialogue and smiling cute girls. I confess I have a pet peeve about shows where characters smile too much – “Fam” comes to mind (though it’s gotten better with that lately) and Higashi no Eden was a glaring example of the problem. As much as that what continues to be a problem for me is that this series is as dry and clinical as a medical textbook most of the time, and the first half of the ep was no exception.
I won’t pretend the last half was revelatory or anything, but it was certainly an improvement. The electronic sparring between the Odette II and the Lightning II was interesting from an intellectual standpoint, though I confess I’ve never seen an anime that made space combat feel quite so detached and dispassionate. I’m a bit skeptical that these pampered high schoolers could so easily outsmart brigands who make their livelihood by capturing and raiding other ships, though I suppose it’s all in the service of Marika showing how clever she is, and that genes really do play out. In the end, I suppose the Lightning managed to fight her to something close to a draw by shutting down their computers and firing the beam cannon using a mechanical scope – the neatest part of the episode for me – and the show gets points for that. It was only with the arrival of the Bentenmaru and the Barbarossa that things were settled once and for all.
The name of the episode was “Marika makes a decision” and it didn’t disappoint – though given the title of the series that decision had all the suspense of watching paint dry – and now we’re at the point where the series is really going to sink or swim. The next ep is called “Begin Combat Operations” and we’re finally going to meet the rest of the pirates (including Chiaki’s father and the Barbarossa crew, presumably) and hopefully they’ll bring a much-needed jolt of humor or at least a little edginess to the mix. I won’t deny the aesthetic appeal of the series, with it’s gorgeous space imagery and loving detail, and the retro feel that recalls the brainy sci-fi anime of twenty or thirty years ago is unusual in this day and age. But they’ve had their build-up and a damn long one, too, even for a two-cour show – and it’s high time that Mouretsu Pirates kicks into another gear and starts to appeal to the heart and the soul in addition to the brain. Based on the second half of this episode, there’s finally reason to hope it will.