Mouretsu Pirates – 08
To be honest, I’m having a hard time coming up with anything new to say about Mouretsu Pirates. There isn’t a whole lot of change from week to week in terms of character or mood – it’s all classy, civilized and sanitized for your protection. Ideologically this piece seems very much of a kind with Rinne no Lagrage (though much less action-driven), in that both run counter to the suffering teenaged girl as messiah trend. That’s not surprising given that Sato Tatsuo is the mastermind of both shows. They’re both more of a celebration of the idealized free-spirit girl, rather than the whole Madoka “she died for your sins” vibe that’s increasingly prevalent in sci-fi anime. That’s not a bad thing by any means, but there’s a sameness to this series that becomes more of a problem the more I watch it. Character development is nonexistent, and I guess that’s not a shock since most character development comes through suffering of one sort or another.
There was some foreword movement in the plot, as the series decided it needed to go even younger, cuter and more idealized by adding Princess Gruier Serenity, the stowaway from last week. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been done a thousand times, but there is the interesting element that the Princess is voices by the sublime Tomatsu Haruka – a fact I never would have guessed if I hadn’t read it for myself. What an amazing vocal chameleon she is. Her story is that she wants the Bentenmaru to search for the “Golden Ghost Ship” – no details yet – but what really looks to have happened is that the ship has been inserted into the middle of a civil war on Serenity, Gruier’s home planet. She also enrolls in Marika’s school (the middle-school branch) where we get some very familiar scenes of the other students cooing over her Princessity.
Shakugan no Shana III – 20
This isn’t my favorite sort of “Shana” episode, where things tend to fall back on being loud and explosive and a bewildering away of characters are showcased with quick-cuts that look like they came out of a Michael Bay film. It sometimes feels as if JC Staff is punting on trying to appeal to any but the most die-hard fans of the novels, as there’s really no way an anime-only viewer could keep all these characters (each of whom have at least two names) and their abilities and artifacts straight. I think the show does better when it picks a couple of major focuses and sticks with them, as it did last week.
With that said, I’m obviously not the target audience for this so I don’t think anyone at the studio is losing sleep over my concerns. My major rooting interest at this point is in seeing some kind of focus on the core characters, and on the story acknowledging that the flame haze are just as much in the wrong as the God of Creation, if not more. I don’t even remember who the flame haze with Sopie who said “What is considered victory? Who are we trying to satisfy?” was, but I’ve been wondering the same thing myself for most of the season. I’m also struck by just how weak Yuki/SotF appears to be at this stage, relying on Sydonay and his other minions to bodyguard him and able to muster up only Yuji’s unrestricted spell when left on his own. It almost seems as if the two sides of that identity are beginning to splinter, but it ties into the general theme that much of the season seems to be spent watching Crimson Denizens systematically ass-whupped by flame haze. If Sydonay can be taken out of the game by Margery and Wilhelmina, what hope is there for that side?