Bodacious Space Pirates

Bodacious Space Pirates

20140507-223724.jpgHearing of the death of her estranged father, Marika Katou hears that she has now inherited the position as captain of the Bentenmaru, an honest-to-goodness pirate ship (but don’t worry, it’s been officially sanctioned by the goverment). Still in high school, Marika now finds herself having to balance many aspects of a hectic lifestyle: graduating from high school, being a member of the yacht club, waitressing part-time at a maid cafe, and now being a pirate captain. Life is tough.

Bodacious Space Pirates has been on my to-watch list for some time now and, to be honest, it wasn’t completely what I was expecting. I was anticipating a really off-the-wall kind of story: nonsensical, crazy, and a lot of fun. I guess I was half right, as this anime, as a whole, is a lot of fun. However, it was rather… methodical… about the whole process to begin with.

20140507-223744.jpgThe first story arc really slowed down the pace before things even managed to take off (sometimes literally, in the space ship sense). Things became quite tedious as I was forced to endure plenty of explanation and scene-setting when all I really wanted to see was some bodacious space pirates. Marika Katou is a really good main character, but the show really took its time to explain this futuristic lifestyle to go with all the space travel – focusing particularly on electronic warfare and the sheer quantity of girls that it introduced as Marika’s school chums. I was losing interest fast.

But it is as if Bodacious Space Pirates uses these few initial episodes to really flush out the dedicated viewers – and then reward them. By about episode six, the patient struggle is now over and, as Marika says ‘Now, it’s time for some piracy!’ Truthfully, I don’t think the pace of this anime ever completely recovers from its very slow take-off, but the sense of fun and adventure is well and truly launched from here.

20140507-223834.jpgWhat really saves Bodacious Space Pirates is the main cast of characters. Granted, there are a lot of them, but they never really appear as personalities that are just there for the sake of it. Due to the show exploring the different facets of Marika’s life there are bound to be lots of different people making appearances: friends, family, teammates, crew mates, and various other characters one would meet if they were a bodacious space pirate of similar fame. Marika herself often acts as her own plot device to move the storyline and its relevant characters along. That’s why she was such a good main character, as when she appeared things always began to pick up. Very positive and upbeat, Marika is a very likeable character and also a very realistic one. She has her talents, yes, but having to balance so much at such a young age is taxing and we often see Marika’s flaws and the realistic impact of having to keep so many plates spinning at once. It was impressive and refreshing, to say the least.

The supporting crew of the Bentenmaru are also great assets, almost demanding more screen time for each of them so the viewers can fully appreciate their individuality. These include the cyborg unit Schnitzer, the mysterious navigator Luca, and the suspiciously Sailormoon-like Princess Gruier Serenity. Some crew members had more screen-time than others, but at the very least they all had a certain part in the series where they could have their fifteen minutes of fame, which is quite important in a cast-heavy anime such as this one. The writers try to do the same thing with all the girls in Marika’s school yacht club, but with less success, with most of them having to be passed off as the traditional flighty, fun-loving naive teenage girl. However, considering the setting of this anime, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can be forgiven. After all, there’s only room for a certain amount of personalities before they start to affect the pacing, and this is something that Bodacious Space Pirates really struggles to manage.

20140507-223736.jpgHowever, if you’re more interesting in the ride rather than the destination, then this anime is perfect. There’s plenty of action, and everything is part of the fun. Despite the initial sluggish explanations of cyberwarfare and technical jargon, you find that this takes a backseat to the stuff that the viewer (or at least I) wanted to see in the first place: cannons, lasers, guns, showy costumes, space travel and general swashbuckling shenanigans. The final ending is very open-ended, but this is so that the film can pick up where the anime left off. Bodacious Space Pirates: Abyss of Hyperspace was released in February of this year.