How far? Until the end.
You’re lost and missing.”
-lyrics from the ED to Moretsu Pirates, “Lost Child”
ajthefourth: There are many enjoyable things in this most recent episode of Moretsu Pirates, beginning with the chuckles to be had at Marika’s Colonel Henry Blake act of signing stuff that she didn’t quite understand, and continuing with full belly-laughs at her over-the-top, charismatic pirate performance complete with a duel to the “death” against Kane. If Marika hadn’t wormed her way into your heart already, she certainly made an even more charming effort in this episode.
Her charm and diligence also make an impression on the crew of the Bentenmaru. Lest one think that Marika was going to simply hop on and take over, it is made abundantly clear from the moment that she steps on board (complete with a “Trainee” patch for her sweatshirt) that she’s in training. Perhaps this was an unexpected development in the audience’s eyes, but it’s actually a solid bit of world-building and character development. The world-building piece comes in when it is finally revealed what “legal piracy” actually is: more stage performance, less rape and pillage. This isn’t to say that Marika won’t have to deal with troublesome or serious situations in her future; however, the vast majority of her pirating missions will probably be more along the lines of her performance on the Princess Apricot. This, in turn, means that her position is one that she will be allowed to grow into. Yes, Marika will have to be able to think quickly on her feet, act intelligently, and command the respect of her peers, but the crew of the Bentenmaru and the nature of its piracy is such that she is also playing the role of the Pirate Captain for an audience. It’s an interesting dynamic that makes each and every crew member on more of an equal level. I had initially thought that Marika’s ascension to captaincy would be met with derision; however, again, this series has surpassed my expectations by dealing with this situation in a somewhat unique way.
This isn’t to say that Marika was never under scrutiny. It is telling when crew member Schnitzer remarks that, at first, he had suspected that Marika was just going with the flow of things, but was pleased to see that she was beginning to think for herself. Misa has an interesting addendum to this, when she hints that Marika is actually on the edge of a precipice; caught between being an honors’ student and a pirate captain. While out in space, Chiaki tells Marika that once a ship sets sail, it’s up to Marika to construct her own bearings; where the ship is, what’s around it, what other ships are present, etc.
Marika responds to Chiaki with the quote above. In that moment, Marika became recognizable. In that moment, I finally bought in to Marika as a character after just last week admitting that, echoing what Schnitzer said this week, Marika was a weaker character than her supporting cast of classmates. With that one response, Marika finally pulled me onto her side. For a moment, her cheerful, ditzy, and charismatic mask slipped, allowing me to see a glimpse of a different type of intelligence and an introspective nature. She’s not just going with the flow, she’s finally attempting to delve in to the mystery of who she is, and that introspection fascinates me.
vucubcquix: The moment the two future captains donned their armor to participate in more training had them musing about the nature of space travel. Through these discussions we have Marika verbalizing her desires and thoughts regarding the promise and potential of space that we were able to glean from her actions two weeks ago. In a surprisingly existential moment, we have Marika expressing the desire to be able to plot one’s own course through life. She confides in Chiaki that the scale, vastness, and isolation of space was something that surprised her at first, echoing the meaninglessness of predefined absolute direction values. This isn’t something that scared her necessarily, but rather something that excites her to a degree.
This interests Chiaki. Marika’s actions and thoughts fly in the face of Chiaki’s preconceived notions about her character and presumed softness. Not only does Marika possess the fortitude, tenacity, diligence, intelligence, and charisma to be a captain, but the self reflection to think on her actions as well. Schnitzer also comments on this very tidbit. Ironically, this is what frustrates Chiaki immensely about Marika.
I’ve had no problem accepting Marika as a sympathetic and charming character and it even influenced my enjoyment of the show from the outset. However, while I never thought of Chiaki as underdeveloped or uninteresting in any way, there were certain actions and attitudes from this week that really fascinated me. We’ve seen Chiaki slowly warm toward Marika in the past several episodes as she recognizes the future captain’s potential while under fire. Through fortitude and quick thinking, Marika had managed to impress Chiaki into a somewhat grudging respect. What we see now however, is how repelled Chiaki is regarding some of Marika’s character traits.
This would be a recognizable trait in other series, and can perhaps describe Chiaki to a certain extent as well, but I wouldn’t hesitate to delve just a little deeper. I actually feel the fuel that fires Chiaki’s ire is one of jealousy, perhaps. The display in the ballroom on the Princess Apricot cements the idea of Marika having a natural affinity toward the theatricality of piracy, recalling the lessons her mother imparted on her in the desert regarding the importance of a person’s image in a conflict out in space. The raid on the Princess Apricot was everything short of a prearranged performance (although the duel pretty much was that), but there was always the possibility that the novelty of encountering a band of pirates wouldn’t be enough to overcome some person’s sense of justice and an actual conflict could have taken place. To nullify this, the duel between Marika and Kane was set up as not only a practical evaluation of Marika’s acting and physical combat abilities, but to also cow the crowd into submission. Chiaki was witness to the event, both for criticism and as a chance to learn, and the surprisingly smooth outcome may have added to the complicated feelings she has for Marika.
Marika is a natural, but it doesn’t prevent her from putting on a somewhat hapless and carefree persona that tends to be the first impression that many people have of her. What frustrates her is that Marika doesn’t seem to have the austerity that Chiaki believes a captain should have in order to be an effective ruler. Marika’s able to achieve what Chiaki believes are some of the core necessities and fundamentals of captaincy, with the sort of breezy confidence that belies a lack of effort or thought being put into it. But we know that there is more to Marika than what meets the eye, and Moretsu has done an admirable job of showing us this through her dialogue and actions. What blinds Chiaki may be her own sense of pride and inability to fully acknowledge someone who puts on “ditzy” airs.
This seems to be a theme nascent in Moretsu Pirates. The ending song, Lost Child, is centered on this idea. There’s another, unknown me hiding in my heart. We see conflict and tension between the outward appearances we’re presented with, and the introspection that comes with examination. This dissonance is paralleled in the isolated space setting, and the tension between being disoriented or emboldened by the lack of direction.