If the first episode was a promise, then this second one was a lesson. If there was anything in particular that stood out this week, is this show’s emphasis on the idea of responsibility. It pervaded every pore of every scene in this episode, and as if to emphasize that the deftness of the storytelling in the first week was no fluke, proceeded to inform characterization, plot, and dialogue all at once.
There were two remarkable scenes this week and let’s talk about this first one for a moment. After the helter skelter of the maid cafe shootout (wow that is an absurd statement), Ririka sees to it that her daughter is adequately prepared to make the decision that she is inevitably going to make. Her daughter is on the cusp of making a pretty life-altering decision so she does what any sensible mother does, she teaches her daughter about gun safety. There is silliness inherent in the premise of mother teaching daughter about tank-busting rifled super lasers, but the scene was played completely straight and worked wonderfully for it.
For instance, there was attention paid not only to the destructive power of the weapons, but also the soft power of connotation and intention. The moment a trigger is pulled, it’s not just a round but a consequence that spills forth. This is an action that must be followed through all the way to the end, and Marika takes it completely to heart. Ririka explains that 90% of the battle is decided before a trigger is ever pulled, because the threat of the soft power of a weapon on someone’s life is enough. If that trigger is ever pulled, someone will die. Friend, enemy, self, regardless of who, a life will be extinguished. That is important to remember, and remarkably sobering to see elucidated in no uncertain terms. That is wonderful.
This nighttime lesson reflects tenets that Ririka holds dear, ones of freedom, choice, and responsibility. This is what she terms the Power of the Pirate. There’s interesting philosophy in Ririka’s belief that being a soldier or policeman absolves you of some of this responsibility if one is following orders, but for a pirate the decision is entirely their own. There is freedom in that power to choose, but the price of it is the burden of responsibility. That choice is where that power lies, and just like in the gun safety lesson, it’s not just a decision that spills forth from the choices we make, but also a consequence. It is a lesson given all the due gravitas it deserves.
The other scene that caught my attention was the introduction of the school’s yacht club, and their pre-flight checklist. It may seem like something inconsequential to anyone outside of aviation, but the pre-flight checklist is an essential element in air safety. It’s been in use for at least 70 years and has been instrumental is saving countless lives. Of course what contrasts this scene with the preceding one on weapons safety was the fun and whimsy that permeated it. The girls take their duties very seriously, but can barely contain their excitement as well when shouting out their duties and adhering to proper protocols while flying about in situational gravity. All told, the show devotes nearly five minutes to showing the effort that goes into the proper preparations that any craft needs to undergo before takeoff, highlighting the responsibility that a crew has to their ship and by extension to each other. How often do you see this in anime outside of the hardest science fiction? There is some loving detail paid attention to the minutest technological details, which betrays where some of the priorities of the author lie.
The scene dealing with electronic warfare was science fiction of a softer kind, but was meant to show off certain aspects about Marika’s character and her developing chemistry with Chiaki. She admits clearly and without reservation that she is no expert on electronic warfare, but she displays a willingness to learn and understand and sets out to defend the ship on principle. For Marika, the idea is to make the best decision that you can, and to believe in it. That, is something learned from her mother earlier in the episode during the safety lesson. To be a captain requires a certain decisiveness, but also a fortitude to see your decision and its consequence to the very end. If anything, it surprised Chiaki to see this coming from Marika, and opened an avenue to her commanding with authority.
I want to take a step back and revisit a scene between Marika and her mother. My partner and I casually remarked on Marika’s habit of calling her mother by her name as opposed to something more intimate. I may have subconsciously surmised that this was perhaps because of strict discipline that Ririka would have enacted on the household, but Emperor J brought up something really interesting. He’s right, the mannerisms between Marika and Ririka do in fact betray a distance between them. During the beginning of the conversation, while there isn’t necessarily any tension, there is a coolness and almost a professionality, to their relationship. They are adhering to the roles that they have been assigned to, without necessarily any warmth. Their interaction wasn’t hostile or anything of the sort, but hardly befitting that of a loving mother and daughter. They don’t look at each other, they are physically closed off from each other, and the composition of the shot emphasizes this with the framing of Ririka’s head in the steering wheel which isolates her from her daughter. To Marika, Ririka may not necessarily resemble something like that of a mother, but more of an abstract figure with authority after having learned the truth about her mother’s past. In fact, the very first question asked was whether or not she should be at work instead…
But then, something kind of amazing happens. They have a conversation, and they are honest with each other. They ask questions of each other, reach out to each other, answer each other. They reciprocate. They begin to connect. The camera sees this as well, as Ririka is no longer isolated by the steering wheel and the physical distance between them diminishes slowly. Through the hard questions being asked, and the frank answers being given, the audience sees a relationship that is being repaired in real time after a rift that had occurred as a consequence from withholding information. There’s a trend seen in wide swathes of anime that talk about the idea of girls being harder to raise than boys, with a tangentially related phenomenon of there not being many recent examples of strong mothers, but this scene managed to put to bed a few of those concerns in a little under two minutes by using both dialogue and visual composition to show to the audience the patching up of a relationship that had momentarily come under strain. It culminates in a tightly framed moment of sincere affection and genuine warmth, bathed in the soft glow of the sunset.
The final lesson to be taken from this? The importance of clear and honest communication. This is a responsibility in and of itself, one that not many people adhere to. Ririka is doing a fine job of both rearing a daughter, and grooming a captain.
16 responses to “Moretsu Pirates Episode 2”
Ririka’s philosophy on soldiers and their orders have some basis in reality, IIRC in war courts soldiers that carry out orders are exempt but the ones that gave out the orders are sentenced. There’s also the issue of court-martials. I really like her emphasis on responsibility, and how Marika is the only one that can choose to become a pirate or not and no one else can make the decision for her.
That’s true, if I remember correctly that was the basis for a lot of drama behind the Nuremberg Trials after WWII. Atrocities were committed at various levels but a common defense was the one of “just following orders”.
The war criminals that were executed were the bigwigs that called the shots. Hermann Göring, Albert Speer, Rudolf Hess, these were the idea men. The ones who called the shots. The ones who held all the responsibility.
These guys were the ones giving the orders to pull the trigger, as it were.
Awwww I loved that whole car scene between Ririka and Marika! Really good stuff and yeah firing high powered laser weapons totally awesome! I want to shoot those with my family xDD
But ya I liked how Ririka explained to Marika about the weapons, sure they can blow a hole in tank and kill anything that moves. I guess it is more about style too? Showing you have have a weapon that can do massive damage is great but it also can be used as a way to intimidate your enemies and like you said pulling the trigger means taking responsibility for the after effects.
Marika is a great character! I like her run in and ask questions later style, she reminds me of another captain in a pirate themed anime with Luffy from One piece. While Luffy has crazy rubber super powers he always thinks with fists versus sitting back and thinking about making a move, true that often places his crew in lots of dangerous situations, but it still proves he is not scared of someone with bigger weapons.
Marika on the other hand is learning the ropes of being a future captain, I still question who Chiaki works for…is she a friend? Spy? Maybe jealous over Marika’s future as captain? We can see she does not like Kane at all…
Now to work on my post! Wha-hahaha
Yeah, the whole bit between mom and daughter was just the sweetest thing, I love seeing good examples of parents getting on with their kids in anime because too often you see that it’s because there are problems between them that start off any given story. So seeing healthy relationships like that are actually pretty refreshing.
And I really don’t what Chiaki’s deal is. She obviously knows what’s up, but isn’t necessarily with Kane and the Bentenmaru crew. I don’t know if she’s a rival or even a love interest, but she figures really heavily in the OP.
I guess we’ll see!
And perhaps even more important than the responsibility of using a weapon, Ririka was trying to teach Marika the responsibility she will have if she becomes captain. In that position she will have freedom to do a lot of things and she will have a crew that will follow her orders. But just like making the choice to pull the trigger has its consequences, she has to be ready to take responsibility for the orders she gives and whatever results comes out of them. This is easily my favorite show of the season so far and I hope it continues to be this well-written for the rest of its run.
Exactly. She likened the captaining of the ship to pulling the trigger of an even greater power because like you say, the decisions and orders she makes will be amplified through the actions of her crew who exist to carry them out. The consequences of her decisions will be multiplied through the efforts of those under her, so it’s a good idea to soberly instill into her what this means, and the ridiculously overpowered weaponry was a fantastic metaphor for it.
Thanks for commenting! I hope you’ll stick around!
There’s interesting philosophy in Ririka’s belief that being a soldier or policeman absolves you of some of this responsibility if one is following orders, but for a pirate the decision is entirely their own.
Yes! This little bit of dialogue really stuck out to me because there is a truth to it. See how the many of the police during OWS have gone lightly or completely unpunished for their treatment of protestors. They were, after all, following orders.
Yikes, that’s true. Accountability only comes down on those who act outside of orders, but if they didn’t then you’d have to go after the ones calling the shots. That comes with its own special set of problems however.
I don’t know if it’s within the scope of the anime to explore that issue further still, but I’m still impressed that it was broached at all. But hey! Who knows? There was a War for Independence after all, maybe they’ll revisit this issue if it’s revealed that the Stellar Alliance/Galactic Empire abused their authority?
We’ll see… and thanks for commenting again!
This show has been one gem of a surprise after the other. I first read the programs description back before the beginning of the Fall ’11 season, and it sold me. Yes, let’s see some Sexy Awesome Space Fantasy Action.
But they are taking the time to build a setting, and to build the characters. Then the creators ground those things in something else besides some throw-away ecch driven -maybe it will have some gravitas- fast and loose plot. I’ve seen a lot of viewers in other forums turned off by the direction this show is choosing to take. For the record I would have loved to see the show deliver exactly what I expected. But I love it so much more for doing me different. That’s love, thrilled, in the first part, and loved (taking it to heart) in the second part.
I prefer my scale of science fiction to drift more towards the fantasy end than towards the hard science end. Which is not to say that I will kick the later away.
Glad you mentioned Plantes, one of my favorites.
I find it interesting, the emphasis on Marika making a choice to become a pirate, when most anime is bent on the old idea of fate and destiny, and in fact even this one seems to lean somewhat toward her fulfilling a destiny. At least Ririka is going to give her the tools to do it right and responsibly, rather than just “leaving it up to fate.”
Gotta say, I’m given great hope for the SF aspects of this show already, thanks to the zero-g multidirectional chambers of the ship and the intense pre-flight sequence. There is an inherent ridiculousness of the schoolgirls participating in this semi-hard SF stuff, not to mention an inherent potential for crazy upskirts, but the Planetes feel is there somewhat.
Playing off of what otou-san just said, I guess in “Space Pirate Captain Harlock” terms Marika is going to be a Tadashi Daiba that fulfills the promise of youth, something that Leiji’s Daiba never does because the man is so friggin’ in love with his Captain Harlock that there’s simply no space for the new generation…
That’s the thing about Daiba isn’t it, he never gets to be the Simon to Harlock’s Kamina because Harlock just won’t damn well step aside. Ririka on the other hand, has already retired. Maybe Harlock should have eaten more questionable sushi.
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