ajthefourth: The moment above wouldn’t have been nearly as effective as it was, had Moretsu Pirates not taken its time to quietly build itself up to this point. With such false starts as the first electronic warfare battle (the repercussions of which come back to haunt the girls slightly in this episode) and Marika discovering the “ghost ship” in the previous episode, Pirates has been teasing the viewer with the promise of a conflict purposely. It also has been building Marika’s character slowly, with the added promise of her decision weighing upon the viewers’ minds. One couldn’t be blamed if they had come to never expect to see Marika in a pirates’ uniform prior to the series’ conclusion.
This purposeful buildup is also evident in Episode Five within the microcosm of the impending battle between the Odette II and the “ghost ship.” The beginning of this battle was no less interesting for being fought entirely through electronic warfare; however, it too lulls the viewer into a false sense of security. Much like one couldn’t be blamed if they never expected to see Marika as a pirate, one also couldn’t be blamed for being slightly startled when the ship is fired on for the first time. The girls of the yacht club not only act surprised, but legitimately shocked that a physical battle is taking place. This speaks to their naivete, and also to the fact that they never expected the battle to go beyond the electronic realm. Technology takes center stage in the world of Pirates, and this is reiterated again by Jenny Dolittle’s incredulous, nearly disgusted, reaction to the Lightning 11 having the nerve to use their eyes for targeting as opposed to infrared sensors. With every little piece of characterization like this, Moretsu Pirates is taking its time in not only world building, but making the inevitable payoff of its characters’ actions that much more believable and nuanced.
vucubcaquix: The narration at the beginning of each episode does a wonderful job of not only setting the tone of the proceeding, but framing the progress that we see. As Ryan notes, the most fascinating statement was the notion of ship’s transponder representing human will and goals. It’s a stand and statement against the indifference of the cosmic setting in which sailors find themselves, its honesty offering context and solace to those who venture out.
The interesting parallel to this, is that this is also the episode in which Marika unequivocally makes known her own will and goals. Having acquainted herself with the particulars of space flight and encountered her first real conflict, the story show us her blooming fully under pressure. There’s recognition of the situation in a real-time context, and an ability to be malleable with the situation. Marika shows a tenacity and creativity that permeates through her core.
From the beginning, we’ve seen glimpses and promises of Marika’s potential, while being shown outright as well that she hasn’t made a solid decision with consequence on her own. She’s been reacting to the events that have been occurring before her: looking into her parents’ history, learning to fire weapons, going on a cruise with her club mates. She’s been bounced around and educated by several different female characters, and strong ones at that. I think this has given the illusion of Marika being rather inconsequential in the face of such fantastically layered characters such as her mother Ririka, her classmate Chiaki Kurihara, or the Yacht Club President Jenny Dolittle. But given the talent behind the writing displayed thus far, and the deftness of the adaptation, I feel that it’s no mistake that the deliberate nature of the show extended to characterization as well.
Transponders are the representation of human will and goals. Here, after reacting to everything around her thus far, we see Marika expressing her will on her own. Coming to that decision was aided and colored by the strong personalities of the women around her, including the remarkable Jenny Dolittle.
“From: Captain of the Odette II…no…President of the Hakuoh Girls’ Academy Yacht Club, Jenny Dolittle.
To: Captain of the Lightning 11.
That is all.
Want me to say it again?”
-Jenny Dolittle, Captain of the Odette II
ajthefourth: Far more fascinating than our leading lady, Marika, is the yacht club president, Jenny Dolittle. Moretsu Pirates is seemingly a series with a large cast of characters to introduce to the viewer, as well as a fair amount of in-universe history and terms that it must acquaint its audience with. The series, thus far, has done an admirable job at introducing its cast to us, piece by piece. Personally, I’ve found myself caring about each and every one of the periphery characters just as much, if not more so, than Marika herself (which also, up until now, has been a bit of a detriment to this series: Marika is one of the least interesting characters). None have interested me more than Jenny Dolittle.
Although there had been glimpses of her in prior episodes, Jenny was mainly introduced to the viewer last week, when it was learned that she had properly done her homework on Marika, and was well aware of just exactly whose daughter Marika was, as well as the decision that had been placed in front of her. Jenny’s response of “I thought you might.” to Marika requesting to speak to the crew of the Odette II is one of my personal favorite moments in the series, and where she is shown to be someone who is never to be taken lightly. This is a crucial character-building moment between Jenny and the viewer; it is subtle, but quietly brilliant.
Her response to Marika indicates her diligence and serious nature; Jenny researched Marika enough to know exactly who she is. This also speaks to having a bit of a compassionate nature, as she let Marika go on this cruise in spite of knowing the danger that would be involved in allowing her to do so. Perhaps Jenny didn’t want to take the feeling of her first space flight away from Marika.
Another facet of Jenny’s character that is explored in Episode Four, and expanded on in Episode Five, is a witty and spiteful nature when she feels as if she is not being taken seriously. The quote above is from Episode Four, immediately before Marika properly introduces herself to the yacht club and makes them all aware of the danger that they are now in. She says this callously, in a way that makes the rest of her crew laugh, but a serious undertone is present. After all, what are they in most other people’s minds but silly, airheaded, high school girls playing at space? Coupled with the response that she gives to the Lightning II, her extreme displeasure at others’ refusal to take her seriously is palpable. It indicates a past history of being written off as a joke, or a silly high school girl, which makes the audience want to know more about her.
It is also this facet of Jenny’s character that Marika should try to emulate above all others. Diligence, perseverance, the ability to think quickly on her feet; these are all things that we’ve seen hints of in Marika already. It is for those reasons that Kane claims Marika will be a force to reckon with once trained properly. However, there’s something that Kane can’t teach her and something that Jenny Dolittle can: the ability to be tempered, yet ferocious, in the face of people who dismiss her. This ability, which will force people into shame that they did not take you seriously in the first place, denotes a hunger to prove oneself, even when it’s coated with a veneer of grace and sophistication, as it is within Jenny’s character. I have yet to see this hunger from Marika. Marika may have saved the day, and also may have made her decision; however, I certainly hope this doesn’t mean less of Jenny Dolittle.
vucubcaquix: The arc of the battle itself was handled wonderfully as well. The scene building up to it had the girls assembling with each other and heading toward the bridge in silence, with the celtic notes playing in the background underscoring a growing sense of excitement. The girls showing visible delight at seeing their predictions for how the conflict playing out coming true, and while barely containing themselves, sticking to the plan that Marika took pains to assemble and verbalizing step by step the rationale for their actions. There was no cut to the enemy bridge since not only would it have broken the flow of the advancement of the scene, but could have possibly leaned on suspension of disbelief since playing possum also meant deigning not to see or understand what your enemy is doing. Like everything else in the show, everything was deliberate, measured, patient.
The girls let loose to the Lightning 11 that the jig is up and they knew they were coming (itself, a nice reference to Star Blazers), and for a brief moment, silence again. And then… pandemonium.
spring has come and gone and summer is here
The music picks up, the camera cuts quicker, the dialogue hastens.
they say in summer, we hang our white robes on Heavenly Kagu Mountain
The sparring continues in earnest, the two entities trading electronic blows.
you swore to love me forever, but I don’t know if I can believe you
The Lightning 11 continues its assault redoubling its effort at jamming, but the Odette II just outclasses it.
we parted this morning, my heart disordered, as I pondered
The girls tense up, but no one relents.
the Odette II pushes forward, through the blue
The enemy doubles back, but the Odette II carries through.
like the scent of a blooming flower
The girls break through, and have access to the Lightning 11.
mountain cherry tree, love me as I love you
The enemies’ systems fall one by one.
because I’m alone in the depths of the mountain and there’s no one here but you
And then once again, silence.
There is palpable tension in the bridge as the girls did not plan for this particular eventuality. There’s a moment of fleeting bewilderment. What is the enemy doing? What are they thinking? Were their achievements for naught? What do they do now?
And then, everything turns blood red. The alarms blare and the systems report to the girls in uncompromising language EMERGENCY!! ENERGY WAVE, and the threat of death through aggression looms large for the first time in the series. The fun and excitement of the preceding is sapped away in an instant when everyone realizes that their lives are in very real danger indeed. The enemy no longer seeks to capture the girls, but as some sort of recompense for making fools of them, now seek to kill. The masks that Kane MacDougal and Misa Grandwood have worn now slip, and the cool veneer of the more capable girls begins to crack. There’s even a slight sense of anger and resentment at this possible breach in combat protocol, as Jenny Dolittle is just completely unbelieving that the enemy would resort to something so crude as optical sighting.
In their newly compromised position, the girls nearly make a fatal error in running. This is where the promise of the first few episodes was fulfilled, as we see Marika step up and prevent the girls from blundering and was able to think something up on the fly. This is where the diligence she displayed previously works to her advantage, as the minutiae she spouted regarding the use and utility of transponders and the laws that govern them set up and foreshadowed Marika’s ability to be able to know even the minutest details of the workings of the Odette II. She commandeers a classmate’s station for a moment, changes the permeability of the sails, does some quick mathematic triangulation (that was SO sexy), and fashions a quick Archimedes Mirror to prevent the enemy from using their last means to threaten.
And just like that, all is still once again. But no longer is there the tension that accompanied the last pauses, but rather a sense of relief mingled with triumph as the Lightning 11 is finally checkmated by the technological superiority of the Odette II, and the combat superiority of both the Bentenmaru and the Barbalusa (come on, that’s totally supposed to be Barbarossa), and the numbers of the Stellar Military. What we are treated to is a cathartic thumping of the barbarians who dared to attack a group of schoolgirls from behind, and the reward of the satisfaction of seeing a girl whose promise has been realized for all to see.
The icing was seeing Chiaki triumphantly declare herself the daughter of Kenjo Kurihara, captain of the pirate ship Barbalusa, and heir apparent to her Letter of Marque. It’s a capstone to the end of the introductory training of Marika, and a further hint at the vastness of the world ahead. To be able to deceive the other characters, including Jenny Dolittle, into thinking that she’s just another student (even one with circumstances) begets a cunning and guile that highlights the human touch that Moretsu Pirates has been touting since the beginning even amongst the fetishistic display and detailing of technology.
There is a heart on display here in this show. Everything has been measured, thoughtful, deliberate, all for the express purpose of letting Marika shine here in the moment she needed to and to do so believably. She has the human touch to effectively wield the technology and the responsibility that’s being foisted upon her, and she has the fortitude to see it to the end. She has been lied to, encouraged, taught, tested, and she comes through on the other side fully bloomed. This is the promise we’ve been given since the first episode, and I’m excited to see it being fulfilled.