Colloquium: Moretsu Pirates Episode 6

“There’s another, unknown me, hiding in my heart.

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.

“Then you decide for yourself where you are.”

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.

Imagine Chiaki doing this…

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.

Addendum

16 Comments

Filed under Colloquia, Episodics, Moretsu Pirates, Moretsu Pirates

16 responses to “Colloquium: Moretsu Pirates Episode 6

  1. Ah yes, one more time, we get to explore! Oh, so many meanings of that insanely cool word: Bodacious!

    I had no other thought. I didn’t expect this show to break from it’s even paced five-episode introduction. So very glad I wasn’t upset. I’m enjoying this pace; unlike some 2-cour shows that are Guilty of bad pacing, and taking to much for granted in it’s world building.

    I have to admit, I was initially taken aback by the “entertainment” value of piracy that the programme decided to showcase. But looking at it by episodes end, it really couldn’t go any other way could it? I mean, that is how we see pirates today (When the show first aired, how many bloggers and viewers didn’t know of the concept of privateering?). This happy go-lucky band of derring-doers! Or worse yet, the Pirates That Do Nothing Trope. Oh, I can see so much simmering on the back burner. Why else would Misa takes the pains to explain the military option that pirates command. Layers. It’s refreshing to see a program that can dare to achieve this.

    Thanks for your colloquium as always, gang.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: If Guilty is purposely capitalized to indicate Guilty Crown, then there are a lot worse things than the pacing in that show. It’s the perfect storm of awful (which makes it awfully entertaining to me!)

      I absolutely loved the theatrical nature of the piracy that the series displayed in this episode; however, I certainly wouldn’t rule out some conflict or setting that forces Marika’s hand. Even in this cakewalk of a setup, as my partner touched upon, there’s always the possibility that something could have gone horribly wrong. Marika overcomes this with her enthusiasm and charisma. She has now become a far more interesting character, with her affability and charm on one side, and her intelligence and journey to find herself on the other. This episode was a beautiful contrast between these two sides of Marika, and made me excited to see more.

      As you said, in a word: bodacious. ^ ^

      vucubcaquix: Yeah, I made pains to explain the history behind real Letters of Marque in my first point because I cynically assumed that not many would have known about the concept of privateering. I think it made for pretty good post fodder, however.

      But that mild cynicism is something I’m thinking about bow. The idea of pirates as entertainers is a surprisingly cynical one when you think of it, as it reduces the concept of privateering and piracy (which, despite our romanticization is nowhere near as lofty as we make it to be) to one of spectacle and entertainment officially sanctioned by government agencies. Even if only under the table.

      But the cynicism of the idea is packaged in an unapologetically cheerful and somewhat optimistic view of the world and the future, and that contrast is really interesting to see. Plays to more possible thematic dualities emergent in the narrative.

      Thank you as always for reading!

      • @Aj. Yeah Guilty Crown. ::head desk head desk:: ::muses why there isn’t enough Scotch to make show more intereting::

        @ vucu. Over at MetaNorn I had to do the same thing; the Letters of Marque and privateering. Because nearly every single post before mine was “Legal Pirates!?” etc. I don’t know if I was looking at it cynically at first. It just took me so by surprise that they would treat it that way, and perhaps I was reading more into the metatext of the story (if there is indeed any meta at all). I think I was trying to say in too short a manner exactly what you stated above: how historical piracy (and history itself) and the romance of piracy are just two separate things.

        Thanks for the reply, ya’ll.

  2. Anonomyous

    Chiaki’s character is the type of person that takes things very seriously so its little wonder that innocent and naive Marika can irritate her with her successful actions

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Hnnn…I’d argue that Marika isn’t nearly as innocent as even she herself probably thinks. The entire scene between her and Chiaki was very telling in terms of what Marika wants from space, and her journey to find herself. I don’t think she’s innocent as much as unaware.

      As for Chiaki, she certainly is the type to take things seriously, as you said. It makes me wonder; however, just exactly how good she is at pirating. If most of their operations are like this one, and theatricality is key, I wonder how Chiaki will do once her turn comes. I do think that one of the reasons that Marika irritates Chiaki so much is that Chiaki envies her ability to socialize or charm people (it doesn’t come naturally to most as is, and Chiaki is hardly personable). She also can’t fully write Marika off (like she would were Marika simply an innocent ditz) because Marika is also fairly intelligent and shows glimpses of introspection and self-awareness.

      Like I said, I wasn’t sold on Marika until her presentation in this episode, but now I’m certainly interested to see the dynamic between her and Chiaki. For all of Chiaki’s ire, Marika appears to consider Chiaki a close friend already.

      vucubcaquix: There’s not much I can add that my partner hasn’t already covered. I would emphasize that yes, even if a person is charming, energetic, and optimistic, it doesn’t necessarily make them innocent per se. I don’t know if I can call Marika innocent, because if you remember in episode five, she was perfectly willing to launch an offensive and counter-attack with the sail array. She was fully aware that if that beam had been kept trained on the ship, the temperature inside would slowly but surely rise. She also made no protestations when the Bentenmaru and Barbalusa began RAILING on the Lightning 11.

      I may be conflating pacifism with innocence here, but I’d go so far as to say that there’s usually a correlation between the two. And from the electronic warfare tutorial of episode three, we know that Marika is no pacifist.

      I find her to be quite an interesting girl, and this latest episode just makes her downright fascinating

  3. Zammael

    Wonderful Colloquium, as always!

    This show is growing on me, fast climbing the ranks of must-see-anime!

    At first I was all skeptical, every inch the cynical burnout. Slowly, the scales of Cioran are slipping away, and perhaps I can just sit back & enjoy the ride.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: You know, I’m in the same boat as you. Prior to this season airing (and I suppose this is why one should take little to no stock in season previews) this was a series that I knew of a few people who were looking forward to it (mainly David); however, it didn’t strike me as a series that I would like.

      So I gave it the first episode, and was underwhelmed a bit, whereas my blogging partner here absolutely loved it. Then I watched a second episode, and a third, and so on…

      This happened to me last year with a series that has become one of my favorites of the past decade (in spite of many glaring flaws), Star Driver.

      Although I already know that there’s no way I will have the same affinity for Moretsu Pirates as Star Driver (which isn’t to Pirates’s detriment, it’s more to my overwhelming love of Star Driver) I’m certainly glad I decided to give it a fair shake. Like yourself, it’s quickly becoming must-see each weekend. ^ ^

      vucubcaquix: Sigh, guys. I know there where a few people who were looking forward to this show, but I think I might have been the only one who was legitimately hyped.

      Unlike my partner, I love previews. Not the season previews that bloggers put up (the only one I read is Scamp’s, and mainly for his humor), but rather the trailer previews. I was big on going to the movies growing up, and if I had the budget I still would, and unlike my friends I always LOVED seeing the trailers before the feature.

      I somehow was able to appreciate what the creators were doing in trying to impress me by putting their best foot forward in the space of two minutes. These were self-contained stories all unto their own. I feel that being receptive to trailers to begin with, somewhat allows me to be able to consume and analyze them in a decent way.

      Seeing the trailer for Moretsu clued me into this possibly being Something I Like. It also made me realize that Another really was all just smoke and mirrors with no real depth.

      So yeah, I really do like Pirates quite a bit, but I might have been predisposed to liking it anyway.

      And as always, thank you for stopping by!

  4. There’s so much to like about this show, and this episode in particular. It serves both as the long awaited Rogue Galaxy anime adaptation I had longed for and has an adorably optimistic main character who works hard to succeed. then there’s Chiaki, or in my case Chiaka, who’s so tsundere for Marika it’s too much to contain my desire to go squee for her. Yes, she’s my favorite character with Marika in a close 2nd. Also, yes, the nation IS promoting Marika x Chiaka…despite Lynn x Jenny being the canon one.

    I also like the concept of taking the viewer step by step in the process of creating a badass pirate. We get to see every single step taken before Marika becomes the cutest super awesome pirate captain of the cosmos. Good stuff.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      vucubcaquix: You know, I had this half-formed post idea in my head about how the “Sky Pirate” aesthetic tends to be found in works that are overtly optimistic in tone and nature, and was going to post a clip of Skies of Arcadia to support my point. Now, I haven’t played it, but it seems like Rogue Galaxy may even further strengthen the point I was thinking of making. This is pretty neat to think about!

      ajthefourth: I love that Lynn x Jenny is canon. I’ve been shipping them ever since they appeared on screen together. Not really sure why, but they just seemed to have a good chemistry.

      Marika and Chiaki, on the other hand, I really like them together as friends or rivals, but don’t see them in a romantic relationship. Like you, I enjoy the step by step process of “creating” a pirate captain out of Marika, and I think that Chiaki is the perfect character to be alongside her as she develops. (Chiaki could also certainly learn a few things from Marika as well).

      Thanks for the comment!

      • Lynn x Jenny are the only canon couple we have on the show. All we can do for now is hope the writers are merciful enough to give the yuri nation what they want: Jenny x Lynn screen time…or better yet, a scene where they wake up naked from the same bed so that we can overload our imagination.

        Whether Marika and Chiaki make a good couple or not, the fact is they look great together as a team. Sure, they aren’t confirmed as canon but that’s never stopped “us”.

        This is how I see it: “Last Exile= Fam the Silver Wing” is Skies of Arcadia and Bodacious Pirates is Rogue Galaxy.

  5. An idea I had tickling the back of my head got set off in a big way from the history lesson, when the Galactic Empire swooped in and put the natch on the civil war it let the local star systems manage their own affairs and the pirates were classifed as local military forces A. K. A. a policing force right? What if the local government is using the theatrical nature of the “pirates” to hide a true, strike capable, external military force in plain sight of the empire, just in case? Things may well get very interesting at some point soon.

    Ok, back to goofing off. ;D

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      vucubcaquix: You know, honestly I think this episode did a good job of misdirecting a big portion of the audience. Everyone is now convinced that “piracy” is purely about the theatricality of it.

      Honestly, I’m of the opinion that the scenario here in this episode is the exception rather than the rule. This was not an average mission, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were other, more real missions that the pirates partake in. I mean, why else would they have military grade electronic warfare and weaponry capable of destroying something like the Lightning 11?

      No, this is all smoke and mirrors for the benefit of Marika and to possibly lull the audience into a false sense of security. As for the exten to which the conflict may grow? Well, I don’t know if any action will be taken against the Galactic Empire, but there IS a princess character we’ve yet to meet.

      THAT is going to be interesting indeed.

      ajthefourth: Ah! That’s an idea so crazy that I’d love to see it explored in the series, and by that I mean that I’m jealous I didn’t think of it myself!

      I love what you’ve said here. The “legitimacy” of the Letters of Marque require the pirates to pirate every so often to keep their credentials, which means that, even though most of it is play-acting, they have to keep up their skills just in case anything were to go wrong on a pirating mission. Because the government has “graciously” allowed the pirates to continue their practices (behind a growing bureaucracy) they also have a one-up on the pirates themselves, should the pirates decline to join the war effort.

      Moretsu Pirates has done a neat and tidy job of revealing bits and pieces of its world to us. As Marika’s knowledge of piracy expands, so does our knowledge of the world she lives in. I would love to see a few more episodes focus on the grander scale of what is going on in its universe, and it certainly looks like we’re headed that way.

  6. This episode really brought a whole new meaning to the term ‘Space Opera’. ^^

    The parallels between Marika’s training as a captain, and performing on the stage were fascinating to watch, particularly Schnitzer’s comment about going with the flow. With any actor/actress worth their salt, clinically performing the role in the script, no matter how adept they might be, is not enough; it has to be made one’s own! I think that’s the main difference between Marika and Chiaki; the former seem to possess a great degree of adaptability, while the latter can only excel within set protocols and guidelines.

    The line about Marika not trying to imitate her mother, and instead just be herself was also rather telling. She’s pretty much arrived into pirating as a blank slate, meaning she hasn’t be dogged down by set the traditions and way of working set down by others. Chiaki seems the opposite, being seemingly raised with pirate ideology. Even if she is actively encouraged to carve her own identity, being brought up with pre-existing notions makes it harder to see alternate ways of working. Also, I suspect that she simply isn’t suited to the job as comfortably as Marika, but knows no other way to live. If the roles were reversed, I honestly don’t see Chiaki accepting the role of captaining the Bentenmaru out of the blue. She’d have likely chosen another career.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      vucubcaquix: Your comment about Chiaki I think hit it on the head. I don’t know if you’ve seen this image before (the proportions are a bit off), but I think it may pretty much sum up their personalities pretty well. Chiaki does well if there are strict rules and protocols to follow, but “winging it” seems to be something that is a bit beyond her character. After all, when the shit hit the fan in episode five, she was just as lost as everyone else when they were being fired upon and was just about to make a blunder. It was Marika who was able to think outside of the box and get them out of it.

      And yes, I agree about Chiaki’s upbringing. She’s being reared to be the captain of the Barbalusa and will likely do a good job of being able to command the respect and loyalty of the crew, but if she were to just be offerred it out of the blue? No way, she’d probably stay on the career path that she had either chosen for herself already or had been decided for her beforehand in her youth.

      ajthefourth: Not only is Marika not dogged by others, but one gets the sense that, only after having learned the truth about her mother did Marika truly begin to think about what she herself wanted from life. One also gets the sense that she didn’t think about it before the pirates invaded her life with the news of the death of her father.

      Think about it. The standard “shounen jump” response would have been to have Marika immediately jump on board and be completely gung-ho about leaving her so-called humdrum life. However, she wasn’t. She chose to think it through, not because her character is particularly thoughtful (although she can be in rare occasions, I don’t see it as a defining character trait) but because she had not, herself, realized how bored she had been, or how much she had wanted to be challenged this entire time. Ririka choosing not to raise her as a pirate certainly has a lot to do with it since, as you said, she comes to pirating as a blank slate. I find it interesting that, because of this, not only does Marika not suffer from the close-mindedness that Chiaki seems to have from being raised “a pirate,” but she also doesn’t suffer the “everything is boring and nothing ever happens here” response. This somewhat unique outlook allows her to take pirating seriously, but not too seriously.

      I completely agree about Chiaki. She is the honors student who always studies the books, does extra credit to look good, and volunteers only to put the fact that she volunteered on her university application. Perhaps this is why I don’t resonate with her at all. I think Chiaki would have accepted the captaincy, but only based on the principle that her family had captained it before her.

  7. Jenny x Lynn is now official. Woot. You just have to love the both of them.

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