Moretsu Pirates Episode 7

"Stay strong, Katou Marika! Fight, Katou Marika! Space awaits you!"

The opening narrations for these episodes are important. They bring the audience up to speed while simultaneously fleshing out more of the world and speaking to the themes of the forthcoming episode. The tone of this week’s introduction had me confused for a while. It took a much more bombastic approach than what we’ve seen prior, speaking to a bold and assertive Marika that’s perhaps a bit too enthusiastic about her role. I had it down as an allusion to a style of introduction long past that I had not seen and accepted it for that. It wasn’t until the end card had been revealed, which echoed a line that Misa Grandwood had given, that I had finally understood what this week was meditating on:

The dangers of pride, and hubris.

"There are times when trying harder isn't enough."

Marika is near her limit. She’s taken on responsibilities as the fledgling captain of the Bentenmaru, while retaining her status as a student and her position at the maid café. She insists she can do it, and will not entertain the idea of giving any of it up. This, of course, is easily understood as she’s been painted as a diligent person who sees everything through to the end. This is a lesson she’s taken to heart and is not easily discarded. However, we never examined the motivation behind what pushes her to overachieve. Who better than the character described as the “most grounded” to explain this for us?

Chiaki visits the Lamp House to see Marika (despite what she says) but has a conversation and a stroll with Mami instead. It’s here that the audience learns that the reason why Marika is so diligent and well-regarded by her peers is that she lives in the constant self-imposed shadow of her mother, Ririka. Ririka is a large presence, one that I was aware of forty-five seconds from the moment she came onto the screen. We haven’t quite seen this before, but it turns out that much of what motivates Marika is a combination of admiration and insecurity, both directed towards her mother. This is why Marika asked Schnitzer about Ririka last week, and what she was like as a captain. The response he gave in return turned out to be exactly what Marika needed to hear, even if the audience didn’t know that yet.

“Hey Schnitzer…”

“What?”

“You went pirating with Blaster Ririka, right?”

“Yeah, just like this.”

“What was my mother like?”

“Why does it matter? You’re your own person. And Ririka is Ririka. Concentrate on the task at hand.”

“Yeah, you’re right. That’s why I came to space.”

This can initially be interpreted as a daughter who wishes to know more about her mother, and it wouldn’t be wrong, but this is also the inquiring of someone who is somewhat afraid of the legacy they have to live up to. Mami describes Marika’s perception of her mother as being that of a large mountain, one that she doesn’t necessarily want to climb, but to stand proudly next to as another mountain. This aspiration mixed with a bit of intimidation is what drives Marika to not only continue her pirating, but also carry on her studies while holding on to her part-time job at the maid café. It’s getting hard on her, but she’s too prideful to admit that this may not be tenable. Though the truth outs in the quivering of her eyes.

"I'm just fine! I'll try harder"

Sometimes, trying harder isn’t enough, but when confronted with that piece of wisdom, Marika’s reaction is especially telling. She emphasizes that whether or not her ability to try hard is enough, is contingent on her own decision. Which is one that she will make, and on her own. The insinuation that she may not be able to handle the new burdens placed on her is a personal affront to her sense of self and her sense of pride, and she refuses to back down or reconsider her limitations.

What Moretsu has to say about this is revealed in the fantasy/dream sequence after the opening credits. Why would the captain herself go out on a potentially dangerous reconnaissance mission? Marika delegates responsibilities and duties to the crew members as she flies out on this mission, but she is still very much the crux of this fantasy. There’s beautiful orchestration, impactful dialogue, gorgeous visuals, and an overall very bombastic nature that is over the top relative to how Moretsu has carried itself so far. She takes the initiative on her own to complete the objective of the mission, and remarks that if she doesn’t return soon, the Bentenmaru would be in danger without her. What does she get for her troubles?

She’s ambushed, presumably shot down, and wakes up in an embarrassingly compromised situation after homeroom had ended.

It’s a danger to those who’ve taken to the infinite possibilities placed before them without disorientation. The sudden desire to do anything and everything possible is a very real outcome, as is the burnout associated with not knowing your limits should you continue. Marika has yet to internalize this, as she still acts in a fairly prideful way through to the end of the episode. During the conflict with the Symphony Angel, Marika had known that the battle was staged and that the shots being fired were part of an “optional service package”. Knowing this, she casually remarks that perhaps she should order the alarms be shut off for which she was chided rather swiftly by Misa Grandwood. After all, staged or not, an attack is still an attack.

This growing lapse in protocol, with increasingly ostentatious performances (including some rather gaudy makeup), and a growing reliance on herself above all others are warning signs of a hubristic outlook on her situation and circumstance that she’s come to. She puts everything on herself, believing that she is capable of it regardless of her own limitations, pointedly not asking or relying on anyone else for help. The danger in this, is that rather than respect and authority coming, occurring naturally to her as she acclimates and learns about everything around her, she’ll try to force the situation and possibly cull resentment in its stead.

How can Marika address these emerging problems within her regarding her growing pride and hubris? How will this affect and be affected by the sudden presence of galactic royalty? If Gruelle Serenity has had any kind of traditional upbringing that befits noble status, then her personality will be infused with pride and that will color how she approaches everything as well. But most pertinent of all, how will Marika react and adapt as the theater she performs in suddenly changes from that of dinner entertainment to galactic politics? We can only wait and see…

Space awaits you, Marika.

Addendum

6 Comments

Filed under Episodics, Moretsu Pirates

6 responses to “Moretsu Pirates Episode 7

  1. Perhaps a salient distinction between pride and vanity and hubris needs to be made:

    Pride is confidence in oneself, that one is capable of performing, irrespective of the opinions of others.

    Vanity OTOH is confidence based on the positive opinions of others, irrespective of self-worth.

    Essentially, pride is self-centered, while vanity is other-centered.

    Hubris seems a mutation of pride, an excess of confidence that turns into arrogance. In Pre-modern societies hubris was the elevation of man beyond his natural role in the order of things — titanism, the desire to equal the gods and steal his powers. We see this in the myths of Prometheus and the Original Sin. In modern Christian societies, both pride and vanity are conflated as hubris, but the truth is that they are variants of the root of all motivations: amour propre, or self-esteem.

    Regarding Marika, her characteristic flaw seems closer to hubris than either pride or vanity, since she overestimates her abilities in order to compete with the ideal she’s made of her mother.

    • That’s a good point, and thank you for bringing that up! I was aware of the difference between pride and hubris, but vanity honestly never crossed my mind as I was writing up my thoughts, and honestly, may even play a factor into why she decides to wear makeup during the raids. But that may be reading further into the text than is necessary.

      I still feel that it’s Marika’s pride that makes her feel as though she can handle all these extra responsibilities, and it’s her hubris that doesn’t allow her to step back and admit to others that she needs help and can’t very well live up to the idealized image that she has of her mother.

      If hubris is a mutation of pride, then I think it should make a measure of sense that hubris should be born out of a preceding pride. It’s this initial pride in her ability to attempt to live up to her mother that gives way to the hubris of refusing to see how it in fact may be damaging her.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Great thoughts on this episode I agree with your comments about Marika feeling some pressure to live up to her mother’s status? I did enjoy seeing those moments where Marika tried to balance her school work, cafe work and we could throw in her social life with Mami? Usually most anime leads balance multiple things at once with no issues at all or end up skipping one for the other? Like Ichigo from Bleach he pretty much never goes to school anymore and just fights all the time!

    Mami is such a great friend for Marika, I was seriously waiting for Mami to whine and cry that her best friend is not spending time with her! Thankfully she understands Marika has other things to do right now, but I am waiting for that moment to eventually happen.

    And now I think it is safe to say with the introduction of this mysterious princess character we might see some real combat for Marika and the Bentenmaru! I like to think of it as another “arc” starting up soon. And she goes to school with Madoka? I sure hope this princess unlocks a grand adventure for Marika and future as a true captain! So exciting this week.

    Side notes that make up…yeah so horrible! I did laugh watching Marika jump and dodge all those boxes on the way to the bridge, not once but twice?! At least she is staying active in space…

    • Hahaha it’s true, you’ll go like fifty or sixty episodes in between when Ichigo should be class, but instead he’ll be in Soul Society or Hueco Mundo chopping up Hollows.

      You know, I didn’t even think about that aspect with regards to Mami. She really is a patient and understanding friend, isn’t she? I think showing Mami in a moment of weakness might be realistic, but I kind of hope they don’t since I like her the way she is now.

      Yeah I’m wondering how that’s going to work with the princess going to school and all that. I definitely get the sense that her appearance is going to kick off a major portion of the plot, but I’m worried that having her spend time in school might slow things down again a little bit just as everything is about to really get going. Because I’m with you, I think the appearance of the princess is going to train a lot of new eyes on the Bentenmaru that weren’t concentrating on them before, and this might mean some serious combat and conflict ahead.

      Thanks for commenting, buddy!

  3. I’ve got a slightly different take on the second half of the episode, during the battle for the Symphony Angel Marika senses something is off but before she works it out she makes the comment about the alarm and Misa undercuts her authority. The bridge crew handles the rest of the battle without Marika’s input and Misa tells her “These decisions are the captain’s job too.” “Learn it soon.” In the next scene Marika is doing the boarding op with the heavy make up on, I think this represents a mask of captaincy that she believes the crew want to see. It’s not hubris causing her problems, it’s that she is trying to change who she is to fit what she thinks she should be on the job instead of being who she is and fitting the job to herself. This is causing her to second guess herself(on the bride when she notices something is off), hesitate(when Misa scolds her about the alarm) and avoid speaking up when something isn’t working for her(school, her hallway being used as storage). Part of the problem is Marika but it’s also how Misa and Kane are handling her, Misa even lampshades this a bit with the discussion about the double surrender(itself a mirror of the situation on the Bentenmaru, two commanders acting separately) when she says “People make mistakes all the time.”

    That’s my theory anyway, either way, I’m so happy to be watching a show where the MC isn’t magically the second coming on their first day at the job.

    • I’m going to add a bit of an addendum to this comment, if you don’t mind, Shane. ^ ^

      Speaking from the perspective of someone who doesn’t wear makeup often (laziness), the times that I *do* decide to wear makeup it’s always to impress someone else at work, or when I’m very ill and must go out or go to work regardless.

      Why, you may ask? Well, it’s much like Shane said; a matter of projecting a professional and “adult” image of a competent businesswoman. In the case of the former, it’s usually for a meeting with superiors, or on a day where I’m in meetings all day with people I don’t usually see. It helps me look more adult, shows that I put effort into my appearance, which can reflect or project the image that I put effort into my work as well (which they soon realize once I start speaking to it).

      In the case of the latter, it’s about projecting the image that I *don’t* feel ill and that I’m going to soldier on regardless. It’s like putting on armor, in a way.

      I think that Marika’s use of makeup stems from exactly what Shane said and, in addition to that, from Marika’s desire to be her mother: a formidable and beautiful woman with an impressive presence that oozes competence and confidence. Marika putting on the makeup in addition to her pirate uniform is all part of putting on her persona, or assembling her armor. Hopefully, through this journey into space, she’ll realize that she doesn’t need it, after all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s