Wait! What’s this?! What do we have here? Chiaki! What are you doing? What’s with the get-up? Were you… posing?
I wasn’t the only one laughing was I? What made it funny? Well, I can’t quite answer that, but it’s obvious that we were meant to make the comparison between Chiaki and Marika in the regalia. With that in mind, I think it’s important to note that that was the underlying theme of this week’s episode.
The audience finds this funny because we’ve already been given the precedent of Marika hamming it up while in uniform and the normally staid Chiaki eschewing anything that would harm her image (DON’T CALL ME -CHAN) or subvert her dignity. Seeing Chiaki act like this runs contrary to our supposed image of her and runs smack into our image of Marika so we can’t help but compare the two. This comparison is played for comedy.
Another comparison comes up soon afterwards when Marika and the Princess share a meal after their work shift is over. Through their conversation together we see that both suffer from the same adolescent ennui we all come into when we’re fostered with more responsibilities and the recognition for it doesn’t keep pace. This comparison is played for sympathy.
If Marika only inadvertently compared herself and her situation to the Princess, Moretsu itself is making the comparison more overtly. The idea of the Princess’s genetic makeup was touched on briefly as her biometrics were the key to unlocking a cache of data more than 17 years old but Gruier herself is only 13. This is immediately suspect, as the Princess admits that something in the genetic pattern of Serenity‘s royalty is key to the power they have to maintain independence from the Galactic Empire. This distresses Gruier, and before the audience is given any more information Marika deflects the conversation and moves it forward on to the matter of finding the Golden Ghost Ship.
This leads to the major conflict of the episode where the Bentenmaru skirmished with several Serenity warships. We’re witness to Marika assertively making more quick and creative decisions in the heat of battle. She successfully delegates responsibilities to those who are most apt to carry them out, and was able to yet again conclude the conflict with the minimal amount of damage necessary. This earns remarks from the crew and Misa Grandwood in particular, as Marika’s father is brought to mind through her ability to read the situation. This comparison is played to reinforce characterization.
But the specific wordage used here is interesting. No one said that Marika is like her father in the way she acts or commands effectively, but rather what’s brought up specifically is that Marika has her father’s blood running through her. Almost as if… she can’t help her natural affinity for all of this. But why do I find this significant? Again we come to the idea of genetics. For the Princess, her genetics are shrouded in mystery and viewed a bit suspiciously despite being the galactically recognized heir to a prominent royal family. Whereas Marika’s genetics are something celebrated and praised, despite being heir to the captaincy of a ship and an idea (piracy) that’s obscure enough to be treated like a modern myth or legend. What kind of commentary is this? None of this is unintentional, or else these themes in this episode wouldn’t be presented so strongly.
Either way, this comparison between Marika and the Princess through their genetics has so far been played for mystery.