Posted on 1 July 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews, Mouretsu Pirates



A series about pirates in space. The creators could have easily put a ship in space and have the characters go “RRRR!” a lot. Not Mouretsu Pirates though. This show is ambitious.

Instead of going with the tried and true formula, Mouretsu Pirates managed to completely create its own setting. It asks the question of what pirates would look like in a futuristic setting in which mankind has ventured off to space. The result is a setting in which Pirates are bound by insurance companies, and are kept afloat as this cultural heritage who raid people as a form of entertainment, and it manages to create all sorts of interesting stories and concepts based on this.

Now, Mouretsu Pirates has a series structure that has some very interesting parts, but also a few downsides. Now, the series consists out of about five major arcs. All these arcs are completely different from each other, they all focus on different characters, they all have different moods and themes, and most importantly: they all get increasingly better. what this pretty much entails to is a series that is a bit hard to get into at first, because the first arcs put a lot of emphasis on world building and setting things up just right, but once it takes off, this series really takes off into a really entertaining roller-coaster ride that just keeps changing.

And also on the character-department this series stands out. The cast of this series is HUGE; every arc introduces a ton of new ones, and I’m glad to say that this is one of those series that handles a huge case really well: it’s diverse and full of all sorts of colourful characters. It’s of course impossible to develop all of them in 26 episodes, but this series chooses very wisely who it wants to develop, while for the rest of the cast it always finds something interesting for them to do or base some interesting revelation around them.

Going back to the early episodes that put a lot of focus on build-up, that has another advantage: The creators re also really good in letting the characters just play out their actions. The result is a series that while being hard science fiction, has a cast of characters that feels real and relatable. I mean, this series may be about pirates, but there are also a surprising amount of arcs dedicated to a high school gir’s yacht club (yeah…), but these characters are portrayed so down to earth and likable that it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

A few weeks ago I’ve seen someone describe this show as “Shoujo in Space”, and that pretty much is the best tagline I could find for it: if this term appeals to you, then by all means give this show a chance, because there is a lot to like in it for shoujo fans as myself. This definitely was a very clever series that went from very careful set-up to a really entertaining ride with a ton of colourful characters. If it wasn’t for Natsume Yuujinchou this would have been the best series to debut in Winter 2012.

Storytelling: 8.5/10 – Excellent sense of build-up and variety through its run, but it does take a while to get going.
Characters: 9/10 – Has a huge cast and knows how to use it.
Production-Values: 8/10 – This is a Satelight series, but a low-budget one: it has nice CG at times, but they’re not spamming eye candy like in their usual series.
Setting: 9/10 – This setting here is very creative and well fleshed out. The creators defiitely put thought into how to give a new spin to “pirates in space”.

Suggestions:
Infinite Ryvius
Gankuen Seni Muryou
Armed Librarians – The Book of Bantorra

Posted on with categories: Mouretsu Pirates

Awesome! A movie has been announced! And what more, this doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a movie for the sake of having a movie like with Full Metal Alchemist, Ao no Exorcist or Star Driver, but this really continues with the story that this episode left off with. This episode wrapped up the past arc, but it left plenty of villains still alive, plus the issue of the pirates deciding their course still hasn’t been solved yet. My guess is that that will be the main focus of the movie.

Now, as for this episode, the creators went for the action-packed ending: this entire episode was dedicated to an over the top battle against the strange woman who has been shooting down pirate ships. They used a bunch of clever decoys and the pirates that Marika invited played a good role in it. This episode didn’t have the crazy revelations that showed completely new sides of the characters and it did remain a pretty standard ending and I wouldn’t label it as the best ending of the season, but still, the episodes leading up to it were the best of the entire season.

The aftermath with Iron Beard was excellent by the way. Like many people suspected, he is Marika’s father. In the end it turned out that he wanted to hand over the reins of the Bentenmaru over to Marika, so he came up with the story of food poisoning in order to give her the chance to be a pirate. Ririka very likely was in on the joke, and she very likely figured that now that Marika has gone her own way, it’s time for her to go back to pirating with her husband.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 24 June 2012 with categories: Mouretsu Pirates

Tatsuo Sato, you are awesome. I didn’t think it was possible, but Mouretsu Pirates just surpassed itself. In fact, this episode was THE proof that there was a really talented writer behind this series. I don’t know whether this stems from the original writer or Tatsuo Sato himself, but whoever it was: someone really spent thought and time into how to make the anime work best. This completely exceeded all my expectations, more than any other penultimate episode this season so far.

The restraint of the creators deserves a medal here. This episode was full of twists that could have been pulled at any other episode, but by saving all of them for just this episode, it made all of them extra sweet. Seriously, I love how many new things we learn about the cast. And what’s even better is how these twist all show that every single cast member has been acting and doing stuff, even when the cameras weren’t on him. I don’t see that often, but in order to bring a big cast to life this is a wonderful trick, and usually leads to amazing results when it’s pulled off correctly.

This episode was a ridiculous amount of fun put together. The new pirates are all colourful and go together wonderfully. the revelation of the twin was hilariously down to earth. In fact, I love how this episode brought back so much that seemed so dramatic, and made it such a simple issue. I’d say that Tatsuo Sato even surpassed what he did on the Secret of Stellar wars with this, and that show also really was quite witty.

The guy who really stole the show was that chef, though. Just about everything is awesome, even though he seemed like an ordinary chef last episode. Here though, he just got so incredibly over the top despite his incredibly tiny posture (I didn’t even realize that, even though he had been in the OP for ages). Chiaki also was adorable when her father played the song she recorded with Marika. Seriously, when I first saw her on the promo material I thought that she’d be your average side-kick and all, but she turned into someone completely different from what I could have imagined.

Also, this whole arc has a fantastic set-up. Sure, it’s about a pirate-killer, but more important is how it’s about forcing everyone to choose a new direction for the pirates: continue with the imperialism, or go back to what pirates are symbolized to be. Seriously, this is one series that turned out to be much better than what I imagined it would be.
Rating: ***+ (Amazing)

Posted on 16 June 2012 with categories: Mouretsu Pirates

So, how does Mouretsu Pirates decide to fill in its penultimate episode? Plot twists. Or should I say, character twists. This episode was full of twists about characters that went into completely different directions than what was hinted about them. So to summarize:

– Coolie is actually hot when she takes off her coat and glasses.
– The legendary chef had five sons, who all opened up their own places.
– Luca has been kidnapped and switched with an android.
– Kane has a body double with a spike of very twitchy hair.
– Ririka has been captured by that very theatrical pirate of last episode.
– Chiaki has apparently spoken some very praising words about Marika to her father.

I mean, for this show to pull all of this in one episode, let alone the penultimate. I really like their guts and it’s a great way to build up to the finale, especially considering how it has never done anything like this before. If anything, Mouretsu Pirates is a really varied series: every arc is different and yet it comes together so wonderfully.

Now, the big danger with all these plot twist is the classic “rushed ending”. Putting in too many plot threads for the final episode to actually resolve. With this, it’s clear that Mouretsu Pirates is going for a fast-paced ending, and these kinds of endings can vary greatly, from being really good to being really bad.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 10 June 2012 with categories: Mouretsu Pirates

Yeah. I guess that this was the perfect episode to show that pirates have their sense of theatrics. That hologram is one thing, but for a ship to bring its own sound effects in order to circumvent the “no sound in space”-problem, I have to give it to the creators: that was very creative. Being a pirate before was made to look like a very bureaucratic job, but amidst all of the rules that they need to follow in order to survive, they did build in this very nostalgic coded signal in the form of a bunch of old-school pirates singing.

Aso, Ririka only appeared in one scene, but that scene alone was enough to shut down any theories that she’s going to play any significant role in this series. It’s a pretty awesome anti-climax in a way: we’ve seen scenes of her wanting to do stuff she likes to do, so with her absence during the past arc you’d think that she took pirating back up or something. But no, she just started traveling, which is actually a much more logical explanation. I believe that she finally saw that Marika could take care for herself now, and started to make use of her new free time.

I really like this: on one hand you have the stakes being higher than before, but at the same time this series also has gotten more playful than ever, and that’s not something you usually see. I really have to praise the character-development in this series: it’s subtle, but it’s there, and what makes this final arc so much fun to watch is watching how much the cast has grown together. Now all that’s left is a good finale.
Rating: **+ (Excellent+)

Posted on 3 June 2012 with categories: Mouretsu Pirates

That cliff-hanger…. was that guy seriously standing on a spaceship, in the middle of dead space, without some kind of helmet?

Putting that aside though: after all those 6-episode arcs, I did not expect that this series would close on an arc of only four episodes long. That suddenly explains the increased pacing of last week, but I really don’t mind this: this isn’t a last-minute rush job because the pacing was increased way in advanced, giving this a nice effect of a series that takes its pace in order to build up, only to switch up a gear near the finishing-line.

This episode immediately starts off a new arc, and there is minimal build-up before we already get to the center of the matter here: strange spaceships which have been hunting pirates. These final villains are so badass that even the laws of physics don’t matter to them. Joking aside though: they have potential. It’s a bit more orthodox compared to finishing things with that race arc, but still: this episode hinted that it’s going to explore what makes a pirate, and how things can change when every pirate starts working together. In order to explore those themes, then this set-up is quite good for it.

This episode also did its homework by looking at the future: we’re really going to get a life goes on ending, and Marika talking about getting a pilot’s license and wondering what she’ll do after graduating, it was all leading up to that.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 27 May 2012 with categories: Mouretsu Pirates

So… in this one episode this show did what I thought would take up the rest of the series. What the?

And don’t get me wrong here: this was really well done. Suddenly the pacing of this episode increased two-fold, and that lead to an incredibly fun race with a ton of action and intrigue and suspense. It was chaotic in a good way and there was a lot going on here and this pretty much stands among the best episodes of Mouretsu Pirates. I really was totally immersed here and I love how despite the slow pacing the creators chose, they are also flexible enough to once in a while just go all out. This brings a wonderful balance between action and slice of life.

Also, with the graphics in this episode you could really see that this comes from the director of Stellvia of the Universe. For the people who haven’t seen that yet: the CG scenes looked really ugly and made no attempt whatsoever to blend in. The dinghies really look like the space ships that they used in Stelliva. Now, this episode took that mentality, and handed it over to Satelight’s CG department, who are known for their eye candy. The result looked very artistic.

I also feel like the end of the episode with Ai was a great shout-out to Stellvia. In that series the pilots didn’t even get to see outside and were forced to navigate though these very abstract and convoluted interfaces. Here though, the opportunity was given to her to fly around without any screens or electronics, and she took it. Although I do wonder how that all would have worked in terms of aerodynamics.

Overall, Mouretsu Pirates turned into a great example of a series that spends a lot of time building up. In the early episodes there were enough hints that his show knew what it was doing: great acting, real character performances and a good amount of creativity and imagination put into the premises. This was enough to keep me confident and interested in this series. And really: it paid off. I’m glad to have kept up with this show.

The show hasn’t ended yet so I can’t say this for certain yet, but I get more and more convinced that Mouretsu Pirates will end up as the best non-sequel series of the shows that premiered in Winter 2012.
Rating: **+ (Excellent+)

Posted on 21 May 2012 with categories: Mouretsu Pirates

So, there will be a race on dinghies (special types of spaceships), Marika’s school has been some sort of demon in the past for this race, and Marika will be in danger from her competing pirate colleagues as soon as she graduates high school. These will be the three main ingredients for the finale of Mouretsu Pirates. This episode did all of the preparation work, all that’s left now is to mix them, put them in the oven and let’s see whether the result works.

With this, it also becomes clear that the creators are putting one of the main roles in the hands of that one girl with the short brown hair, I believe her name was Ai. I already found it a bit strange how much airtime she was given, but this explains it: she will be the star of the “race” part of the finale, while Marika and the others work behind the scenes in order to focus on the other two. Yes, this means that the main character actually does not stand in the spotlights. That’s not something you see often.

And then this episode also spent some time on some weird training techniques. The windsurf race in particular was a bit weird, as driving those things… I don’t think that that’s quite the same as piloting a vehicle that looks like it. But then again: this is school and this is supposed to focus on being fun, not trying to squeeze out the biggest winning chances. Kane in any case was having a great time.
Rating: *+ (Great)

Posted on 12 May 2012 with categories: Mouretsu Pirates

Yeah, this was without a doubt the best episode inbetween the major arcs for Mouretsu Pirates yet. I’m not sure why, but there is something inherently enjoyable about just watching Marika do random but necessary chores like cleaning, moving stuff and simple maintenance while the rest of the crew still is locked away in that bloody hospital. This is the kind of slice of life that I really enjoy. Mariko being tired also was really well acted.

And yet at the same time this show uses these really weird coincidences to keep its cat together. This time the plot device it used was Marika’s ring, of all things. Marika lost it, Gruiviere picked it up and that gave the members of the yacht club an excuse to meet the crew of the Bentenmaru. At first this seemed really weird, but then again we know this series by now. There is no way that the creators are not going to use that in the final arc. The final arc will really be a smörgåsbord of different characters.

Overall, I am very happy with how Mouretsu Pirates ended up handling its huge cast. I personally really like series where the amount of important characters can’t be counted on all your hands and toes, provided that it’s well done. With this series, the only characters who I just get mixed up are some of the members of the yacht club, and even they get more defined as individual characters with every episode since we headed into the second half of this series. The key here is good acting. It’s not like all of these people are well developed, but it still feels you know these people. Well done, Mouretsu.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 6 May 2012 with categories: Mouretsu Pirates

This show is very shrewd. There are some parts that feel so real, especially with the characters. and then it keeps pulling some weird over the top plot twists from out of nowhere. This arc once again ends with a wonderful anti-climax that I did not see coming.

The build-up for this episode was fairly straightforward with the electronic warfare and the spaceship battles. And then the revelation of Jenny’s fiance’s over the top performance as some sort of hitler-like figure felt so out of place that it became hilarious, especially when Chiaki immediately followed it by one of her best performances as a pirate so far.

And at the same time, I also feel like ths is something that the final arc is going to use in some way: the anti-government sentiments. This episode did show that there are quite a few people who are looking to organize some sort of revolution. I can very much imagine the Bentenmaru getting involved in this somehow, and it woud make a very interesting climax. Speaking of which, I do wonder whether the creators also plan an anti-climax like in this episode for the ending of this series. It would be awesome if they did that.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

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