Monday, August 6, 2012

Anime Review: Bodacious Space Pirates

It figures that the one show I was following that started in the winter was the last one to finish airing in the spring, but with this I am now DONE with all the spring shows and I think I got these all out no more than a month after they finished airing which might be a first. But in any case, the background behind this show was a bit interesting, apparently the show was set to air last summer, was held up because of the 2011 earthquake (not entirely sure how since the show was partially done in France, I believe production company Satelight is actually partially based in France) which meant the show was completely animated before it started airing.  This did also mean however the the show went for an anime original ending, when the very initial production on the show started (I believe in 2008) there were only two or three books in the original light novel series published so from episode 20 onwards everything is brand new. So how did the show hold up, both the adaptation parts and the brand new material?

Bodacious Space Pirates (Moretsu Pirates)

Summary: Marika Kato has lived a fairly normal life up until high school when her father that she's never met dies and she discovers that not only was he a pirate but, according to the Letter of Marque he owned, she's the only one who can legally inherit his ship and continue with the family business. She's hesitant about the idea at first but as time goes by it grows on her and she turns out to have a good mind for strategy and finds the jobs fun.

The Good: Let me make one thing clear up front, this is not an all-action all the time series. It certainly has it's action packed moments but spent as much time showing the characters discussing strategy or showing Marika just talking and being a normal girl with her friends. The show passes the Bechdel Test in nearly, if not, every episode and the girls all feel realistic, especially compared to many teenaged girls in anime. So if you go into the series knowing it's not going to be all pirates all the time and that it's a bit slow paced it's much more enjoyable (especially since all this allowed for Marika to really grow throughout the series which was nice). I was also pleasantly surprised that there was no romantic subplot surrounding her (although two of the other girls did turn out to be a couple which was also a nice surprise, especially since they were actual, fleshed out characters as well). All in all the show was more of a change of pace than I expected and I liked it for that.   

The Bad: The last arc seemed to be hit or miss, most people loved it but I really didn't like it since it suddenly introduced a lot of world building that wasn't hinted at earlier on (understandable because it was anime-original, which also made me worried that it might contradict the canon and that would mean there wouldn't be room for a sequel later on) and the mood just felt a little different from the rest of the series. The pace does lag at times, especially between arcs, and sometimes the plans Marika comes up with are a little weird (climax of the third arc I'm looking at you) although nothing compares to some of the random twists they pulled in that last arc. Again, some people liked that arc more since it was more action packed than the other arcs and, conversely, if you are looking for a show that's mostly action this is the wrong sci-fi series to be watching. 

The Audio: The opening theme for this series is ridiculously catchy (even if the live action music video for it is strange, cheesy isn't a strong enough word for it) and the show switched back and forth between two ending songs. I preferred the first one used which was also rather upbeat and catchy, they were good, action-y songs that matched this action-y series rather well. The show also made some subtle changes to the animation accompanying both songs over time (mostly adding in characters at the start of a new arc) which I thought was a clever touch and I really appreciated the extra effort there.

The Visuals: The anime character designs were changed, rather dramatically for some of the characters (like Princess Serenity, a redhead with a ponytail in the book, and Chiaki who had very different bangs, glasses, and school uniform) and I do prefer the novel's design for some of the character like Marika. Funny enough I do like the design changes made to some of the spaceships (especially the Odette II's design, the novel version just looked a bit silly) and by and large all the designs are interesting and fit in well with everything else in the series. There are some times, especially as the series progresses on, where if you stop at the wrong point the characters look a bit off which normally I'd hope that a show would fix for it's DVD/BR release but, given that the show was finished before it even aired, I don't think that'll be the case.

So, since the show has been licensed by Sentai (and it can be viewed either on their website or on Crunchyroll), do I plan on eventually buying this show? I suppose yes, that last arc really did make me not enjoy the series as much and made me less keen to buy it. But I did enjoy the rest of the show, and I can easily just not watch the last few episodes, so someday I shall try to grab it on sale. Not sure if I'll see the movie that is coming out though, I've seen most fans speculating that it'll be connected to that last arc, but I hope it does well for the series regardless.      

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