ANIME & MANGA - Review
09:00 - 15th June 2013, by David West

Bodacious Space Pirates - Part 2

Captain Mariko Kato returns for a second helping of lightweight interstellar adventures to wrap up the first season of Bodacious Space Pirates. This time, the crew of Mariko's ship, the Bentenmaru, are all struck down by a nasty cold, so she has to recruit her friends from the Hakuoh Academy Yacht Club as substitutes until everyone is released from quarantine. Can a group of school girls really make the grade as pirates? Spoiler alert - of course they can. Bodacious Space Pirates is not a show loaded with drama and conflict. Nor it is a show that really has anything at all to do with piracy. Mariko and the crew of the Bentenmaru never conduct any actual swashbuckling or plundering cargo from captured vessels. Instead they work as a courier service and as party entertainers for the idle rich. There is little sense of danger in any of the missions that the Bentenmaru undertakes, and the overall impression is that Mariko is essentially a teenage girl enjoying pirate-themed cosplay. So when her friends from school take over the running of the ship, they fit right in. The first few adventures are all fluffier than a baby bunny, and very light on drama. Whenever Mariko is confronted by a potential obstacle, the answer inevitably drops right into her lap. She pops back and forth between the Bentenmaru and school at will, which reinforces the notion that she is just playing at being a pirate in her free time.
There are no male characters of any depth, and most of the Hakuoh Academy Yacht Club members remain little more than background dressing in mini-skirts.

Matters improve considerably in the final five episodes, when the Bentenmaru is confronted by a massively powerful warship of unknown origin that is hunting pirates. The show finally delivers on the potential of its premise, with space battles, subterfuge and a call-to-arms to all the pirate ships in the system to unite against the hostile invader. While this is definitely a major step in the right direction, the script still relies very heavily on contrivance and sheer good luck to hand the solution on a platter to Mariko any time she has a dilemma.

For a series with a science fiction base, dealing as it does with interstellar flight, space colonies and so on, Bodacious Space Pirates is very soft on hard science. The secret behind the dazzling capabilities of the enemy warship is never explained and the script glosses over the way Mariko figures out how to defeat it. Forget reversing the polarity in the electron flow, Mariko simply smiles encouragingly and everything turns out peachy keen.

On the visual side, Bodacious Space Pirates has eye-catching, colourful design work for the spaceships, the characters and their costumes. There are several cute references to other media: an android built by a company called Human Torch, a nod to the WWII superhero, while the insurance company that underwrites the Bentenmaru is named after the daredevil silent movie star Harold Lloyd.

Mariko might be the luckiest girl in the universe, but she is upbeat and always positive, making her an appealing lead. The tone is always feel-good, and Mariko lives in a galaxy where friendship and a positive attitude can take you to the stars. More dramatic conflict would spice up the scripts, but these Space Pirates deliver cheerful fun.
SCORE: 3.5/5
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