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Anime and Manga, Impressions

Bodacious Space Opera: Mouretsu Space Pirates

This will be more like a journal than a traditional review, since I wrote all this while I was doing a marathon viewing coming into Jan 1. Suffice to say that the entries are chock-full of spoilers, minor or otherwise. There’s a general review section at the bottom of the page that’s as spoiler-free as I can managed.

MOURETSU Space Diary: Entry №1

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Ahh it’s so refreshing to have a laid back sci-fi anime that doesn’t focus on showing the boobs and asses of the female characters and other ecchi shenanigans. Bonus point that it doesn’t go too hard-scifi on it, nor too soft-sci fi. Time for a break in this not-so-serious Mouretsu Space Marathon and make some lunch (1320 Dec 31, 2012)

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MOURETSU Space Diary: Entry №2

One of the reasons why I like Mouretsu Space Pirates back when it aired live was the meld of old technology aesthetic with sci-fi elements such as this pocket watch:

I find it fascinating at how it does it; it’s so much easier to have all the gadgets and data bolted or strapped to your forearm through some sort of wrist computer or at least a smartphone-esque communicator but they decided to make use of something that’s rarely used even in our Real Life.

Another aspect that I like about the anime is the authenticity of the science behind, or at least from what this sci-fi lover and aviation engineer is perceiving. Sure there’s some weird physics applied, like how the training space dingy can fly with a design like that (in the anime) or how the space shuttle can just do a vertical takeoff and fly straight away with a bulky, albeit still aerodynamically sound fuselage without a ventral thruster below it, but all in all they are kind of balanced by the somewhat authentic space physics.

As anyone with a basic understanding of physics in space, there’s no air resistance, so the basic science of aerodynamic will not apply in this case. They include thrusters such as shown above for the ships to manouver in space. This is also shown on spacecrafts much smaller than a ship that size. Even up to the docking umbilical bridges they use for boarding action is included with little decelerating thrusters. Small details and attention to authenticity like this is why I love shows that put the effort into it.

At this point in the series, around ep. 6 or so, the complexity, while not really deep in any sense, seem to ramp up a bit into a more serious tone. Sure there’s still the SoL part of the show, but it’s not too much of the focus for the series, and seem to focus on more how the characters develop in lieu of showing more of the universe of the series. This is another trap that I think they are smart enough to avoid, being that they are not focusing on cute girls doing cute pirating, but they take themselves serious enough to warrant believing in the universe. Sure it’s not really true pirating in the sense that most expect, but they still do a decent enough job at bending around the in-show universe to make it convincing.

Also I like the yuri undertone of the series too, so any yuri seekers should also try a bit of the show too, at least for a few episodes, if you’re wary to spend time on a 2-cour series (2 seasons’ worth of episodes, usually numbering up to 20+ episodes). And since this is a mostly-female cast, it should provide ample fodder for more yuri goodness. But if you’re expecting ecchi yuri action then you’d mostly be disappointed, at least up to this point. I don’t foresee it becoming ecchi anytime soon too.

Progress: episode 8.

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MOURETSU Space Diary: Entry №3

The Serenity arc is chock full of sci-fi trope, especially when they finally found and went into the generation ship of the Serenity royal family lineage. A generation ship is itself a concept of space travel, aimed at sustaining generations of population inside its small nation-like interior when travelling from star system to star system in the absence of a faster-than-light travel method. Basically it’s kind of like a space-travelling, one-way Noah’s arc. Of course, directly connecting to the generation ship trope would be the gene banks of various organism such as livestock and humans.

The cities inside the ship

In this arc, they also show a few plausible ways of mobility in zero gravity condition in a near-vacuum atmosphere: using similar concept, I assume, to how the Dyson bladeless fans work.

Story-wise, this arc focuses on the political struggle of the Serenity royal lineage between two sisters: Gruier and Grunhilde. Without going too deep into it up to the point of telling it wholly here, I’ll say that it’s somewhat interesting for me, just because that it expands more about the in-show universe. I like lore like this and the narration of the lore at the start of each episode is something that I like since the beginning of the show’s airing. In this arc, it’s also shown how Marika develops from and aloof and air-headed high-school freshman into a capable captain. There’s still some rough edges here and there, but with the help of her crew, she managed to overcome most problems. The progression feel a bit swift IMO, but it doesn’t felt like it was rushed just to cram this whole arc in a 12-episode season.

The highlight of the arc is of course what they find in the generation ship itself: an artificial womb designed for the continuation of the Serenity lineage. That is to say that the Serenity lineage is custom-built, genetically, to be the perfect ruling family. But, I guess I’ll just stop here for now.

Progress: Episode 12

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MOURETSU Space Diary: Entry №4

Well what I thought as a boring arc seems to be quite entertaining, if a bit facepalm-inducing. So ep. 13 up to 18 is what I’d call the Business Arc, in which the show explains how piracy in their world is more like a commerce business, complete with dealings with insurance companies and clients seeking their pirating services. Also in this arc is the unveiling of Bentenmaru‘s insurance agent, Show. Not only does he have an awesome afro, there’s something to his voice and bearing that makes me like him as a character. The arc, as expected, shows how Marika develops some more to become a quite ruthless businesswoman, not bowing under pressure when the tough decisions need to be made. But as always for an air-head, albeit quite one with a formidably sharp mind ironically, she does need a little bit push for more of her plans to work, and that’s where most of her friends come in.

Larger than life

All in all, I thought that this arc is a little bit weak at the start, but ended up quite entertaining. Oh I almost forgot. I would be remiss not to mention that there’s more yuri romantic action! It’s a given that a show that has a lot of female cast; a casual one that isn’t focused on luring male introverts that only want to see 2D boobs and ass; has romantic yuri relationship(s) that doesn’t need to be ecchi.

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MOURETSU Space Diary: Entry №5

It’s a shame, I think, that I didn’t watch Mouretsu Pirates as it aired, but doing this marathon showed me something else positive about that. The start of the new arc at ep. 19 was kind of too SoL and bland. The yatch club is doing club activities, Marika cleans up the Bentenmaru after the last missions, and there’s a dinghy race held.

Who would’ve thought that dinghy racing is this damn serious to warrant racing in storms

Sounds kind of boring, and it is for the first couple of episodes of the Race Arc. I would think that I can get too bored of it and drop it while it aired LOL. But somehow, just at the point where I thought that I would drop the show, it presented just enough about something else to make me remained hooked to the show. More to their credit, the music used in the anime all worked wonderfully, whether to show how majestic outer space is, or to convey the gravity of the dangers of it.

It’s a shame, again, that I only just finishing this show now. And the next arc looks like it’ll go out in a bang, so to speak.

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MOURETSU Space Diary: Supplementary entry

And out of the blue, a stunning new arc starts for Mouretsu Pirates. WTF is this show so good actually.

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MOURETSU Space Diary: Preliminary Entry

I felt like the last arc just took an exit into WTF Speedway and drove past 200 mph, and enjoying it. I’ll write a closure entry once I get some sleep. Mata ashita.

Started: 1320 Dec 31 2012. Ended: 0408 Jan 1 2013

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MOURETSU Space Diary: Entry №6

Like I alluded in my previous post, the final arc, what I shall call Unification arc, took a turn away from the soft sci fi feel to sci fantasy. I am sad to see this happen, as if the audience is losing interest and needed some bonkers action. The ship to ship combat is kind of mediocre, the plot is hole-ridden and the potential lost from the first episode of this arc. I was quite amazed when some form of super high tech science fantasy warship suddenly emerged into their relatively calm sector, and was also quite intrigued that they needed to band together to defeat this new threat.

Suddenly science fantasy

Bearing in mind that by that point the light feel of soft science fiction that permeated the entirety of the show so far is now gone to me. But then I am reminded that this series isn’t the grim science fiction series that I wanted by saying that they needed to seek for some legendary chef to unite the pirates.

By that point, I am already in my last leg of my marathon, and am pretty tired to say the least. The only thing I can do it just gawp at it and go with the flow. By the time I finished the show at 0408 I am just too tired to voice my disappointment, a disappointment that I set myself mind you. I still think that this is a pretty great space opera anime, and one that’s kind of needed since this genre is not explored well enough, it’s just that my expectation drifted away and was a bit different than what it really was: a casual look into space piracy led by a teenage female captain.


Bodacious Space Opera: Mouretsu Space Pirates

A well-crafted sci fi anime filled with cute girls that’s not doing mundane things. Instead they are shown to be quite capable of piloting and manning spaceships either for cruising in space and soak in the majesty of space, or doing some “pirating” and putting up a show for luxury cruise liners. Kato Marika is shown to develop in a great way, starting from an aloof, care-free teenager just looking to graduate high-school, into becoming one of the better pirate captain there ever was. Plausible science mixed with somewhat plausible science fiction, the CG used to show the ships and aircraft are very well done and well blended with the non-CG part to the point that I’ll say that it’s one of the best use of CG I can remember. Coupled with the great animation quality is the great soundtrack, from imbuing into you the majestic and humbling feeling of the vast expanse of the universe, getting you pumped for battle against all odds, or to accentuate the romance between some of the characters, and even the romance of space travel. Sure there’s a few breather episodes where they do show cute girls doing cute things, but that is IMO the weak points of the series. It doesn’t last long enough, though and will promptly get back into gear into showing how their universe work, their history and the history they are making themselves. I regret to not have followed this show back when it was airing, but in hindsight, maybe I would’ve dropped it regardless if I didn’t marathon the show.

A great package of a sci fi anime, including great star-filled spacescape, finely crafted CG ships, fluid ship to ship combat scenes, and well developed characters, with yuri undertone. One thing I’ll say though is that I wish there’s some sort of prequel spin-off of the war for independence with a bit more grimdark feel into it. This is a mistake on my part in the last arc since I was expecting it to go into a bit more serious tone, what with the first real threat the Tau Ceti star system faced. Either way, looking forward for the movie in Winter 2014 next year.

About fEast91

A foreign student who happens to like manga/anime and headphones.

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