Bitchin’ Space Pirates 6 – Oh, Those Wacky Pirates!
I enjoyed this episode quite a bit, particularly the first taste of true piracy we’ve witnessed thus far. I especially loved the interesting perspective on piracy in this world that comes via the folks riding the space cruise ship.
The initial set-up of Mouretsu Pirates seems to imply that pirating is somewhat Serious Business. They have official backing from the government, children inherit captaincy from parents, and there’s even electronic warfare. Marika’s decision to become a pirate captain is painted as a serious life decision that will change the course of direction her life takes. However, the piracy in which Marika and her crew engages is decidedly less serious than the tone that precedes it. On Twitter, kadian1364 referred to it as “Disney show-esque pirating”, and that description is right on the money.
This pirate raid is more like a stage show — VR training for pirate captains, if you will. The only people who are scared are those who have never witnessed a pirate raid before; indeed, the remaining passengers are rather excited to be invaded by Real Life Pirates, and all their stolen goods are covered by insurance, anyway, so there’s no real harm done. They even get to witness a Real Life Duel when one of their own (wink wink) bravely stands up to fight the dastardly pirate captain, that devious wench who would shoot an honest man after he has clearly emerged victorious in a one-on-one battle. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a tip jar for the pirates off to the side.
It’s unclear to me whether this is a one-off thing (is this space cruiser a regular stop for trainee pirates?), or if this is the actual state of piracy, and the random battles of electronic warfare between ships are actually the exception rather than the rule. If the latter is the case, then this particular pirate story is an interesting look at the tale that I can’t recall seeing before, except in, say, Black Lagoon (and I don’t think the actual act and look of piracy is emphasized so much as the fact that Rock finds himself in a dark criminal world).
One of my favorite movie genres is the western. Many westerns and your basic pirate tale are similar in that they are romanticized to a significant degree — you have the high adventure on the open seas of pirate stories, and you have hard-working folks taming the harsh land and bringing justice and civilization to the wild in westerns. However, the western and the pirate tale have developed in vastly different ways in the mainstream — at least in America. I find it likely that this is because the western is tied so inextricably to America’s history. When people romanticize the western, they also romanticize America’s westward expansion; and so, too, as artists and people in general became more cynical and critical of our history, so too did filmmakers peek behind the curtain and poke holes in that romantic view of America’s history as viewed through the western.
I bring this up because American history is not so directly tied to the sea in our storytelling, so I haven’t seen it used as often as a lens through which we view culture. It’s usually swashbuckling and high adventure, which, believe me, is not a bad thing at all. But that history is precisely why Mouretsu Pirates‘ view of piracy interests me so. The barrier of entry is bureaucracy, and the actual pirating they do seems more ironic than anything. The crew of the Bettenmaru are truly modern pirates.
So, yes, this episode has me quite curious about the tone and direction of the series from here on out. I wonder what other surprises are in store!