Bitchin’ Space Pirates 4 – Man the Battlestation!

We’re finally getting our first space battle next episode, which is pretty cool. Here and there, however, there are rumblings of our good ol’ space piratey show being too slow-paced. I cannot deny the show is setting a deliberate pace; however, I don’t mind so much because I’m digging the way the show is setting up Marika with the tools she needs to be a proper captain. This is her trial before she’s ready to captain a real group of pirates. When I think about that, I can’t help but wonder if that’s part of the problem people perceive with the show’s pacing.

We do often take it for granted that teen protagonists in anime are going to be pretty fuckin’ awesome at whatever the plot requires them to do. It’s one of those silly contrivances we as fans take for granted, because we know a lot of anime is targeting a teenage audience (or younger), so we sweep that aside so that we can better enjoy what we watch. These teen protagonists don’t take a rosy path through their stories. There are often trials they must face, but most often they’re facing these trials when they’ve already assumed the role the story wants them to take. They’re in the middle of the fire, and it’s do-or-die, and you can think up another stupid cliche with which to end this sentence.

The difference with Pirates, though, is that Marika has yet to assume the role of pirate captain; rather, it’s as if she’s auditioning for that role. The way it’s framed in the story, it’s of course inevitable that Marika will be the next captain of the Bettenmaru. She is next in line by blood, and she already possesses some skills that make her stand out to Kane and Misa. Marika’s skills are unrefined, though, and that’s a big part of what I’m liking about the development of the series so far. She’s being given an opportunity to hone and focus her skills and grow into someone who could be a good captain before she assumes the position. There will still be growing pains (I doubt she’ll command the respect of her crew from the start), but Marika will at least be prepared beforehand.

Maybe I’m omitting obvious examples from my mind (it wouldn’t be the first time my awful memory has failed me, as you faithful readers often point out!), but off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything else that’s allowed for such a slow burn for the protagonist to develop the skills to be kickass and awesome without relegating it to a montage or something. I don’t want to say the show is treating this “realistically”, because it’s friggin’ space pirates, after all, but I do think there is genuine thought put into how the story and characters have developed thus far.

I just can’t look at how the story has developed and think it’s gone that way because the creators have nothing to tell. Marika’s chemistry with Chiaki and the way her skills are slowly but surely coming to the forefront are telling plenty.

I like the development of Marika’s fellow students knowing about her connection to the Bettenmaru; would have been pretty silly to try to keep it silly and then have to come up with some lame explanation for Marika’s sudden disappearance from class. I wondered last week what would become of Marika’s classmates once she ascends to captainhood, and this has me more curious, since everyone seems to be proving themselves capable of keeping a ship running smoothly. Perhaps they’re simply Marika’s test crew, there to show that she is capable of leading a group of people to glory among the stars.

10 Responses to “Bitchin’ Space Pirates 4 – Man the Battlestation!”

  1. or simpler yet, the rest of the yacht club become part of the crew. they seem ragtag enough, with their own supposed shoddy histories and all. because they are all schoolgirls, it’ll be hard to discern them from each other as individuals. crews are best depicted as diverse, and outside of the main characters, I’m not particularly interested in getting to know the rest of the club like I would the Soyokaze

    • Hm, maybe. I think the writers would have to pull some trickery to make that work without making it seem silly (in a bad way).

  2. I seem to remember something like Marika’s slow-burn development with Chagum in Moribito, but that may have been like a montage or timeskip.

    • There was definitely a slower sort of development with Chagum — he starts out as a bratty but smart kid, and he definitely has some skills (such as in the gambling episode). He has things to learn, though, especially about interacting with people and being street smart in general.

  3. Tiboreau Lee Says:

    Nice post, Shin, totally agree w\ you. I also feel that the pace & Marika’s character development creates a more immersive experience–it gives the viewer, or at least Tiboreau, a chance to really sink into the series, get to know its world & characters. I just wish that I this immersion wasn’t rationed to one episode a week, but there’s little one can do about that except be patient. . . .

    • That’s definitely something to take into account, as well. I remember some folks (including myself) were irked by the initially slow pace of Shiki, but folks who dove into the show after the fact didn’t have problems at all. Seven days is a lot of time to absorb single episodes, so it’s definitely easier to stretch the individual content of a single episode thin than viewing it as a full tapestry if one were marathon a series.

  4. Kane and Misa seem pretty interested in the members of the Space Yacht Club, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of them join the pirate crew, especially if there’s a mutiny or something soon after Marika assumes command. Or perhaps Marika and her crew go out to rescue the schoolgirls after their other pirates attempt to steal the legendary pirate vessel they use for club activities. It’s really difficult at this point to figure out what role they’ll play when we’re still in the introduction phase of Bitchin’ Space Pirates but it’s quite clear, from their numerous appearances and dominating presence, that they’ll be significant to the anime beyond these initial episodes.

    Also, I’m glad to see you dictate your thoughts on why you’re enjoying Bitchin’ Space Pirates so far. Usually opinions that I’ve read are limited to either “pacing issues” or “boring” or something simple without any reason explaining why they feel that way. You explain what it is about Marika’s developments you like and why you’re okay with the current pace of the anime. Gotta say it’s nice to see someone out there enjoy this style of character development rather than have Marika possess all these qualities while still a ‘normal’ high school student. Great post all around.

  5. Yeah some may complain about the pacing that is a given with most 26 episode anime, but you are right Marika has a lot to learn still before she can throw on the pirate hat and kick some ass as the captain…If Marika became the captain with the first or second episode like yes ill be a captain…I don’t think it would be as interesting.

    But a lot of shounen shows are like that as in Bleach, Ichigo didn’t become all bad ass with the first episode…well he gained his powers but still before he got all his super moves it took weeks and weeks until he mastered them.

    Bitchin space pirates for the win! I liked this episode preparing for battle…hooray!

  6. In my opinion, the reason why people are complaining about the pacing is because of the perceived expectations of this show based solely on the show’s title. If I recall correctly, I read somewhere that the director said that this anime is about Marika BECOMING a space pirate, and not BEING a space pirate. Most of the story will be about her growing up and friendships and such, with the occasional ship fight or so.

    Therein lies the problem with people’s perceptions of this show, in that they fully expected full-blown pirate action just from the words Bodacious and Pirates. I’ve learned not to take names of anime at face value and as such I’m enjoying the pacing of what the show is ACTUALLY about.

  7. I think Crest/Banner of the Stars is a good example. Lafiel doesn’t get her first command until the start of the second season (that is Banner I), and Jin isn’t even qualified to serve drinks in the first season (Crest).

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