Final Review: Mouretsu Uchuu Kaizoku

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DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless other noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

Mouretsu Uchuu Kaizoku (a.k.a Miniskirt Pirates/Bodacious Space Pirates/Mouretsu Pirates, etc…)  is based on an ongoing light novel. The anime premiered during the Winter 2012 anime season and ran as a 2 cour series. It was simulcasted by CrunchyRoll and acquired by Sentai Filmworks for US distribution. It features Marika Kato, a high school student who’s life suddenly changes when she is asked to become the captain of the famous space pirate ship, Bentenmaru.

The story, to sum up, is pretty much a coming of age development around Marika as she gradually becomes the new captain of the Bentenmaru. At the same time, it focuses on her trying to balance work and life with work being piracy and not her cafe work. The space pirate concept is cool and all and feels a lot like the retro Captain Harlock series. So, what’s the problem? It’s a half-hearted pirate show. If you were watching this series for true space pirates or just pirates in general, you’re probably on the wrong boat. This show is anything but actual piracy. You don’t see actual looting going on or people kept hostage, etc… At the end of the day, it’s pretty much happy goes lucky where very few people get hurt and basically zero die. The show is basically broken up into a number of arcs. Many of which are actually boring despite being filled with Marika fun. I personally enjoyed the Jenny and Lynn shoujo-ai/yuri arc. The final arc against the Grand Cross had a lot of good hype going into it but ended up being a complete flop as the series continues its half-hearted problem of not killing people. It was the first time the series got very close to actual piracy with good space battles too, yet it decided to shoot itself in the foot at the last moment. I will say, however, with the actual light novel being titled “Miniskirt Pirates” I had a completely different image in my head and a very negative one at that. It avoided that pitfall but couldn’t provide a convincing story to accompany it.

Art wise is fine. Backgrounds are nice and detailed along with decent character designs. A few slip ups every now and then but solid all around. Animation wise is generally solid as expected of Satelight. Good C.G. animation as well space-setting animation. In terms of same season animation comparison, Satelight easily tops Aquarion EVOL animation for mecha but I feel it’s at best AKB0048’s animation quality. Outside of mechs though, the quality isn’t so hot. I should also note that there is a lot of recycled animation in this show when it comes to the space fights and there is also a general lack of movement not just in space but in the show as a whole.

OP theme can be considered “fabulous” but pretty much forgettable. ED themes are mixed but generally decent. Nothing particularly outstanding though. Now, if there’s one thing the show excels in, it’s the background music. It sounds a lot like Yuki Kajiura’s retro themes such as from Erementar Gerad (which also happens to involve actual pirates) or Tsubasa Chronicle and quite fitting for the show’s “premise.” Sound effects were mostly “pew pew” noises as far as I remember. Seiyuu wise, Mikako Komatsu did a surprisingly great job as Marika given her experience in the industry (Joey from Heroman and Kotori in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL). The rest of the seiyuus were generally pretty good in this show (e.g. Kana Hanazawa as Chiaki, Haruka Tomatsu as Gruier Serenity, etc…) but the cast was so damn large that a lot of the supporting cast are generally forgettable.

Enjoyment? The entire show is practically a snooze fest. It does have a lot of Marika (and occasionally Chiaki) fun but that alone is not enough to carry the show. The show also makes little “logical” sense making things even more difficult to wrap your head around. Arc transitions are also a bit rough as it was often difficult to tell when the show was actually done with an arc or having an epilogue episode. Coming from Tatsuo Satou, who did Uchuu no Stellvia back in 2003 and one of my favorite Sci-fi titles from the 2000 era, this show is a complete letdown.

Overall, Mouretsu Pirates gave off a lot of hype with its initial episode. Of course, that was easily shattered as the series became boring really fast as well as the lack of piracy. The slowness of Stellvia is definitely in this show but unlike Stellvia, it fails to have a constant attention grabber within the episodes. I really should have expected this coming off of Rinne no Lagrange last season as it happens to be a show Tatsuo supervises. I’d highly recommend Uchuu no Stellvia or even better Crest of the Stars, Martian Successor Nadesico, and Legend of the Galactic Heroes over this if you want (tactical) sci-fi action. Starship Operators is another one. If you want pirates, One Piece is the most obvious choice or even Erementar Gerad. For the best of both worlds, go to Captain Harlock, Space Pirate Mito, or even Outlaw Star. Mouretsu Pirates is unfortunately too tamed for its own good. Good job avoiding the miniskirts, bad job avoiding the actual piracy. Can’t say I look forward to the movie.

Story and Character:

  • Premise (1/1): Initial setup is quite interesting. Good sci-fi space pirate feel.
  • Character Personalities (1/1): Chiaki and Marika are interesting characters to keep viewers engaged.
  • Character Development (2/2): The entire series is character development as it’s a coming of age show about Marika. Everyone else kind of gets shafted though.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (0.5/2): An extremely large cast, most of which appear only every now and then. Only a handful are really “useful.” I should also note that very few names are actually used in this show, making many forgettable.
  • Pacing: (0/1): Sluggish all around with a lack of overall direction.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (0.5/2): Very little aspect makes sense. There’s a lot of terminology being thrown around as well as stuff we don’t physically see (e.g. the electronic warfare)…stuff kind of just happens. “Piracy” acts are dumb.
  • Conclusion (0.5/1): The conclusion had me going for a bit until the series continued its trend of “don’t kill anyone” and “let’s play nice.”
  • Total: 5.5/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (2/2): Nice and very detailed everywhere.
  • Character Designs (1.5/2): A tad rough at times with distorted faces, but generally solid.
  • Fluidity (0.5/2): Lack of general motion. Lots of noticeable recycled animation, especially as the series went on.
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1/2): Cool special effects but boring visuals.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (1/2): Mouretsu Pirates had nice ship designs that I wished some of Satelight’s other series received. Outside of the space setting, their animation isn’t so hot compared to other works, including Aquarion EVOL and AKB0048 this season.
  • Total: 6/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (1.5/3): OP is fabulous but not a good song, EDs are okay.
  • Background Music (2/2): Fantastic.
  • Sound Effects (1/2): Could be better
  • Seiyuu (2/3): Fairly solid. If only the cast were more memorable though or smaller.
  • Total: 6.5/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (1/2): Marika and Chiaki fun (especially Chiaki fun) kept the show going.
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (0/2): Except that arc with Jenny’s and Lynn’s relationship, the rest of the series less the Marika and Chiaki fun is a snooze fest
  • Presentation (1/2): It’s a coming of age show, so I guess it does fine. Transitions could be better as there are a lot of sudden jumps in the timeline.
  • Re-watchable (0/1): This boring and even considering re-watchable? Forget it.
  • Recommendation (0/2): Space pirates is not an unexplored territory and a variety of good shows have made quite a landmark here including Captain Harlock and Outlaw Star. Space Pirate Mito is a lesser known but better than this though.
  • Value (0/1): Tad underrated but not of much value.
  • Total: 2/10

Preliminary Score: 7/10

Final Score: 5/10

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