Mouretsu Pirates – 19 Review
Imagine this: Two little sisters who are princesses sitting on a sunny morning in the backyard of their school at a table eating with a fork and knife talking about how fun it is to be a pirate. Yeah, never imagined that to be the kind of thing I would get to see in a series about pirates…
Mouretsu Pirates 19 – Another Important Lesson About Friendship
I wasn’t a big fan of Mouretsu Pirates at the beginning because I thought the show’s concept of piracy was rather stupid and had nothing to do with piracy whatsoever. Then the characters kinda grew on me and I started to like the show a little bit and I expected the show to start getting serious at some point. So far – it didn’t. And now looking back I have to admit that I liked the show best when I was satisfied with it being happy-being-about-nothing. But the show didn’t do a good job of showing what it really wants to be about anyway. Remember that episode in the beginning when Marika’s mother talks about the responsibility that comes with having a big gun in your hands? Jesus, that’s so dark! A dozen episodes later we see a girl from Marika’s school accidentally press the fire-button on the Bentenmaru and everyone laughs about it like it’s funny or something. Where was the responsibility in that moment…? Mouretsu Pirates just isn’t the gritty realistic show about pirates in space it might want to be considering these intros we get to listen to in each episode. At times it just may be the closest thing we ever gonna got of seeing “K-ON!… in space!!”.
While repairing the Odette together with the Yacht Club Marika is cleaning up the Bentenmaru alone. While being stressed out tending to both responsibilities she drops her key of the Bentenmaru at some point. As she’s confronted by the old Bentenmaru Crew for not locking up the ship properly but locking down the system using her key she realizes that she lost it. That’s when luckily Gruier turns up and resolves the situation since she managed to find the key after Marika had dropped it. And with that Marika has once again learned another great lesson about friendship or something…
The character-development of the series is also not very rewarding for how cheesy it is. Everything’s turned into a happy party after the conflict is resolved which happens very quickly in contrast to the many soapy slice-of-life-scenes.
Mouretsu Pirates is a laid-back series. And when I say laid-back, I mean being too lazy to tackle anything of consequence. Indeed it’s the strange decision of this show to rush anything action-drama-related but dwell for nearly an entire episode on K-ON!-like antics of girls playing pirates. At the end of my review for the first episode I said: “Mouretsu Pirate’s easygoing conflict-free portrayal of what Space Pirates are supposed to be has a serious lack of drama and action. Indeed the story makes it clear that this all happens after the big explosions and fireworks have calmed down leaving Marika to be a maid and proper student instead of a real plundering pirate. This series has definitely the smell of preaching about decency, I think.” And I think this is the greatest problem of the show: It’s a slice-of-life-show about piracy as a childish carnival.
Sure, there’s a pirate-crew of adults but the show always makes sure to get some too-nice-to-be-real-scenes into an episode and dwell on them as if they’re pure gold in terms of entertainment. They’re not. Like in this episode Gruier and her sister talking about Marika is neither interesting, exciting nor funny. It’s simply K-ON! all over again where the main-focus of the show (in that case music) took the backseat for some banal shit aiming to evoke a simple pleasant emotion. Granted K-ON! was worse in that aspect but this show’s focus on its easygoing parts certainly make it a like-it-or-hate-it-show.
I talked before about this strange dichotomy where the subdued action is explained with some preachy realism at the start of an episode while the slice-of-life reaches ridiculous heights of cheesy naivety. And the focus actually lies more on the former which creates an imbalance in the shows setting where the world of piracy is turned into a colourful playground for girls to have fun with instead of a road of challenges where they learn the harsh lessons of life. And finally even the realistic parts of the show bow its knee in front of the naïve fun as the show doesn’t really punish any of the girls’ antics. In reality it’s turned into a pleasant joke everyone can laugh about without feeling any real consequences. And while in a more action-oriented series this would’ve resulted in a sort-of daredevil-attitude here it’s turned into a colourful party full of giggles and daydreaming. Mouretsu Pirates just isn’t a show about pirates. It’s about girls having fun, it’s about good people winning the day and everyone laughing at the end of the day. Friendship, love, trust, you name it: the series got it all at some point.
For a show which talks about the dangers of space the treatment of flying a space-ship is rather lighthearted. In fact at this point it doesn’t seem like a great feat at all that Marika manages to be a good pirate-captain.
That isn’t to say that Mouretsu Pirates is a bad series (unlike K-ON! which is a bad series, I think). The main-reason for its appeal is the characters which are even though they are far too nice and idealistic in nature to be considered believable but they are enjoyable. I still cringe every time the two princesses appear since it’s just such a silly thing to have princesses be part of a pirate-adventure. Can it get any cheesier than having a girl as pirate-captain accompanied by girl-princesses with the help of their club from an all-girls-school? But what makes it watchable is that the characters aren’t dictated by stereotypes completely. Gruier acts all princess-like and whatnot but it’s not in an exaggerated stilted way but in a far more innocent natural way.
In terms of girls, though, this series does go overboard a bit, I think. I have nothing against series dominated by women but the girls in this series are so heavily idealized that the characters play roles instead of characters. The characters are so trait-based that it feels like someone made a list like “side-chara 1: shy, is good at piloting ships, small”. The writing is rather good, though, so it’s not that jarring to watch but sometimes the series just smacks you with the characterization to the point of being obnoxious. Like in the arc when the Bentenmaru rescued Jenny. Now that was really goddamn cheesy. It also made not one bit of sense considering how easy it was for Jenny to escape. Well, if it’s that easy then why the hell did she wait until she had to dress up for the wedding?! Which woman would think that the best moment to escape would be when you’re wearing a wedding dress? I mean, did it take a band of mean goons to make her realize the kind of shit she’s in? It was all a rather chaotic affair the way she escaped unharmed. And Lynn and Jenny being a pair was simply too much. We never saw them flirting, in fact they still seemed just like close friends without the kissing and cheesy romantic lines. Come on, there are enough series out there describing a pitiful scumbag trying to find love like it’s an audition for Romeo & Juliet. Lesbian love isn’t just girl-friendship with cheesy romance-lines. And the dress-up of Lynn as a prince and Jenny still in her wedding-dress was also cheesy as hell.
But strangely I felt like that arc was the first time where the series actually showed what it really wants to do. That’s Mouretsu Pirates. Remember that theatric intro in the first episode for the history of Marika’s planet? Well, never been important again. Occasionally the series does some worldbuilding but the mood of the episodes goes into the kind of direction where I’m just like ‘Whatever…’ when this stuff comes up. Just take the 19th episode with Marika overworking herself and losing her “keys” for the Bentenmaru. In the end it was a little tale of Marika learning something about herself and friendship. And that’s what Mouretsu Pirates is about: Naïve tales about characters having sappy revelations about themselves and learning something about love, friendship and other nice shit. Making it about pirates was certainly a very misleading plothook for this series.
If I would summarize Mouretsu Pirates so far I would say it’s enjoyable to watch but not entertaining. It’s a quiet series in a slice-of-life-kinda way and it’s also one of those that’s more than the sum of its parts since no part of it is entirely convincing by itself but everything together creates a charming experience. With its sluggish pacing however that also focuses on the most trivial parts of the plot it creates a sense of stillness which isn’t very entertaining to watch on a weekly basis.