Weekend Review – Bodacious Space Pirates

This week I’m taking a look at another anime from last season which has concluded and is available (legally) to anyone who wants to stream it (provided you live in the US) – and one which I would argue merits Hugo Award nomination.

Just look past the totally radical title.

Title: Bodacious Space Pirates

Cast & Crew

Mikako Kamatsu as Marika Kato
Kana Hanazawa as Chiaki Kurihara
Shizuka Ito as Misa Grandwood
Masaya Matsukaze as Kane McDougal & Shane McDougal
Keiji Fujiwara as Hayakume
Yui Horie as Coorie
Kenta Miyake as Schnitzer
Yoshitsugu Matsusaka as San-Daime
Kaoru Mizuhara as Luca
Chiaka Omigawa as Mami Endou
Rina Satou as Jenny Dolittle
Youko Hikasa as Lynn Lambretto
Ai Kayano as Ai Hoshimiya
Haruko Tomatsu as Princess Gruier Serenity
Hisako Kanemoto as Princess Grunhilde Serenity
Yuko Kaida as Ririka Kato

Directed by Tatsuo Sato
Written by Tatsuo Sato, Kentaro Mizuno, Michiko Itou, Shinichi Miyazaki
Animated by Satelight
Based on a series of novels by Yuichi Sasamoto

Available for streaming on Crunchyroll.com (in its entirety),  and on Hulu.com (up to the second-to-last episode)

The Premise

Marika Kato is an ordinary high school student (in the future). She studies hard in school, works part time as a waitress, and is a member of her high school’s (space) yachting club. Then she learns that her father (who she never really knew), was a space pirate, as was her mother. Further, her father has passed away, and she’s inherited his Letter of Marque, making her the captain of the pirate ship Bentenmaru. Can she successfully juggle a career as a space pirate with her studies, and succeed at both?

High Points

With a title like Bodacious Space Pirates, at best you’d think it’s incredibly dopey, and at worst a moe fanservice series. Good news! It’s neither! Yeah, some episodes have more of a focus on girls doing cute things. However, the overwhelming majority of the show is more in line with classic science fiction, and revels in the sense of adventure, excitement, and wonder that space travel can provoke.

Indeed, there’s a moment early on in the series, when Marika goes on her first spacewalk, where she gets that sense of awe and excitement at the power and glory of space. It’s something that, really, I’ve noticed modern science fiction has skipped – the idea that even in worlds where interstellar space travel is a fact of life, that space is still capable of triggering that sense of awe and wonder in people.

Frankly, as now full seasons of a TV series are eligible for a Hugo Award nomination for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, I’ll put forward that this show merits a nomination for that award. To be clear, I don’t expect it to win (not with Game of Thrones Season 2, The Hobbit, and likely The Avengers in the running). However, anime has been under-represented in the Hugos, and I think this is a series that Science Fiction fans as a whole can enjoy and love. It reminds me of everything that got me into SF in the first place.

Low Points

The show has a pretty slow start, and it doesn’t shift into gear until episode 3 or 4, and indeed, I’ve encountered some people – both common on the internet people, as well as reviewers for anime focused sites (such as Tom Pinchuk from Anime Vice), who have unfortunately dismissed the episode by its second or even first episode, which is unfortunate. This is a show that is really worth giving a shot.

Other than that, the members of the Hakuou Academy Yacht Club (with a few exceptions), tend to blur together.

Content Notes

No nudity. No risque shots of underage characters. Any characters who are depicted at any point as being in a swimsuit have perfectly good reasons to be in swimsuits, and said attire isn’t played for titillation. There is a lesbian romantic relationship between two characters, so those who object to that sort of thing may be offended.

The Scores

Originality: This show is adapted from a series of novels, but a couple arcs of the series are new to the series, but are done well without feeling like filler. 5/6

Animation: The animation is excellent. In particular, the CGI in the show is particularly well done – probably some of the best CG in a televised anime in quite some time. 5/6.

Acting: There are some excellent performances here, particularly from the crew of the Bentenmaru. 5/6.

Story: While each of the show’s 3-4 episode arcs are self contained, they each forward the overall narrative of the show very well. 5/6

Emotional Response: The crew of the Bentenmaru are fleshed out fairly well. Several members of tThe Hakuou Acadamy Yacht club tend to blur into the background, though they aren’t annoying. 6/6

Production: This show’s use of CGI is probably some of the best CGI in televised anime (as mentioned under the high point). The ship designs also look great, and the music sounds wonderful. 5/6

Overall: As I said earlier, this show really should get a nomination for the Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form Hugo, and I’ll keep saying that over and over again until the Hugo nominations are closed. 6/6.

In total, Bodacious Space Pirates gets 37/42.

2 replies on “Weekend Review – Bodacious Space Pirates”

  1. If you love space opera, it’s hard to go wrong with this show. People that expect immediate action will likely be disappointed since the entire series is more about the growth of the main character, Marika. Don’t worry though: there are space battles. One of the things that won me over was a realistic approach to electronic warfare. Yes, the science in the show is fairly well thought out. Good science, good animation, good characters. It’s not perfect, but it certainly is entertaining.

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