The Wandering Witch Salutes Bodacious Space Pirates

Posted on Sep 26 2018

Welcome, all, again. As what I consider to be a lackluster viewing season finally winds down, I am eagerly–desperately–hoping for better things to come. Meanwhile, I have used this time to revisit a number of past favorites, including the subject of today’s discussion, 2012’s Bodacious Space Pirates. Why the blank stares? True, this series might seem an unusual choice for me to review, but I’m actually quite the fan of solid adventure stories set against the vastness and mystery of space–shows such as: Cowboy Bebop; Trigun; and Gartantia on the Verdurous Planet. This particular tale is a girl’s rambunctious coming-of-age story, set in the far reaches of space and replete with action, adventure, swashbuckling, and schoolwork. . .and I’m still seeing blank stares. Is it that the word “bodacious” in the title has you flustered, convinced that you’re about to watch a gaggle of nubile young beauties just barely miniskirt around censorship for hentai? That might seem a sadly valid concern, given some of the recent programming offered on otherwise respectable streaming sites. . .but, no. Are there attractive young women? Yes. Much more attractive–even seductive–mature women? Oh, yes! And yuri? In small, well-controlled doses. But for right now, forget all that. Because this is a well-crafted and entertaining story, fecklessly fearsome and fun!

Our protagonist is Marika Kato, a high school student who lives on the planet Sea of the Morningstar with her single mother, Ririka (whom she usually calls by name). Marika gets good grades, actively participates in her school club (the Space Yacht Club), and works part-time as a waitress. Ririka works as an air traffic controller at the local spaceport, and they seem to lead quiet, comfortable lives. Even Marika’s best friend Mami, although excitable by nature, tends to emphasize quietude and dependability; she is a member of the school’s Knitting Club and works alongside Marika at the Lamp Cafe. In short, Marika has things pretty well in hand. And things might have stayed that way, too, but for the demise of her father, a figure whose absence in Marika’s life seemed complete. In death, he suddenly looms large. Two members of Gonzaemon Kato’s crew deliver the news of his death to Ririka and Marika, but Marika has a lot to absorb–starting with the fact that her father was the captain of a pirate ship, the Bentenmaru. Turns out that a number of such ships still exist, relics of a long-ago war for independence that several colonized planets waged against the Stellar Alliance Colony Federation. In the midst of that war, forces representing a much more powerful Galactic Empire arrived and absorbed both factions, but allowed the privateer ships which had been employed by the rebel planets to continue operating under their letters of marque, agreements which contracted them to the issuing government. Allowing localized self-rule, the Galactic Empire viewed these letters of marque basically as business charters and established policies governing their continuance.

And these policies necessitate Marika’s involvement: as Gonzaemon Kato’s heir, only she can lawfully inherit and captain his ship. With war long past and so too their privateer duties, these ships now engage in a variety of occupations to generate income and remain solvent: transport of (often dangerous) cargo; VIP protection; even staged raids on passenger liners, orchestrated by third parties representing both the pirates and the liner companies. (The liner companies hire the pirates to raid their ships, giving their passengers a more exciting travel experience. The pirates receive a negotiated payment and additionally keep the valuables stolen from their “victims,” who are in their turn reimbursed by the liner companies’ insurance.) The crew of the Bentenmaru need Marika as captain, or else they’re unemployed and homeless. Marika’s just not sure that she wants all this sudden responsibility, especially with its inherent dangers and time constraints. It’s bad enough that there’s so much to learn about captaining a pirate ship, but worse that she has so little time to learn it! Because each such ship must commit an officially recognized act of piracy within a specific time frame or lose its letter of marque and right to operate. What’s a girl to do?

Luckily for Marika–and her father’s crew–help is close at hand! Ririka wasn’t just Gonzaemon’s wife, but also his second-in-command, and only chose a new life because of her pregnancy. And then there’s Chiaki Kurihara, daughter and heir to the Barbaroosa‘s captain, and Marika’s own age. She frequently joins Marika’s captain-training regimen and quickly becomes a trusted friend, supporting Marika in space while Mami mans the homefront. And don’t forget the Space Yacht Club, who rally around their newly celebrity member. Marika’s life might have suddenly and irrevocably changed, but friends old and new mean to let her live it her way!

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