I do have to admit that I was put off into watching this show by its name for a long while. I feel like that is the danger of localization names. There is an interesting problem with names like bodacious because it gives people the wrong idea of what this series is like. If you are thinking of something a little well…I guess fanservicey is the right word…then that is wrong. I didn’t even give this show any chance until someone mentioned it was fun. You know what? This show is a lot of fun and it really captures the space pirate spirit in such a unique way that feels unexpected. Encase you are wondering, watching this is why I started watching Space Pirate Captain Harlock during the weekends. I just needed more space pirate in my life for my time with this show ends. Lets dive into the second Tatsuo Sato series for this month.
The universe of Bodacious Space Pirates is pretty cool honestly. The backstory adds so much character presented into all of this here. A cool space war between border worlds and the Stellar Alliance and the border worlds recruiting pirates through the letter of marque to bolster their space forces. The planet called The Sea of Morningstar is one of them. Of course, this ends somewhat peacefully when the Galactic Empire took over both sides and allowed the pirate business to continue. That all took place over one hundred years before this series takes place and it directly affects everything that happens in this show quite a bit. I wish we could get a series of Bodacious Space Pirate’s backstory because it sounds amazing. But that’s ok, because what we got is just as fun.
Could you imagine one day that you figured out you were the decedent of a pirate who passed away and the next of kin, you, are the only person who can be the captain of that ship? That is the life of Marika Kato, a seemingly ordinary high school student as a member of the Space Yacht Club at Hakuho Academy and a maid at the local café. So yeah, her life story changed with this news and eventually she will take the role of captain full time if that is the path she chooses. Well yeah, she will become captain of the Pirate Ship the Bentenmaru with the crew that is waiting for her. So yeah, a lot of her pirate antics are the main story of this show to eventually fighting for the rights of pirates to exist. The cast of this show is the very enigmatic crew of the Bentenmaru and the yacht club too.
It’s a very visually rich show on a lot of levels. I mean clearly there is the standard pirate character design on display versus the usual anime moe girl character designs that somehow work together. I think that might have to do with how the pirate characters are softened up in a way that makes them stand out less in the world presented or because pirates themselves do stand out. Plus, there is a large variety of worlds and locations in the ship or otherwise on display which would make any space opera lover happy. I was. Same with the space scenes and battles. I will just say that Studio Satellite taking the reigns of the next modern Yamato project makes sense because of how good this show still looks in 2022.
I think the characters of this story having enough personality to be defined but still not knowing much about most of them really weights down so many parts of the show. I mean, the cast is huge right? Yeah, the final image of the opening has maybe forty characters and only about nine or ten get any focus. At least until the ending where we learn more about them through some fun moments. The story of Marika Kato isn’t as interesting either because she learns and picks up things so quickly to become the captain of the space ship and taking in what it means to be a pirate with her while also being a high schooler. Maybe there is the discussion of what makes her qualified to be captain, but it doesn’t make her believable. Its pretty clear that Bodacious is way more story driven.
Something that isn’t too bad of a thing considering that the story of Bodacious Space Pirates is really well done. Same with a lot of its world come into play too. There are five different arcs in 25 episodes for this story to really share everything. Two of those focus on the Yacht club from either using their Odette space craft or having them on the Bentenmaru when that crew is sick and they go on space adventures. Then there is the actual pirating when going for treasure that another space fleet is headed after too. Its really exciting stuff that each arc takes the time to explore and detail everything on some very interesting levels. I really like a lot of the way this show just goes about things.
For instance, there is a difference between how Captain Harlock and Bodacious Space Pirates go about things. One Captain Harlock episode is like five episodes in Bodacious Space Pirates and that shows a world of difference in how the two are different. Created by Leiji Matsumoto, Captain Harlock is literally a series that ignores standard space physics and has the Arcadia wave its flag out into the space sea breeze and instantly gets to what the problem of that episode is. Bodacious Space Pirates slowly goes through all the methodology and pirate terms when on an adventure to make it feel a lot more grounded. Everything has an explanation that makes sense in its own universe.
One pirate ship in Bodacious Pirates does the Harlock thing, but there are reasons why that is happening. There is a large use of holograms in the flag flapping in the space sea breeze and emitting the sound of the flag to other ships. That way, the affect of the flag waving in space is created. So that example is the best sort of example to explain the difference between the two series. The Bentenmaru or Oddette or any other ship doesn’t just instantly get somewhere because FTL travel isn’t heavily relied on. Normal space flight is the main way each ship travels. That’s an example of how far this show explores its world and universe. There is a lot of thought behind it that I really like.
Pirating must happen at the rate of each least once a month or they are no longer legal. All of which is stated by the letter marque. An insurance company exists to make sure pirates stay in business. The jobs of pirates of the current world are different. For instance, the Bentenmaru’s main job is having a planned attack of a space liner in which they come in, perform a show, and take valuables. Something which is considered a treat and all the valuables are replaced through the space liner’s own insurance company. Which makes the special cases of Miraka Kato and her crews actually doing pirating in how we see it special because of all the legal red tape in how this system works and I really like it.
So that is why I enjoy Bodacious Space Pirates so much. It could have been a series where a cute girl leads other cute girls into space pirating and just let it at that. The series would be cool enough and capture a lot of imagination of people in a lot of ways. In that case, the author of the source material behind this series knew what he was doing and wanted to create an interesting narrative that also explored space piracy in a modern environment where its not as important at it used to be. Very meta. This show does a lot of leg work in such fascinating ways of asking this question and the answer that we know of is yes. Harlock be proud because this is a great love letter in a way that works. I do think the characters are lacking, but the experience is so good.