Hello everyone, and welcome back to the bridge. Everyone strapped in and securely fastened? I’d certainly hope so, considering we’ve been traveling through a perilous nebula for several episodes now, and just came under fire from a squadron of Serenity attack ships. That’s right, we’re returning to Bodacious Space Pirates, as Marika and her crew seek the Golden Ghost Ship of Serenity, at the command of their runaway princess!
Last episode was ultimately all about that runaway princess, as Gruier was forced to truly contend with the reality of this situation. Up until now, her adventure has likely felt more like an exciting field trip than a political ploy; she’s far from home, sure, but still vaguely certain that everything will work out okay. Confronted by hostile Serenity ships, Gruier was forced to confront the truth: she is now a princess in exile, and the ships and symbols which once promised security have all turned against her. Marika did her best to ease Gruier through this realization, but it is a difficult thing to learn that your home is gone. With no choice but to surge onward through the storm, let’s return to the bridge of the Bentenmaru!
As usual, Bodacious Space Pirates uses the helpful partition of the cold open in order to fit in some additional notes and reminders on its detailed worldbuilding. The “Golden Ghost Ship” is actually a colony ship, designed to hold a massive number of passengers in cold sleep as it searches for a habitable destination. This isn’t some simple treasure hunt – there could be thousands or even millions of people still trapped on that ship, marooned forever in a peaceful stasis
I like this new music track they use for building up the tension. The main melody sounds like it’s been played on a simulated xylophone, which isn’t the first instrument I’d think of for a pre-battle theme, but which works perfectly in echoing all the precise tinkering the crew is performing as they suit up
In general, different instruments have different inherent emotional qualities to them, which skillful composers use to amplify the cohesion between aural and visual drama. These qualities are a combination of inherent resonances and ingrained associations; so for example, the gentle, yearning quality of a string instrument being played naturally evokes emotional distress, while the roar of horns can feel both aggressive and triumphant, banking on our common martial associations of aggressive horn fanfare. In this case, the xylophone sounds tense but precise, built on a lifting melody that doesn’t really resolve, creating a sense of feverish movement and anticipation
They’re being pursued by the Queen Serendipity, the flagship of Serenity’s defense forces. It seems Serenity’s current controllers understand the importance of this ship
Marika makes the same deduction: if they sent their flagship here, this must be the crux of their plan
Her ability to stay cool under pressure is absurd. Not a hint of panic, just a frank “well, if we fight them straight-up, we’ll probably die then, huh”
Rather than panicking for her own sake, she actually contrives a reason to get Gruier off the bridge, knowing the decisions she will have to make might upset her employer. She’s so professional it’s almost scary; combined with her casual, upbeat affectation, she seems almost impossible to read
Nice montage of the crew all tying down loose or delicate equipment as they prep for an FTL leap. As usual, Bodacious Space Pirates takes far more care in illustrating these incidental details of space travel than most shows
“Your first job is mastering wearing a spacesuit. Aren’t you boarding the ghost ship?” In contrast with her behavior towards Marika, Risa treats Gruier as a genuine child
Ooh, I like the integration of this traditionally animated black lightning into the storm as they leave FTL. This arc has been doing a very solid compositing job, integrating the background, the CG ship, and animated flourishes like this into a consistently convincing whole
“A gravity source with no accompanying matter is passing through us at half the speed of light.” The scifi drama has eclipsed my ability to parse it, but I’m happy the crew are having a good time
So they’re basically trying to outrun a rip in space itself
I appreciate how when it comes down to actually navigating hostile conditions, the drama shifts entirely to a conversation between the helmsman and engineer. As always, Bodacious Space Pirates favors hard scifi realism whenever possible
Man, these CG storm sequences hold up a lot better than many more recent shows. Props to the digital after-effects and composite teams here; it’s hard to build an effective action scene out of CG in 2021, much less 2012, but here the lightning, explosions, background, and ship all seem well-integrated
Ooh, I also love this purple starscape behind the ghost ship. Their adjacency to a vibrant nebula is facilitating some nice compositions here
Another nice detail – Misa painstakingly hand-cranking the bridge’s door open, since they lost power and most of their automatic functions
Well shit, now the Serenity ships are approaching, with the Bentenmaru still only half-powered
Nice multiplanar reveal of the ghost ship itself, panning back from Gruier to create a sense of depth within the bridge
Ahaha. Coorie gets a message from someone, and actually drags it out of her digital screen in the form of a digital letter. I wonder if she programmed that herself, or if that’s just an assumed feature of digital mail at this point
The sender is “Grunhilde Serenity,” on board the Serendipity
Grunhilde is the eighth princess, Gruier’s younger sister. So rather than a coup from outside the family, this conflict is about a succession dispute?
Grunhilde is in full military uniform, claiming that “a leader must lead her soldiers from the front.” Gruier accuses her of being manipulated, which seems like the most likely situation – if Serenity has been taken over by a hostile force, then of course they’ll use the dependent members of the royal family to provide legitimacy to their coup. Heirs of the old order have a tendency to act briefly enthusiastic about the new order under duress, and then disappear entirely
Yeah, Grunhilde seems genuinely afraid for Gruier here, implying she’s clearly not in control of the Serendipity’s actions
Then, a radar scan comes in from the ghost ship. Not so abandoned after all, apparently
Oh wow. Well, there’s no ambiguity of why it’s called the “golden” ghost ship – its exterior is a vast, glittering golden cylinder, etched with symbols like some ancient temple wall
Coorie is delighted by the ship’s resoundingly old-fashioned code, and immediately sets to work translating it for the bridge. I really appreciate how this show’s hard scifi approach actually facilitates the concept of the Bentenmaru’s bridge as a genuine team, each of whom play a crucial role in every single engagement. Scifi drama has a tendency to simplify this back-and-forth, and for an understandable reason: normally it’s clumsy storytelling to have characters actively delegate all their tasks, rather than just performing those tasks and keeping the drama moving. But for Bodacious Space Pirates, illustrating all the mundane intricacies of managing a ship is one of its central appeals – thus, the bridge crew get to express themselves a bit more, and actively collaborate on their victory
“Hold up, Kane! This isn’t normal docking speed!” “We’re in combat.” It’s also now clear why the crew were so desperate to get Marika up to speed: they genuinely love what they do. Kane loves being a rakish, devil-may-care helmsman, Coorie loves being an incorrigible hacker, etc. They’re on the Bentenmaru because it is precisely where they want to be
Gruier amusingly announces that she’ll take it from here, as if Marika would ever allow that
The bay doors seal behind them, and then the ghost ship promptly begins to re-enter subspace. They are clearly at the mercy of the ghost ship now
And so, our intrepid team has actually done it! Caught between an antagonistic fleet and a collapsing rip in space-time, Marika and her crew successfully threaded the needle, and entered the hold of Serenity’s Golden Ghost Ship. But at this point, it seems like their mission is no longer in their own hands; with the ghost ship not only scanning their ship, but actively trapping them inside, it’s clear that some force actually wants the ship’s secrets discovered. It took quite some time at Space Pirates’ resolutely methodical pace, but we’re at last on board, and ready to stir up some ghosts. Next episode should be terrific!