Hello everybody, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today we’ll be returning to Marika’s journey through the stars, as she continues to adjust to life as the legal captain of the Bentenmaru. Last episode was fully dedicated to speeding us through this transition, and actually accelerated the show’s pacing considerably, relative to its methodical first act. We sped through the legal portion of the procedure, and moved swiftly into her training on board, culminating in her successfully leading her first boarding operation.
That climax, framed more as a theater performance than a heist, left me with a number of questions about the nature of piracy in this universe. Pirates were initially offered Letters of Marque due to being conscripted as mercenaries in a local war; but after all the planets in this sector were swept up into the Galactic Empire, their role seems to have shifted more to something like “preserving local heritage,” taking advantage of the Empire’s decision to respect local rules of governance. In light of that, I’m not really sure who the pirates are working “for” at this point, and their cultural role seems to mostly be a kind of local flavor, a performance you enjoy because you know every single thing on a cruise ship is heavily insured. That’s an interesting role to play, but I’d be the first to admit that my understanding of the overall politics of this situation is still pretty tenuous, and I’m eager to learn more about Marika’s strange world. Without further ado, let’s get right on that, and check out a new episode of Bodacious Space Pirates!
Oh my god, this pneumatic tube Marika slides down is hilarious. I still don’t understand how Bodacious Space Pirates is able to so effortlessly balance between hard scifi conflicts and slice of life farce
I also appreciate the narrator acting as a sort of Greek Chorus here, cheering Marika on as she embarks on her great voyage
It appears that Marika is now quite confident interacting with her new crew, with last episode’s finale serving as her victorious integration into the team. Episodic narratives are kind of funny like that – you can actually use the “space between episodes” to dramatic effect, treating them as sort of narrative paragraph breaks. Audiences are willing to assume a greater degree of narrative or temporal progression between episodes than between scenes, so you can take one step towards resolving a situation at the end of an episode, and by the next episode ask the audience to assume the issue has been fully resolved
Of course, the opposite case is also true – episode breaks can create unwanted dramatic breathing room during a larger, multi-episode conflict, which sometimes necessitates breaking such conflicts into discrete acts with their own arcs of rising tension
This show’s ship designs continue to impress
Marika shouting “yabai yabai yabai” as a bunch of missiles fly past her doesn’t actually enhance the urgency of the situation, but it’s pretty funny
Gorgeous shots throughout. Lighting up the starry background with a greenish nebula in the distance allows for a vibrant contrast with Marika’s yellow pursuers
Apparently Marika is still attending school while serving as the Bentenmaru’s captain? You’d figure she could get a leave of absence for professional piracy, but I suppose “I’m going off to be a pirate queen” is not the sort of internship her teachers would necessarily support
Ooh, I like this. The show actually understands the improbability of this situation, and her officers frankly suggest she might want to consider dropping out, but Marika is determined to graduate. They managed to simultaneously ground this farcical conflict, and also strongly imply that for Marika, finished school is one way she can still assert her own identity
Misa just casually cracking a beer in the nurse’s office
Kane and Misa essentially offering an argument between the two sides of Marika here – Kane defending “Marika as high school student,” Misa arguing from the position of “Marika as pirate captain”
Oh my god, why the heck is Marika still working at the maid cafe. I mean, I know why she’s working – it’s another way to retain her sense of normalcy. But how does she find the time!?
I think I’m starting to guess the shape of our next narrative twists. If Marika is unwilling to give up on her high school life, then perhaps we can bring her high school life on board the Bentenmaru
Mami instantly dismantles Chiaki’s cool, calculating affectation. “Spock as a high school girl” continues to be a truly inspired idea
Hm, so pirates actually get jobs from clients, and they’ve just received a rush order to hit another luxury cruiser. I swear I will figure out how piracy works before I reach the end of this series
Mami and Chiaki end up taking a walk together, where Mami reveals how hard Marika works. A useful way to convey this information – Marika would never admit how hard she works herself, but given her personality and how frequently she makes things look effortless, it would be easy to assume she’s an unserious person who’s just gotten lucky in the past. Chiaki herself has repeatedly made that mistake, and judged Marika for her lighthearted attitude – “don’t judge others for their looks, anyone can accomplish anything” is clearly one of the themes of the series, and baked directly into the relationship between the two leads
“In space, you’re taking over my place.” Mami seems to have both Marika and Chiaki pretty much figured out. She’s emotionally perceptive enough that it doesn’t surprise me the show only uses her sparingly
The show continues to use the Bentenmaru’s wacky design to great comedic effect
It appears that Kane is their usual helmsman, and Misa the navigator
Aha! Alright, so it’s the cruise liner itself that commissions a pirate attack, in order to give their customers an exciting performance. Alright, now it all makes sense – modern pirates are essentially freelance entertainers, though their profession demands they also be genuinely adept at digital warfare, space combat, and hostage situations
Now I’m interested in seeing how the show introduces larger stakes, considering their usual jobs are actually just stage performances. Presumably they’ll be tackling some trickier assignments after this
This also goes a long way towards explaining their outlandish outfits, considering they’re literally over-the-top pirate costumes
“They ignored our surrender demand? Why does everyone love firing their guns so much?” This universe kinda reminds me of The Culture, a post-scarcity interstellar society envisioned by Iain M. Banks, where the lack of any actual conflicts has essentially turned the pursuit of diversion into one of the greater undertakings of society. His books are quite good, incidentally, but I’d start with “The Player of Games,” rather than the actual (much weaker) first entry in the series
“I sent them by space post earlier.” SPACE POST
The shift between “talking to her father” Chiaki and “talking to her captain” Chiaki is abrupt and obvious. I could see her stiff personality partially stemming from the fact that those lines have been blurred for all her life
“Let’s finish this up quickly. I have school tomorrow.” Bless this show
They have to skirt an interesting line here – attack their target just enough to force a surrender, but not enough to actually hurt anyone
I like how Marika only puts on her makeup for the actual boarding process. And her makeup is stage makeup – as we see afterwards, she’s put on heavily exaggerated blush and eyeliner, because she needs to make sure her face stands out from a distance when she’s boarding the enemy ship. She is both captain and lead actress in their theater company
Welp, now they’ve got a stowaway. A girl has snuck onboard!
Alright, we’re really in the thick of it now! I’d anticipated a longer period of acclimation into the Bentenmaru’s daily routine, but I’m actually quite happy to see the show moving so efficiently into its new paradigm. As always, Bodacious Space Pirates manages to balance its thorough, grounded approach to worldbuilding and conflict with a confidence that generally avoids direct exposition, and instead lets us acclimate ourselves to the show’s systems through following the characters’ active duties. We’ve also gained a much clearer picture of how piracy works in this world, along with some strong hints regarding how the show will eventually merge the two sides of Marika’s life. Our pirate journey is gaining more momentum each episode, and I’m eager to see where it leads!