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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Almost Bodacious Space Pirates

I feel like I need to write this sooner rather than later, but Toonami is coming on in about an hour, so I'm probably going to challenge myself to keep this as concise as possible.

Ha. Ha. Ha. Lol.

Anyway, the next season of anime will start up in just two or so weeks from now, I believe. There's a lot of shows I'm looking forward to. Psycho-pass, with its combination of writer and director, can't help but at least be memorable, Dvorak's 9th would be interesting on pedigree alone, and, of course, Jormungand S2. Not to mention, I hear...interesting...things about Lychee Light Club, and when it comes to anime nowadays, different is almost always at least worth a watch.

But before the next season, I had a bit of a backlog of shows that I started but then neglected to finish from the spring, for various reasons. Specifically, I had yet to finish Bodacious Space Pirates and Kids on the Slope.

Bodacious Space Pirates I hadn't yet finished for a very simple reason: it had lost my interest. When the show started, it started strong. It was obviously a show designed to be a safe bet among otaku, but within that bracket, it was immediately apparent that quite a bit of thought had gone into the world building and the characters. It takes the show several episodes to even get into space, because it's concerned enough with developing the good captain Marika on the ground. Even the stock megane-tundere-whatever girl had some interesting moments that belied a deeper layer. When we did go to space, the mechanics were not at all arbitrary but well developed and well explored in a strategically limited scope.

But then the director's attention shifted to Lagrange, and all of a sudden, it stopped. The characterization stopped, the world building stopped, and the attention to detail stopped. It went from being an interesting take on a decidedly limited concept to an astoundingly mediocre show. It was never bad, and I kept at it for a while - until the end of the first season arc - but it almost never did anything even remotely interesting. It's like the show was in holding pattern, and actually, I suspect that was exactly the case. The director was working two shows, after all.

Eventually, I stopped watching it weekly, and eventually, I was barely watching it monthly. I just wasn't motivated to follow it anymore, and I hadn't dropped it yet only because I heard from people who did keep up with it that the ending picked up quite a bit.

But then just recently, still being on episode 19, I decided to go ahead and finish it. First was an arc about Ai-chan (yes, that's what they actually call her: "love-chan") which was pretty okay. I was wondering where everyone else was coming from, when all of a sudden, we're introduced to the final arc.

Now, let me set this straight. The final arc isn't super awesome. It's only about as good as the first part of the show, and it comes very close to feeling rushed. But it is several other things that the middle was not.

It's engaging, it has the same attention to detail as the start, and it picks up the same thematic thread as the start alluded to but never explored. Honestly, the thematic thread still isn't explored very far or very well, but it's something. The pirates in this show are more similar to the romantic Spanish conception of pirates, as you'd find in El CanciĆ³n del Pirata. These pirates are about freedom in the unknowns of space, with power as a means to that. If that were what the whole show were about, I'd be a happy otaku, but alas.

Since it's still not a particularly masterful show, there's not much I can say about how it achieves what it achieves. The director has a set of preferred camera angles that he uses for different characters in different situations, so the style isn't particularly dynamic. Most of what makes the show work or not work is in dialog and pacing, I think. It knew - at least in the beginning and end - how to take a dramatic breath for the sake of getting us to care about the characters.

But in the end, it's not a terribly good show. It could have been, I wish it were, and other people seem to think it is, but it's really not. Watch the first few episodes. Then, if you progress through the series and find that the high school girl tropes are enough to keep your interest, then it'll probably be a worthwhile series. Otherwise, either drop it, or skip to episode 23.

At least, that's my take on it.
There are individual shots in this show that are cooler than the show as a whole ever was

(Kids on the Slope writeup to come.)


  1. One of the biggest complaints I keep hearing about Bodacious Space Pirates is that they aren't so much pirates as they are privateers. Any validity to that?

    1. This is true, they are technically Bodacious Space Privateers and not pirates, but I'm not sure why that's an actual complaint. I've heard this complaint as well, but I'm still not sure why people find it worth complaining about.

    2. Among many other things. I also hear that the show is just plain boring, with them rarely doing much else other than hanging out. Honestly, the only thing I've seen of the show is the opening, and I really have a bone to pick with that. They managed to get MARTY FRIEDMAN to play guitar behind some of the most grating vocals I've ever heard. What a waste of talent.

    3. Whaaaaat, Marty Friedman was in that? Seriously? He worked with What'sitcalled Clover Z and not like, say, Kalafina? Or even fripside or something? Yeah, the OP is terrible, but the ED isn't half bad, imo.

      I'd have to agree with the assessment that most of it is boring, with the exception of the beginning and end.

  2. I think because pirates fight the man while privateers work for him

    1. In theory, yes, but in this show, they still tend to fight The Man more than they work for him.

      Still, it might have been more interesting of they were outlaws, but eh, that's not what the show was going for.

  3. I hear you i'm just speculating

    1. Ah, sorry. I didn't really think before replying.

  4. ??? oh I didn't take anything to be offensive at all, just having fun trying to see if I can find you a useful hypothesis

  5. Nah, I meant that I didn't realize you were just speculating. I wasn't apologizing because I thought I had insulted you or anything.

    But yeah, that's probably as reasonable a guess as any. Perhaps people felt that it was a purposeful blunting of the show's impact.

  6. "Bodacious Space Pirates" is an awesome title, haha!