When Mariko finds out that she’s a pirate captain’s daughter, he chance to take to space in a big way is realized.
What They Say:
Most families have a skeleton or two in the closet, but Marika is understandably shocked to learn that what her family has been hiding is a skull and crossbones! While the revelation that her late father was a space pirate would have been earthshaking enough for most teenage girls, discovering that he was the captain of the notorious pirate ship Benten Maru will change Marika’s life forever. You see, pirating is a family business, and she’s just inherited the position of captain – and her father’s former crew is quite intent on making sure Marika accepts the job!
What’s a girl to do? Well, if you’re a high school student whose prior total naval experience has been working at the space yacht club, there’s really only one moral dilemma that has to be resolved: are pirates allowed to wear really short mini-skirts?
Contains episodes 1-13.
The audio presentation for this release is quite good as it presents the original Japanese language and the new English language adaptation presented in stereo using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The series is pretty much a big dialogue driven piece with an array of characters, but it works the forward soundstage very well because of the zero-g aspect in many scenes as well as all the technical aspects of the ships and the science fiction side of it. The series has a pretty specific pace to it so it moves at a good pace but never feels rushed, and a lot of that is conveyed through the dialogue. It carries through well here with a clean, fresh and engaging feeling to it and with great placement at times and a real sense of self, and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2012, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. This set brings us thirteen episodes across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second. The series has a really strong look and design to it where it feels like no expense was spared with the richness of the animation and the overall vibrancy of it. The transfer for it here really does sell the whole show in a new light compared to the simulcasts I had seen as everything comes across as bolder, more vibrant and far more engaging. There’s a whole lot of detail to be had here and the animation movies very smoothly while also adding in that the CG animation is one of those types that really does blend well and never really feels out of place with it all. The transfer captures all of this beautifully and it’s something that the show really needed to achieve what it needs to.
Presented in a standard sized Blu-ray case, the two discs are kept against the interior walls with no hinges used. The front cover artwork does an interesting blend of colors as it gives us a starry border that blends well into the blue of the case itself so that it’s not quite so striking. Within the border we get a light to dark progression of pink shades that manages to work better than I expected. The logo along the top uses similar colors and we get a cute if awkward shot of Marika looking upward in her pirate costume. Because of the angle, it looks pretty superdeformed where her head is so huge and we get a tiny body below, including stubby legs. The back cover works a mixture of dark pinks and blacks with some of the eye-catch logo material bringing it all together. Chiaki gets a cute shot here similar to Marika on the front while we also get a decent summary of the concept of the show. Add in a few shots from the show and there’s some decent color here. The production credits are easier to read than I imagined and we get a good technical grid that lays everything out clearly so you know what’s going on with the release. No insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is pretty nice overall as it uses the colors similar to the cover in a way that works well while also making sure the science fiction side is pretty strong as well. The left side features a rundown navigation that doubles as the pop-up menu where we get the episode numbers and titles together with a mixture of pink, white and purple that works well together. The majority of the screen is given over to the static artwork that has Marika in her pirate uniform on the first disc and Chiaki on the second, both of which are set against a really beautiful look at the stars and deep space. The layout is very easy to navigate and everything works smoothly as it defaults to the English language track with sign/song subtitles.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on a series of light novels by Yuichi Sasamoto, Bodacious Space Pirates is a twenty-six episode series animated by Satelight. The series was simulcast during its original run and it was one that I enjoyed a good deal as it dealt in a far future time with an interesting twist on pirates of the stars while also blending in some familiar schoolgirl themes as well in a way that didn’t feel unnatural. Science fiction shows aren’t exactly as common as they used to be and when they do come around, it’s hard to find one that feels like it has some really good grounding to it. Bodacious Space Pirates, awful name and all, really does hit some very sweet spots while still being as accessible as it can be to the current crop of fans.
The series takes place in some far flung future (where there are still lots of very familiar things) where there’s now a Galactic Empire, lots of systems within it that are given their self governance, and plenty of other larger political aspects out there. The show brings us into contact early on with the planet Sea of the Morningstar, a world that fought its own case for independence over a hundred years ago and managed to gain some semblance of it after an amusing twist of fate along the way. During that war though, the meager military forces beefed up their capabilities by using mercenary pirates that were given Letters of Marque. Once the war ended, many of them stayed on and gained those Letters which made them legal pirates, which had a whole set of rules come into play that are explored at different times throughout the series.
One of the more interesting rules is that one of the ways to gain a captaincy is through the death of a captain which allows the firstborn child to take it on if they want to. A grace period is enacted in order to let things settle properly, especially since there can be a lot of quirks to things. Such is the case as we’re introduced to Marika Kato, a young woman at an all girls academy where she excels at what she does, including being a part of the (space) yacht club where the members of that group master all things related to flying through space on various craft, including the Odette II that they have as a high end cruiser. Marika’s one of those all around great kids that has her issues but everyone likes. And she works hard at everything, from school to pleasing her mother and getting extra money and experience working at a cafe in the city.
While her life is going pretty well, it takes a pivot when people from the pirate ship Bentenmaru start investigating her as she’s the one that’s been slated to take over the ship due to the passing of its captain, her father, which she had no clue about since her mother had never said anything about him to her. So she has to make the choice about what she wants to do, which becomes the thrust of the first five episodes as so much information comes her ways, new people enter her life and a slew of other forces and factions start to watch her during this grace period to see what she’s going to do. She keeps her cool for pretty much all of it, but there’s just so much uncertainty at times about it and those from the Bentenmaru that insert themselves into her life that she has to roll with a lot of things.
While she gets to deal with all of this, there’s also a big part to this initial arc in which we see her and the new “instructors” from the Bentenmaru head out on the Odette II for a practice cruise. The kids handle everything and we get a good look at the various supporting characters that factor into the show with the way they run the ship and support Marika more and more once they realize her situation. But it’s that flight that’s most illuminating as we get the ship being tailed by some mysterious other ship that’s working a slow dose of electronic warfare on them in order to take them over when the situation works just right. Seeing the innate skills some of them have, and learning that a lot of the kids in the club have some intriguing backgrounds that you wish were expanded upon more, it hints at a larger purpose but mostly just shows the dangers of space and the way that Marika is truly suited to it, something that she doesn’t even realize after all she does.
Once she does decide to take on the role, it goes through some fun as we see her dealing with the legal and business side, the costume side of it where she really has to put on some theatrics for the jobs they do, but also to get her first taste of what it’s like to be contracted to stage a piracy attack on a tourist liner where it becomes something really fun for the passengers to go through, which is all covered through the insurance. It’s an amusing relationship that gets explored in this way and seeing Marika really get into it in a slightly over the top way that’s required is a whole lot of fun. It’s also a good buffer between the two main stories of the first set that we get here as well.
Where the show loses me a bit is in that second half as the crew is out on another job but ends up with a completely different one after a stowaway gets on board. And not just any stowaway as it turns out its Princess Gruier, a young woman (child) from the Serenity kingdom and she’s intent on her own mission based on her past relationship with Marika’s dad. This puts the Bentenmaru in a real pickle since it’s not a sanctioned mission in a way because her kingdom doesn’t know what she’s doing and there are factious elements that almost get her branded as a traitor and puts the whole pirate crew on the run. The show does some good stuff here overall as we see a mysterious Golden Ghost Ship from Serenity that has been on a journey for nearly a thousand years and discover some intriguing little tidbits. But it’s Gruier that kills it for me as it brings us someone even younger into the show and it’s all circumspect for so long that it’s just hard to get into.
Bodacious Space Pirates is one of the more engaging shows of 2012 when it aired and it’s fantastic to see it get a high definition release here with an English language adaptation. The series does some pretty good science fiction here even if some of it is pretty fast and loose with things, but it gets the job done in making it an engaging scenario where even though it deals with high school girls for a bunch of it, it goes beyond that potential trap. With the ability to go about to new areas, meet new people and experience new things, it has a big leg up on most of the competition. The series works two main arcs into its first set and it executes them both pretty well, a character issue or two aside, and it has no issue in setting aside some characters to deal with a new storyline. With its central focus on Marika, the show has a lot to offer and is generally a lot of fun with great execution and solid pacing. Very recommended.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: January 8th, 2013
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.