Marika’s becoming a lot more comfortable in her role as a pirate captain and starts to take the initiative.
What They Say:
Marika is finally settling in to her role as captain of a pirate ship and earning the respect of her crewmembers. Just when things are looking jaunty, the crew of the Bentenmaru is struck by a mysterious epidemic and Marika has to fight to complete her contracts and keep her Letter of Marque.
If that wasn’t bad enough, pirate ships are being destroyed. Entire ships with their crew and cargo blown into space dust, but who’s responsible? What are they trying to accomplish? More importantly, will the Bentenmaru be docked for good? Will she join the Lusitania in the annals of sailing lore, or will Marika be able to keep vessel and crew together?
Contains episodes 14-26.
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. While the artwork for the first volume didn’t do much for me with its perspective, it works better here as we get the pairing of Marika and Chika together, guns out and their usual uniforms on. It’s a decent action pose with some nice detail to it and it once again blends well with the borders of black and blue with the blue of the case itself. The back cover works a mixture of dark pinks and blacks with some of the eye-catch logo material bringing it all together. Gruier gets to be the character of note here with a cute suited up pose along the upper right 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)
Bodacious Space Pirates had a lot to cover in its first collection as it worked to introduce the basic group of characters and the way that Marika found herself with the potential for becoming a pirate captain of the stars. What made the show really enjoyable was that she didn’t rush into it but rather spent many episodes before she finally ended up making the decision you knew she would. Giving her time to figure out what’s involved in being a pirate with a Letter of Marque definitely made her seem a bit more composed and mature than you might normally get with a lead character in high school, but she fits well with what the crew she would end up is like.
With this collection of thirteen episodes, the series focuses on three different arcs that helps to expand Marika’s role as captain. With her Letter of Marque, she finds something rather surprising out about it right from the start in that if they don’t do any piracy or other missions within thirty days at a time, they’ll lose their license. This makes things a little tight but it keeps the crew moving rather than just screwing around and not earning what the Letter is worth. Unfortunately, Marika has discovered while she was at school for a bit, her crew ended up quarantined because of exposure to an animal they were transporting through a small job. That has the crew holed up on the medical space station for the next few weeks since they have to find a vaccine that works and then they have to see if it actually sticks long enough since they don’t want to release them. Getting the Bentenmaru is something that’s done much, much quicker.
With Marika in a difficult position, we get to see her work through it in her own way, which is first getting to hire ea crew that doesn’t pan out well and then finding one through different means. It may seem kind of cheesy, but I really liked that she got her friends from the yacht club to come and participate in some piracy. The girls all want to help Marika in a big way and they get pretty into it themselves, though the actual boarding mission they go through is rather comical since Mami ends up giving them all cosplay costumes to wear instead of pirate outfits. Because of their experience, it actually works better than one might think and it’s amusing to see that the Bentenmaru crew spends their time panicking while watching secretly from afar as the rookies take on the very customized ship and handle a few missions.
That mission actually leads into the second one which is a lot more interesting in its own way because it brings back Jenny into the show. As it turns out, she’s the daughter of a powerful company that deals in trade in space and they operate in some crafty ways to manipulate who runs what. She’s being sent to marry someone she doesn’t want to in order to bond the company to another politician, but she has her own dreams of running her company that she’s been running on the side after she graduates from Space University. Because the girls are all already out in space on the Bentenmaru, Lynn sets things up so they rescue Jenny and Jenny then hires them. It gets into some politics and intrigue, things that would really be big, huge news with all the reveals, but it also has some great little personal sides, particularly in seeing the positive relationship that exists between Lynn and Jenny, which wasn’t really touched on in the first set though you can read between the lines a little more in a new viewing.
While there’s some good character material in the first two arcs, and hints of larger themes with the second arc, it’s the third arc where we start get the feel that there’s a much larger galaxy out there. While everything is back on track, with some fun material as Marika gets to cleaning the ship before the crew comes back, the big change is that there’s a secretive pirate hunter ship out there that’s starting to become more noticed. It’s through this that was start to learn about the number of pirate fleets out there, the changes over the years and how they typically operate as loners but have a method of coming together in great times of need to do what needs to be done. Within the system, there’s a delicate balance between the government, military and the pirates, but the pirates have a little thing to their advantage with the history they have that allows them to come together like this.
What this arc brings into play is the one element of the series that really left me cold in that the pirate hunter, Quartz Chritie, flies a ship that seemingly defies the laws of physics in space with how things work. Part of what bothers me is that I keep reading too much hard science fiction novels, so when this series that has focused on realism for so long shifts in this way, it just feels unnatural. Admittedly, this isn’t the real focus of the arc and it does give the hunter a huge edge. Where it wants to go is on focusing on the crew and how they deal with it along with all the other pirates out there, but it also brings in some cute hooks that were laid out throughout the series as the thrust of it all is to bring Marika more into the world of pirates and then to show them that there are bigger things going on outside of the system to be aware of as they may be caught up in a much larger war to come.
Admittedly, I struggled at times with this series when I watched the simulcast because of how the arcs are structured. When you get to the end of one, you see how it brought so many things together and what it was trying to do, which in the first half wasn’t quite so clear. Revisiting this half in marathon form over the course of a day, everything comes together in such a smooth and solid way that it really does impress at times. Marika is the kind of lead that I really enjoy and the show has a serious design to it but with the appropriate amount of lightness as well. Everything moves at a pace that’s hugely appealing, mostly stemming from its light novel origins as the structure of books are so very different from manga chapters. And it pays off well here as when you watch the series as a whole, you do see a very good progression of events for Marika as she grows and changes, but also smaller and more subtle changes with the crew and friends. Nobody is the same as when they started, but they’re not radically different either. There’s a lot to like here and plenty of material to mine for further adventures, which will hopefully be coming in the future.
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: March 5th, 2013
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
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.