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Bodacious Space Pirates Abyss of Hyperspace Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read

Bodacious Space Pirates Abyss of Hyperspace Blu-ray Front CoverThings aren’t going so well in hyperspace these days.

What They Say:
In Bodacious Space Pirates: Abyss of Hyperspace, it’s not easy being the captain of a space pirate ship. Especially when you’re still in high school and aren’t allowed to do normal pirate-stuff like rob and plunder. However, despite those restrictions, Marika Kato has proven herself worthy of commanding the Bentenmaru. And if staging performances such as pretending to board and pillage space cruise ships doesn’t pay as well as actually stealing stuff… well, at least no one gets hurt, right?

But things take a sinister turn when Marika and her crew are hired to raid the luxury liner Begin The Beguine. Because one of the passengers has a hidden secret and agenda of his own. And it begins with being kidnapped! Suddenly the Bentenmaru and their new “hostage” are being pursued by other warships and the race is on for what could be the biggest prize of all! Batten your hatches and prepare to have your timbers shivered as Marika and her crew set sail for their highest adventure yet in BODACIOUS SPACE PIRATES – THE MOVIE!

The Review:
The audio presentation for this film brings us the original Japanese language track in 5.1 as well as a new English dub that’s also in 5.1, both of which are encoded with the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The film makes good use of the mix as the sound effects and the incidental pieces really take it to the next level. The sounds of the ship work well here in giving it a bit more oomph and impact in a general side but when it goes bigger you definitely feel it and it fits with the film, not overpowering. The score is also solid here with how it comes across with a good warmth and richness that helps to elevate many of the scenes, sometimes with the big swells and other times with the smaller incidental music.

Originally released in 2014, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Animated by Satelite, the film essentially looks like the TV series but with that added quality that takes it up to the next level without losing what it was. The TV series was already a strong looking production so what we get here is cleaner and a bit more vibrant but filled with more detail and a greater fluidity to it overall. The transfer captures the look of the show beautifully with great colors, a lot of pop and vibrancy where it should be – especially with some of the CG scenes – and just a very solid and problem free transfer all around. Fans of the show will like how it looks here and seeing what can be brought out in theatrical form with it.

The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the single disc that this comes with. The cover artwork uses the familiar promotional image for the film with a look at the cast as a whole where they’re all arrayed across it with a few nods towards the hyperspace aspect in the background. The logo works what we had seen before with a solid subtitled added to it but mostly ti just lets the character artwork dominate while not overpowering because it’s not filled with fanservice or too vibrant. The back cover is nicely laid out with a look at the ship along the top with the tagline, a solid summary of the premise that sells it well, and some good sized shots from the show to give you a feel for the design. The discs extras are clearly listed and the technical grid breaks everything down in a clean and easy to figure out way. No show related inserts are included with this release nor is there a reversible cover.

The menu for this release works a fairly basic approach, which isn’t a surprise, as we get a simple split screen design here. The right side breaks out with the cover artwork coming across brighter and more vibrant, which is certainly appealing, while the left half goes for a star filled background that’s lightened up a good bit. It’s here that we get the small widget along the lower left with the navigation itself which goes for simple colors and bars. It may not look like much or feel all that in-theme with the film, but it gets the job done and is without problems when used as the main menu or as the pop-up menu during playback.

The extras are fairly straightforward standard pieces with the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences as well as some of the original Japanese promotional videos.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the successful 2012 TV series that was based on the light novels Moretsu Pirates from Yūichi Sasamoto, the property came back two years later with a theatrical film. It largely brought the same team back with Tatsuo Sato directing once again but also taking on the screenplay duties as it became more of a passion project. I’ve always been a bit hit or miss with Sato but this was a property that fits really well within his wheelhouse and it showed with the end result. The TV series was one of the stronger looking ones of the time that shows all the money right on the screen and the theatrical feature takes it to the next level. That said, the story itself is essentially one more arc that we get in complete form. That’s a good thing as it’s basically more of what we love and not just a re-imagining of the start of the TV series. The downside is that it feels like it lacks some really strong story material, instead being just that, another TV arc.

The film moves things forward in a fun enough way as Marika and the crew of the Bentenmaru are fully on board and working well together, she’s managing her school life right, and there’s a sense of happiness about her that’s been well played from the series itself. Things out in the space lanes are getting a bit problematic, however, as they’ve had several cancellations recently for a range of issues on top of there being hyperspace lanes that are getting closed due to accidents and weirdness going on within them. That has them needing a bit more work but mostly just feeling uncertain about what’s going on. So when they do get a job that they can actually follow through on it’s a whole lot of fun to get to watch them doing their routine and enjoying it just as much as the passengers are. It’s something that I really liked from the show with the whole official pirating angle, the showmanship, and taking a strong role in delivering an experience.

The problem is that the ship that they’re doing this with, which contracted for it, has an unexpected passenger on it with a young man named Kanata. He has a rare Galaxy Pass that lets him go on just about any ship and he’s doing his best to get away from a mysterious group pursuing him. It turns out that he’s the son of the man that discovered how to utilize the hyperspace lanes for superior travel like this and there’s a mystery that can be solved if this group acquires him. That it’s a seeming military group of warships that are behind it adds to the uncertainty of it all – especially when they don’t understand the Letter of Marque that Marika has when she blows them off in an utterly beautiful way – just adds to the mystery in an interesting way. The film digs into it well enough in the final act but that’s not truly the point of things when you get down to it.

Since Marika had interactions of sorts with his father through other dealings, she ends up taking a personal role in making sure that he gets where he’s going and is well taken care of. The film spends some good time with him together with Marika, giving her a chance to come across a bit more mature and older, as well as the two princesses spending some fun time amid it all so that there are some closer to his age than just Marika. The film makes it enjoyable to watch as they all get to know each other and begin to understand what’s going on with him, which is a decently drawn out part that you can surmise based on the usual four episode arc that this really encompasses. So when it shifts to the big action at the end with Chiaki and the crew of the Barbaroosa providing an assist, it hits all the expected notes. But it does it really beautifully because of the detail to the animation and the choreography of both the space battles/flights and the more personal aspects of it all. The film is made by people who aren’t merely competent at what they’re doing here but are very skilled and passionate about it. Not in that kind of outlandish (but highly enjoyable) Gurren Lagann kind of style, but more that as close to reality would be as possible passion. There’s a whole lot of appeal in that which is what drove me to this property to begin with.

In Summary:
Abyss of Hyperspace is a fun little additional tale from the world of Bodacious Space Pirates, one of my favorite shows from the far back 2012 season. Getting to revisit these characters a bit more is a big plus as they’re simply fun and enjoyable to watch as it works a kind of realistic drama within the crew and how they deal with each other while also playing well to the larger themes and threats. This one kind of loses me a bit with the sprawling conspiracy that’s brought into play with the huge interconnected aspect of it, mostly because it just felt forced. The main draw is the cast themselves as well as the beautiful animation and design work for a show that takes place in space with a neat idea with the pirates and more. Fans of the show will definitely enjoy this experience.

Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening and Closing Animations, Japanese Promos

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B0

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: June 17th, 2016
MSRP: $39.98
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 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.

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