One of my favorite subgenres in recent years has to be the space fiction subgenre. From the impressively written space opera RPG Mass Effect, the adventurous space westerns Cowboy Bebop/Outlaw Star to the frighteningly Dead Space, the space fiction genre has never failed to impress me mainly due to how insanely creative these fictional works are.
Bodacious Space Pirates is no different, I would argue that Bodacious Space Pirates may be the most unique fictional work to come out in the Space Fiction genre. Sure it may not be as dark and complex as the majority of its peers, but honestly not all fiction has to be dark and complex to be worthwhile, as long it has a decent sense of originality and a solidly crafted story you can be just as good as the dark and deep animes that I just mentioned. Bodacious Space Pirates is a perfect end product of charm, creatively and originally that adds a tasteful spin to the genre while having a well-written story, characters, and fantastic audiovisuals that stood the test of time 10 years later after its premier in 2012.
The way that Bodacious Space Pirates sets its story is simple yet so satisfying that it immediately hooks you in.
Marika wants to have an original teenage life, a school as well as retain her job at a high-class maid cafe, however, when Marika learns about her deceased as well as other secrets being spread, her established ordinary gets turned upside down where she has to come into terms that she inherited the ship and must be the captain of the Bentenmaru to keep the family pirate legacy in check. At first, she relicenses, but after an encounter with a mysterious transfer studio now pirate daughter who helps her escapes from unwanted attention, she accepts her position as the lead captain of the Bentenmaru, although now she learns to live a double life as both a space pirate and an ordinary school student.
I love this story setup for numerous reasons, but I’m only going to mention a few.
One: It ensures that Marika and the viewers will be entering an entirely different world of space pirates.
Two: It sets up exciting themes and topics that will play a significant role in the story,
Three: It establishes the strong character dynamic of our main two leads that will grow stronger as the story develops.
The world of Bodacious Space Pirates sets up is intriguing to the eye as despite looking like a typical action moe blob show in the likes of Strike Witches and Girls Und Panzer, it has strong attention to detail that makes exploring the mystery of the space universe a lot more engaging.
We learned a lot of things about the space world of the show from pirate culture, space royalty, natural pirating performances to treasuring.
Of course, Bodacious Space Pirates have its fair share of slice-of-life elements where Marika attends her normal school life with her Yacht Club friends, but they either serve as downtime to allow Marika to relax from her pirating life or build up to the next space adventure that she will travel next.
All of this ties up to the excellent and rather impressive writing and pacing of the shoe. It knows of it wanted to be from the very start, it’s well executed and it wasn’t boring in the slightest, I feel part of the world of Bodacious Space Pirates as it’s immersive to the eye and seeing her adapt to pirating life is equally as fun as the stories that the show presented.
The same cannot be said for the movie though aka Bodacious Space Pirates the Movie: Abyss of Hyperspace.
At this point, I started to notice a reoccurring annoying pattern of many animes that I reviewed where great series revolved from mediocre to downright subpar movies that don’t add much to the show aside from being a cash grab and Abyss of Hyperspace joins that list. To begin with, it didn’t feel movie worthy as it would have been a 4 OVA at best and a 3-episode arc of the TV series at worst. This is due to the movie being visually more or less identical with a few notable visual elements. The writing is structured like a typical episode of the show, except with none of the charms as Chika one of the best elements of the TV series is now put on the bench in favour of a half-baked caricature named Kanata Mugen, who felt like a plot device than an actual character the majority of the time. Finally, the plot is a boring convoluted mess that is not worth investing in whatsoever.
Abyss of Hyperspace is just as vapid as the Nadesico movie The Prince of Darkness.
The movie is not worth watching in the slightest.
Without question, the best aspect of Bodacious Space Pirates is the characters. Despite having a large cast to work they were handled very well, each with colourful personalities that manage to bounce off each other perfectly, From the key adult characters of the Bentenmaru characters to Marika’s talented friends from the yacht club.
Marika is no contest the star of the show as well as my favorite component of Bodacious Space Pirates. A cheerful, determined and passionate female lead who’s very easy to root for. I adored the journey that she takes in the show, learning the best and worst qualities of being a pirate, bonding with various characters especially Chiaki as well as simply keeping her ordinary school life in check.
Chiaki is an excellent foil to Marika in every sense of the word as she plays around with Marika’s antics though some of them lead to plenty of Yuri moments between each other in a more tsunderish fashion
She also gets some solid development where she slows opens up to people thanks to Marika’s influence.
The rest of the characters also fair nicely well. From the shocking talented girls from Marika’s Yacht Club to the intriguingly seasoned adult members of the Bentenmaru crew, Bodacious Space Pirates presents a well throughout characters.
The visuals done by Studio Statelight is phenomenal.
The character’s designs are colourful, distinctive and live to the eyes, the background scenery are spectacular, filled with details especially the space backgrounds.
Spaceships in partially are well designed partially the Bentamaru itself, many of them fitting the characters that board on their respective ships, Also the CGI is nicely done, It didn’t look janky nor visually out of place. The animation ranges from solid to excellent with rare animation hiccups.
I would even argue that Bodacious Space Pirates might as well be the best-looking show that studio Satelight has ever done, Barely beating the already visually stunning Muv Luv Alternative Total Eclipse and that show was beautiful.
Sure the latter Symphogear seasons partially G, AXZ and XV may have better animation, but I feel like Bodacious Space Pirates has the atmosphere edgy compared to the action-heavy Symphogear.
Music was composed by the popular group Elements Garden (more specially Noriyasu Agematsu) the same group that composed the soundtracks for Uto no Prince Sama, Symphogear, Bang Dream, Yamada’s First Time and That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime.
Despite being one of their earlier soundtracks compared to the shows that I reviewed in the past (Symphogear and That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime), they still produced a remarkable space, adventurous and slice-of-life soundtrack. Perfectly fits the tone and setting of the series.
Both the opening and ending themes (yes there were only one opening and ending theme in the series) are amazing catchy Jpop songs that complement the space sci-fi tone of the show. They are some of my favorite anime openings and ending themes I’ve ever listened to.
Sentai Filmworks English Dub is decent but could have been better. Luci Christain’s Marika was the main highlight of the dub as she perfectly captures the hardworking and cheerful young high school pirate.
The other performances range from solid to having much more to be desired.
Regardless it’s still a solid Sentai offering that is way better than the majority of the dubs that have been produced around that time.
Of course, there’s the original Japanese audio if you prefer consistent voice acting.
All and all Bodacious Space Pirates is fanastic series that should be watched by any fan who’s into space sci-fi anime. From its high-risk, yet well-executed storytelling, a tasteful balance of exciting sci-fi action alongside wholesome slice-of-life elements. Fantastic main lead in Marika and an equally interesting sidekick/best friend Chiaki, the memorable side characters’ especially Ririka, Misa and
Amazing production values and music.
It’s a near-perfect package that is worth anyone’s time.
Finally, I would like to say this.