Bodacious Space Pirates, Anime, Disk 2 (English)

February 17th, 2013

Following on the tail of Disk 1, we reach Disk 2 of Bodacious Space Pirates, on which Marika sets out on her first piracy commission as captain of the Bentenmaru.

The commission starts off lightly, with a request from a Princess of the Serenity household, Gruier, asking the Bentenmaru to track a golden ghost ship, but as the plot progresses, and they confront Serenity battleships, Marika has to face real battles with real consequences for herself and the crew.

The deeper meaning of the Golden Space Ship and the part it plays in Serenity history is presented almost as an afterthought, because this is a space opera and we, like Bentenmaru’s San-Daime, want to see Marika be a cool captain. ^_^

The disk ends on a quiet note, but not really a filler episode, as we’re shown transition in Hakuoh’s Yacht Club and in Ririka’s life, as well as a welcome return to day-to-day life for Marika.

This disk pretty much has it all, adventure, friendship, leadership and other qualities I look for in a story about a “strong female” character.  Bodacious Space Pirates passes what I call the The Friedman Addendum to the Bechdel Test:

Does female character have agency?
Does she have society?
Does she have personality?
Is she merely a female-shaped male hero doing male hero things while being female?

Bodacious Space Pirates passes with flying colors. Marika has agency – she is capable of and given the opportunity to make decisions for herself and others. She has society, the members of the yacht club, and especially her non-space-faring friend, Mami, who wants and needs nothing from her, and who is a very excellent friend.

Marika definitely has personality. We’re shown that and we’re told it. She is quick-witted, hard working, fair, decent, and just evil enough to make a fantastic pirate captain. ^_^

No she does not wear a bodysuit, but the miniskirt would realllllly toe that line except that the anime uses a fair amount of restraint in clothing design and perspective. It’s not that there is no service – the space suits don’t have to be formfitting, for instance, but compared to oh so many other series, the level of service is low.

Available on DVDBlu-Ray or legal online stream for free (region-blocking may apply), Bodacious Space Pirates passes the Bechdel Test, the Friedman Addendum and is a rollicking good yarn. I’m looking forward to the next disks with relish, since I know that, for once, the added “romance” subplot won’t merely be the usual obligatory stuff. ^_^
Ratings:
Art – 7
Character – 9
Story – 9
Yuri – 1…for now
Service – 5Overall – 9

My hypothetical girl child, along with Legend of Korra and kung-fu lessons, gets this series as a present. ^_^

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9 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Should the last question of the Friedman Addendum be answered with a no..? I’m confused on whether it’s a criticism of androcentrism, or of traditional gender roles.

  2. It’s not a criticism of anything, it’s an acknowledgement that many (most) female action stars are merely doing male hero things – last stands, revenge against those who took everything, using large phallic weaponry.

    In this case, the answer is “no”, Marika does not simply function as a female-shaped male hero. In Ghost in the Shell, Motoko does.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, ‘criticism’ was a bad choice; I should probably have used ‘commentary’.

    I see your point, but I don’t agree that things like hyper-violence, an obsession with revenge, or absurd stoicism are (or should be considered) exclusively, or even predominantly, masculine, even though they are often portrayed as such in media.

    Still, those are all pretty boring, overdone tropes which I could really do without, so my point is kinda void.

  4. Not void, just not applicable, since
    “potrayed in the media” is exactly what we’re talking about here. If I reject all the tropes of a genre up front than of course, that genre would fail any test I place it up against. ^_^

    I liked action flicks when I was a kid, as an adult I require more than a 8th-grade male worldview from my media. ^_^

  5. DezoPenguin says:

    I…sort of get it, and am sort of confused. The part that I think that I get is that you don’t want media in which a male lead gets “reskinned” (in the video-game sense) with an external female appearance but no other change. The point is to feature women in media, not men in media.

    What I don’t understand is, which attributes of “heroism” are inherently male to the point of having a female lead feature them is making them a male lead that happens to look female rather than a female lead in forward-thinking media recapturing gender-neutral tropes that have been assigned to society to men (particularly, as you say, that if you label all tropes of a particular genre as “male hero” tropes, then the genre itself fails the test automatically).

    That is, is your point that the action genre as it exists today is somehow inherently rooted in the male perspective regardless of the gender of the lead and that it does inherently fail? And if not, what are the points that would make a female lead in an action movie recognizably a “female hero”?

  6. Watchman says:

    Random observation: the spacesuits in the series seem to be loosely based on the mechanical counterpressure concept (AKA “Space Activity Suit” which is the header you’ll find it under in teh Wiki), which indeed are rather body-hugging.

    Plus I think your average visual designer can be excused for not having much time for the decidedly meh-looking “full-body balloon” jobs real-world astronauts have been thus far stuck with (and not entirely happy about, as the things have serious mobility/flexibility issues)… :P

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