Archive for the Bodacious Space Pirates Category


Light Novel: Miniskirt Space Pirates, Volume 7 Souhaku no Dokuroboshi (ミニスカ宇宙海賊7 蒼白の髑髏星 )

October 18th, 2016

minisuka7When we left Captain Marika and the Bentenmaru crew at the end of Volume 6, she had just fought another, formidable, pirate ship to a standstill and forced them to run. In Miniskirt Space Pirates, Souhaku no Dokuroboshi, Volume 7 (ミニスカ宇宙海賊7 蒼白の髑髏星 ) Marika is visited by a representative of the Imperial Government’s Intelligence Division, Nash.

Nash makes Marika an eyebrow-raising offer….would the Bentenmaru like to be part of the Imperial Navy’s war games?  I admit I re-read this bit a few times to make sure I got it right.  War games? Yes, War games. The Navy is about to gear up for their annual war games and this year they want to integrate pirates into the scenario. Marika asks the crew and they are in.

Now that that’s settled, Nash confides to Marika that he’s actually there for two things. Yes, the government wants the Bentenmaru’s participation, but the Intelligence Division needs Marika’s help, as well. Captain Miura Grant of the Chimera of Scylla, the ship fought by the Bentenmaru and her allies, has escaped off to the Pirate’s Guild HQ, the Skull Star. No Imperial agents have ever been able to infiltrate this base. With Marika’s help, Nash wants to finally be able to gather intelligence.

We learn that Nash and Corrie, the Bentenmaru’s electronic warfare specialist, have a history. Nash implies it’s more that just friendship, but I’m inclined to believe Coorie more. She insists on coming along and Gruier demands a place, as Marika has promised  to let her join the crew of the Bentenmaru, or so she says to Lynn, who comes out and  asks to join after graduation. Marika demurs, but I think Lynn’s reasoning is sound. She knows she’ll be working for Jenny eventually, and wants to get some experience first. She could learn a lot from Coorie, so that makes sense all around.

So Gruier, Marika, Coorie and Nash take the Silent Whisper (the prototype cloaked ship Jenny gave to the Bentenmaru) and head off after the Chimera of Scylla. When they catch up, Marika asks Captain Miura Grant to give her entree to the Pirates’ Guild HQ, which is an asteroid that looks like a giant floating skull. Miura agrees. Marika and the gang meet Miura’s older sister Maira, who runs the Queen of Love, a hot pink whorehouse pirate ship.  Maira is taken with Marika and offers her Gruier and Coorie several opportunities for dressup scenes. While Nash defects to to Miura’s ship, Marika takes the opportunity, with help from Maira, to forge a treaty with the Pirate’s Guild. So there, Nash. In your face.

Again, again, again, what I like best about this series is watching Marika being a really excellent Captain. She forges an alliance with the Pirate’s Guild. Hah! How awesome is that!

In the beginning of the novel Ririka asks her whether she’ll continue pirating after graduation and she doesn’t really have an answer. Maybe, probably not? But at the end of this book we want Marika so desperately to be a full-time pirate. She’s so good at it! With Jenny as an industry contact, Princess Gruier Serenity on her crew, she’d be the best pirate captain ever. She already is.

Illustrations have become even more perfunctory than before. This should just be a novel and stop pretending to have pictures.

I read this book in digital format on Bookwalker Global, but it is also available in print.

I’m going to stop pretending that I may or may not read the next book. Obviously, I will.

Ratings:

Overall – 9

I even liked the stupid dress-up scenes this time.

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Light Novel: Miniskirt Pirates, Volume 6 Crimson Pirate Ship ( ミニスカ宇宙海賊6 真紅の海賊船)

September 1st, 2016

MPCPR7Volume 5 of Miniskirt Pirates added a level of complexity to the “Three Ships” arc without resolving it. Jackie Kelvin, aka Jackie Celsius, aka Jackie Fahrenheight, who had been trying to obtain Hakuoh High School Yacht Club’s training ship, the Odette 2 (which has originally been known as the Whitebird and was, in fact, one of the original seven pirate ships from the Galactic war) turns out to have been hired by the Pirate Guild.

In Miniskirt Pirates, Crimson Pirate Ship, Volume 6 ( ミニスカ宇宙海賊6 真紅の海賊船) having fought Jackie to a standstill, the Pirate Guild’s representative, the cuthroat Captain Miura Grant of the Chimera of Scylla, appears and the fight continues. Grant grabs control of the Odette (and it’s star-killing weapon) and runs into hyperspace. The Bentenmaru and Barbarossa give chase, and are joined by several other ships.

The key point of this entire novel is this scene, in which Marika finds herself in command of not only her own two crews (the Bentenmaru’s professional crew and the Odette’s (now under Ririka’s direct command) amateurs, but also being encouraged to lead by Kenjo Kurihara (Chiaki’s father and captain of the Barbarossa) and in indirect control of several other ships, who have joined to help her. Kenjo cheerfully points out to her that Captain Kato Marika is now in control of her own fleet.

Bam.

At that moment, you can feel the shadow of her father, Gozaemon, looming up behind her.

Something else happens at that moment. Gozaemon starts to be mentioned. By name. Not as Marika’s father, or the former captain, but just here and there by name. If you’ve watched the anime, you’ve seen the utterly unsubtle foreshadowing that this echoes.

With the help of the Koukuchou, the Glamorous Ridis, the Death Shadow, and other ships, the Bentenmaru and Barbarossa free the Odette from the clutches of the Pirate Guild. Jackie bails, and Grant retreats.

Back in Volume 5, I said that if this arc doesn’t end in Volume 6, I might not read the next one. But realistically, there’s no chance now that I won’t. I can guess some of what is going to happen and I want to see where it goes.

As I did with Volume 5, I read this novel on Bookwalker Global. Now that I’ve adjusted the type on my Surface to suit my tired eyes, I find reading a page or two digitally every night not insurmountable. As a result, I think I’m moving more quickly though the book than I did in print.

I’m into Volume 7 now and the arc is still ongoing. I already know the climax, but the arc isn’t what’s driving me forward, it is and always has been, the characters. And I really want to know what’s going to happen to them.

Ratings:

Overall – 7

Still a lot of technobabble and space fighting, with a soupçon of electronic warfare and good ole’ reconnaissance and subterfuge. It’s a damn good military/pirate adventure and I can feel the end already.

Ahoy, Volume 7, here I come!

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Light Novel: Miniskirt Pirates, Volume 5 Shirogane Kyuunansen (ミニスカ宇宙海賊 5 白銀の救難船)

October 12th, 2015

MSPSR6When we left off the narrative in Volume 4, the Bentenmaru, Odette 2nd (formerly one of the “original 7” pirate ships of the galactic war, the Whitebird) and the Barbarossa*, captained by Marika, her mother Ririka and Kenjo Kurihara (Chiaki’s Dad) respectively, have teamed up to take on the irritating Jackie Fahrenheit and his plan to takeover the Odette by using the lost “original 7” ship the Blackbird as bait.

In Volume 5 of Miniskirt Pirates, Shirogane Kyuunansen (ミニスカ宇宙海賊 5 白銀の救難船), we learn why. But not for a really long time. The first several hundred pages are what can only be termed “a submarine battle in space.” Yes, the boot finally dropped and this was a novel chock full of military and scifi geekiness, throughout which I missed a good of 53% of what was being said, because I am way too lazy to look up every kanji combination. (This is the reason I want ebooks digitally. It would be so much easier to translate on the fly with digital ebooks.)

So for about 300 of 400+ pages, they maneuver slowly around a red supergiant (coincidentally, a kanji combination I could read, although I have no idea how it’s pronounced) on the verge of going supernova (same), while they shifted positions in 3-dimensional space and put me to sleep every night with brilliant dialogue like “Turning 3 degrees to starboard.”

When we finally learn why Jackie wants the Odette, it’s kind of horrible, really. He has the code for a legendary weapon, the Stellar Slayer, and we don’t have to guess too hard what that does. But it can’t be used without a single piece of critical equipment….that happens to be part of the Odette’s bowsprit. (Bowsprit is the actually word used. I found that interesting.) Jackie’s “client” wants this weapon…and wants to be able to use it.

In order to protect himself, Jackie calls in the Galactic Imperial Navy and the final 100 pages or so are a slow battle with three Galactic warchips, with more turning of three degrees, then two degrees. The final climax comes as, rather unexpectedly, they find that tucked away in an old unused relay station, the Blackbird, a grand heap of junk, with a working transponder, about to be disintegrated in the approaching supernova.

And in the end…it doesn’t end! Argh! I am very ready to see the back end of Jackie, and also find out what’s going to happen, presuming anything does. When (I mean, obviously when) they get the Blackbird, who will captain it? Does Ririka take it over? I hope so.

Back with the crew members, we had a couple of good scenes; Lynn’s computer skills impressed Ririka, and Nora, the Barbarossa’s navigator and Hyakume, the Bentenmaru’s radar and sensor specialist, bond rather cutely on the Silent Whisper.

Volume 6 takes me halfway in the series, but I’m going to have to say that if this arc doesn’t end, I might not read the volume after that. Jackie’s very annoying and I don’t read books about submarine battles for a reason. ^_^; Oh, who am I kidding, I probably will anyway.

Ratings:

Overall – 6

Much more for military and scifi fetistry fanatics than people who follow the characters. I expected it much earlier on, so we’re pretty lucky. There’s almost no service in the book, other than this skanky cover and a bit about Misa’s clothes. The next most servicey thing in the whole book was a detailed comparison of which ship was bigger than the others. Barbarossa wins.

The title translates to “Silver white rescue ship”. As opposed to the black shipwreck of Volume 4. Volume 6 has a red ship in the title.

*Yes, I know they call it the Barabalusa. It still should be the Barbarossa.

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Light Novel: Miniskirt Space Pirates~Shikkoku Nanpasen, Volume 4 (ミニスカ宇宙海賊4 漆黒の難破船)

August 22nd, 2014

mssp4Miniskirt Space Pirates:~ Shikkoku Nanpasen (ミニスカ宇宙海賊4 漆黒の難破船), Volume 4 of the Bodacious Space Pirates series,  is the first novel of the series that did not have an accompanying anime arc – as a result it took me a lot longer to read this volume. ^_^

Volume 4 is also the first volume that engages in a little bit of space pirate otakudom. Instead of the seemingly inevitable long, lingering descriptions of sexy ships (which we’ve never had to endure, in fact) we get snippets of galactic war and the history of the various “original seven” pirate ships  – of which two are Marika’s own Bentenmaru and Chiaki’s Dad’s ship, the Barbarossa*…and the Hakuoh Girls’ Academy Yacht Club training ship, the Odette II.

In fact, back during the galactic wars the Odette had been known as the Whitebird. Although we don’t yet know how Hakuoh got a hold of it (except that former club president Jenny had something to do with it), there it is. Marika’s captaining a second ship, while club president Lynn sits in the seat for Tactical, manning sensors, radar and electronic warfare. During the practice cruise, the Yacht Club receives an SOS from another of the original seven – the Blackbird, which had been lost a long, long time ago, or so we all thought. But there it is, transmitting an SOS.

Marika consults with Chiaki and her father and they come to the conclusion that the signal is a fake – but why? Back at school, the Yacht Club is visited by the most suspicious character ever, a man wearing  a patchwork jacket and who is obviously lying when he says he works for the government as a tax collector, by the name of Jackie Celsius. Celsius is so extremely suspicious that Lynn, when Jackie enters the clubroom during a meeting, only introduces Marika and Gruier by their first names. Jackie proceeds to tell them a whopper about how they owe back taxes on the Odette.  Thankfully, Lynn is cool-headed and doesn’t buy it.  They send Jackie on his way.

This does not stop Jackie from trying Plan B – hacking the Odette’s controls. In order to escape “the hacker” (which they suspect is Jackie, but can’t yet confirm), the Yacht Club sneaks out of the midway station with an incredibly clever ruse. Marika pulls in a favor from the cruise ship The Princess Apricot, and the Odette leaves the dock in it’s shadow. This was a really good scene, full of fun tension.

Once out of the dock, Lynn turns her attention to reversing the hack and finding Jackie. Unfortunately, she’s unable to stop him from escaping her and getting hold of the Odette. Marika, Gruier and Lynn take Jenny’s Silent Whisper protoype and leave the Odette.

From this point on the book is intense and smart and impossible to animate, as almost all the action is talking heads.  ^_^ Damn shame, because it was a great story!

Marika enlists the help of the Bentenmaru, and they track down Jackie – whose “real” name is Jackie Fahrenheit, orz . His ship is cloaked by the gravitation of a red supergiant…and so is what may in fact be the real Blackbird. Gruier takes center stage, as Marika and Lynn work in the background to detach Jackie’s paws from the Odette. Gruier talks to Jackie as Communications Officer, keeping so calm and so cool and not giving herself away, even when he threatens to call the Galactic Police on them.  He gives up the fact that he’s contracting for someone…probably another insurance company, and that his real objective is to get to the Blackbird to acquire whatever weaponry it had.

Lyn wrests control from the odious Jackie and frees the Odette with the help of the Bentenmaru and a last minute ride down the hill from the Barbarossa. But Jackie himself slips out of their grip and disappears.

As the book winds down, Marika is pondering the genuine need to understand the Odette better and master her many secrets. “I wonder if we can find someone who knows about it…” she muses out loud. At which point a voices comes over the comm saying…. “I guess you could say I may or may not be that person…”

As Marika’s head explodes, the voice goes on to clarify, “This is Ririka, formerly captain of the Whitebird.”

Well, if Marika’s mother was the captain of the Whitebird, there’s one more connection between it and the Hakuoh Yacht Club….

Jackie was a loathesome, annoying bad guy – he was perfect. You have to despise him as he’s being super condescending.

Gruier was the real star of the volume, as her diplomacy skills cloaked Lynn’s cracking efforts…and I really cannot wait to begin the next volume! (I have to get through a few other things first though.) Ultimately, it’s the writing that really makes this series crackle. You keep coming up against things that could be handled stereotypically and the characters never do. They rely on their own skills and forge new, very exciting paths.

Ratings:

Art – 6 Meh. They still illustrate all the wrong scenes.
Story- 9 It got off to a slow start, but the last 100 pages, I was staying up way too late at night trying to get through them. ^_^
Characters – 10 The way these young ladies are written is perfect. We know everything about their leadership and decision-making skills, and nothing about the length of their skirts.
Yuri – 0 Except for brief mentions of Jenny, there ain’t nothing. waah( T_T)
Service – 2 Jackie gets a bit creepy. Which works, as he’s supposed to be unlikable. (There’s a subtle hint there, creepy=unlikable. ^_^)

Overall – 8

Captain Ririka! \o/

Skikkoku Nanpasen translates to something like “jet black shipwreck” in case you’re interested.

This novel is available on Kindle for those with Japanese IP addresses.

* Yes, yes, I know the official name is the Barbalusa. It should be the Barbarossa. :-P

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Yuri Light Novel: Miniskirt Space Pirates, Volume 3 Cosplay Minarai Kaizoku (ミニスカ宇宙海賊 3 コスプレ見習海賊)

August 11th, 2013

MPV3The Light Novel Miniskirt Space Pirates, Volume 3 Cosplay Minarai Kaizoku  (ミニスカ宇宙海賊 3 コスプレ見習海賊) may have been even more enjoyable than the two arcs it covers in the anime. It’s a very close race, at the very least.

If you’re reading Okazu, then this was the novel you were waiting for. Are Jenny and Lynn as overtly a couple in the book as they were in the anime? I won’t keep you waiting. Yes, they are. ^_^ Having established this important fact, we can now look at the plot, which is once again similar to the anime.

The professional crew of the Bentenmaru have come down with an influenza-like disease carried by improperly shipped cat-monkeys. This would be merely an inconvenience, but the Bentenmaru’s Letter of Marque can only be maintained if the ship is properly hired to conduct piracy within a certain period of time. The crew is quarantined for a month, but the ship needs to do something within the next two weeks. Marika and Gruier take to the pirate’s hangouts to find a replacement crew (where they meet Chiaki’s dad, Captain of the Barbarossa*) only to find the perfect crew waiting for them at home in the form of the Hakuoh Academy Yacht Club. The girls jump right in and the adventure begins.

The first hurdle is the boarding and robbery of the cruise ship the Princess Apricot. This ship is a repeat customer, so things go relatively smoothly. And the cute girl pirates in cosplay goes over well – they are asked back almost immediately.

Having assured the Letter of Marque will be renewed, Lynn hires the Bentenmaru to rescue Jenny from an unwanted marriage. Jenny, of course, needs no rescuing, but arrives on her own, with a stolen vehicle. She and Lynn are reunited – with a kiss, in front of the crew. Jenny hires the Bentenmaru to safely escort her to Space University after negotiating a contract with the Bentenmaru’s agency.  Their agent Sho explains to the pro crew (as they reset settings altered, customized and hacked by the apprentice pirates) that the new crew acquitted themselves well on all three jobs.

Looking back, I’m really torn, now, to say which was better. Jenny and Lynn’s story gets more detail in the anime – all to the good, as we see them win the situation by making good decisions and using their brains. Also Jenny is set up as a business leader who will clearly own the universe soon enough. Also, I like the anime addition of Mami’s interest in clothing design as an excuse for the cosplay. (Mami was an important addition – she provides “Marika the school girl” with society, before she becomes “Captain Marika”. Mami remains her friend and supporter throughout.)

The novel has the cosplay scene pared down, but it sets up (and really, can only have existed to set up) Lynn wearing a knight’s costume to Jenny’s wedding dress. For once, there are extended scenes about the repair, navigation, piloting and equipment aboard the space ships – and I had to smile, because my Dad is an old-school sci-fi fan. Most of what I read as a kid was books that were 300 pages of that kind of ship fetishtry, with 20 pages of plot thrown in. ^_^

I also like that the novel presumes that Marika and the rest are going to figure things out.  Not that they are instantly competent, but that we’re not lingering over their incompetence as a fetish. They figure it out – and move on. On the other side of that, we’re not given quite as much time to watch Jenny negotiate the stuffing out of her Uncle, it’s all handled with minimum fuss.

I can’t honestly think of another series in which the female characters are allowed full agency so completely. They are fully, completely competent, self-empowered and present.

Ratings:

Overall – 9

Anime and manga, this series still impresses the heck out of me. It’s a really tough call which is better.

The next book is wholly original – I wonder if I’ll be able to make heads or tail of it. ^_^; I’m not going to even have a chance to start it for months, so don’t hold your breath. I hope to pick it up when I’m in Japan next fall.

* Yes, I know the ship name is transliterated as the Barbalusa. It should be the Barbarossa.  :-p

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