Although I only gave it a slightly higher-than-average score, there's plenty to be entertained by here.
Story: A high school girl, Marika, finds out that she has the chance to inherit her father's Letter of Marque and become a pirate aboard the pirate ship Bentenmaru. After accepting the position, she goes on various adventures, and the story basically takes place in a series of problem-arcs. One of the things I really liked about the arcs was that they alternated between her pirate life and its problems and her high school life and its problems. I thought that this set up made for a much more believable portrayal of a girl trying to be two things at once, and Marika's strong yet humble personality carried her through both stories well.
I was initially really disappointed that the pirates didn't do much more than put on "pirate shows" for cruise-liners. If that had been the extent of the story, I probably would have given it about 2/10. However, Marika undertakes a few more unusual jobs, eventually leading us to discover that the world of galactic politics is not as stable as we may have been led to believe. The ending especially made up for my initial disappointment, with the pirates coming together to do real pirate work, with plenty of hints that their job is not over yet.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the lack of a love-story subplot. Yes, there were the two lesbian side characters, but the drama surrounding that only lasted for a couple episodes and was anything but melodramatic. Among the main characters, a love story was absent, and I think that focusing on the adventures was a good choice to make, although any second season of this show might do well to introduce a love interest for Marika to spice up the pacing.
Animation: I'm not an expert on this stuff, but the CG scenes of spaceships didn't seem too floaty, and I think that's a good thing (if you've ever been on a boat, you'll know that moving large machines around is a rather hefty endeavor). I liked the character design, and the use of color was appropriate: brighter pastels for the school/planetside life, and darker, deeper colors for the outer space/political-intriguey parts.
Sound: I'm only mentioning this because I really liked the in-show music, which was vaguely Celtic and, I thought, fit the atmosphere quite nicely.
Characters: Although there wasn't a lot of character development (where the characters grow as human beings), the characters were fairly complex. There were also plenty of intriguing characters that I'd love to know more about: Chiaki's father, Ironbeard, Quartz Christie, the chef brothers, etc etc.
Overall: Okay at first, slow but interesting enough in the middle, and definitely redeeming qualities to the end. I would be willing to give a second season a chance.
A weird premise of an anime, in the usual style of Satou Tatsuo, who has directed lots of mecha shows, most of which have uncommon yet interesting premises (Martian Successor Nadesico, Gekiganger 3, Shingu, Stellvia). They are also usually too slow and lack excitement but let’s leave it at that; it’s better than being Mazinger clones. The animation is done by Satelight studios, which has made several anime, yet only Noein amongst them is worthwhile for me. So it shows early on that it will be a weird show with slow/unexciting plot and not spectacular production values.
Once upon a time there was this cool anime called Space Pirate Captain Harlock, and was about this serious manly rebel who gets fed up with the way Earth turned to a fruitless life of working and consuming (although being overrun by hostile aliens every year had something to do with it too). So he decides to board this super cool scull-themed spaceship and roam the universe, free to go anywhere he pleases, a place without joyless capitalists, merciless bureaucrats, and military jerks. Occasionally, he returns to save his homeland from all sorts of cosmic threats who want to take over his old joint. He was such a cool guy.
Fast-forward three decades and now everything is different. Serious manly protagonists no longer sell and apparently the majority of the (actual) buyers prefer spineless boys and dumb cute girls. As a result we get Bodacious Space Pirates, (BSP) a show about your average cute schoolgirl, who one day learns that she inherited by her father a pirate crew. Hm, doesn’t the premise remind you of something? Ah but yes, it is the same as Hitman Reborn but instead of mafia and dumb boys this is about pirates and dumb girls. And they are both equally silly since they both have absolutely nothing to do with actual mafia or piracy; it is just a random shallow excuse to get the show going.
Although the atmosphere and plot of Harlock were slow, grim and depressing to the most part, you could still appreciate the social criticism of the modern way of life and Harlock himself was never fooling around. It was still in overall a very naive show with oozing idealism but at least it had an identity and was trying to have a message. In a similar manner, One Piece is also about this funny pirate crew roaming around the world, looking for adventure while occasionally fighting all sorts of tyrants. It also had an identity and a message. BSP on the other hand doesn’t try to do anything more than making a parody of the whole piracy thing; the “bodacious” word in the title is just a troll. To put it bluntly NOTHING HAPPENS IN THIS SHOW. It is storyless space moe and the only reason I mentioned the other anime is only because there is nothing to fill this review with regarding the Moecious Space Lolis.
I have no problems with the production values, they just look nice for the time they were made and the sci-fi touches offer something interesting to pay attention to. They are otherwise not amazing and there are too many lolis with miniskirts around for a mature viewer to enjoy it. There isn’t any in-your-face fan service but trying to establish characters through fetishes is still fan service and it’s still trashing characterization and character respect.
There are also many who will be mesmerized by the show’s attention to sci-fi details. It tries a lot to portrait a futuristic society where technology of that time is put to use and its presentation appears to be far more technical than in a usual space show. Meaning, they show how they steer a ship with more ways than just pressing a few buttons. Other than that though the whole thing is still far from realistic and this whole fascination to sci-fi portrayal is just useless fluff. You can easily find lots of things that make no sense such as the female spacesuits being skin-tight and have boobs hanging out too much (Boobacious Space Pirates, lol) while male suits are bulky and don’t reveal any body features. Plus you see no method to keep them floating in vacuum or security for not drifting away while outside the spaceship. They also seem to prefer spending a whole minute in pressing buttons and making a holographic arrow to appear on an empty seat for you to sit on, instead of just pointing you to where you can sit. And let’s not disregard how they all wear miniskirts in space; that male trainer of theirs must constantly have a boner with so much pantsu flash. Not that the girls seem to care in the least though; the show is also called Miniskirt Pirates after all. Don’t think it’s weird when the heroine appears dressed as a pirate while still wearing a tiny skirt… In fact, don’t think at all.
The soundtrack is completely forgettable as it is nothing but silly pop by female singers, of the likes of which we get by the thousands every year. Voice acting is nothing much either.
Our heroine Marika is a heroine with potential that was unfortunately thrown in a most dull setting. He charm is simply impossible to shine because everything goes too rosy for her. She never chose her role or goal in life; it was FORCED on her. And she is not learning anything on her own either; everything is spoon-fed to her through space school lessons. She also works in a maid café, so she ends up being memorable only as a combo of schoolgirl/maid/pirate fetish.
Besides her there is also a bunch of pirates who … are just there. And then some other cute girls used as background decoration and pervert-bait. And that’s all I have to say about the characters. Seriously, that’s it, what did you expect me to write about people who don’t do anything? There are so many of them, none of which manage to be anything more than eccentrically dressed actors. The pirates don’t even look a bit vicious; when Marika is in her pirate uniform you almost expect her to yell “trick or treat”. The only ones besides her I can say a few things about are the two lesbians. They are a bit memorable because… um… they are lesbians; the end. And that gives them ten times more characterization than everybody else, so you get the idea of how dull the cast is.
This is a show about pirates who aren’t really pirates but a freaking theatre troupe. Seriously, they are called pirates only in name since they are not living a free and lawless life (like normal pirates do). They are working for and paid by governments to do all sorts of illegal activities but this does not make them privateers either. They are not ordered by one government to loot and plunder areas on another government because THERE ARE NO OTHER GOVERNMENTS; everything is just one big happy world order. So how can pirates exist if the government pays them to do robberies? Well, it’s not in order to kill, rape, and destroy enemy installations (it would be a fun show if they were) but instead all they do is take up fixed missions, ordered by the VICTIMS, who see the whole show as entertainment and even get a refund for whatever they lose. Thus it is done just to keep the masses happy with cheap thrills and in practise nobody is actually hurt. For that reason, there is practically no conflict in the whole show besides simple dull missions where nothing of importance ever happens. In one word BOOORING!
So wait a second, what is this show about if not about its main attraction (you know, pirates)? Well, basically, it’s about the same thing all moe slice of life schoolgirls are about for over a decade now. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! There are a few grains of a plot scattered somewhere in there but the pace is so slow and the missions so dull you wouldn’t care even if they weren’t there at all. Supposed it’s about Marika finding the courage to command her own pirate crew and supposed she first learns how to steer a yacht in space and supposed she takes up important missions and supposed she is looking for her father or something. And all this time you are just wondering WHERE THE HELL IS THE PIRATE ACTION? Nowhere; there isn’t enough suspense to fill an ant’s belly. Just imagine that after each mission we get the girls working as maids and eating cake. Instead of, I don’t know, trying to heal their wounds or mourn for their casualties; now that would be somewhat interesting.
Towards the end it gets a bit more action-based, as there is this shit that destroys pirate ships for real, and Marika’s long lost dad appears but nobody recognises him because he wears a mask. Yeah, I guess his voice and behaviour don’t matter at all to the people who knew him for decades. But once again the whole thing plays out as dull as possible and doesn’t miss the chance to show the lolis smiling while eating cake five minutes after they were almost killed.
The lack of excitement and actual piracy is bound to alienate most viewers, but there are still those who will stick around for the possible comedy or dark and violent turnaround later on. Well let me spare you the pain; you won’t get any of that. In its initial episodes the show seemed to be building up towards something amazing and had a huge positive image by most in the fandom. Some loved the miniskirt girls, some were amazed with the sci-fi touches, some expected pirate action, and some expected a mysterious and complicating social commentary regarding the future uses of piracy through cyber terrorism. After 7 episodes though, the interest died out almost entirely since the miniskirts can’t keep you interested for more than a couple of hours, the sci-fi touches became more scarce and weren’t that elaborate anymore, there was no pirate action and there was no social commentary after all. It was just a dull show where nothing happens. Of course you can still watch it for the cute girls if you belong to those who don’t care about story or thematics and just watch for the lulz.
Bottom line, it is nothing but a silly light comedy with dumb cute girls in mini skirts pretending to be vicious pirates and doing silly simplistic adventures with zero action or excitement. Which is not funny at all. It is a desolate wasteland of a toned down fanservice adventure that doesn't excel in anything at all. The girls aren't particularly hot or interesting; they are defined by generic traits and have zero backdrop stories or personalities. The design work brings nothing eye-catchy to the table. Genericness, ho! Not sexy, funny, interesting, exciting or any combination of these. The ultimate mainstream show, you could say. The kind that can sell for being easy going for everyone to watch after a hard day, but eventually will become nothing but background noise and will be forgotten as soon as they pick up the next moe show.
Before the amazing realism of Planetes or the social criticism of Captain Harlock, this show is just a farce, even if it tries a little bit more to appear smarter than your average school moeblob. I got bored of it very fast, I have no motivation to rewatch it, and I don’t expect it to be remembered in a few years.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 7/10
General Artwork 2/2 (looks nice if you see it as moe or light sc-fi)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 1/2 (basic)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 2/2 (nice sci-fi touches)
SOUND SECTION: 5/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (silly but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 1/4 (j-pop trash)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 2/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (loose, slow, unexciting)
Complexity 0/2 (it tries to be a bit mysterious at times but eventually this is a show you never need to bother thinking about anything)
Plausibility 0/2 (it tries a bit with some sci-fi realism but all that are eventually useless, get neglected later on, and the whole thing is just silly)
Conclusion 0/2 (open and dull)
CHARACTER SECTION: 2/10
Presence 0/2 (generic to the point nobody stands out)
Personality 0/2 (dull to the point nobody matters)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (mostly for Marika and even that is loose)
Catharsis 0/2 (open and dull)
VALUE SECTION: 1/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 0/3 (none)
Memorability 1/4 (nice troll with the piracy thing but that’s it)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10
Art 0/1 (looks unimpressive)
Sound 0/2 (sounds lame)
Story 1/3 (the premise is nice, everything else is crap)
Characters 0/4 (nobody matters)
Boring and stupid since the very beginning.
Bodacious Space Pirates is an entertaining romp.
The premise of the story is what attracted me to this series first: a young girl learns that the father she never met has died, and she has inherited his pirate ship. She needs to make a decision whether to continue the family career, or not. I enjoyed the way real historical elements of pirate history (such as "Letters of Marque") are used in this story, and also how the lingo and traditions of the sea here on earth are transposed to space. It allows for a feeling of conitnuity between our present and the future depicted in the anime.
While the story rips along, and mainly hangs well toghether, there are a couple of plot holes. The main focus remains on Kato Marika, and her exploits. She is a high school girl, and the series never forgets this, with plenty of scenes set in and around her school and club. I think it handles quite realistically the difficulties she faces trying to juggle all her responsibilities. On the other hand her relationship with her mother never really rang true for me, and not many other characters get a chance to develop except in terms of their relationship with the main character. But then, do you expect in depth psychological examination in a space comedy?
There are numerous action scenes throughout the series, which are beautifully executed. They might not be as long or as in depth as some would like, but I found the tone and resolution of them in line with the rest of the series. Remember that this is an anime about a teenage girl finding her feet in space, under the supervision of adults who care about her: there are limitations to what she can get up to, especially at first. In fact there are a lot of high school girl high jinxs depicted: these are fun to watch, and hardly serious. Another point I want to make - despite the source material being call Mini-skirt Pirates, there are few Moe or Fanservice moments in this anime. Certainly not as many as could have been provided by girls in mini skirts floating in low gravity! In case you didn't get it, this is a positive in my book.
Overall this is a series where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If you examine each area in isolation there are obvious gaps, but the series as a whole I found lighthearted, warm and fun. Watch it with those expectations, and I don't think you will be disappointed.