Space Pirate Mito (aka Stellar Buster Mito) is a late 90s sci-fi action anime. Admittedly it's mostly geared towards a younger audience, featuring many simple characters and concentrating on people chasing each other around, having been designed in bright colours and seldom letting off the high tempo of its narration.
But it's a bit more than that. The main character, a three-foot female space pirate by the name of Mito, does roam around space, being supported by her motley crew of strange people and other aliens. Mito is being chased and shot at by two officers of the Galactic Patrol, whose boss Ranban has all the appearance of a cousin of Darth Vader. Those two officers, the young siblings Mutsuki and Masatsuki, does an extremely poor job in catching the midget space pirate, despite the fact that one of them has a "Kaizou-kun", a device which lets him transform any machinery into a combat mecha robot. Mito, however, mostly fights being dressed in her "mail suit", a fighting overall that closely resembles the body of a typical American star model or movie star.
Mito has a son, Aoi. This 15-year old has for the last 15 years "known" his mother as an star model being off and busy in America. He seldom sees her – what he thinks is her. On the few occasions they actually meet, she always takes care to dress in her mail suit. Mito doesn't want her son to know his mother is a space criminal and wanted in several star systems. But at the same time, what she really want is for someone to call her "Mother".
Through accident, one of her flights away from the Galactic Patrol takes Mito to Earth. And through another accident, she happens to exit her capsized mail suit just in time to be spotted in doing so by her baffled son. So in the end, the truth must come out.
The above resumé is only from episode 1 of 26 (when both seasons are added together). But it is a fairly good example of this anime, as this is a pretty strange mix of Cartoon Network fare (bright colors and funny action) and a series that deals a lot with identity issues. Some other examples: Mito's mother has been reborn as a flying ceiling lamp, at least one of Mito's pirate lieutenants has a clearly androgynous character, and the main storyline of the second season of the series (episodes 14–26) deals with the fact that Aoi has had a sex change – coupled with the fact that she/he then falls in love with one of the galactic patrol siblings (Mutsuki, the female one). Perhaps that's not your typical Cartoon Network stuff.
The downside to all this is a lack of congruity. As the main premise of "Space Pirate Mito" is a fun, brightly coloured action series with fairly typecast characters, those family problems and gender issues have a hard time being convincing in their own right. There's just too much other stuff going on, and the series doesn't look like a realistic drama series. So many of those traits fall flat. But for a viewer that can easily digest serious drama inside a "Flintstone" façade, this may well be a series for you.
Another series that, arguably a bit more successfully, mixes cartoon action with serious drama is "Strange Dawn".
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