So, last time I talked about the concept of ‘Boilerplate Entertainment’. Using Coyote Ragtime Show as an example, I demonstrate how it can serve as a baseline between the great/masterpiece media and the bad/flawed media that we encounter in our daily lives. On occasion, though, you will come across media that at first seem like this, but turn out to be so much more.
“Follow the Path You Believe In”
Bodacious Space Pirates: Abyss of Hyperspace (2014 film)
Director/writer: Tatsuo Sato
I have covered the TV Series way back in 2013 (Bodacious Space Pirates TV Review ) but I have to say that Bodacious Space Pirates is an excellent TV Series. I stand by what I stated in that review, and upon rewatching the TV series in preparation for this review, I have to say that it is even better this time around. It takes such a neat concept (seafaring adventure) and translating to a sci-fi setting. It contains a great and varied cast of characters, headed by one of my favorite female protagonists of recent times, Marika Kato, a strong-willed and capable young woman who learns to come into her own place in the galaxy. Finally, Bodacious Space Pirates is quite hopeful and positive, which is a breath of fresh air to me in an era where being dark, cynic and brooding seems to be the vogue thing.
Which begins us to the film, Bodacious Space Pirates: Abyss of Hyperspace. This film is in some ways a sequel but more functions as a narrative side story in the same universe. There exist enough details given to conclude that it takes place after the story of the TV series, mostly from secondary cast characters having moved on with their lives to some world building details. But the most evident feature is that how Marika Kato is portrayed, as a young female professional doing a great job in her career field.
So time is spent developing a new character, Kanata Mugen, a young man who is on a journey to reclaim his father’s legacy. You see, his father Dr. Mugen was an esteemed scientist who pioneered the field of Hyperspace diving, which basically this universe’s version of deep sea diving. He thinks that his father was going it out of money/personal gain, and felt a bit bitter about it. But, he ends up on Marika’s ship via a kidnapping from a luxury liner. Together, with the Bentenmaru crew and allies, seek out Dr. Mugen’s legacy and discover something a lot more important in the process.
What I like is that its Marika who helps Kanata out with his mission. Considering that she got her character development in the TV Series, she’s fully prepared to take that role on admirably. The best parts of the film are ones between Marika and Kanata, with her acting as both a guide and supportive older sister to Kanata. The ending of the story is very similar to that of Coyote Ragtime Show, which struck me quite surprisingly when I watch it for this review.
Of course, aside from that, the rest of movie is pretty good. The secondary cast (both the Space Yacht Club and Bentenmaru crew) get their time to shine but in a way needed by the plot and not out of obligation. If anything, the only element somewhat out of place is the character Serena, a character who could have been a cool villain but has no real impact till the climax and then it’s too late; she seems to be here only to have a bad guy. Kurihara, as much as I like the character, she only works well in conjunction with Marika, as demonstrated in the TV Series. So to see her basically spend most of her time catching up with plot and by the time she does, she kind of feels left out. Though the scene with her and Ririka (Marika’s badass mom) was great.
That being said, the film looks very nice. Granted it’s a minor upgrade compared to the TV Series, but it’s well done in just every part. There is a noticeable difference in the character design work, but it fits the story a bit better than if they used the TV design work. The CG work is really impressive here, especially for the finale. Lastly, the music is just reused tracks from the TV show, but they are used effectively to be not distracting.
Now, the English dub is brought to us by the fine folks at Sentai Filmworks, same with the TV series. Chris Ayres returns to direct, though this time its Katelynn Barr writing the script. I appreciate that they got a lot of the cast back despite the near 3 years between the TV series dub and this. The dub is quite amazing, combining Ayres’ strong vocal directing with Barr’s excellent adaptive writing. Luci Christian shines as Mariko, there’s isn’t a flat performance to be found in the dub, and Kira Vincent Davis playing Kanata is a nice surprise there. It just goes to show how far Sentai Filmworks has gone from 2013 to today; that level of positive improvement in their dubbing is commendable.
I’ll end with this: the adage that spurs Kanata on from the beginning is “Follow The Path You Believe In”. That’s a very great statement of purpose when it comes to living and there is a great power in that. For Kanata, it isn’t just about finding his familial legacy but discovering what his father saw when it came to his work and willing to accept that as part of his world. So while I wouldn’t mind a second season of Bodacious Space Pirates, having it end is enough for me personally. I mean, sometimes the story has to end, even if you don’t want to.
Next time, it will be a birthday special review, one that I haven’t done since 2015 or so. I will be taking a look at the second season of a show that I saw way back in 2014, and have been for some time to write about its second season. That review will be due out on my birthday in late June, then I will be taking a break from the blog for July.
Til next time, dear readers