Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time! I hope you’ve got your tickets ready, as today we’re bearing witness to the commencement of the 19th Nebula Cup. That’s right, it’s time for Bodacious Space Pirates, wherein Puppyhat and her yacht club compatriots will be competing for fame, glory, and presumably some kind of cash prize? I hate to be tacky about this, but I mean, we’re actually going to win something here, right?
Of course, regardless of how the actual race goes, Marika and the Bentenmaru will be receiving handsome compensation as the race’s security. And given the generally complementary relationship between narrative and, uh, conflict, the fact that Marika’s handling security basically guarantees this race is going to be a security nightmare. We’ve already been thoroughly spoiled by Kane’s return as club advisor (sorry, “coach”), and I’m expecting this arc’s comingling of Bentenmaru and yacht club drama to continue reaping hilarious dividends. Let’s see what the future holds!
“Even in an era where space is freely traversed, the beauty of the stars amidst the night sky never fades.” I wonder how true that is? Obviously space and the stars will always possess a powerful visual allure, but I wonder to what extent normalized space travel would mitigate the inherent magic of space. Mankind’s advances have already made air travel mundane – though to be fair, that is in large part a consequence of modern air travel abstracting the experience of flight into “you sit on a bus watching a movie while your ears pop.” As long as there is still risk, as long as there are still boundaries and limits to humanity’s colonization of the stars, I imagine space will maintain its magic and mystery
The planet where the Nebula Cup is taking place is called “Calmwind,” expanding Bodacious Space Pirates’ tradition of terrible names from ships to whole planets
The docking stations of the Nebula Cup headquarters further play into the structure’s crossbow-derivative design, with ships arrayed along the curve of the “crossbow” like notched arrows. Through visual design alone, this structure offers a promise of all its inhabitants shooting off like arrows, a perfect mental image for those approaching the Nebula Cup
Apparently whatever Hakuoh Academy did five years ago still has the race associates thoroughly terrified. I’m not sure if I’d prefer to actually learn what happened or just leave it as vaguely defined “spaghetti incident”-style legend
Incidentally, is “spaghetti incident” an established piece of shorthand? It’s from Calvin & Hobbes, and refers to some crime Calvin committed in the past which is so terrible it can never be described, only referenced by its title. Some ideas are best left to the reader’s imagination
I appreciate all the added design work of this episode – they’ve created at least a dozen school uniforms and many times that in character designs for all these competing schools
Chiaki stops our ruffians before they upset the competitors
“So you’re with the Sea of the Foreststar’s team?” Goddamnit, “Sea of the Morningstar” was one of this show’s few good titles, and now they’re spoiling it by revealing that it’s one in a set of otherwise ridiculous names? Damn you, Bodacious Space Pirates!
Oh my god, the disaster from five years ago was actually because Lynn hacked the course into a nightmare death run. Okay, this is much better than implication
“I didn’t know it was such a big deal. I’m blushing.” Damnit Lynn
As Chiaki points out, this actually provides a fun dramatic spice to the race, as it means all the other teams will be out to get them
This production team is clearly biased towards Puppyhat; whereas everyone else is relatively free of motion, she’s always generously animated and bouncing around the screen
Since the Bentenmaru can’t descend into this planet’s atmosphere, Marika will be surveying the race from a dinghy as well. I suppose we can’t actually have our protagonist just watch the arc play out from a thousand miles away
We see the race chairman actually participated in the Hell Race, which is now fueling her determination to ensure this one runs smoothly
This episode seems to be attempting some catch-up characterization for Natalia, the third Morningstar entrant. Grunhilde and Puppyhat have already gotten plenty of material, but Natalia only recently emerged from the general yacht club background crew, so they’re assigning her a lot of incidental dramatic moments here in order to make her someone we have some emotional investment in. A tidy demonstration of how little it takes to turn a background player into an individual – we don’t need her life story, just that earlier confrontation and these pre-race rituals can do it
Marika reflects on how this is all significantly more nerve-wracking without her crew at her side, a quiet payoff for that “don’t carry all the weight yourself” lesson from two episodes ago
Gruier will apparently be firing the starting gun, fitted in a headdress that could light up an entire disco hall
Yep, the racers will be fired off precisely how that crossbow design implied – all of them simultaneously surging forth from the front of the station
As the race’s route is finally revealed, the show layers yet another dramatic variable on top, as the characters realize that without effectively utilizing the wind, a dinghy won’t have enough fuel to even complete the course
Some impressively scaled compositions as the ships plummet into the atmosphere. Once again, Bodacious Space Pirates makes the most of its CG aircrafts by presenting them silhouetted against the light of the planet, thereby blurring the hard edges of the composite and better integrating them into the overall visual composition
Certain that Marika is up to something nefarious, the Chairwoman herself flies down in hot pursuit. Literally in this case, as they’re currently breaching the planet’s atmosphere
And now some beautiful color design as the sun rises over this planet’s glittering sea. I can already tell this race is going to be very visually generous!
A solar flare sends an electromagnetic pulse into the race territory, further complicating this perfect storm of bullshit
“I recreated the course Hakuoh Academy set six years ago!” Apparently the Chairwoman is actually the most insane person here. Beautiful
Aaand now we’ve got bandits firing at Marika to claim her pirate’s license. Just your usual interscholastic sports festival, I suppose
Ahaha, the Chairwoman just demanding she receive an entire character arc across this race is so good. She had no need to be here in the first place, and now she’s proudly announcing her transition to believing in Marika as Marika yells at her to stay away from the gunfire. Bless this insane woman
In spite of not being equipped to fly within an atmosphere, Kane steers the damn ship down anyway, to the great consternation of everyone else
In classic Bodacious Space Pirates fashion, most of the Bentenmaru’s “battle” with this bandit ship involves them raising potential plans and then discussing their limitations and feasibility, like the danger of igniting the air around them with any laser barrage
Puppyhat ends up saving the day, but is hit by an EMP in consequence. If Puppyhat keeps this heroism up I’m going to have to actually start calling her by her real name, a true catastrophe
She opens her cockpit and her hat goes flying away! IT’S HAPPENING! SHE’S GRADUATING BEYOND THE PUPPYHAT!
Having already saved the Bentenmaru, Ai-chan (for that is her name) now declares she’ll finish the race without electronics, using only the stars to guide her. She is a champion
What a triumph for Ai-chan! It’s clear that if the Bentenmaru is in the market for a dinghy or fighter pilot, the ace of the next generation is already ready for action. The Nebula Cup turned out to be just as exciting as I’d hoped, even if the actual race portion was kinda abridged. I’d have loved to see more jockeying for position between Morningstar’s heroes and the other competitors, given all the dramatic hurdles this episode established – but I suppose it’s very much Bodacious Space Pirates’ style to keep the action brief, and that battle between Marika, Ai, and the bandits still went well beyond the show’s usual payoffs. Congratulations Ai-chan, you have evolved from Puppyhat to a true warrior of the celestial winds. I knew you could do it!
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