I think I am in love… there is technical and then there is full spectrum and this show is going full spectrum on us. I am just blown away by how this all played out, everything felt plausible, and the underlying technology, while superior to what we have now, only highlights the problems of space travel and is a nice microcosm of how we should expect battles to be played out. Beam weapons always make me suspicious but they just solved the problem by emphasizing distance and accuracy while hinting that shields are the usual defense against such weapons. Maybe there will be carriers showing up later on maybe there won’t be but hell I think we need to start praying for a Jutland or a Surigao Strait. We already got our electronic warfare and now we are learning just how much goes into a long range gunnery duel. Given how eye-balling your beam shots is a terribly inefficient method of scoring hits, I think we are in the clear from having an obnoxious fake Irish sniper muck things up. Instead BRING ON the firing solutions, be it from a fire control station or an artilleryman using firing tables.
Not only has Marika avoided the ditzy moron role, she seems to have a better appreciation for battle preparation that I would have first thought. Altering the flight plan was in and of itself quite a revelation of how space combat works in this show and demonstrated that Marika is capable of altering a situation to her tactical benefit. Given how limited sensors are and how there were only two logical hiding places Marika was able to deduce the only real hiding spot and by making her foe fight facing the sun she gained two tactical advantages, speed and disruption of the enemy’s radar. I am giddy that stars and other celestial phenomena are going to contribute to terrain effects in space combat as this a very hard sci-fi aspect and more so given the limits of space faring technology and how solar activity has frustrated our own forays into our solar system. Also I am a big fan of using gravity wells to maneuver starships to gain tactical advantages and rapidly adjust course.
The collective effort that the Yacht Club put into to their deception plans says a lot about how they all possess enough intelligence to keep their mouths shut prior to an operation. While I am not yet sure whether their eagerness and lack of panic when the shooting started was because they all had youthful notions of their own invincibility or that they possess iron discipline. I would like to think that it was the latter given the dangers of space travel though it could well be the former or a mixture of both. Still I was impressed by their execution and doubly impressed when they prioritized ship systems to disable. The poetry was definitely excessive but nice though it could be that in Space Pirates they are all fans of strong passwords and use poems as a method of memorization (i.e. using a certain sequence of letters from a poem to form a password that when typed out looks like gibberish but still forms a password that is not easily broken so long as you use special characters and numbers). The response of the Lightning 11 was crude but very effective and was good enough to humble the Yacht Club.
I would have assumed that electronic warfare would have been rather dull and they would try to make up for it with quirky animations to show how computers were number crunching. Instead I was pleasantly surprised that they made it an all hands affair with the entire crew manning their stations. The Yacht Club was not phased or nervous about what was going on and took everything in stride although I felt plenty of tension during that scene. Fake systems, fake camera inputs, and playing along with enemy actions while taking whatever tactical advantages were offered made me all the more happy that they went through such pains. I was truly impressed that they even threw in command cycle timing (the time it takes for a military formation, in this case a ship crew, to make decisions, issue orders, execute, and assess the results for the next tactical action) and milked the “caught unawares” so effectively that the Yacht Club was able to move things at such a rapid pace that the Lightning 11 crew could not cope on good terms. It was a brilliant display of tactical acumen on Marika’s part as any fast response on her part might alert Lightning 11 that all was not going according to their plans.
I am not a fan of going into battle without weapons and I am sorely disappointed that the youthful enthusiasm of the Yacht Club overrode their rational thought processes. Still as mistakes of youth go they were lucky that the opposing gunner was only good and not lucky. As glad as I am that eye-balling your shots over hundreds of thousands of kilometers is a time consuming and inefficient I liked how the Lightning 11 gunner was placing his shots. The gunner shot high then low and used those two shots to calibrate the next shots that crept closer and closer to the Odette II’s actual position. Crude as their pulling the plug maneuver was I have to hand it to the Yacht Club for taking out propulsion first, and to Lightning 11 for taking decisive action before their weapons system was knocked out. I was initially aghast that the Yacht Club knocked out engineering and not weapons first, but after I saw the Stellar Military ships, I decided that the Yacht Club made the right tactical choice. Unless the Sea of Morningstar is in love with knives just for aesthetic reasons, their design at least hints that ramming is still a valid method of ship combat. Given that sensors are so limited and that long range gunnery is limited by sensors along with the judgment of a human gunner, it does make sense that getting up close and crude is viable. Even if this series is more big gun navy perhaps ramming is simply a more efficient method of finishing off a foe, especially if said foe is a sitting duck after a successful hacking attempt. Also ambushes could well be close and brutal affairs.
My only gripe is that the Yacht Club did not maneuver their ship more rapidly to compensate for the adjustments that the enemy gunner was making. Perhaps they simply did not know where the shots were going, but if they did my advice to them would be to move to wherever the last shot was. Back in ye olde days when battleships roamed the seas and aircraft carriers were non-existent, when ships engaged in gunnery duels they would have to adjust their shots and eye-ball it as best they could. As a defensive measure ships that were fast enough would chase splashes that were thrown up by missed enemy shots. The reasoning was that the enemy would not shoot at the same place twice, and for the most part this was true hence why there was such great expenditure of munitions for only a few hits before radar became effective. Still it was good of Marika to not only foresee that activating their engines would light them up on the infrared spectrum, but she took a page from the nerd book. For those of you who thought that turning the solar sails into a death ray was contrived you need to eat crow.
Marika basically used a method that Archimedes allegedly used for his death rays, as a nerdy person myself I am fully aware of nerds, who have the time, building replicas of Archimedes death ray, aka a parabolic reflector. They even did it on Mythbusters and it does work, to an extent, yes it can blind an enemy, but in atmosphere it takes a long time for things to catch on fire. I am going to accept that their solar sails can have their reflective/absorption ratio adjusted since that would explain how solar sail ships can adjust speed in order to maneuver. Using an array of mirrors to converge at a calculated point, courtesy of Jenny’s insistence that they bring radar back online as soon as possible, to blind the enemy rangefinder was inspired and doubly so because she did it without giving the enemy another means of ranging the Odette II. Still Marika need not worry about setting Lightning 11 on fire, but needless to say heat will build up. While the Lightning 11 will not burn, its crew might cook and that is still a terrible fate.
Chiaki finally tells us her story and I could not me more excited at the prospect of her captaining a pirate ship of her own someday. While they aren’t playing the yuri card much in this series I am cranking up the yuri goggles and I can already see Chiaki and Marika being the first pirate queens of a yuri dynasty that rules vast pirate empire. In any case, it seems that Chiaki is going to be on friendly terms and is likely one of the sanctioned privateers operating for the Sea of Morningstar. The timely arrival of a Stellar Military flotilla gives me hope that the regular military will have a role to play, hopefully as part of a traditional battle line while their pirate forces take on the duty of commerce raiding, intelligence gathering, and taking on enemy targets of opportunity. This show just gets better every week and given the admirable performance of the Yacht Club in paramilitary operations I welcome any future involvement they will have.
Kane and Misa were tempered in their response and I am glad that they used the whole cruise as a means to measure Marika’s abilities. I am very glad that they aren’t playing babysitter and put enough trust in the Yacht Club to let the girls go about their business unhindered while they watched from the shadows. Misa was already a winner and Kane is doing quite well when it comes to monitoring a fairly dangerous situation. It’s good to see that the adults are not stupid and are capable of letting kids grow while being ever ready to swoop in and rectify situations that go awry. Now that they have identified the origin of Lightning 11 and their hostile intentions I wonder if West Kilia is going to war with Morningstar. Chiaki did suspect them and now I wonder if open war is about to be declared. That shields deflect beams, and armor still has its uses I wonder if we are going to get warships armed with arsenals consisting of beam weapons, missiles/torpedoes, kinetic weapons, and ramming blades. I finally decided to slow things down by a ton and the ED does offer a few good tidbits, other than the Yacht Club roster there are some other interesting things…
A Message from your XO, EO
I too was thoroughly impressed by this episode. It was really cool and technical in how they went about describing the various methods of electronic warfare, from the opening Outlaw Star-style intro narration, up to when the shooting started. There’s a lot of neat things that can be done, or will soon be possible, with sensors and EW in the real world and this episode gave us the full range of them. Using the Odette II‘s radar to blind the enemy is a capability that big new AESA radars are going to have. Hijacking communication and other lines is another new capability in the real world, via a new jamming module made for the U.S. Navy’s EF-18G ‘Growler’, and a similar capability planned for the F-35 Lightning II. I also greatly enjoyed the targeting aspect of the episode. Marika showed a very impressive command of mathematics to calculate the enemy’s fire and how to realign the solar sales to make an Archemides-style mirror array. It’s nothing like the Solar System of the Gundam franchise, but it didn’t need to be. It blinded the enemy ship and left it unable to attack, and if help hadn’t arrived they could have kept it trained on the enemy until their own ship roasted them alive. Marika would definitely make a good artillery officer with those on-the-fly calculations, and I look forward to more highly thought out and technical combat in the future. I would never have guessed that electronics warfare in anime could be so interesting, much less that it would continue to be interesting for four whole episodes. The tension in the lead-up to the attack was great, and then things got real when the enemy disconnected their computer to prevent further compromise. I figured guns would be fired at some point, and it was really cool to see the Yacht Club go from confident and triumphant about their trap for the Lightning 11 to ‘oh shi-’ when combat stopped being digital.
Nice reference to the Battle of the Bulge. If I were the fansubbers, I’d be tempted to change the text to “Nuts!“
I was also surprised to see a second pirate ship show up, with Chiaki announcing herself the heir to it. I had kind of assumed that she was either from the Bentenmaru or that she was an agent of someone who was interested in it, not another hereditary pirate captain herself. That should be interesting, having two ships around, but I doubt the Barbaroosa is long for this world. While it would be cool to have a pair of ships, I don’t see it lasting since it would split up the characters between the two ships. So perhaps daddy Kurihara will be making a last stand to protect his daughter somewhere around the halfway point of the show. And a last note on ships: perhaps it’s because we’ve both played Battlefleet Gothic, but I thought the same thing as comrade Crusader when I saw those federation patrol ships. Unless it’s purely aesthetic, those things are definitely designed to ram.
And here is your Mandatory Misa for the week <3