The 20th episode of Pirates sees the return of Kane to the yacht club as advisor just as preparations begin for the club to take part in a dinghy race. They come across some prior history of the club participating in the race which resulted in a 5 year ban, which has the organizers reaching out to Show to prevent more Hakuoh rule breaking. That eventually leads to the Bentenmaru being in charge of security for the race. Eventually, the story moves on to Kane staging a windsurfing race to determine who will represent Hakuoh at the dinghy race.
If last week was about character development for Grunhilde, this week it was devoted to Ai. However, in this case, I don’t think there was much beyond what the audience knew to begin with. The prologue to the episode was meant as a reminder that Ai really loved piloting. She was able to drive the Bentenmaru without difficulty, but she was more enthusiastic about being able to drive a dinghy.
There were two particular segments of the episode that I found interesting from the perspective of her character. The first was in the training simulator. While Kane was busy trolling the rest of the girls with completely unrealistic conditions, Ai just simply took it in stride. Yes, she once again showed her superior skills in piloting, but it was when she said it felt different that it revealed her true class.She had progressed beyond the point where the simulator was helping her pilot. The simulator was boring her because it didn’t feel real at all.
The second was after the simulator where she had lost herself standing on top of a dinghy and Marika had to snap her out of that state. The conversation that followed was about how Ai didn’t really see her work for the club as work because she loved what she was doing and she just lost track of time as a result. I think it’s something most people can relate to when they have been doing something they enjoy. The conversation at least got Marika into thinking why she joined the yacht club to begin with. Was it simply to get to space as she thinks it was, or was it something much deeper than that?
Now a little bit about this particular anime original storyline with regards to the dinghy race. The way it is being handled comes off like a camp 80s teen movie. The girls at Hakuoh broke the rules over 5 years ago, but they are still considered troublemakers by the organizers despite the fact that no one involved in that incident would still be at the school. In keeping with that movie trope of the evil adults always trying to keep the fun loving kids down, the race organizers turn to someone who doesn’t know the meaning of rules unless it makes him money, that would be Show from Harold Lloyd of course. Such is his integrity that he decides to hand the job to Marika, who could be directly involved in the race anyway.
Of course, sensing that they were writing themselves into a corner, they make things easier for Marika by having her fail to make the yacht club’s team for the dinghy race. Considering the amount of character development that had gone into Ai and Grunhilde, any dramatic tension in the race was lost when Natalia crossed the line first. At that point, it was all about when Marika would lose to Ai. The scenario for next episode should be simplified with Marika just worrying about the security details for the race itself.
Or maybe not judging by the preview. It looks set for more outside interference by the race organizers. Actually, the whole idea that the chief organizer would become involved in trying to kill some of the participants is just absurd. I understand trying to get away from everything always working out for Marika and company, but the way this arc is going is simply as contrived as hell.