I mentioned it elsewhere but let’s drill down on the maid cafe aspect of Mouretsu Pirates. Yes, the maid cafe. I think it’s important to realize why it exists, why it plays a role in Marika’s life, and what it really means so far. For sure, it is beyond merely fanservice.
I think it’s important to go to episode 1 and understand why the two spying Bentenmaru members went on a discussion on anachronism. To be sure, the maid cafe is a fad-sort of thing. It is costume play. The best maid cafe in Japan actually provides that sort of European-y high class atmosphere for your dining pleasure. But 99.9% of maid cafes are just normal cafe with a cosplay theme, and the stuff we do at a maid cafe different is pretty much unique to them. It’s closer to a host club than a cafe sometimes.
To say that something like a maid cafe survives in to the distant future, hundreds of years later, and then in a civilization light years away from Earth? It’s close to text book anachronism.
The same can be said of piracy; or perhaps better put, privateering. If you subscribe to a Star Trek-ish view of the future, well-managed societies, even space-faring, probably would not need to take up arms to plunder luxury space cruiser-liners. Spaceships are still expensive, it makes little logical sense to jostle billion-dollar wares and putting your life on the line to rob what may be carried on persons, unless everyone is hauling millions of dollars worth of gear on them. I mean, of course, space travel may be something very inexpensive in Marika’s world. I don’t know. But it seems unlikely given how big of a deal it is to travel to the stars. That is a setting’s leeway.
Certainly it makes even less sense for privateers, who pirate out of some hired-gun contract. Aren’t they technically employed? I would imagine they pirate out of some personal desire to make careers out of it.
Here is the first thing to consider. Maids working at a maid cafe provides the illusion that they are maids hosting their masters and madams or whatever they call their patrons. They aren’t actually maids in the “live in” or “indentured servant” or “slave” sense of the term as it is classically used. Right, they’re just paid to roleplay. In the same manner, Bentenmaru’s brand of piracy is the same kind of put-on show where everyone go through some kind of preconception about space piracy (And…who has these kinds of preconceptions? And more importantly, what are they?). Instead of a maid uniform, Marika wears some ludicrous Harlock-lite thing.
In other words, maid cafe maids aren’t really maids, they just pretend to fit your maid-fitting fantasies and take your money. Likewise Marika’s space piracy is not really about piracy (they’re privateers to begin with), they just pretend to fit your pirate-themed fantasies and take your money.
To segue to the next point, the Maid Cafe crosses with Piracy, in that both are also jobs. That make money. You know there is some value in having kids take up a part-time job when they are in high school or college, the whole training in the work place sort of thing. Gone is the concept of a pirate being some kind of romantic Kentucky-born actor. In, is the idea that, at least on the Strip in Vegas, they don’t literally rob those who stand and watch the free show at the Treasure Island hotel. It still beats being a plain robber on the high seas, I suppose, because real pirates don’t last very long. I thought the Maid Cafe thing actually comes around and becomes not only an useful metaphor but also a fitting job for Marika in terms of the career trajectory she’s on.
Anyways, this fake-pirate thing is a nice headtrick. But at the same time it makes you wonder what is going to happen to the actual piracy aspect of it. I suppose by today’s standards, gone are the stories about a maid (eg., Mahoromatic) and in are the stories about people pretending to be maids (eg., … Mahoromatic and every other anime with a pretty girl in it). The same could apply exactly to pirates, if there were enough pirate anime around to make a statement about piracy (if not, just blame One Piece). I mean fictional accounts of pirates are wonderful and all but it would be a whole new adventure when our play-to-pay pirates run into some dangerous situations and still go through the same piracy hijinks. It’s like if your live-in maid was a hamster of epic (erotic) proportions, or if your live-in maid had a thing for breast enlargement and ran on batteries.
I guess, the real question left to ask is, just what about piracy can we expect of Mouretsu Pirates? Because both maid cafes and space privateering, arguably, are anachronisms. What is the spin? Would it involve getting into a dangerous situation and being able to get out of it using Marika’s talents at decision making, while at the end, to never forget ring up a customer? These are important qualities to cultivate at a young age, folks.
Two girls one cup indeed.
PS. What about the Marika in a school uniform? That one is the fun one to talk about.