Brief Thoughts On: Galactic Pirates

Apulo and Latell are two dysfunctional partners who star as the protagonists of the 1990 Madhouse original Galactic Pirates. Latell is a short-tempered gunslinger and Apulo a gluttonous, intelligent cat. Together they work for the intergalactic Division of Space Piracy. At least they used to, before billions worth of collateral damage and a growing list of unjustifiable expenses got them fired from the job.

PHOTO: Latell, with his gun drawn, argues with his boss while Apulo looks on.

The comparisons between this 6-episode OVA and Sunrise’s Dirty Pair are unavoidable, I feel. Both are about a duo of loose cannon peacekeepers known for their recklessness, who go on comedic adventures all across the galaxy. Galactic Pirates has a more standard sci-fi universe compared to Dirty Pair‘s retro futurism, but that’s the least of our concerns here.

My foremost issue with Galactic Pirates is that its cast just isn’t very fun; especially when you’re subconsciously comparing it to Dirty Pair. Latell and Apulo are both characterized as being impulsive, idiotic, disloyal, unreasonable, and entirely self-obsessed. Their first scenes have them blowing a hole in a civilian space station’s hull, causing rapid depressurization, over a minor argument about Apulo’s eating habits. If they have any redeeming qualities, then they were too minute for me to even notice.

PHOTO: A baseball teams holds Latell at gunpoint.

Having a set of flawed protagonists wouldn’t be an issue in and of itself, but their entire dynamic consists of petty arguments that immediately dissolve into violence. Aggression is their only means of communicating with each other and the people they work with, which doesn’t undergo any change over the course of the adventure. They start out as a belligerent misanthropes who hate each other and that’s still the same by the end. It all just feels so childish, in an obnoxious way.

Outside of the relationship between the protagonists, the story is just plain not fun. Latell and Apulo are fired, but nevertheless end up on the trail of a famous pirate. There is a conspiracy involving illegal software that can let imaginations bleed into reality, which would have been interesting if Galactic Pirates was competently told at all. The exposition is dry, the characters unappealing, and the storytelling is too unfocussed. Even if you do stay interested in this mystery, Galactic Pirates side-lines it completely to do a parody baseball story for 2 episodes instead. Please note: that’s roughly 33% of the series’ runtime.

PHOTO: Latell shoots a robotic skeleton with his pistol. blowing its ribcage to pieces.

The sheer absurdity of the setting was admittedly entertaining at times and Galactic Pirates does boast remarkable animation quality for 1990. The writing lets it all down, however, and those few handful of laughs feel irrelevant when considering how much effort it took to stay focused on this OVA. Unless you simply can’t get enough of sci-fi anime, I’d sooner recommend Dirty Pair or The Irresponsible Captain Tylor for a superior sci-fi comedy romp.