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Anime: Space Pirate Mito

Uchū Kaizoku Mito no Daibōken, released in English speaking countries as Space Pirate Mito, is an extremely obscure 1999 anime that lasted two seasons (split between the Winter and Summer TV seasons), each spanning 13 episodes. The series centers around Aoi, a fairly typical Japanese teenager whose father had passed on and whose mother, Mito, works overseas as a model. Only... his mom isn't really who he thinks she is.

In reality, Mito is the galaxy's most dangerous pirate with enough guts to outshine a supernova. She's a three foot tall childlike alien- yet all she really wants is to be called "Mom". When the Galactic Patrol follows her to Earth, Aoi is pulled into an intergalactic goose chase that brings him to all corners of the universe, along with the first working mom to carry a pulse rifle.

The series is a bit... odd, but still manages to be enjoyable with its colorful art style and strange cast of characters. Just don't try to make too much sense of the plotline. You will severely hurt your brain.

The series was released in English by Media Blasters, though with a 5-year gap between the releases of the two seasons. While an English dub was produced for the first season, Media-Blasters opted to release the second season sub-only, due to the changes in the anime market over that time period.


Tropes:

  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Mito (but only in appearance)
  • Action Mom: Can't get more action-y than a space pirate
  • Adjective Noun Fred
  • Adult Fear: Mito's worst moments come when Aoi is in the hands of the Galactic Patrol.
  • Aggressive Categorism: Against the gender indeterminate like Ranban, because only someone with a stable gender (male or female) can wield the royal sword.
  • Alpha Bitch: Kafuko, multiclassing into Rich Bitch. She becomes more of a Lovable Alpha Bitch as the series continues.
  • Arm Cannon: Sabu carries one, as do most Galaxy Patrol mooks.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: Aoi has flashbacks of his mother fighting Ranban amidst swirling flames.
  • Berserk Button: Mito has two: Threatening Aoi and dissing her beloved Kagero. The Nenga siblings manage to hit both in the first episode by attacking Aoi and Mito while they are paying their respects at Kagero's gravesite.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The aliens that aren't Starfish Aliens or Intelligent Gerbils tend to have this. For instance, Mito's species determines its gender during puberty.
    • The Nenga siblings belong to a nitrogen-breathing species for whom water is a deadly poison and Mutsuki is prone to sprouting mushrooms when stressed.
  • Bonding Over Missing Parents: Mitsuke and Aoi, though Aoi doesn't know it.
  • Brain Uploading: Aoi's grandmother Kodo
  • Changeling Fantasy: though it's more of a changeling nightmare
  • Conspicuous CG: Most sequences with the larger spaceships.
  • Cute Bruiser: Mito.
  • Dating Catwoman: Mutsuki Nenga, who falls in love with Aoi during her undercover investigation of the son of the infamous Space Pirate Mito.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Mito and Ranban get pretty chummy once the main conflict of the first series is over.
  • Disappeared Dad: Aoi's father died before the start of the series, as did the Nenga siblings'.
  • Dual Age Modes: Effectively Mito, with her Mail Suits.
  • First Law of Gender Bending: Poor Aoi. his gender becomes unstable (long story about Bizarre Alien Biology) at the end of the first series leaving him outwardly female, which is not helped when his mom steps aside and has him crowned queen of the Galaxy. The last episode ends with Aoi running away to look for a way to become a boy again but this seems to be forgotten at the start of the next series and the only one to even mention it is the Ax-Crazy Hikari. It's implied that Aoi's devotion to her role as queen at the end of the penultimate episode fixes her permanently as there's no suggestion of her turning back at the end of the series.
  • Flashback Echo: Aoi has cryptic flashbacks through the first half of the series, to the battle between Mito and Ranban when he was taken into space as a child.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Backfires on Mito.
  • Gender Bender: At the end of the first series, Aoi learns about the Bizarre Alien Biology of his mother's species when his own gender becomes unstable but manages to remain to male just long enough to save the day before stabilizing as female and remaining female for the second series.
  • Giant Waist Ribbon: Mito wears a bow so large that its tails have little bows on them.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: The First Queen Hikari, Big Bad of the second series, is totally bonkers and her reign is described as an age of fear. Her more sympathetic successor Aoi steps down and sets up a democracy.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: Mito's cutesy oversized glasses and her High-Class Glass
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain Masatsuki Nenga goes totally batshit insane when he comes to the realisation that his "Justice" is nothing more than a tool of oppression (one that has no issue shooting down a "mob" of villagers, men, women and children) used by a pretender to the throne. This leads to about two episodes worth of him screaming "I AM JUSTICE!" at the top of his lungs while firing his gun like the lunatic he is. This would be fine all in all, but the guy doesn't look older than 12.
  • Grand Theft Me: Hikari takes over Mutsuki's body around the half-way point of the second series.
  • Gratuitous English: The theme song quasi-translates the series title as "Stellar Buster Mito". Several fansubs of the series followed suit.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Masatsuki and Ranban join the good guys for the second series.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Mito in the climax of the second series.
  • Hidden Backup Prince: Played straight despite Mito's attempts to prevent it.
  • High-Class Glass: Mito wears a distinctive monocle when she's in Space Pirate mode that's more than just a disguise.
  • Hilarity Ensues: after Queen Aoi's advisers trick her into naming a small town in Japan the capital of the galaxy.
  • I Am Spartacus: Combined with Lost In A Crowd during the second half of the first series. When the Galactic Patrol invades Aoi's hometown and demands that he surrender, his classmates from school put on Aoi masks and run out of the building. They get captured, but give Aoi time to escape.
  • If Its You Its OK: Mutsuke, on multiple levels: Since Aoi's the son of a space pirate and an earthling and becomes a girl she's got a few things to get past.
  • In the Blood: The Galactic Patrol tries to arrest Aoi. His crime? Being the son of a notorious space pirate.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: A variation. When the Galactic Patrol is looking for Aoi, they announce his "crimes" to the general populace, hoping to flush him out. In order, this includes being the son of a wanted Space Pirate, seducing women, being a ten-foot monster (and apparently a gremlin), and disrespecting his parents, since he injured his mother and ran away. Hearing the announcement, his classmates ask if it's true, and Aoi replies, "It's true," but stops short, leading his friends to have Imagine Spots based on the more outlandish claims. (He really meant the last one, though the first — and arguably the second — are also true).
  • Laser Blade: Mito and Ranban use these. Ranban is surprised that Aoi can use one as well, an early indication that he's More than Meets the Eye.
  • Latex Perfection: In episode 7, Masatsuki uses a full body suit to disguise himself as Mutsuki in order to capture Aoi.
  • Lens Flare: Shows up a lot in the first episode, mostly in the train station scenes. Later episodes tone it down a bit.
  • Lens Flare Censor: Used to obscure Kogero's features in flashbacks and stills. A good example is in the second episode, where Mito gazes fondly at a family photograph in Aoi's room.
  • Mama Bear: Mito is a particularly ferocious example despite her appearance. She cuts through the entire Galactic Patrol fleet in the first episode just to be with Aoi on the anniversary of his father's death. And when they actually capture Aoi...
    Mito: "I'm a mother first, and a pirate second."
  • Mayfly-December Romance: Mito is over 10,000 years old and knew Kogero for just ten. Aoi's father died when Aoi was five, but Mito assures Aoi his father was her One True Love and she's proud to be Mrs Mito Mitsukuni.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: Mutsuke goes berserk when Aoi accidentally sprinkles her with water. It hurts, it's frightening (one solid splash would kill her) and she's convinced he knew it would hurt her thanks to her brother's paranoid ramblings.
  • Mobile-Suit Human: Mito uses a "Mail Suit" as Powered Armor - or just to pass as a normal, adult humanoid woman. The fact that she'd been wearing it around Aoi until the series started causes problems in their relationship. Especially considering that all the Mail Suits look the same.
  • Mood Whiplash: There are some moments of pathos amidst all the zaniness, mostly around Mito's grief for Kagero and Aoi's reluctance to accept the newly revealed chibi Mito as his mom.
    Mito: "I just want to hold you with my own two arms without my exo suit. I've waited so long."
  • New Transfer Student: Mutsuki enrolls in Aoi's school in the second episode.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Aoi wears a bracelet that he believes is a good luck charm and the audience is led to believe is the key to a powerful weapon. He also starts having random bursts of powerful energy when the bad guys attack. Near the end of the series, Ranban removes this bracelet and tells Aoi it was an enhancer that brought out his powers, making him helpless without it. Cue Aoi causing an explosion with power even greater than he used before, and Mito telling Ranban that the enhancer was actually a limiter to keep Aoi's powers in check.
  • Ninja: Okubo-sensei reveals some skill with standard ninja tricks (roof-hopping, caltrops, etc.) towards the end of the first series. She still gets no respect from her students.
  • Not So Different: Mutsuke and Aoi
  • Override Command: The Mail Suits have a glitch triggered by hitting a sensor on the back; the glitch short-circuits the suit and paralyzes the wearer.
  • Physical God: Hikari is described as a creator (and destroyer) of worlds and at least a large chunk of the universe, if not the whole thing.
  • Pirate Girl: The title character, along with several other members of her crew.
  • Power Limiter: Aoi's amulet/bracelet turns out to be one.
  • Puppet Gun: Not quite the same, but one spaceship can be used like a lightsaber by handling a model-sized version of the ship.
  • Rebellious Princess: Mito
  • Really 700 Years Old: Mito is over ten thousand years old, but looks like she's in third grade. (And she's forced to start attending after Aoi's teacher sees her real form.)
  • Requisite Royal Regalia: The second series revolves around preventing Queen Hikari from gathering the royal sword, mirror, and bead. None of these objects is what you think they'd be from those descriptions.
  • The Resenter: Ranban's villainous motivation comes from being imprisoned and expelled from the royal family because his body never settled on a gender, and continues to pursue Mito mostly because he resents that she could rule the galaxy even though she doesn't want to and was perfectly happy to let him rule as long as he did a good job.
  • Sacred First Kiss: Weaponized. Mutsuke kisses Aoi to make his body stabilize as male long enough for him to use the royal sword to defeat Ranban. (Alas, it doesn't stick.)
  • Samus Is a Girl: Played with. Big Bad Ranban's helmet is knocked off during a fight to reveal the face of Mito's Mail Suit; this is when the audience learns that all the suits are made with the same face. Ranban himself is technically intersexed or neuter (it's not made clear which) since his/her Bizarre Alien Biology never triggered the change at puberty that normally determines gender in his/her species.
  • Second Episode Morning: Played with. Mito, caught climbing out of her Mom suit by Aoi, at the very end of the first episode, tries to climb back in at the beginning of the second episode and assure her son that what he saw was just a dream. The two of them laugh it off until she realizes that her non-human crewmates are still hanging around. With no other choice, she shows him her true self (an alien that looks like a 3rd grader), causing Aoi to faint. The very next scene shows Aoi waking up screaming and deciding that he must have dreamt the previous scene. Until his house is destroyed by a giant version of his mom that suddenly takes to the air. Aoi flees, is hit by a hearse, and then wakes up screaming again, this time for real. He hears his mom's voice from the other room, but when he sees her in her true form again, he leaps back into bed, hoping that this, too, is All Just a Dream. (It's not.)
    • Likewise, the second episode of the second series opens with Aoi dreaming he's a boy again, before Mitsuki turns to stone, a vision Hikari appears, and Aoi wakes up to find the capital of the galaxy being moved to the town.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One early eyecatch has Masatsuki declare, "Nee-san, my tears won't stop!", which is a riff on the On The Next Episode Of Catchphrase of Oniisama e....
    • A lot of shoutouts to Mito Komon, a long-running Japanese Jidai Geki TV drama about a high official named Tokugawa Mitsukuni who traveled the land in disguise fighting corruption.
      • First, and most obvious, Mito and Aoi's family name is the same as Tokugawa Mitsukuni's given name.
      • In episode Mito introduces her lieutenants Sabu and Shin with their complete names, Sukesaburō and Kakunoshin, which also happen to be the names of Tokogaw Mitsukuni's two devoted followers Suke-san and Kaku-san.
      • In episode 10, one of Mito's allies produces a seal proclaiming her to be the heir to the Galactic throne, similar reveals typically happened Once an Episode in Mito Komon
    • One of Masatsuki's trumped up charges against Aoi is he will multiply if you get him wet and turn evil if you feed him after midnight
    • The dub throws in references to Ghost in the Shell, and the visual references to Star Trek and Star Wars are perhaps inevitable.
  • Shower Scene: Mutsuki has one of these, though it's applying "aqua-coating" to protect against Earth's damp environment rather than a shower.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Early on, it's stated that Aoi is as a matter of law guilty of his mother's crimes.
  • Space Pirate: Mito and her crew.
  • Space Police: The Galactic Patrol.
  • Third Law of Gender Bending / School Uniforms are the New Black: Aoi spends most of the second series in a girl's school uniform.
  • True Beauty Is on the Inside: the reason Mito fell in love with a gentle human gardener. She's thrilled to learn he feels the same way after she reveals her true form.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Shin's power as some kind of nanotechnology-based lifeform. She spends most of her time either as a cat or a cloaked woman.
  • Whip It Good: Mito's hair ribbons can be used as a pair of whips, and the Chunagon has a similar weapon.
    • Evil Queen Hikari is another whip user.
  • Why Did It Have To Be Cats?: Masatsuki is deathly afraid of cats, a phobia Ranban notes he inherited from his father.
  • Wingding Eyes: All the humanoid aliens in the series have starburst-shaped highligts overlapping their pupils. Aoi, who's half-human, has one normal pupil and one starburst.
  • You're Not My Father: Aoi ends an argument with "You're not my mom! You're just an alien in a suit who looks like my mom!" Mito is devastated, and her reaction finally convinces Aoi she is indeed his mother. He's still not ready to call her mom, though.

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alternative title(s): Space Pirate Mito
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