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More than it appears
On the surface Space Pirate Mito is clearly a kid's show. It's a bright, cartoony, and frequently silly romp filled with funny animals and derring-do. The first series covers little new ground as its tale of pirates, princesses, and amazingly embarrassing parents winds its way to a slightly loopy twist on the inevitable happy ending. Even the transgender elements obviously weren't intended to be transgressive so much as to exploit the "I don't wanna be a girl" cootie factor, a point that's a bit obscured by an apparent decision to aim the English dub at an older demographic than the original.

However, underneath the silly surface there's some serious stuff about inevitable shifts in parent-child relationships that come with adolescence and the price of keeping family secrets. Despite the all the zaniness Mito's love for Aoi is never mocked, and her conflict with him ultimately stems from her understandable but ultimately misguided desire to preserve his childish innocence for as long as possible. The visual reversal of adult and child may add humor to Mito's attempts to reassert her maternal role by treating Aoi as the little boy he once was, but that just underscores the reality that the transition from "Mommy" to "Mother" as a child grows up can be rocky even for the earthbound. And the True Beauty Is On The Inside Stock Aesop takes on a new meaning when Mito uses it to assure Aoi that it proves he is the literal embodiment of The Power of Love between her and her beloved Kagero. She can't help but love Aoi, she tells him, because "you are our future." Many works pivot on a mother's love, but few go to such lengths to explain why it should be so.

But none of that bogs the story, and soon it's back to space (or at least the spaceship) for the race to the conclusion. Will Aoi get the girl? Will he ever address Mito as "Mother" and mean it? Of course he will, but there'll be plenty of good silly fun getting there. The second season is more of the same only focussed more on the well-worn trials and tribulations of young love as Aoi struggles to save the Universe and Mutsuke while Mito must come to accept that she is no longer the primary woman in his life. Still good fun but with a much less original subtext.

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