***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Fena: Pirate Princess. Reader discretion is advised.***
After surviving a shipwreck when she was young, Fena Houtman (voiced by Asami Seto) has lived the last ten years on a small island in the middle of nowhere. Not wishing to stay a second longer in this forsaken place, Fena attempts a daring escape.
However, things go wrong, and it looks like it is all over for Fena.
But then, from the shadows, a mysterious group of warriors comes to her aid, the Samurai Seven. Thanks to Fena’s ancestors, the Samuari are honor-bound to help Fena in whatever way they can.
The Samurai take Fena to their home, where our heroine learns of an ancient riddle, one only she can solve. This riddle will take Fena and the Samurai Seven across the seas and around the world, searching for a treasure well beyond the worth of mortal gold.
At its heart, Fena: Pirate Princess was a fun high-seas adventure with decent action, enjoyable characters, and charm. We’ll touch on those aspects in a moment, but before we do that, there is a nagging voice in the back of my head. A voice that I cannot keep bottled up until the Series Negatives section of this review.
Although Fena: Pirate Princess was a strong original anime (i.e., not an adaptation of anything), it didn’t come anywhere near its full potential. As soon as episode twelve finished, I couldn’t help feel robbed of something that should have been much more.
Thus, as I am writing this review, this series left me with a bitter aftertaste. But up until the end, I was having a good time with this show.
If there was one thing Fena: Pirate Princess did well, it was its main cast, consisting of the members of the Samurai Seven and the titular Fena.
Early on, this series firmly established how close-knit the Samurai were with one another. You could get a real sense that they had lived and fought side-by-side for many years. As a result, they were energetic, silly, and lax when things were quiet. Likewise, they were ruthless, coordinated, and fearsome when there was a fight.
I will need to risk a slight spoiler to make this next point, but I feel it is necessary if we want to better frame this cast’s impact. Regardless, in the first half of this story, I got a strong Akame ga Kill vibe from Fena: Pirate Princess.
Supposing that means nothing to you, the short answer is, Akame ga Kill isn’t an anime known for its survival rate.
How does that apply to Fena: Pirate Princess? Well, I was worried for everyone’s safety. I wanted to follow these characters for as long as possible. Or in other words: This series had a collection of characters worth caring about.
Neat, but where does Fena fit in with this? After all, she was the newest member of the squad.
First off, let’s not deny how often Fena was the damsel in distress. Given how she constantly faced opponents who were heavily armed and had more combat experience than her, she was pretty damn useless in a fight. Aside from that, though, particularly when our heroes weren’t in mortal peril, Fena fit right in.
There came a point in this series where the Samurai had to choose: Do they follow orders and leave Fena to her fate, or do they risk death and try to get her back.
In other shows that have presented a similar crossroads, the latter option usually advances the plot, and it was no different here in Fena: Pirate Princess. However, I have lost track of how many times characters have chosen to save the protagonist simply because they are the protagonist. You typically get such a scenario when the main character is utterly worthless.
That wasn’t a problem for Fena: Pirate Princess. Our heroine, despite her lack of combat training, was exceedingly likable. When the Samuari went to save her, it wasn’t due to some narrative diktat. No, they did it because they wanted to help a dear friend.
If we put Fena: Pirate Princess on a scale, it would lean more towards the worth-checking-out side. I know I don’t regret watching this series.
Fena: Pirate Princess wasn’t a needs-to-be-taken-deadly-serious anime. When there was action – and there was a lot of it- it was exciting; this show didn’t need to be traveling at a hundred miles an hour to maintain intrigue and interest. Things could slow down and be goofy now and then.
That said, when things do get tenser, it might surprise you how quickly you’ll be at the edge of your seat. This series is hard to put down once it starts going, and it starts going rather quickly.
It’s just a shame that someone during production thought, “Yeah, twelve episodes is enough.”
This show’s pacing was not good. And to be blunter about it, Fena: Pirate Princess’s pacing was sometimes crap.
You know how some stories drag on and make very little progress even though so much time has passed. Well, this series had the opposite problem; it went by so fast. It was difficult to take in what was happening since we were on to the next plot point before even catching our breath.
This did not do Fena: Pirate Princess any favors.
Most notably, as this show moved closer to its conclusion, the narrative became much trickier to follow. It also didn’t help that this series kept introducing obstacles and challenges that, ultimately, never amounted to anything.
That whole “our people will hunt us down if we disobey an order,” yeah, whatever happened to that?
I don’t have any proof of this, but it did feel as though Fena: Pirate Princess was originally meant to be much longer. Frankly, given how dense this series tried to be, I am shocked it was a short as it was.
And if you think the show was merely setting things up for a season two, don’t hold your breath. This ending was pretty definitive.
Speaking of Fena: Pirate Princess’s ending, maybe it was just me, but what in the actual hell was going on?
This series relied on philosophy speak to have itself sound deep and insightful. Perhaps, if you’re just getting into anime, this trick might – MIGHT – work on you. But I have heard enough of this type of soul-searching speech for a lifetime. To me, this show was talking out of its ass more than anything.
That is why I feel so robbed. Until this show entered its endgame, it was doing fine. Scratch that; it was doing incredibly well. Then right at the close of everything, Fena: Pirate Princess lost its way.
This series could have been much bigger than it turned out to be, which was a real shame.
No, I did not like this show’s ending. However, overall, yes, I did like this show.
Boasting an enjoyable cast to follow, when the story was in adventure mode, it captured an excitement that was impossible to ignore. When it was on its A-game, this series was great fun.
It is too bad this show’s potential never got to come out.
Nevertheless, Fena: Pirate Princess has earned itself a recommendation.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Fena: Pirate Princess? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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