Fena: Pirate Princess

Alt title: Kaizoku Oujo

TV (12 eps)
3.914 out of 5 from 923 votes
Rank #1,285

Young orphan girl, Fena Houtman has been raised on an Island where there is no hope of becoming anything more than chattel, to be used and discarded by soldiers of the British Empire. But Fena is more than just another powerless orphan. When her mysterious past comes knocking, Fena will break the chains of her oppressors. Her goal: forge a new identity, free of bondage, and search for a place where she can truly belong and find out the true mysteries behind a keyword “Eden.” It is the story of a lifetime adventure she and her crew of misfits and unlikely allies will have, in pursuit of her goals!

Source: Crunchyroll

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The 18th century was a great time for pirates. The Golden Age of Piracy lasted from the year 1650 to 1720. Thousands of pirates were active between these years. Famous pirates from this period include Henry Morgan, William 'Captain' Kidd, 'Calico' Jack Rackham, Bartholomew Roberts and the fearsome Blackbeard (also known as Edward Teach). Although, Fena: Pirate Princess is a story about an alternative history, those who are attentive and well-versed in history can track a few mentions of the War of Spanish Succession that happened between 1701 and 1714, so the whole story takes place somewhere between these years. Fena: Pirate Princess tells the tale of a young girl, Fena Houtman, who has had it hard in her life. When she was just a kid, pirates killed her nearest and dearest, she lost everything that was dear to her and now she does not have anything. One day, Fena finds herself on the island Shangri-La where prostitution is legalized. When she is about to be sold to a British soldier, she is freed by unknown men that help her escape. It turns out, they know about her past. Who could they be? Fena really made me hyped to see the anime. I mean, I love pirates, I love adventure themed series and I just cannot possibly dislike this series, or so I thought. Let us start with the story that does not have anything new about it whatsoever. Fans of Final Fantasy will sure find a lot of similarities between Final Fantasy 9 and Fena: Pirate Princess. The anime, by the way, is tagged ‘PG-13 - Teens 13 or older,’ but, for some reason, Fena sold herself to a naked British soldier, who wants to play some chess with her, while being totally naked and surrounded by a number of other women, who are also, for some reason, naked. But that is not what I mean. What the story lacks is a spice; the only spice and shock factor the viewer sees is in the first episodes and then the whole series becomes… painfully boring and mediocre that even all of the Studio Ghibli movies have more spice to them and a more interesting plot, though they are tagged ‘G - All Ages,’ than Fena. I am not going to touch upon the art and voice acting, because they are quite beautiful. What I want to discuss, however, is the characters. Fena: Pirate Princess suffers the Naruto syndrome; they are both as stupid, but that is not what I am trying to say. What I am trying to say is that in Fena: Pirate Princess any character is more interesting than Fena. Literally, the only good thing about Fena is her beautiful hair. She is far from being smart, because she decides to fake her becoming a prostitute and to rob the rich and escape with their money. So far good.  And to bribe the guards she decides to guess what… use her body. What a bloody genius. And that is not the only example of how smart the lassie is. However, the biggest problem about her is that she does not feel like a person at all. She feels as if she were some doll with no personality that does not show any feelings whatsoever; she looks like some always smiling robot. Overall, I hated this show. Even if you turn your brain completely off, which I do not recommend, it is still super difficult to find the show anywhere enjoyable. The story is bloody obvious from the very beginning and you do not need to be a genius to guess what will happen in the next episodes. On top of that, nothing really happens and most of the episodes have no real importance for the plot and character development. Finally, the weakest side of this show is its characters, with Fena being the weakest, horribly written character. Honestly, did the creators of Fean think that people would like this show only because of pretty animation? That is not how things are supposed to work. P.S. Almost forgot! If your anime has ‘pirate’ in its title, add some screen time for pirates. Thank you.


No Pirate's Life Anime originals are an exciting thing. It's a pain to get them greenlit as opposed to manga adaptations, they can be a source of unlimited creativity and use of talent, and for that reason, most of my favorite anime are originals. But for some reason, writers of anime originals can sometimes completely miss the mark on their subject and write like they're flailing around on a stage, getting all their lines wrong, and then expecting applause by the end. How I picture it going down was, the idea for this show was pitched just as the title, Fena: Pirate Princess, and the writer who was at the meeting fell asleep halfway through hearing it, and only heard "Fena". Because that's the only one of those three words this anime actually has in its focus. It technically has a character named Fena. That's it. Then, after his three day bender in between writing the script, somebody must have noticed he wasn't including any pirates and/or princesses, and told him one day before the deadline, so he had to cram a few pirates in around the edges just so they wouldn't get sued for false advertizing. Too bad it didn't work, because I want to sue them anyways. "Pirates" There are no Pirates. The pirates is a lie. The main character isn't a pirate. In fact, none of the main characters are pirates at all. The closest you get is a british dude, in terms of main characters. The only thing the main characters have in common with pirates, is that they float around on the water. But, in a submarine, not like, a pirate ship, because they couldn't even give us one goddamn thing, huh? This is probably the part where fans of the show are either saying "now wait just a minute, I watched episode three, there totally were some pirates" or "who cares if there's no pirates, that alone shouldn't make you hate this anime" Yeah, there were some pirates in the background, and there was that crew of female pirates who hijacked the show for a grand total of maybe the ten minutes they were onscreen for the entire twelve episode series, and that isn't enough. It just isn't. The pirates can't just be some passing thing, in a show with pirate in the title. This show is up against Treasure Island, Black Sails, Pirates of the Carribean, and even One Piece in terms of pirate portrayal and it comes up short on every account, even though it has pirate in the name! Also, even if that isn't enough to call this a bad anime, it still sucks anyways, there not being pirates just makes it easier to see that. The characters are all insufferable. They're ninjas on a submarine that all have some random agenda that I can't decipher. One of them is just an asshole who physically abuses the main girl, and otherwise, sits there with a dumb as shit look on his face, doing nothing. *anime gasp* The rest are just... kind of there. They try and make them quirky and likable but in doing so, actually make them boring and unlikable, because they're all dicks to each other for no reason, and are just sock puppets in the shape of anime characters. More importantly, they aren't pirates, so I don't give a shit about them.  Fena herself is eye-rollingly boring. As randomredneck on the forums pointed out, she could actually be replaced by a literal device, like a macguffin or something, and she would be just as much of a benefit to the show. She's just some magical thing with no real personality or emotions. The pirates show up, they be women, be less clothed, and do something, not much of import, but just enough of a something so you know they're there and you can't say there aren't any pirates at all, and then they disappear. They get blown up like team rocket. The story is just hogwash, if I'm being honest, I can't make heads or tails of this thing. Fena's father and mother died protecting some place called Eden or something and fena found a glass map that will lead them to it and the ninjas want to help them because reasons, and there's a british guy who wants to stop them because he was in love with fena's mother, but fena is actually a witch who will bring doom to all, but actually not because she's the only one who knows the way to the promised land, and there are pirates fucking around in the background while all this stupid garbage nobody cares about is explained in-between the characters quirkily ribbing each other in the balls about mundane shit. When they finally get to where they're trying to go, there's lots of emotional music and everything feels like it's supposed to be climactic. I'm just sitting here thinking, what did I miss? Was I supposed to care by this point? I was still waiting for a reason to care and the story's already over? I don't mean to disrespect this show so much, but, actually, I do, and I don't respect it, because it was clearly made with zero passion or talent on the part of the writers. So much potential is wasted here, on... nothing! Twelve episodes of the most hamfisted plot you've ever seen, and it's not even clever or entertaining in execution. There's no story hinges, nothing unexpected happens, it's all "go here, do this, now go here, do this" for twenty minutes a week. Ugh... The animation and music are good, okay? I'll say it. They're fine. But this needed some real chops to be a good story, and I just don't know if it's just that anime can't do it, if Japanese writers just aren't culturally aware, but for some reason, anime just can't write good fantasy anymore. It always has to be isekai, or, in the case of this anime, something completely contrary to the title because they don't know how to write a good pirate adventure story so they just write a mediocre samurai action story. I don't know what it is. But this ain't it, chief. Most mediocre and disappointing anime to come out this year. 5/10


TL;DR - Watching Fena: Pirate Princess is like watching a novice play a $5,000 guitar poorly. In other words, the production values are top-notch, but the writer(s) are complete amateurs. Gorgeous animation, a decent soundtrack, and quality voice acting wasted on a terrible story and nonsensical characters. This review would turn into an essay if I were to pick it apart episode by episode, so let me sum up a list of core problems (WARNING: Major spoilers. If you don't want spoilers, just read the bold sentences): Pirates make up maybe 10% of this show. The main crew isn't really a "pirate" crew, they're all Japanese ninja. They don't really do any pirating. They man a god-damn submarine for god's sake! Fena's maybe a pirate for a couple years as a child (happened before this anime) but then her father's entire crew is wiped out. And Fena never really becomes a pirate either, so the "Pirate Princess" in the title is a complete misnomer. This ended up being about 1800s Japanese culture vs. 1800s British culture. We're watching samurai and ninja fight against a bunch of Englishmen with bolt-action rifles. The only actual pirates in the show get killed off by a nuke (not kidding). The main antagonist digs MILFs and has no other real backstory or character arc. The entire show, he's chasing after the shadow of Fena's mother (Helena), who was his childhood friend separated by circumstances. Somehow Helena and Fena are "fated" to this giant treasure trove called Eden (and also a million other things) but our antagonist doesn't care about any of that. They all find Eden and then he finally hears the ghost of Helena tell him she loves him before they both fade away (WTF?!). Plot holes like Swiss cheese. So, who are the Goblins? Why do they exist? What actually happens with the semi-evil father figure that kinda sorta threatens them and rules the Goblins with an iron fist? Who the heck is The Observer and why did they "weave" Fena's life like it was a toy? Why did Fena suddenly turn Asian at the end after losing her superpowers and her memories? Why is this paradise without death only mentioned in the very last episode? Why do we have a convenient "Vault of the Earth" treasure trove that also contains like 10 other fabled/legendary treasures? The Vault of the Earth is also Eden and apparently, it contains the San Miguel's treasure, the treasure from the ship Captain Kidd captured, it's also The Holy Grail, it's also The Ark of the Covenant, The Knights Templar (?? wasn't that a group of people?), La Noche Triste (that was an event?)... someone just Googled a giant list of famous treasures/organizations/events throughout history and shit it all out in a single sentence (@ 4:36 in episode 11). They tried too hard. There are several moments that are supposed to be heartwarming, but it ends up awkward because the characters don't make sense. Fena has no personality, and our male lead is a stoic asshole for no good reason. Lots of bipolar personality disorder - the show rapidly flips back and forth between trying to be really serious, action-packed, and thought-provoking and comedic slice-of-life. There are so many mythical references (see above) and they tried to make the last episodes hit you super hard with fantasy elements and self-sacrifice and man vs. god conflict and morality and sudden betrayals but it's ALL SO EFFING AWKWARD BECAUSE IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE. Gah. I really wanted to like this but holy lord the writing quality is comedic. Save yourself 5 hours of your life and pass on this show.

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