2021 seems to be a year when genres of shows that I usually like generally disappoint me. Then again, that doesn’t have to be a designated year. It happens all the time. But for 2021,The first one was obviously Vivy? I did a post about that one already and I don’t want to talk about that again. Just read that post here: Link. Fena: Pirate Princess was at least better then that one. Not really a large hurdle to clear, I think. Yeah. Both shows were ambitious for one cour series with dreams of grandeur that clearly never got there. Fena never grabbed me, but it had a lot of legitimately interesting moments that drew me back into it on some level. It’s the shame that I will eventually forget this one.
So, what were the highlights of Fena: Pirate Princess? Well, the art and animation are generally solid. A lot of the background art in Fena is outstanding. It feels very 2000’s but upgraded to 2021’s technology through Production IG’s very polished production. The character designs were simple but decently detailed as well. Production IG’s almost never fails to create stellar looking anime after all. All the sword fights were outstanding and full of great choreography and animation. The one sea fight that happened was the one stand out moment that gave me hope for the show going from that. It was a moment that could show some of the great things the show was aiming for in some way.
I can honestly say that I also find the entire premise of Fena: Pirate Princess interesting as well. I mean, it has the makings of a classic adventure series. Characters will work together to face different obstacles and threats along the while to gathering or traveling to one object. Some people called Fena very something similar to one piece because of the pirate business and that could be true I suppose. There is a lot of power in having an object or a place that characters want to want to develop some interesting characters. In those cases, the plot doesn’t matter and the show really works on its full characters. Well, Fena is something, I guess.
If there is one major complaint that sums up a lot of my complaints of Fena simply, it’s the lack of episode count. There is a reason why adventure anime movies are short, but well refined and still quite busy or adventure anime are usually two cour + long. (Besides Rage of Bahamut: Genesis that did a decent job in one cour). Adventuring takes a while It means building up a cast of characters villain and other wise, building a world that the adventure takes place in, and inevitably challenge the power of a god or the ancients at the end. Something with almost every adventure story seems to do. But Fena had one cour and while taking some cuts with the other characters and its world, still didn’t have enough time.
Fena’s character writing was certainly a thing. I mean overall, she has some kind of arc. Fena starts as a naïve girl who has many sorts of plans of escaping from the island she is on, but they are all just goofy ideas and plots. Meeting her group of samurai 7 on their WW2 style diesel submarine (in the 16th century?), she slowly learns more about herself as the mystical quest for whatever the piece of material she was given leads her to Eden. So yeah, she recovers her lost memories and then sacrifices them for the world itself. Clearly, there is an idea of an arc in that material. Its just that she doesn’t feel like a lot through out the show because while she is discovering herself, she gets sidelined a lot.
The lack of time also means we barely know most of the samurai 7 other then some side bits of personality while they interact with each other. Shitan, the one with the bow gets motivations for why he does things. Yukimaru is the sword guy who continually gets hurt but is Fena’s long lost love interest. The only other member of this group that I know is Akari and that is because she uses modern weaponry. I also do know the main bad guy able but not his crew or the group of female pirates (who are fun) that work for him until they are literally blasted out of the show. There was obviously a through line the show wanted to get to with these characters to have an emotional impact, but nah. Just kill them.
With that, the finale element of the show is the location of Eden and what was there. I obviously gave away the ending so I don’t have to say anything about that. Just know that it was so rushed and not out of place in the end, just not as interesting or as organically joined into the plot as well as it could. I say that knowing that there are bread crumbs of Eden and who Fena is through out the show that do lead to this point. So no, it is not a surprise when some things happen. Especially if one is genre savy enough. But, nothing about the ending was organic even if the bread crumbs where there. The show has a lot of seriousness to it, but the last episode just being full of “what” doesn’t really help you know? There has to be at least 12 more episodes for all of this to at least matter.
So in the end, Fena was ok. It was fine. Completely watchable. Very fun to enjoy every week since it aired on Toonami on Saturdays. I mean, it’s not often that original anime appeared on english tv vs when they appear in Japan. How was I not going to watch Fena? Yes, Space Dandy was a thing. Blah blah blah blah. I wish this could have been a more special and memorable show. Clearly, the work into doing that is there. Look at how it looks and how it was advertised. Top quality stuff there. I just doubt I will remember much about Fena going on because it is just that uninteresting. Watchable and not much else.