It’s finally time! The long-awaited premiere of Fena: Pirate Princess debuted as one of the promised original series created a home at Toonami. So for this momentous occasion, we at Toonami Faithful felt it would be a disservice if we didn’t do all we could to help promote and spread the word of this series. And while we were always planning to do podcast episodes and possible editorials, we decided that much like what we did with the dub premiere of Attack on Titan, we’d analyzed each episode after it premieres. After all, it’s first seen on Toonami; who better than Toonami Faithful to review the series for fans! This will be my first venture into the weekly review game, and I find it exciting, especially since Fena: Pirate Princess was the original I was looking forward to most. So I hope you enjoy the pieces I write and my commentary about the property as we all explore the high seas together!
We begin seeing a short flashback of Fena escaping an attack on a boat she was on with a young boy named Yukimaru, pleading that she stay alive and that he will find her. Ten years later, we find Fena washed up ashore at Shangri-La and is a courtesan of the night. An aristocrat purchased her, and while Fena believed she had a full-proof plan to escape, things didn’t go as planned (like having to be on the top floor of her establishment). At the last second, a couple of old acquaintances she knew from before make a smashing entrance and help her escape a terrible fate awaiting her.
With the help of her two friends, Otto and Salman, the three managed to evade the authorities, with Salman staying behind to allow Fena time to escape. However, his efforts were in vain as both Otto and Fena were shortly captured. When Fena was losing all hope, a mysterious samurai shows up and cuts down the would-be assailants from Fena. As the first episode ends, Fena was caught staring into the cold black eyes of her savior and tried to talk to him, going on about how he’s different from any of the men she’s seen in the past ten years. And while she’s convinced that this man is Yukimaru, the man strikes her over the head and knocks her out cold. (At the end, we see a flashback of Yukimaru hitting Fena over the head with a stick much like what happened now, validating Fena’s belief).
The following episode begins with Fena waking up from her sleep as both Otto and Salman are happy to see she’s alright. However, the three of them (and a dog named Brule) are on a row bow on the ocean with no land or civilization anywhere. And while Fena is excited that everyone escaped, tensions run high as the group sailed toward a mysterious island where it would appear that the saviors of Fena were waiting for her arrival. According to Otto, a comrade in arms lives on the island that happens to be the exact destination of their rescue mission.
Fena would get a face-to-face meeting with Master Yukihisa (ruler of the island). Confused about why she was rescued, Fena is informed that he owes a debt to Fena’s family, most notably her father, and bestows a small glass item/stone that her father told him to protect with their lives. It would appear that Fena has the only answer in unlocking the puzzle of this mysterious item, but sadly she doesn’t have a clue as to what that might be. Not to be discouraged entirely, Fena is taken on a tour with a young girl named Karin the following day. And to no one’s surprise, Fena quickly ditches her guide to experience the island for herself and ends up meeting a few inhabitants in the island (a bow-maker named Makaba, an archer named Shitan, and three brothers Tsubaki, Kaede, and Enju).
Later that night, Fena is seen holding the item and is surprised by her long-lost friend Yukimaru. The two don’t catch up, but they end up discussing what the object could mean and hoping for Fena to figure it out. Finding some resolve, Fena decided to cut her hair and remembered some of her memories of the night of the attack where her father’s last word was “Eden.” Fena wants to pick up where he left off and continue this journey. The Master Yukihisa calls over every person she’s met on the island and learns that they are the most potent fighting force around. They are to be given a boat for Fena to continue this journey (and a pretty impressive one at that). Fena wishes Otto and Salman off, and Fena’s adventure begins to find out what her father was searching for and what the item she holds dear means.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when experiencing the series and how the characters would act. Synopses and trailers can only show so much, so getting to see Fena’s personality shine right from the get-go felt like a fantastic way to introduce her. She’s not some meek child or some hardnose vigilante. She feels surprisingly human and someone who often dreams for greater adventure. She has the energy of a young heroine (something I love to see), and her exuberance was refreshing, and I can’t wait to see more of it throughout Fena: Pirate Princess. From her explaining all of her escape plans, how it was like to shoot a bow, to her complimenting her colleagues for things they didn’t do, Fena took center stage with whatever she did, and I loved every second.
And seeing the contrast of both Fena and Yukimaru from their hardships ten years ago is undoubtedly a bit shocking to take in. I give Fena a ton of credit for staying upbeat, considering her life at Shangri-La and what she would later become. Instead, Yukimaru seems much colder, almost like the past ten years traumatized him in a way that Fena doesn’t recognize. And due to Fena’s romantic feelings toward Yukimaru, I’m interested to see how the two will influence each other while they are together. Maybe Fena’s youthfulness can help break the shell that Yukimaru hides himself in.
But it isn’t all about Fena and Yukimaru. The entire cast of characters introduced made a splash, which helps to keep the attention of viewers. Seeing the dynamic of the group in a non-violent setting created a sense of community and quickly made me want to learn more. The characters felt interesting despite the short time they had on screen. I want to know more! And I’m sure the viewers feel the same way (although some for other reasons that I won’t get into here).
Visually, Production I.G. wasted no efforts, as the series looked stunning at the start. The action, character closeups, you name it, Fena: Pirate Princess, was easy on the eyes. I always tend to appreciate the level of detail when watching an anime, especially something I’m going in blind. Probably what deserves the most praise is how beautiful the island looked both as Fena was approaching and while she was walking around. It blew me away. Production I.G. always does a fantastic job, but you can quickly tell with this series.
I especially enjoyed the English cast for Fena: Pirate Princess, with Brittany Cox taking center stage for her performance as Fena. Being a big Genshin Impact fan, I’ve already been quite familiar with her voice due to her being a playable character named Fischl. What’s funny is that the only thing Fena and Fischl have in common is the exuberant energy they both have, and Cox has nailed that in spades in both the game and this anime series. Her voice fits perfectly for Fena, and I couldn’t be more amazed at her performance. And while I’m excited to hear the rest of the pirate crew (Robb Moreira/Yukimaru, Anjali Kunapaneni/Karin, Nicholas Corda/Shitan, etc.), I greatly enjoyed both Doug Stone (Otto) and Frank Todaro (Salman). Both did not fall behind from Fena’s appearances when they shared the screen, and Todaro’s voice acting to sound like he had no teeth was astonishing to hear. These types of moments from characters resonate with me, and I found it incredibly endearing as impressive to hear! (Also, I loved hearing Tsubaki’s displeasure toward Kaede and Enju when they were feeding Makaba).
So now Fena and her crew are sailing off to finish what her father started, and I’m interested to see how this plays out. Considering how much I enjoyed every character getting some attention, I wonder if Fena: Pirate Princess will be more character-driven than plot-driven. Overall, I felt the story was moving a tad fast, but considering the setup for viewers to get ready for Fena’s arrival, I didn’t mind. Having a lead like Fena makes the story even more exciting, and I wonder how her connection with Yukimaru will flourish as everyone travels together. Fena: Pirate Princess hits all the right marks and deserves a lot of the attention and praise it has received so far. I’m incredibly impressed by these first two episodes and cannot wait to see more!
Rating: Absolutely satisfying and a wonderful start to the series!
Sidenote: Brule is the best character and I will not be taking any other suggestions to the contrary.
CJ Maffris is the Editor-in-Chief at Toonamifaithful.com. Feel free to follow CJ as he joins Fena and her pirate crew to find Eden on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris
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