OP: 「Umi to Shinju」by (JUNNA)
「記憶 / 受け継ぐ旅」 (Kioku / Uketsugu Tabi)
“Memories / An Inherited Journey”
An original series that includes not only a double episode premiere, ninjas, and an alternative 18th-century setting has good chances of making it onto my watch list this season.
It’s still early to confirm for certain but the dial only needs a very slight push. If you haven’t heard of Kazoku Ōjo (Fena: Pirate Princess), you must be living under a rock. After the double-episode premiere this weekend, reviews from fans and critics alike have been raving. I’m not so sure this review will sound any different from what you may have already heard but here I go anyway.
We open to a young silver-haired girl being sent out to sea in a raft on her own in the midst of a battle at sea. The ship she was on is ablaze from invading pirates and those closest to her are fighting for their survival, trying to at least save her from a fate they know will come too soon. As she drifts away from the scene, her father tells her something about ‘Eden.’ But the battle surrounds him before he can finish.
Fast forward ten years and we’re now introduced to an older Fena Houtman (Set Asami). Dressed in white, singing by her window, she gives off the impression of being an innocent beauty longing for her white knight. The high balcony, the roses in her hair all add to an ‘air’ of romance. But within minutes of this character introduction, our heroine does a quick 180 to reveal her true personality. She’s clever, determined, and quite a caricature of what a damsel in distress should be. She, of her own volition, has auctioned off her virginity to the highest bidder in the hopes that she can escape during her nuptials. Least to say, things don’t exactly go as planned but nonetheless, events ensue that ensure she finds her way to safety.
Fena steals your heart right away with her vivacious personality, her innocence, her strength, and her joie de vivre. This damsel seems to have been navigating her distress quite smoothly, especially the last ten years, always hoping and reaching for her escape. It’s unclear to me how she’s managed to keep her virtue intact living on an island known for being a centre of red-light district activities, but we may learn more about her experiences as the series progresses. Either way, her situation didn’t extinguish her flame. She’s brave, creative, impulsive, and attracts attention which makes it all the more entertaining. Her story isn’t what you’d expect. Her character actually reminds me of some of the most recent Disney heroines over the last two decades (think Brave or Frozen or Moana). She’s self-assured even in the face of danger or the unknown, a characteristic that left me feeling inspired.
This premiere didn’t only do our main character justice but offered a well-rounded, yet quick, introduction to supporting characters who I imagine will be around for the long term. Our first pair, Otto (Hirata Hiroaki) and Salman (Muraji Manabu), complement Fena quite some. I wouldn’t be surprised if she got her light-hearted nature from them as they watched over her. There was such a strong similarity between their quips and those that she exchanged with Angie in the first few scenes. They were soldiers who served her family and have remained loyal ever since. They come to her ‘rescue’ in a very unorthodox way but not without the help of the 7 ninjas of Goblin island, one of whom is Fena’s introverted childhood friend, Sanada Yukimaru (Suzuki Ryoka). Other supporting characters (members of the ninja squad) and their tropes include:
- Shitan (Sakurai Takahiro): A warm hearted and handsome archer.
- Karin (Yuki Aoi): The only female part of the 7 ninjas.
- Enjo (Sato Gen) and Kaede (Osaka Ryota): The troublesome twins.
- Tsubaki (Osuka Jun): A top-tier cook.
- Makaba (Tanaka Shintaro): A mild-mannered member of the 7.
So far, what we know is that each member of the 7 was trained in-depth on Goblin island, governed by Sanada Yukihisa. The island was bequeathed to the Sanada clan by the Houtman family way back when, and ever since, they have given their loyalty to the Houtmans. It’s still a little mysterious that they only just found her and decided to rescue her after so many years, but perhaps the stars aligned just right. To add to the mystère, Yukimaru insinuated that he had not exactly saved her…
There is so much to uncover in this show, whether that be Fena’s past, the enemy who killed her father, the British soldier after her, the mysterious clear stone, or why a submarine exists in the 18th century. But I do believe, dear readers, that we’re in for a treat with this series. We’re most likely going to see Fena grow into her own, hopefully, change her dress, and uncover old secrets. I also smell a hint of romance in the air and some situations that will mean her ‘guardians’ will have to come to her rescue but not without her putting up a fight. She’s a strong lass this one and I can’t wait to see where her journey takes her.
I realize, after blogging for RC for a few years now, that I always have reasonably high expectations when it comes to original series. But in this case, maybe for once, this one will hit the nail on the head. What are your thoughts so far?
I was not impressed. The production looks good, but beyond that, everything fell flat for me. Fina is a bland protagonist with nothing going for her but her looks and a genki personality. The supporting cast is extremely cookie cutter so far (you could have copy-pasted the harem straight out of Ouran). I really wish they had taken the time to give some context to this world and the kind of person that Fina is, but instead there’s a lot of time wasted on unfunny gags and wandering around this village. It really doesn’t feel like Fina is struggling at all, or that she’s earned this boat and crew.
There’s plenty of time to improve, but I was really disappointed based on the trailers. This feels like a story that could have been interesting but was played so safe that it lost all its charm.
That’s so interesting. I agree it’s cookie cutter and I would normally skew that way but I don’t think it lacks in potential because of that. How many isekai come out every season? How many pop idol anime exist? Yet, a select few will leave an impression, even if it resembles a story we know ‘oh so well.’
Amongst stories that feel familiar, or ‘been there, done that’ there are often those that resonate and draw a crowd, as long as production quality, script, and characters keep you hooked. I didn’t expect this to be anything but (knowing its origins) what it is so perhaps that may have helped how I swallowed the pill.
I wouldn’t call this original series unique but it does have a hook. Fena is that. But that’s just my opinion.
I really enjoyed the double episode premiere! The characters work for me (the twins remind me of the same from Run with the Wind), especially Karin (which took me a little too long to recognize as Kumoko – Yuuki Aoi).
I’m very ready for the ride.
Welcome to the Toonami-funded anime scene . …. which should last considering DeMarco is now the head of CN’s action cartoon department. I’m not using the word “anime” in this context because CN isn’t a Japanese company, and time will tell how involved Japanese anime studios will be involved in the creative production.
…. Is Fena not the cutest thing you ever seen?? Her drawings remind me of Rukia’s from Bleach. Though I am sensing an alarming lack of “pirate” content here. I suppose ninjas are as good a replacement as any, though I also can’t get a good hold on what kind of world this is. Japanese ninjas and civilizations exist, but also Spain does apparently.
I hope this is a big hit for Crunchyroll and Adult Swim, as the latters’ original adult action programming hasn’t been very good.
I can literally smell the soy leaking out of the person who wrote this.
Ahhh—Fena is my type of gal, I am not even going to explain why I like her but I just do. SO I GUESS I’M ONE OF THE FEW WHO LIKES FENA AS A CHARACTER.
Go ahead and hate me.
But seriously though between the very sharp visuals, the rich colors and plot I kept forgetting this is an ANIME and not a DISNEY movie. Every scene made me think this has to be a “What If Mulan Didn’t Become A Soldier” side story. I know, I know I am nitpicking here.
ahahaha the Mulan ref.
Would you have preferred I said Snow White?
“Not your typical damsel”
But that’s exactly what it is? This had all the worst tropes, most of the cast is unsympathetic, the goal to accomplish is really not compelling at all, this series is promising to be a huge waste of animation.
I wanted to like it, badly, but after the first few minutes of thinking it was pretty I realized I had to dial down the expectations quite a bit. I didn’t want to be all negative but I looked forward to the show and came out feeling quite eh about it, yet saw all the good reviews online, so I was actually confused. Neither the characters or the plot has hooked me so far (on the contrary, even).
It has the feel of what I’d expect of a Disney show (though I’ve only watched about 2) so I tried to look at it that way, but then they threw in ninjas and some plot but somehow it doesn’t feel like it’s being taken seriously enough to matter. I like adventure stories, so I wouldn’t mind if Fena was just kinda whimsy/casual and decided to go on that journey just because/to see what she can find, but instead they tried to put a reason to it, except the reason doesn’t feel compelling enough to justify it. I like characters that just go with the flow/go along for the ride with a smile in a hmm sure why not? way, but that’s when they know what they’re getting into and decide to do it anyway. But Fena feels kinda thoughtless about it, which I don’t appreciate. Even though they gave her the whole “I cut my hair I’m ready” treatment it fell kinda flat for me.
Her personality is more on the strong side so I hope she gets some chances to prove that she’s not just a talkative girl who does nothing of interest and be a pretty plot device. I was really looking forward to Yukimaru since the start too, but eh… he’s like the basic love interest in otome games that is a little tsun/cold but saves you when necessary , except the otome love interests are actually better in that regard personality wise.
I love Yuuki Aoi, Sakurai and Osaka Ryota so that’s a plus, and they even had One Piece Sanji’s VA on one of the old dudes (too bad they’re gone). The art/animation/budget seems to be what I expected too. Considering the adventure just started, here’s hoping it manages to live up to the hype in the upcoming episodes!