Fena: Pirate Princess
Episode 12

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 12 of
Fena: Pirate Princess ?

Of all the things I expected Fena: Pirate Princess to remind me of, a Stephen King novel was not on my list. But here we are – the reveal of Fena's purportedly awesome powers are distinctly similar to those presented to the heroine of King's 2017 novella Gwendy's Button Box, cowritten with Richard Chizmar. Only…Fena makes much less sense, and that's saying a lot, given that Gwendy is given a magic box with mysterious buttons that are tied to, shall we say, the continued existence of various parts of the world and chocolates that enhance her everything. Fena, on the other hand, learns that her entire life has been leading up to her journey to Eden so that she can make a very important choice: should she end the world because humanity's a lost cause? Or should she give it another chance?

Now, at least, the whole Noah's Ark thing makes sense, and I dearly hope that they didn't choose Joan of Arc as their base historical figure because they were making a terrible arc/ark pun. There's a definite implication that Noah's wife Na'amah was the original “maiden” who had to make her choice about the fate of humans and that she opted to, for lack of a better term, push the red button. We all know that's not what Fena's going to choose, if only because she has zero interest in the deaths of her friends. But she's also seen what happened to Abel when he lost Helena, and even if she didn't fully understand what was going on there (and did any of us, really?), she wouldn't have wanted that sort of descent into madness for Yukimaru. While this does once again make Abel a more important character than his behavior merits, it also shows us that Fena is breaking what cycles she can.

While a piece of me really would have preferred that she stood up to Cody and her not-dad (who are basically less fun versions of Terry Pratchett's Auditors) and refused flat-out to make the terrible choice they forced upon her, I do think that she still managed to come out better than the two previous maidens we know about, Helena and Jeanne. Both of them, you may recall, died at the stake, and in Helena's case it damned Abel to the life we saw him leading. (And maybe that happened with Jeanne as well, depending on where you fall on the whole Gilles de Rais thing – did he become a Bluebeard-like serial killer figure due to Jeanne's death?) So, by simply living and refusing to bend to someone else's will, Fena has broken that particular sad cycle: she's going to forget, she knows she'll forget, but she still manages to stand by Yukimaru, something that their deaths prevented the others from doing. Maybe she just was wiser in her choice of allies, or maybe Yukimaru was more stubborn than Abel – but I like the idea that it was both of them and their mutual feelings that made things turn out all right. (And I will die on the hill that Yukimaru's admission of love broke through the “spell” of her amnesia.)

Even though it wasn't technically part of her choice, Fena still ultimately chose to be happy. That's sweet and lovely and all of those good things, but it is undermined by how awkward this episode feels in all but its happy ending. We went from a high seas adventure to an esoteric discussion that links back to the Old Testament and religious figures without any real bridge between the two. Yes, it does go back to the whole “colonialism is due to money, power, and God” theory my eighth-grade history teacher espoused, but that's a pretty tenuous link between El Dorado and Eden. It's kind of like the link between this show's title and its reality: we were promised a show about a spunky young girl escaping a life she had no control over and becoming a pirate princess. What we got instead was a show about a girl being manipulated every step of the way by the Powers That Be and only got to make a choice at the very end of it, and then she just barely managed to make it work out because her love interest wasn't a twit. She was, as it turns out, a real live princess, but that didn't have a whole lot to do with the rest of the story.

In the end, I think Fena: Pirate Princess was a show that was too ambitious for its own good and lost its way. Fena flirted with being the strong, self-possessed heroine she ought to have been, but the story's own mechanics got in the way of her becoming a better character. Shitan's whole issue was dropped, Abel was drastically overused and didn't deserve his ending (you can't make him and Helena the next Zeref and Mavis, show!), and really the writers just got too enamored of their own schtick. It's a real shame, because I enjoyed much of it and it had the potential to be something better.

Well, you can't win them all. At least we'll always have that opening theme.


Fena: Pirate Princess is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and broadcast on Adult Swim.

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