Fena: Pirate Princess
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Fena: Pirate Princess ?
Even for a show about pirates (or with pirates in it), this week's episode of Fena: Pirate Princess has an insanely high body count. Sure, some of the dead are in the past – the destruction of O'Malley's ship Rumble Rose causes Fena to remember the horrors of her own near-death at sea as a child, and that involved watching people die right in front of her. But in the story's present, the entire crew of Rumble Rose appears to go down with the ship, and then when Yukimaru comes to save Fena he takes out quite a few sailors as well. It's hard to blame Fena for being upset by the sights; the captain of the navy vessel may call her “crazy,” but to our modern eyes it's easy to see that what's really going on is that her PTSD has been triggered.
In all honesty, that's probably the most realistic element of the episode, but by this point there are two things that we as viewers of this show need to come to terms with: that a) despite nods to history it's much more invested in spectacle and that b) Fena isn't really a “pirate princess.” The second is arguably more disappointing, because the multiple angles of Rumble Rose being destroyed are hard to look away from, making a good case for spectacle. But Fena hasn't shown the gumption that she had in the earliest episodes since then. Yes, she does demand to be trained in weapons, but that's treated more as a cute thing that she wants to try than her actually trying to learn how to defend herself, and as we see this week, when push comes to shove, she just screams for Yukimaru. Granted, this may not be the best example, what with the whole PTSD thing also being a factor, but even earlier when Abel is creeping on her, Fena just stands there looking shocked. You might expect her to push him away or at least jerk her head back in an attempt to escape his grasp, especially given how opposed she was to being sold at the brothel. She doesn't know Abel any more than the man who bought her virginity; why should she be reacting so differently?
It is possible that she's just floored by what Abel has been telling her: that he knew and was in love with her mother, and that he's obsessed enough to still be working on a portrait of her years later. Figuring out the nature of Abel's relationship to Helena does feel like one of the show's central mysteries, as well as what, if any, relation Abel has with Fena. There does seem to be a very real risk of him simply using Fena as a Helena substitute, but his line wondering why Helena just took Fena and left should perhaps create some doubt as to whether or not he was Helena's lover at one point – and if that means that he's Fena's biological father. That doesn't feel hugely likely given how old Fena was when she was first on a ship as a child, but Abel's obsession with her definitely doesn't feel natural at this point. He's also clearly prone to taking things to extremes; is “blow O'Malley's ship to smithereens” a reasonable reaction to “she's in love with me and hurt Fena a little bit?” My inclination is to say no.
Fena's wilting personality aside, the juxtaposition of her flashback and her present situation is very well done. Seeing the “monsters” from her childhood in memory and then realizing that they must have been members of the British Navy is a good use of the device, as well as how a young child interprets things that are too horrible for their minds to comprehend. That Abel was behind that attack as well isn't shocking, but it definitely is important, particularly since we don't have a firm sense of what his role on the ship really is – he's not the captain, but he issues orders as if he is. He could be the highest-ranking Marine (at the time more like soldiers on a sailing vessel), but he still seems to be overreaching at least a little. Not that he cares; Abel appears to have tunnel vision when it comes to Fena and all things Helena-related.
At least the episode ends with Fena out of Abel's hands. The oh-so-sneaky crew of the Bonito all simultaneously deciding to make off with the remaining lifeboat with only Enju and Kaede aware of each other's plans does manage to catch up with Yukimaru in record time. Shitan still doesn't seem entirely okay with going against Kei, so he still bears keeping an eye on. But when Fena wakes up, maybe she'll recover some of her spirit so that they can figure out what's really going on once and for all.
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