Strap yourselves in for a lengthy review because I have been SO EXCITED for this show and it’s finally aired!!
Kaizoku Oujo opens with a young Fena Houtman preparing to have her virginity auctioned off to some rich drunk who’s bought the right to have his way with her. This is a big event in the area because Fena’s striking good looks are very unusual, at least compared to the average citizens around her. So unusual that she’s been dubbed the White Marginal. (Marginal? Maybe that has some significance later but as a one-off it’s an odd nickname.)
Fena’s age is not specified in any synopses that I’ve seen, so I’m hoping she’s at least 15 or 16, seeing as how she’s being pimped out by those who’ve taken her in.
Fena and her friend Angie seem to be living in some kind of brothel in a castle. That’s my best guess anyways. There are different floors for different purposes. For example, the man who’s bought the rights to Fena’s virginity has a special penthouse suite on the top floor of the castle’s tower. The island the castle is located on is frequented by soldiers from the British Empire, and the series itself takes place in an alternate retelling of the 18th century.
It shouldn’t need to be said but regardless, Fena’s not excited about her upcoming big night. She has no control in the situation as her “jus primae noctis” (Latin for “the right of the first night”) has already been bought, and she is expected to meekly go along with her situation.
Two important people from Fena’s past, however, have finally tracked her down and are able to intercept her before she has to be deflowered by some drunken, womanizing jackass. What ensues is an attempted escape from the island, except both of Fena’s rescuers are direction-impaired and take their group in the wrong direction twice before finally making it to a secluded forest.
Thankfully, unbeknownst to anyone besides Otto, their escape is being monitored by a group of
ninja… samurai… ninja-samurai? lightning-fast armored warriors with katana. xD They have ties to Fena and have been charged with aiding the group in their escape.
With Salman having volunteered to stay behind to fight off a couple of guards so as to give Fena and Otto time to flee, Fena and Otto are found by some British soldiers in the forest and captured. Enter a mysterious dark-eyed ninja-samurai from Fena’s past, who rescues Fena and Otto but then knocks Fena unconscious because she won’t stop rambling nervously at him. ^^;;
When Fena comes to, Salman has rejoined her and Otto and the three of them are on a rowboat in the middle of the ocean. Fena’s dog Brule has snuck out of the castle and is in the boat too. A storm manifests very suddenly and from the clouds emerges an island. Otto says that it’s called Goblin Island.
Otto manoeuvres their boat into an inner cave and leads them topside. They walk through fields and a Japanese village before entering a castle on a hillside peak. Inside they meet an elderly priest named Yukihisa Sanada, who runs the island and who has ties to Fena’s family.
Here we get a chunk of Fena’s backstory. The opening moments of the first episode showed Fena being separated from her father and a young boy named Yukimaru in the midst of a battle on their ship. Now, Yukihisa explains some more about how Fena is tied to Goblin Island and its warriors.
Several generations prior, the great-grandparents of some of Goblin Island’s inhabitants lost their ship’s rudder in a storm and they became grounded on what I’m assuming was the beaches of Goblin Island. (That’s my best assessment anyways.) They had no food and no shelter, and without aid they would likely die. However on the island were some of Fena’s ancestors, people from the Houtman family. Ever since then, the warriors of Goblin Island have protected the descendants of the Houtman family as a means of trying to repay that debt.
Yukihisa also knew Fena’s father Franz as they had fought alongside each other in battle. On the night Fena was separated from her father and Yukimaru, Yukimaru was given what looks like a rectangle shaped piece of clear stone by Franz and told to protect it with his life. Yukimaru and the other ninja-samurai are under Yukihisa’s guidance now as he’s the master of the island, so the stone is in his possession.
Yukihisa explains to Fena that somewhere in her memories is the key to unlocking the importance of this stone. Unfortunately, Fena can remember nothing of the sort. She can barely remember the night she was pushed out into the ocean alone on a rowboat, let alone anything about a special stone.
Fena goes to bed after a soak in a hotspring. The next day she meets one of the island’s warriors, Karin, who takes her for a tour of the island. This part of the episode works brilliantly for introducing the other warriors who will be protecting Fena. We meet Makaba, a man who works as a bowyer and has an endless pit for a stomach. We already know Karin, a young woman not much older than Fena who creates different mechanical things. Then there’s Shitan, an expert archer who could also work as a model if he wanted to. Tsubaki is the chef in the group, and there’s the hyperactive twins Enju and Kaede. The twins kind of remind me of the twins from Ouran High School Host Club except on a much, much larger sugar high. And then of course there’s Yukimaru, a top-notch warrior who has some level of deep feelings for Fena but keeps it very well hidden.
In the evening Yukimaru comes to Fena as she’s sitting out in a garden. He hits her again when she won’t stop talking, but the lull in Fena’s jabber gives them both the opportunity to say what they actually wanted to say (Fena to thank him for saving her, and Yukimaru to ask her about the meaning of the stone from Franz.) Fena still doesn’t seem to grasp the importance of the stone, and Yukimaru tells her bluntly to grow up. Her father died saving Fena and getting that stone to Yukimaru.
“Grow up! Franz lost his life on that voyage. Your father was willing to give his life to see that voyage through. Aren’t you curious to know what it was meant for? In our lives, we have duties and responsibilities. That is the lot of all those who have been given the gift of a heartbeat. Only a coward would run from them.” – Yukimaru
Fena makes a vow to Yukihisa that she will do her best to remember her past in order to solve the riddle of the stone. Fena tells Yukihisa that she remembers her father telling her to remember the word “Eden,” but neither she nor Yukihisa know the its meaning. However, Fena will pick up her father’s voyage where it left off.
Yukihisa acknowledges that Fena will have to leave the island in order to solve the mystery of the clear stone, so he says he will loan her one of his ships (a submarine, really!) and that she will be protected on her journey by the island’s best warriors.
Fena departs with the warriors in the morning on the
submarine ship designed by Karin. Otto and Salman are devastated to be left behind (because Brule gets to goooo), but they will eagerly await her return.
As the ship sails out into the bright sunny day, Fena and Yukimaru have a moment on the bow of the ship. What adventures and trials will await their group?
SO MANY THOUGHTS. ALL OF THE THOUGHTS.
First off, this series was absolutely worth the wait!! The music is vibing, the animation is GORGEOUS OMG, and I’m so hooked I don’t even have words for everything flying through my head.
Kaizoku Oujo is created from a partnership between Crunchyroll and Adult Swim, and I hope that this kind of collaboration becomes more of a norm in the animation industry. I’d love to see more shows created from partnerships between different animation studios and broadcasters.I know Netflix has created several of their own original anime series, for example.
Kaizoku Oujo is being animated by Production I.G, and I’m rather proud that I noticed this on my own without having to first look it up. It might sound weird, but I figured it out because the character design for Fena’s father looked very similar to the character Keith Flick from B: The Beginning. No complaints from me, I just thought it was a neat detail because I’m a dork like that.
Speaking of character designs, if I have anything critical to say of Kaizoku Oujo, it’s that I’m not a big fan of Yukimaru’s character design. He looks very similar to Jin from Samurai Champloo. That being said, the distinguishable feature which sets him apart from these other 3 aforementioned characters are his very hard, sharp eyes. They don’t soften very often, although I suspect Fena is the only one who is able to make him even marginally relax (see the sequence that plays during the ending theme). Yukimaru’s transformation from having auburn hair as a youngster to having jet black hair as an adult also threw me off a little.
Fena’s seiyuu Asami Seto also seemed familiar to me, and upon doing some research I learned that I recognize her as Lily Hoshina from B: The Beginning and Chihaya from Chihayafuru. She does a fantastic job as Fena and I’m happy to hear her familiar voice as part of Kaizoku Oujo’s cast!
The series so far is giving me major Akatsuki no Yona vibes in that the female lead has a mysterious past unknown to her and she must break out on her own and undergo a long and dangerous journey to achieve a goal or learn a truth. There’s also the parallel of both young women giving themselves a haircut as a symbolic gesture to shed their past self and move forwards with a new focus and new goals. Again not a complaint, just an observation.
I have little to add about the animation except to say that Production I.G has nailed the animation so well that they just knocked it into outer space. I can say nothing negative at all to say about the animation; everything looks perfect. It’s very, very clear that a ton of time, effort and money went into getting Kaizoku Oujo looking the best it could be, and Production I.G succeeded with flying colors!
I have so many questions. Will Kaizoku Oujo have a plot similar to Laputa: Castle in the Sky? Does the blonde man who saved Angie from being hit have ties to Fena because they look similar? What is Eden? What is the importance of the mysterious stone from Franz??
Possibility of Watching: OMG YES
Possibility of Blogging: TRY AND STOP ME