First and foremost, if you haven’t yet watched the last episode of Kaizoku Oujo, I –highly- recommend you do that before reading this post because I’m about to spoil the bejeezus out of it.
Side note: A sudden realization I had during this week as I waited for the last episode was that Fena was either going to die or have to make some kind of sacrifice. I thought back to the end of episode eight when Yukimaru made his vow to Fena, and how right beforehand Fena mentioned that she only wants to keep traveling with Yukimaru and the other Goblin Knights. It’s almost an Anime Rule that when a character mentions a goal or dream like that, there’s going to be some kind of twist where that future is taken away from that character. Turns out I was half-right in the case of Kaizoku Oujo as although Fena didn’t physically die, she did have to sacrifice something very important to her. I suppose I could also argue that “Fena” as Yukimaru and the knights knew her “died” before she was immediately “reborn” anew as a blank slate. But I digress.
So at the closing of the previous episode we saw both Franz and Cody. I think this is one being taking two different forms, at least from what I can tell. It flips between both Cody and Franz intermittently. This mysterious being (an “Observer” as it called itself in the last episode) is a part of Eden, and it is a part of Eden. Together Eden and the Observer are responsible for setting up the events which lead to each maiden’s birth and then, if they’re deemed to be strong enough to make this life-altering choice, influencing their lives so they end up at Eden where they must make the same choice Fena is now facing.
Joan of Arc? Apparently she was a maiden too. Her memories and feelings were shared with Fena, leading to Fena being “possessed” intermittently, such as when the Goblin Knights found the underground cavern thanks to Fena leading the way and unlocking doors. This had been implied pretty heavily throughout the season once it started happening, so this revelation wasn’t a surprise for me.
The Observer explains to Fena that she has a choice to make: Either the world is destroyed so it can start anew with only a few random souls surviving on a floating ark, or it can continue on as is despite the possibility that humanity may end on its own in the distant future.
But here’s the real kicker: Once Fena makes her choice, whichever it may be, she will lose all of her memories. The Observer explains that the human heart is not able to withstand the aftermath of its decision, therefore the maiden’s memory is fully wiped. So Fena will lose her memories of her family, traveling with the Goblin Knights, their journey together… and Yukimaru. She will forget Yukimaru.
Once again, the animators at Production I.G did a goddamn FANTASTIC job at animating faces in this episode. In particular, Yukimaru’s facial expressions are utterly gut-wrenching as he learns that Fena will forget him. All he can do is pledge with his whole being that he will find her and protect her as he always has, even if she doesn’t remember him. Seeing Yukimaru so upset in this episode made it almost hard to remember that only two episodes ago, he was looking at Fena with the most beautiful expression of love on his face. Now Yukimaru is going to lose her.
Fena, of course, chooses for the world to continue on as it is. Even if she loses herself and has to start anew, perhaps one day if she meets the Goblin Knights and Yukimaru again, she can travel with them in the world once more.
Kaizoku Oujo sets up this bittersweet, frustrating parting to sound like Yukimaru and Fena will not see each other again for a long time after Fena loses her memories. I honestly thought we were getting some kind of time skip. However, after Fena makes her decision, tells Yukimaru she cares about him and then says goodbye…
Yukimaru wakes up alone on a beach outside Eden immediately afterwards, and “Fena” is standing in the shallows nearby. (I had forgotten the Observer’s line about the maiden’s chosen mate always being nearby when the maiden is reborn. If I had remembered that line then I wouldn’t have expected a time skip nor separation from the other Goblin Knights.) Fena looks the same except her hair is now long again and brown. I’ll be honest, I don’t think being a brunette suits Fena. >_>
Anyways, Yukimaru introduces himself to “Fena” and gives her back her name. The pair reunite with the Goblin Knights and explain Fena’s memory loss. Thankfully before Eden crumbled back into the sea, the knights were able to grab some of the legendary treasures for themselves, including one sword that had significant value to Kei and Yukihisa.
As the credits roll, Fena and the others revisit all of the locations they had previously journeyed to earlier in the season. They see familiar faces and retrace old routes, but Fena doesn’t remember those locations nor anyone they’d previously met.
In the credits we also see that my guess about the pirates was correct: some of them did survive! Though only three apparently. Mary, the pirate with the bandana on her head, even moans about missing her crush (one of the twins) as he walks right behind her. xD Guess their love wasn’t meant to be like Fena and Yukimaru’s ~
A really nice touch was when Fena and the knights revisited an unknown town and two blonde children ran by the group. If you look closely, they look like mini versions of Abel and Helena. Which is a sweet thought; perhaps they were reborn after Fena made her choice? The Observer also speaks to Fena out of the blue and asks her if she’s trying to recover her memories, though Fena doesn’t recognize its voice. Really though, it’s Yukimaru who’s trying to help Fena recover her memories, so blame him Mr. Observer!
We did get a new insert ending theme, sung by the artist JUNNA, but I can’t read the kanji in the title so I don’t know the name of the song.
The big scene between my OTP finallllllly happens after the credits. On the bow of the ship, Yukimaru encourages Fena to not force her memories to return and instead let them come naturally. This is, of course, if they can even come back at all. Eden and the Observer are supernatural in nature so I’m assuming if they wipe someone’s memories it’ll be permanent. Nonetheless, Yukimaru seems determined to help Fena recover what she lost.
Yukimaru pledges to Fena that he’ll always remain by her side to protect her, even as he grows old and frail. He just wants to be with her. And yes, at last, he tells her that he loves her (blushing ears and all). Though he’s a brat and he looks away so we don’t get to see his face as he says the words.
It was cute seeing Fena be the one to smack Yukimaru’s head for a change, and the whap looks like it catches him off guard about as much as it did me. xD The last shot of Yukimaru’s face shows him with the first and only genuine grin of the entire freaking season. After twelve episodes of watching him sulk and shout, such a smile is almost off-putting. Seriously. But it’s genuine. This new Fena is still Fena to Yukimaru and he believes that one day she’ll remember everything she lost. Plus he believes that she loves him, so why not FINALLY tell her how he feels? (Fena’s voiceover confirms that she’d been wanting him to say those three magic words for a long time, so Yukimaru’s definitely not forcing his feelings on amnesiac!Fena or anything.)
AND THEN THE SCREEN PANS AWAY AS HE LEANS DOWN TO FINALLY KISS HER AND I WANTED TO THROW SOMETHING OUT THE WINDOW!! WTS WAS THAT ABOUT?! (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻ Can we get a slice of life oneshot movie with Fena and Yukimaru together as an official couple now that they’ve confessed to each other?? Come on Production I.G, Crunchyroll and Adult Swim – PLEASE MAKE IT HAPPEN!! [insert puppy dog face here]
I could spend paragraph after paragraph gushing about how much I love this series but will spare everyone the pain, haha. In a nutshell, I have no major complaints about this series. It is amazing. It is fantastic. Everything about Kaizoku Oujo is executed brilliantly. From the high quality animation to the stellar voice acting, the pacing, the plot – I. Love. It. ALL.
Earlier in this review I was praising the facial expressions in this show but I want to give equal amounts of praise to the seiyuu who voiced our beloved cast. Special mention goes to Asami Seto (Fena) and Ryouta Suzuki (Yukimaru) for their effort and authenticity, and the latter I’m going to put up on a pedestal for his voice work in the last episode of Kaizoku Oujo alone. His pleading and shouting for Fena not to leave him, ughhhhh. Like a knife to my heart. ｡゜(｀Д´)゜｡
Random tidbit – in double-checking the spelling of the cast’s names, I learned that my all-time favourite seiyuu, Maaya Sakamoto, actually did Helena’s voice! I went back and watched Helena’s first meeting with Abel and I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t pick up on it at the time! ^^;; Knowing now that Helena is voiced by Maaya, I can immediately tell that it’s her. She’s so talented. <3
While I wasn’t familiar with many of the seiyuu who made up the rest of the cast, I was thrilled to see names like Maaya Sakamoto, Toshiyuki Morikawa, and Takahiro Sakurai included in the roster. Maybe those names mean little to other anime fans but I was psyched to hear some very familiar voices once I could pick them out.
If there’s any critique of Kaizoku Oujo for me to make, it’s that I found the whole Yukihisa/Kei/Shitan subplot to be rather anticlimactic. After Yukimaru became a fugitive to go fight Fena and Kei was supposedly traveling to meet up with the Goblin Knights, Kei wasn’t even shown again until the credits of the last episode. The way the knights reacted so strongly to the knowledge that Kei was traveling to meet them lead me to believe that he would have a larger role in the story, though it can be considered an error on my part and not the show itself.
I don’t search out other opinions when I’m writing my final impression of a show, but as I was verifying some details for Kaizoku Oujo, I did come across a few articles expressing their disappointment with how the show ended. Some of these criticisms I agree with so I want to mention them here briefly.
Complaint: There was never any doubt which choice Fena was going to make.
I agree with this. I had an idea that the world being saved/destroyed might be Fena’s big choice when Youtube started showing me previews for the last two episodes and the image of a Fena splitscreen (the image I’ve used as my featured image for this post) was seared into my mind. I’m not upset that this was the choice, but I will agree that because of the nature of the show and Fena’s relationship with Yukimaru and the other knights, there definitely wasn’t much tension involved in seeing which choice Fena would make.
On the flip side, this lack of conflict allowed the show to focus more on the emotional impact of Fena losing her memories and forgetting Yukimaru. Is it a worthy trade? Eh, I can argue either side.
Complaint: Plot points like Fena being a “witch” and Kei’s involvement weren’t properly utilized.
I’ll agree with this one as well. I’ve already mentioned my thoughts on Kei’s role in Kaizoku Oujo, and I’ll add that I would have liked to have learned more about the reason why Shitan and Yukihisa were so convinced that Fena was a witch. Was it a lie Yukihisa made up or did it ever have some substance behind it? Maybe it was simply a thinly-veiled reason for Shitan to dislike Fena. Without more information the viewer is left to construct their own explanation.
Complaint: Plot elements like Eden and fate were thrown together and didn’t make much sense.
I disagree. Eden was mentioned at the beginning of the series and once Fena’s clear stone was introduced, there was always a goal for Fena and the knights: Discover the meaning behind the stone and ultimately find Eden.
I feel like the show’s supernatural elements were woven into the plot in a very subtle manner too, which I appreciated. If there had been more fantasy elements then the story would’ve been less believable, but despite the show existing in some kind of alternative 18th century world with loose ties to the real world, I personally never found Kaizoku Oujo to be wildly out of the ordinary.
Here’s my big takeaway: Once you remember the Observer’s words about everything leading up to Fena having to make her big choice, the plot makes sense. Think of all the characters and the events in their lives as threads of a giant tapestry; everything is woven together in specific ways by Eden in order to create a maiden (in this series it’s Fena), and then once the maiden has passed Eden’s test she is guided to Eden. If characters like Franz and Helena had never died, if Yukimaru had never met Fena or became part of the Goblin Knights, then Fena might have never been born. People had to live, meet and die the way that they did in order for Fena to reach Eden.
Complaint: Characters other than Fena, Yukimaru, Abel and Shitan never had a chance to get some character development.
Unfortunately with the standard anime season being only twelve episodes, the reality is that there’s no longer time to develop characters outside a small main cast. I definitely would have liked the other knights to get more screen time but without extending the show’s length there was simply no chance to do so. I feel like the knights were utilized as a fantastic supporting cast, often providing the show with comedic relief or dramatic moments of support as called for. Nowadays if a show has a larger cast I usually whittle my expectations down early on and don’t expect the secondary characters to get much screen time or character development. This prevents disappointment later on. I had to structure my expectations this way when watching Sonny Boy, for example.
Some other random thoughts:
I feel like it’s an overlooked detail that Fena’s choice to continue the world as it is merely passes on that choice to another maiden decades in the future. Fena making her choice and losing her memories means nothing in Eden’s manipulation of world events, and I think this might be why Kaizoku Oujo’s finale makes me a little sad. In the future other maidens will be faced with the same choice Fena was and will also have to lose their memories.
How long have Eden and the Observer been in existence for? I was considering this because when Fena and Yukimaru first reached Eden, they saw the remnants of a long-decayed ark. Perhaps humanity as it exists in their world now once came from this ark because a maiden in the past made the decision to destroy the world and preserve its remnants on floating boat? Then once that boat hit land they expanded outwards from the ark and rebuilt society. It’s a theory.
Also, I wonder if Eden and the Observer can ever be thwarted. The Observer spoke to Fena about needing to continue her bloodline, implying that she’ll need to have children with Yukimaru at some point. But can a maiden ever choose to not have children and stop the creation of future maidens? Would Eden interfere and manipulate fate to cause a pregnancy? If Fena and Yukimaru have children, how many generations after their union would it take for another maiden to be created? And lastly, can it be argued that Yukimaru only loves Fena because Eden chose for him to be Fena’s future mate? (I don’t honestly believe that last question, I’m just suggesting it hypothetically.)
In conclusion to this very long love-letter for my new favourite anime, I am in love with this show. I have only a couple of things to be critical about and they do not detract enough from the show that it influences my overall opinion of it. I am admittedly a little disappointed with the ending in that Fena’s choice was never in doubt, and that we didn’t get to see that freaking kiss, but I guess all of my OTP’s embraces in the last episode will have to make-do instead. ;P
Lastly, please be sure to this support this show! Fans showing their support is the only way we get more high quality anime like Kaizoku Oujo made, and hopefully it will encourage more co-productions between companies in the future. If there’s merchandise, be sure to buy it if you’re able. On a similar note, Kaizoku Oujo‘s soundtrack is getting a release in December and is available for preorder now. Please show your support for Kaizoku Oujo to the best of your ability and hopefully we will get a sequel, oneshot or spinoff! [fingers crossed]
Congratulations Kaizoku Oujo for dethroning Tenkū no Escaflowne from my heart after 25 years!
Do I Recommend This Show to Others?: Do you even have to ask at this point? xD A thousand times YES!
Final Score: 100/10. GO WATCH IT. <3