Rating: 3.5 (of 5)
When Fena was very young, she was set loose on a lifeboat from her father’s ship as some calamity befell it. She came ashore on an island, where ten year’s later she’s about to be indoctrinated into life as a prostitute – and she’s in high demand for her “first time” because of her beauty and unusually pale hair. However, she has no intention of following through. Her complicated escape plan gets upended when old men once loyal to her father come to her rescue – albeit not without help. She eventually winds up on Goblin Island, which was once controlled by Fena’s family and where Japanese-themed travelers shipwrecked generations ago and have built their own little microcosm of Japanese society. Due to their enduring loyalty to Fena’s great-grandfather, the Japanese-types seek to carry out the last request of Fena’s father, which involves a strange block of transparent material. All Fena knows about it is that the word “Eden” may be associated with it, so she sets out on a journey on a special submersible boat to seek answers.
This collaborative project seems to be streaming subtitled on Crunchyroll and airing in dubbed form on Adult Swim. Though created and directed by the creator and director of Netflix’s B: The Beginning and animated by Production I.G., the series’ first two episodes felt like a deliberate effort to mix Western animation sensibilities with anime style, and this sometimes creates some jarring tonal jumps. The Western influences mostly show through in the more slapstick humorous aspects, while the action, designs, and ambiance are more typical of higher-end anime productions. The target audience here is also a bit confusing; at times the first two episodes feel like they are geared to be accessible to younger audiences, but Fena and her prostitute friend (guardian?) also speak frankly about Fena selling off the rights to her virginity (the series uses the term primae noctis for this) and some brigands tasked with killing Fena do talk about “having fun” with her first before being slain.
Beyond that, the first two episodes feel disjointed in other thematic ways. This is a clearly Western setting which has a very traditional Japanese-style enclave nearby? A time period which looks like it might be late 16th or 17th century, and yet there’s a submersible all-metal boat which looks like it could have sailed out of the pages of a Jules Verne novel? I also found it strange that Fena would have been sent off on her journey at the end of episode 2 without a clothing change, especially since she is shown in more appropriate sailing clothes in the opener and closer.
The jury’s still out on Fena herself as a character. She does seem independent-minded and ambitious while still having some bratty qualities, but she is not quite the instant charmer that Pacifica Casull from Scrapped Princess (the character she seems most spiritually similar to) was. Other characters are more stock personality types at this point. The plot seems like a fairly standard “explore to get to the bottom of a mystery” caper, but we’ll see on that, too.
Overall, the first two episodes have enough going for them on the set-up and technical front for me to give them a mild recommendation, but I am a bit leery on how this might play out.