Fena: Pirate Princess
Fena Houtman remembers little about her childhood. Orphaned and raised as a servant in a brothel, her life changes when she escapes to an island of pirates where she discovers the truth behind her family. With Fena being the only one able to unlock her family’s secrets, and a formidable crew of female pirates on her tail, she must take her place as captain of her ninja crew for a high seas adventure!
Director: Kazuto Nakazawa
Scriptwriter: Asako Kuboyama
Music: Yuki Kajiura
Production: Crunchyroll, Adult Swim and Production I.G
Technique: Drawing on paper
Target audience: Adults / Young adults
Fena: Pirate Princess is one of the four animation series projects selected for the “Work in Progress” programme at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2021. It is a Japanese animation series directed by Kazuto Nakazawa and developed by Production I.G, which is planned to be released this summer on Crunchyroll worldwide and on Adult Swim in the US and Canada.
Kazuto Nakazawa is an acclaimed animation creator among global Japanese animation (anime) fans whose works include several masterpieces such as Samurai Champloo (2004), Moondrive (2008) as one of the 5 short animated films in Studio 4°C’s anthology film Genius Party Beyond, and an animated segment in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill (2003). Production I.G is one of the leading animation studio in Japan which is world-famous for the Sci-Fi classic Ghost in the Shell (1995) directed by Mamoru Oshii.
In an online session at the festival, the director said that the series is a fantasy adventure story of a young orphaned girl named Fena Houtman accompanied by her samurai pirates, and the series centers around a love romance story with influences from several Shojo manga* titles. He also mentioned that they specifically focused on creating higher quality visuals than what is seen in general animation TV series projects in Japan, as seen it in the trailer.
As we are interested in the business aspect of the series, namely on the two big American business players Crunchyroll and Adult Swim, we interviewed Sarah Victor, the head of development at Crunchyroll, about the international co-production animation series.
*: Shojo manga is a category of Japanese style comics (manga) that is targeted for young female audiences.
Interview with Sarah Victor
Hideki Nagaishi (HN): Could you please introduce Crunchyroll to our readers?
Sarah Victor: Crunchyroll is the world’s most popular anime brand with more than 4 million subscribers and 100 million registered users. We bring the anime community together through streaming with the world’s largest anime library, e-commerce, consumer products, social media, live and virtual events, and more.
HN: Could you let us know the key points of the animation series project that you would like to appeal to the prospective audience?
Sarah Victor: I think anyone who watches the show will be enamored with how beautiful the show looks. The art is absolutely gorgeous! Kazuto Nakazawa and his team have done an amazing job creating an evocative world.
The adventure Fena finds herself on is also a fun and thrilling ride. I think audiences will love watching her character grow and persevere because of her emotional strength.
HN: How did this project start?
Sarah Victor: Our team has been collaborating with Production I.G and Adult Swim for a few years now, so when we were presented with the opportunity to work with the super talented Nakazawa on Fena: Pirate Princess, we couldn’t say no! The project is a delight, following the life of young Fena Houtman as she fulfills her destiny. Also, who doesn’t love samurai and pirate action?
HN: Why did you decide to partner with Adult Swim, and how was that partnership beneficial to the project?
Sarah Victor: Adult Swim was a part of this project from the beginning and we were excited to collaborate with them from the get go. Our services are complementary to each other (linear and streaming), so it felt like an organic fit and most importantly, a great way to maximize viewership for the series.