When Fena: Pirate Princess was first released in 2021, it promised to be a rollicking pirate-themed adventure. The anime was filled with stunning animation and an interesting setting that was begging to be explored. The series began with a strong setup that focused on an orphan girl named Fena and her adventures with a pirate crew as they searched for a place called Eden. Sadly the series only went down from that fantastic beginning. Fena: Pirate Princess's ending left many disappointed with a less than stellar ending and poorly executed explanations. The main cast of the series also lacked strong characterization or depth.
Luckily, the industry isn't lacking for pirate-themed series. There are plenty of anime out there that match the swashbuckling tone that Fena: Pirate Princess failed to deliver on. These anime take the time to fully develop their cast of interesting characters, and the stories they tell are riveting and manage to stay compelling at every turn. These titles are sure to satisfy any fan looking for the next high seas adventure to sweep them away.
Black Lagoon is a classic anime from the 2000s that follows the adventures of a pirate mercenary group called the Lagoon Company. The group smuggles goods for different organizations around the seas of Southeast Asia in their ship, the Black Lagoon. The series takes place in the mid-1990s, which means that the group has to deal with real crime syndicates like the Russian mafia, the Japanese yakuza and the Colombian cartel. These confrontations often end in all-out firefights and nautical warfare. Black Lagoon is a violent and raunchy anime that's action-packed from beginning to end.
Black Lagoon also has one of the most popular female characters in anime, Revy. She's a deadly outlaw who's always armed to the teeth. Although she's definitely a bombastic character, as the series continues, Revy reveals that she is much more complicated than she appears at first glance. As a whole, Black Lagoon mixes exciting action with compelling character drama to create a wonderful narrative.
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is a more modern anime, but it still captures the excitement of a swashbuckling title. This sci-fi series takes place in the distant future, where humanity uses mech suits to fight squid-like aliens in an intergalactic war. The main character Ledo and his mecha, Chamber, get sucked into a black hole and are found by a group of human scavengers. These scavengers live on the Gargantia -- a massive fleet of ships on Earth. Ledo must learn to live with the people aboard the Gargantia and adjust to their different culture and way of life.
The series is filled with beautiful animation and wonderful backgrounds. The scenery of what remains of Earth and the Gargantia ships creates breathtaking scenes, but the anime is also filled with plenty of heart. Ledo's relationship with the war he was bred to fight in is explored in an interesting way. The people of Gargantia teach him to see the world from a new perspective, adding depth to his character growth. Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is a fun adventure that explores a gorgeous setting.
Keeping with the sci-fi genre theme, Space Dandy is an interstellar roller coaster. The series is a space opera comedy that follows the adventures of Dandy and his crewmates -- a robot assistant named QT and his cat-like alien friend Meow. Dandy and his crew search the universe for undiscovered alien species in return for cash rewards. In each episode, some new and bizarre misfortune befalls these goofball characters in their pursuit of riches.
Space Dandy lacks any sort of real continuity. In one episode, the characters can be turned into zombies or trapped in another dimension but will then be perfectly fine in the next episode. The random nature of the series prevents the show from getting bogged down with over-serious drama. Space Dandy is free to be chaotic and self-referential with its comedy, and audiences are guaranteed to be in for a unique and wild new ride with each episode.
One Piece is one of the most iconic pirate anime of all time. As the number one best-selling manga, very few anime fans are unaware of One Piece. This series is the embodiment of swashbuckling adventure and represents what it means to be a pirate. Protagonist Monkey D. Luffy is an amateur pirate trying to build a crew strong enough to find the One Piece at the end of the Grand Line. The One Piece is the greatest treasure in the world hidden by the greatest pirate, Gol D. Rogers. Whoever finds this treasure first will be recognized as the Pirate King, the new greatest pirate in the world.
Despite its simple premise, One Piece hides a great deal of depth. Beneath all the heart-racing fight scenes and slapstick comedy, One Piece is a directly political story that tackles deep issues. In Luffy's pursuit of his dream to become Pirate King, he is constantly confronted with an oppressive and corrupt government, and he inadvertently liberates nations from the villainous rule of warlords and slave owners. As much as One Piece is a lighthearted pirate adventure, it's also a series that explores the true meaning of freedom.