Do you find a woman attractive? Think about her all the time? Do thoughts of her distract you from other things? Don’t worry, you’re not in love – she’s just a witch!
While this is something that we’ve seen implied in Fena: Pirate Princess ever since we first met the beautiful teenage girl being forced to sell her virginity in an 18th-century brothel, this week Shitan finally comes out and says it, and it is one of the single most infuriating moments of the show, at least for me. Fena is so rarely judged by anything but her appearance and the way that men react to her that in some ways it’s no surprise that she comes off as more damsel in distress than capable young woman, because no matter what she does, there’s always someone (usually a man in this show) who is certain that all of her behaviors are intended to bewitch the men around her and therefore that is the sole measure by which she should be evaluated. That’s frustrating, because Fena’s appearance isn’t something that she has any control over; yes, she could dress down or dye her hair (not always a great plan in the 18th century), but this is the face and body she was born with. It is not her fault if people find those attractive. But every single time she tries to do something on her own, her appearance comes back to bite her; whether she’s trying to escape the brothel, walking through town with the twins, or even simply existing in Abel’s vicinity, there’s always someone who takes in her looks and men’s attraction to them and immediately demonizes her. To a degree, I feel like we may be guilty of the same thing whenever we complain that she’s more “princess” than “pirate,” because when you come right down to it, this is a teenager raised to be a commodity who is just now starting to spread her wings. Of course she’s not going to be instantly amazing at everything, and that includes making sound decisions.
I have to admit that this is something I’ve been putting a lot of thought into since Shitan had to be basically coerced into going after Yukimaru (who had set off after Fena) last week. Shitan is the one crew member who has mostly held himself back from getting to know Fena as a person; he treats her with a degree of distance that no one else does. This week we learn that he’s doing this because he was warned that she was “a witch,” and he’s trying very hard not to fall under her purported spell. But the other characters who have spent time talking to her are gung-ho about getting her back, not because they’re all in love with her, but because they know how excited she is by every new experience and how determined she is to learn new things. They appreciate her personality, in other words; her looks are, if anything, just the icing on the cake. Shitan has been so brainwashed by the priest and beaten down emotionally by his brother that he can’t see beyond what he’s been told, and it doesn’t much look like he wants to, nor does he want to think that maybe Yukimaru wants to be with her because he loves her rather than because she’s pretty.
Of course, there’s another possibility here, and that’s that Shitan is in love with Yukimaru himself. I’m not sold on that theory, but I could see it being true nonetheless – he certainly cares about the other man a great deal and blames Fena for his injuries both past and present. Even if he isn’t in love with him, Yukimaru seems to be Shitan’s one refuge from his brother, a person who will be kind to him and care about him in a way that his family either will not or cannot. The thought of losing Yukimaru is clearly terrifying to Shitan, and Fena may simply be the easiest person to blame for making him worry. She’s an outsider even if she isn’t a witch, and that may be enough to justify his anger or dislike of her in his obviously troubled mind.
So I guess we should hope that he wasn’t watching when Yukimaru basically proposed to Fena at the end of the episode. I can’t imagine that wouldn’t summon up visions of stakes and bonfires in Shitan’s mind.