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Friday, December 29, 2017

Anime Hajime Review: Fairy Tail (Fairy Tail Month Part 9 of 9)

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Fairy Tail. Reader discretion is advised.**

Series Synopsis

Do fairies have tails? More than that, do fairies even exist? Nobody knows for sure. So, this guild is like them. An eternal mystery. An eternal adventure.

-Mavis Vermillion, First Master of Fairy Tail

Our story takes place in the world of Earth-land. Here magic is the norm. The people who practice the art tend to join the various wizarding guilds across the continent. To make a living, wizards seek out odd jobs that require their abilities.

One of the more rambunctious guilds is the lively Fairy Tail. Its members are some of the most well-known magic users around. Among their most reliable is the team considered Fairy Tail’s strongest.

Natsu Dragneel (voiced by Tesuya Kakihara), the Dragon Slayer, and his partner Happy (voiced by Rie Kugimiya). Lucy Heartfilia (voiced by Aya Hirano), the Celestial Wizard. Gray Fullbuster (voiced by Yuichi Nakamura), the Ice Mage. And Erza Scarlet (voiced by Sayaka Ohara), the legendary sword master.

With these five, no task is too great. Come hell or high water, they will see the job done.

Arc Overview

If this is your entry to this nine-part overlook, there are some things you need to know. This particular review will be an overview of Fairy Tail. What was good? What was bad? What made this show what it was? Make no mistake, we will be here awhile. But even still, we won't cover everything.

Should you want specific details about specific points in this series, feel free to check out the eight previous installments of what I have dubbed Fairy Tail Month. To help, I will be providing a guide pinpointing where to find certain story arcs. I won’t be going into too much detail here since I have already done that in the eight different season reviews.

There will be little if any, critical information during this part of this review. If you feel up to date with this series, please skip straight to the Series Positives section. If you think a refresher could do you some good, by all means, stick around.

With that, here is the rundown of the fifteen major story arcs of Fairy Tail.

Season One – The Lullaby Arc

Natsu, Lucy, Gray, and Erza face off against the dark wizarding guild Eisenwald.

Eisenwald has obtained the demon flute, Lullaby. Should a person listen to this instrument's eerie melody, they will die. As such, our villains plan to use this cursed object to commit a high-profile assassination. Their targets are the area's guild masters including Fairy Tail’s own Master Makarov (voiced by Shinpachi Tsuji).

Natsu accepts a job reserved only for Fairy Tail’s S Class wizards. Along with Lucy and Gray, he travels to Galuna Island. Here the local village is suffering from a horrific curse. A curse which has plagued the Islanders ever since the Moon turned red.

There, Gray runs into his old rival and fellow ice mage, Lyon Bastia (voiced by Yuki Kaji). To Gray’s horror, Lyon plans to resurrect the behemoth Deliora. This frightening fiend once wrecked havoc on the world. The beast's reign of terror ended when Gray and Lyon’s master gave her life to imprison it. An act Lyon hold Gray responsible for.

Fairy Tail’s archrival, Phantom Lord, sees an opportunity to destroy its nemesis. They launch an attack on Fairy Tail's guild hall, leading to a full-blown guild war.

Leading the assault is Phantom Lord's most powerful team, Element 4. And at its front is Phantom Lord’s very own dragon slayer, Gajeel Redfox (voiced by Wataru Hatano).

Fairy Tail wins the day and Phantom Lord disbands. And although a former enemy, Gajeel later joins the guild he tried to crush.

A mysterious group ambush Erza and her friends. To her shock, the attackers are her companions from her time imprisoned at the diabolical fortress known as the Tower of Heaven. To Erza, these people are her family.

And leading this group is the one-person Erza hoped never to face, Jellal Fernandes (voiced by Daisuke Namikawa), her once dearest friend.

Long ago, an evil entity corrupted Jellal’s mind. This turn the once kindhearted man into a vengeful dark mage. He now plans to use the Tower of Heaven to revive the death wizard Zeref.

The guild prepares for a local festival. Then without warning, half of its members turn to stone. The culprits are Master Makarov’s own grandson, Laxus Dreyar (voiced by Katsuyuki Konishi), and his underlings, the Raijinshuu.

Laxus promises to let his captives go under two conditions. One, the remaining members must fight it out in a massive battle royal. Two, Makarov must name Laxus the next master of Fairy Tail.

The powerful dark guild, Oracion Seis, is attempting to revive an ancient magical weapon. Known as Nirvana, legend states it has the power to turn light into darkness. Knowing such a device cannot fall into corrupt hands, Fairy Tail rushes to intervene. But this a job they cannot do alone.

They call upon the aid of their fellow wizarding guilds, Blue Pegasus and Lamia Scale. As well as a third, lesser-known guild known as Cait Shelter. Though the others send a team of their best, Cait Shelter only sends two representatives, a young dragon slayer named Wendy Marvel (voiced by Satomi Sato) and her partner, the flying cat, Carla (voiced by Yui Horie).

After the battle, Wendy and Carla must say goodbye to Cait Shelter. Fortunately, Fairy Tail accepts them as members with open arms.

Natsu falls into a trap set by the mad scientist, Daphne (voiced by Yu Kobayashi). This madwoman's plan is to use the raw power of a dragon slayer to complete her greatest invention. She intends to pilot her own mechanical dragon.

Daphne begins her path of destruction and it takes the full might of Fairy Tail to bring the deranged maniac down. 

In a flash of light, most of the members of Fairy Tail disappear. The only ones to escape are Natsu, Happy, Wendy, and Carla. As well as Fairy Tail’s most mysterious wizard, Mystogan, who informs the team of what happened. The guild was taken to the parallel world of Edolas.

In this unknown land, Natsu and the others run into many unexpected complications. First, the properties of magic are different here. Second, Edolas is indeed a mirror image of their home. Therefore, our team runs into alternate versions of themselves.

The Edolas kingdom kidnapped Fairy Tail as a means to restore the dwindling magic supply. A process that will cost the guild members their lives.

Fairy Tail readies for its S Class examination on the guild’s holy ground, Tenrojima. There, they run into an unknown man.

This person proclaims himself to be the all-powerful wizard Zeref (voiced by Akira Ishida). Yet despite his infamy, he has no desire to harm anyone anymore. He only wishes to be left alone. A wish that was not meant to be.

The powerful dark guild, Grimoire Heart, descends upon Tenrojima. They are seeking to locate Zeref and usher in a new age of darkness.

Though Fairy Tail defeats Grimoire Heart, they are too late to undo its damage. Zeref loses his compassion for life and summons the ferocious dragon, Acnologia.

Our guild has no means of defeating such creature. The only thing they can do is guard against the coming onslaught. A move that seals them away for seven years.

Awakening from their seven-year sleep, Fairy Tail's core members return home. Though many things have changed, everyone is happy to reunite once again.

Before long, the guild receives a visit from a woman claiming to know Lucy. Michelle Lobster (voiced by Yukana Nogami) says she has an object that once belonged to Lucy’s father. Unbeknownst to our team, this object is one piece of a terrifying doomsday weapon.

Due to this relic's power, many parties are on the hunt for it. Among such groups are warriors from an influential religious sect. Another is a resurrected enemy from Fairy Tail’s past.

Adjusting to the time they lost, Fairy Tail learns they are the laughing stock of the land. There are few who remember the greatness the guild was once known for. But a chance to change that presents itself.

Fairy Tail enters the prestigious Great Magic Games. Here they set their sights on reclaiming the title of strongest guild. Yet standing in their way are others who wish the same. This includes the reigning champs, Saber Tooth.

At first, Fairy Tail receives nothing but condemnation and ridicule. Then with each passing day, they remind everyone of their legend.

The closing days of the Great Magic Games will lead to an unthinkable future. One filled with only fire and death. It is a future that surrounds the activation of the time portal, Eclipse.

To prevent such a tragedy, a traveler from that future returns to the Games. But they are not the only ones. Now, Fairy Tail must prepare to face the unstoppable might of dragons.

The magic released by Eclipse was unlike anything ever seen. Its effects reached every corner of the world and beyond.

Chaos befalls the utopia of the Celestial Realm. Its citizens run in terror from their once stoic protectors. Fairy Tail goes up against an enemy they never dreamt possible. Lucy’s celestial spirits, her dear friends and partners, have turned on her.

The most dangerous of the dark guilds, Tartarus, begins a devastating attack. Their goal is to activate an unholy weapon. Should they succeed, Tartarus will reunite with their creator, Zeref.

Fairy Tail fights its greatest battle. Each member will give everything and everyone will lose something. The aftermath of this fight is unlike any that has come before. This forces Master Makarov to make a grim decision.

This is the story of a young girl named Mavis Vermillion (voiced by Mamiko Noto).

Mavis’ brilliant mind longs to learn as much as it can. Then one day, she meets a group of treasure hunters who provide such a chance.

Soon, this new group grows close. On their journey, they clash with a vicious wizarding guild. To fight back, this team of unlikely friends learns how to harness their own magical energy. Together, they succeed in defeating their foes.

Mavis then gets an idea. To help as many people as possible, she suggests that her group create their own guild. And on that day, Mavis Vermillion became the first master of the wizarding guild known as Fairy Tail.

Series Positives

A long time ago, I made a commitment. Whatever anime I start, I will finish. It doesn’t matter how awful, I mean to see every series through to the end. This has come back to bite me many times over. For better or worse, though, I have stuck with it.

Twelve episodes. Twenty-five episodes. 277 episodes, it doesn’t matter. Except for the latter, it would be a huge help if such a series was good. Case in point, Fairy Tail.

This series was long and it wasn’t always smooth sailing. But not for a second do I regret watching it. This past month was a blast. I once mentioned how I didn’t understand why this show was as massive as it was. Somewhere along the line, I got it.

Maybe it was when Natsu punched the leader of Oracion Seis through a rift in dimensions. Maybe it was the time when the three dragon slayers blasted away the boss at the end of Edolas. Perhaps it was when Lucy fought her heart out during the Great Magic Games. Maybe it was when Gray redeemed his master’s daughter. Maybe it was when Erza did anything. The list could go on. But if I had to guess, the answer is all the above.

When Fairy Tail was at its peak, which happened a lot, it was fantastic. It’s a little unbelievable that we have reached this point. Way back in episode one, the end seemed like a far off, almost unreachable moment.

If you read through the arc rundown, you are a trooper. Too bad we haven’t even started. The reasons why Fairy Tail rocked are quite numerous.

The Action

With magic, the possibilities are limitless. Given what this show did and how big it got, there was nothing that was too much.

That said, Fairy Tail was a specific type of action show.

While the Phantom Lord Arc and the Battle of Fairy Tail Arc had good examples of guild battles, that wasn’t where this series shined. In a weird way, when Fairy Tail was fighting as a group, the action wasn’t as compelling. Whenever these instances did happen, the story didn’t linger on them. It cut back enough for the quick reminder, but this was never the focus.

To wrap our minds around this, we need to know what I mean when I say, group. Natsu, Lucy, Gray, Erza, and Wendy fighting alongside each other against a single enemy would not work. Even if it was just four of them, that would have been too many. Three people were a decent limit. Except even that depended on certain enemies. Something akin to the end of Edolas would do the trick. And that was one of the best moments of this show.

Keep in mind, there were times when four or five fights were going on at once. Often right next to each other. But these remained personal fights. One on one battles. This is where Fairy Tail killed it.

When a wizard had to rely on their own strength, that was when the action was at its most exciting. I will admit, though, one of two things always seemed to happen. One, someone would overwhelm an opponent. This usually happened at the beginning of an arc. These kinds of fights often weren’t crucial. Except they weren’t any less cool. 

The second regularity involved a formula. Someone started losing, they would find their second wind. When that happened, their opponent would then get serious and the tables would turn once again. On the brink of defeat, our hero would think of their friends or some other important previous scene. This would then be the catalyst for that person to deliver the final blow. This was how most of this series’ major encounters played out.

You may be thinking to yourself, “Wouldn’t that get boring?”. The answer is, yes it would, if not for one thing. Each time that final blow came, it was beyond satisfying. As this step by step played out, the opponent could become quite arrogant. Based on who was the threat was, this ranged from simple boasting to an overinflated ego. Seeing that second kind of person’s face get smashed by the business end of a fist was awesome.

Most every character in this series had at least one example of them being a badass. Let’s list off a few.

Master Makarov had a great one at the end of Phantom Lord. Spoilers, Fairy Law is epic. Laxus had a phenomenal one when he face-offed against the entire Raven Tail team in the Great Magic Games Arc. And one of my absolute favorites belonged to Wendy during the Tartarus Arc.

There were so many of these moments it’s impossible for me to remember them all.

Also, these were just the individual fights. There were a few solid tag teams as well. And hands down the most entertaining pair was Natsu and Gray.

Fairy Tail knew how to make an action scene fun.

The Characters

Forget the fights. Forget any of the arcs. Every memorable thing about Fairy Tail would not have been possible, if not for these characters.

I’m having trouble thinking of another cast of this size that was this good. Even when this series was at its absolute lowest, these characters were enough reason to stick around.

Over this past month, I have mentioned certain accomplishments made by certain people. But I’ve never gone into that much detail about what made everyone so outstanding. I was saving that for this review. Too bad I ran into a problem.

The number of characters I could talk about could be its own separate discussion. I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m only going to focus on the people who got me the most excited. Yet to make even this list manageable, I had to limit myself to only Fairy Tail members.

The order I’m going to do this in is a mixture of my personal favorites and how important someone was. There’s no science to this, so please don’t think in terms of definitive rankings.

To start us off, Gildarts Clive (voiced by Kazuhiko Inoue). The mere concept of his character is why I liked him. He was Fairy Tail’s strongest. Period. He was so powerful, the entire town of Magnolia had to go on lockdown whenever he showed up. And it’s easy to pinpoint his best moment.

Gildarts’ brought Natsu to his knees with his mere presence alone. In one glorifying instant, he demonstrated what kind of power he held. It was intense. This series went to extreme lengths to ensure he wasn’t always around. If he was, there would be no conflicts.

This meant we didn’t get a lot of Gildarts. But what we did get was special.

Cana Alberona (voiced by Eri Kitamura) was once a forgettable background character to me. I once thought she was nothing more than a pretty face. I am so happy I was wrong.

Like Gildarts, there weren’t many moments Cana could call her own. But the ones that were hers, she made hers. If nothing else, she was a wizard you could rely on. Her crowning achievement came when she got to use the spell Fairy Glitter to its full potential. It made for one hell of a hurrah scene.

Next is Laxus. This is how you do a character redemption arc. He was the prick of the series during the first season. He was unlikable. It was hard to believe he was a member of the fun-loving Fairy Tail. What a turn around.

By the time we got to the Tartarus Arc, he more than made up for his past actions. You could see how much he loved his comrades. He put his life on the line many times so that others would not have to. It got to the point where he seemed to be asking for death. Had this been earlier, I wouldn’t have batted an eye. Had something like that happened to the character Laxus became, there would have been tears.

Elfman Strauss (voiced by Hiroki Yasumoto) was the surprise of this series. When I first saw him, I pinned him to be a joke. He was loud and beefy. How could this guy possibly be of any use? Well if you threaten his sisters’, that would do it. To him, nothing was more important than family. You hurt them and you have sealed your fate.

Elfman was a quality wizard. Sure, he was a loudmouth. But he had the skills to back it up. With each fight he was in, he had to outdo himself. He never had easy match ups. He faced opponents his more powerful guildmates would have trouble with. He was not baggage. He was a member of Fairy Tail, plain and simple.

Pantherlily, a.k.a. Lily (voiced by Hiroki Tochi) was the best thing to come out of the Edolas Arc. To be honest, it sucked how he ended the joke of Gajeel being the only dragon slayer without a flying cat partner. Except since that was the only drawback, we got off cheap.

Following the Edolas Arc, Lily spent most of his time in his smaller, less imposing form. This made it easy to place him on the same level as Happy or Carla. That was always a mistake since it meant forgetting he was a formidable warrior. He could hold his own. It was because of Lily, the cat team could be of more use. They could go off and help instead of being cute sidekicks.

Gajeel’s redemption arc was not as powerful as Laxus’. That said, Gajeel was a more interesting character. For Laxus, he fell into his bad habits. But deep down, he was always a member of Fairy Tail. Gajeel had to learn what that meant.

Although stuck in Natsu’s shadow more often than not, Gajeel was not someone you wrote off. It was a gross miscalculation on someone’s part if they thought they were lucky to not face the fire dragon slayer. The iron dragon slayer would make short work of such people. By the end of the Tartarus Arc, it was like Gajeel was never one of Fairy Tail’s fiercest adversaries.

Up next there’s Juvia Loxar (voiced by Mai Nakahara). If it’s hard to believe Gajeel was once an enemy, it's even more so here. I have to keep reminding myself that Juvia was a member of Element 4 during the Phantom Lord Arc.

Yet unlike Gajeel who was a complete jerk, you could sympathize with Juvia. She was just a woman who had lived a tough life. That changed when she met her knight in shining armor, Gray. A few nice words and the rest is history.

No doubt Juvia's obsession with Gray was overbearing, it remained super cute. And it only crossed into creepy territory on a few occasions. Even during a fight, she could lose herself when someone mentioned Gray's name. Of course, that could also spell someone’s doom. Don’t fool yourself, Juvia remained a powerful wizard throughout this series. She was not someone you crossed and was not someone you pissed off.

While Lily was the strongest of the Exceeds, Happy is still my favorite. How could he not be? This little blue cat was a huge punk in the best kind of way. He may not have been much use in a fight, but he was never a burden.

Happy lacked the power his guildmates had. But not for a second should you think he was any less of a member. No one looked down at him. He was not Natsu’s pet. He was Natsu’s best friend.

Also, it often didn’t matter what was going on. Happy would find a way to be a little bastard. He had a knack for saying mood breaking, yet still really funny one-liners.

Mirajane Strauss (voiced by Ryoko Ono), like her brother Elfman, was also a surprise. The word to describe her is “lovely”. She had the kind of smile that made it hard to feel sad. She was the kind of character you felt the urge to protect. That was until the Battle of Fairy Tail Arc showed her true colors. She did not need protecting.

Mirajane was an S Class wizard. A powerful one at that. The first time we saw her fight was awesome. Behind that smile, she possessed the destructive force of a demon. Whenever an opponent tried to teach Mirajane the depths of their evil, she showed them their naivety.

Let’s move on to Wendy. I love Wendy. She is such a sweetheart. The best way I can describe her is by saying she was the necessary touch of innocence this group needed. Unlike her comrades, she tried to avoid violence when possible. The rest of the guild was destructive by nature. They also had larger than life personalities. Wendy was a good counterbalance to that.

For most of the show, Wendy was an effective support player. She wasn’t the one who would do the heavy hitting. She provided the buffs, the upgrades, and the healing. She filled this role well. Yet at the end of the day, she was a dragon slayer. Her counterparts were Natsu and Gajeel. Looking at them, you could get an idea of what Wendy had the potential of doing. She only tapped into that power once. But once was enough.

This brings us to our original four. No matter what happened during this series, we were with them. Had they failed, this show would have limped on. We got something more than a solid main team. What we got was Fairy Tail’s strongest team.

Gray had some of the best storylines. His background was my favorite of this series as well as the most fleshed out. This was one of the main reasons why I consider the Moon Drip Arc among Fairy Tail’s best.

Of the main four, Gray was the one who seemed to lose the most often. Except this almost never had to do with his opponent being stronger than him. Often some element out of his control came into play. Despite that, when he needed to stand his ground, he was a rock. Whenever he arrived to help, any situation became more manageable.

There is also something that needs to be said about his two biggest relationships. The more adorable of which was, of course, with Juvia. Though his true feelings towards her were never revealed, he for sure didn't hate her. Of the matchups this series should’ve played with more, this was the biggest.

The other of Gray’s relationship, or rather rivalry, was with Natsu. It did not matter what was going on, these two made everything into a competition. It was because of this, I don’t think there would ever be a winner if they fought. Natsu may have had more power, but losing to Natsu is something Gray would not have stood for.

Though my least favorite of the main four, Gray was always a blast to have around.

For this next person, what more can I say? If you’ve been reading along this month, I have made one thing clear. Erza Scarlet is my favorite character of this series.

Though Gray’s backstory was stronger, Erza’s was still pretty damn good. But what made her so amazing was who she was as a Fairy Tail wizard.

With her friends, Erza was stern and serious. Except she could be silly, proud, and destructive. She enjoyed many things you would never associate with a magic user of her caliber. This tough as nails fighter loved cute things and had a massive sweet tooth. She could be the nicest, most caring person anyone could know. Just don’t think you’re going to win against her.

Erza was not in the business of losing. If the people she cared for were in danger, I don’t think death would have been enough to stop her. I had an idea of what she was capable of when going into this series. Part of me thought her strength would be in name only. I assure you it’s not.

I don’t know if I can express the full extent of how much I loved Erza while still making sense. Besides, the only way to truly understand what made Titania great is to see it for yourself.

Next is Lucy. I was rooting for her since season one. At the start of this series, this story made her out to be worthless. Except there was something about her I knew was waiting to come out. As Fairy Tail went on, she became one this show’s most remarkable wizards.

The moment that brought Lucy to that level was in the Great Magic Games Arc. While it was a loss on paper, she proved she was no longer the inexperienced newbie.

Last, but by no means least, is Natsu. He was a ton of fun. The only thing that beat his raw power was his willingness to use it. He didn’t understand the concept of holding back. Nor did he have a sense of accountability. He could lay waste to an entire mountain range as long as the job got done.

Natsu was always punch-first-ask-questions-later. He almost never cared why someone did what they did. If someone was a friend, he had their back. If someone was an enemy, he would defeat them. Natsu pulled off the impossible. But the one thing he couldn’t do was give up.

When you have a cast of characters like this, how much better can a series do? Somehow, Fairy Tail did just that.

The Fairy Tail Guild

These characters may have been the most enduring aspect of this series. They even play a critical role in what I’m about to talk about. Still, there is one element of Fairy Tail that separates it from so many other shows. Fairy Tail itself.

This guild was every bit a living entity as the people in it. There is a reason I’ve been using the indicators “team” and “group”. This was not a one-man series. There was no ultimate hero. No single person had to carry the day. Everyone played a role. Everyone had a part. Everyone contributed.

Don’t get me wrong, it was Natsu who would deliver the final blow to the main bosses. He was the series’ main protagonist so this only makes sense. Except getting to that point was not his doing alone. He needed to rely on the strength of his comrades. This was because Natsu wasn’t the strongest wizard in Fairy Tail.

Gildarts, Laxus, Master Makarov, Mirajane, and Erza were much more capable. Each could beat Natsu without putting in too much effort. Its why the dragon slayer respected and loved each of them. So yes, there were more reliable people to see a job get done.

Yet even those I mentioned couldn’t do everything. There were not individual foes. Enemies came in teams. One core member of a powerful dark guild was enough to drain even Fairy Tail's best. It would have been impossible for a single wizard to take on such a threat. That’s why it never happened.

Natsu could focus his energy on the heavy hitters because he knew his friends had his back. The members of Fairy Tail weren't sitting around hoping for the best. They were right there in the middle of the fight.

Think of a series that didn’t do this, Dragon Ball Z. Here is another cast filled to the brim with legendary fighters. Many of whom are known to people who don’t even watch anime. Vegeta, Piccolo, Gohan, each of them fierce warriors. Except what does almost every fight boil down to? Let Goku handle it. That’s not fun. That’s not interesting. Why bother making those other guys as cool as they are when they’re never going to do anything?

Another series that did this better than Dragon Ball, but had the same problem, was Sailor Moon. The Sailor Soldiers worked much better as a team than the Z Fighters ever did. Too bad it was Sailor Moon herself who defeated almost every single villain in that show. Even the grunts. I don’t remember there being a single moment where Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, or Venus had a fight of their own.

Now take Fairy Tail guild. A perfect example of what I'm talking about came during the Eclipse Arc. Our guild was still competing in the Great Magic Games, the final round was approaching. Then our team needed to split up. Two jobs were going on at once and both were important. After a hard-fought battle in the Games, Fairy Tail stood victorious. Though beaten and bruised, they still looked like they could take on the world. They looked awesome. 

When you get to this scene you're going to notice something. More to the point, you're going to notice something missing. Fairy Tail’s winning team, the group that won back the guild’s reputation, did not have Natsu. He was off doing the other thing. Do you know why? Fairy Tail did not need him to be there.

This made this whole series feel so much more alive. This story could do so many different things because it had so many tools to work with. It didn’t matter who was fighting. If that person bore the Fairy Tail mark, they meant business.

Series Negatives

Is it possible to go 277 episodes error free? If Fairy Tail is any indication, no it is not.

There were a ton of epic moments in this series. It was hard to put down. You will want to continue once you start. You will hit runs where time flies by like it is nothing.

Then out of nowhere, you will hit brick walls. Flawless this show was not.

Given its length, Fairy Tail had plenty of occasions to drop the ball. Sometimes that happened. And when it did, my God was it rough.

There are some glaring issues that plagued this series.

If you have been reading along this month, then you saw what some of the biggest were. Except, most of those were individual problems. They only affected the arc they were in. That wasn’t always the case though.

What we are about to do is look at the rough patches that were present all throughout this show. These are the problems that brought this series down. These are also the things you need to be aware of if you are thinking about giving Fairy Tail a try.


There is no getting around it. Fairy Tail had a pacing problem.

Sprinkled throughout any given arc were segments of great intensity. The action glues you to the screen. You can’t take your eyes off what is going on. It's a lot of fun. That’s why it would be a shame if this show decided to cut away and…son of a bitch.

This happened all the time. Right at the height of any given fight or gripping scene, the plot would move to check on something else. And if you can believe it, this is the second form of these pacing issues. Granted this was the most frustrating of the two, but the way this series started wasn’t winning any awards.

I wrote back in the season one review how this story would insist on finishing a fight. Nothing would come up until whatever was going on reached its conclusion. Combatants would meet. They would banter. They would battle. Someone would come out the victor. Rinse and repeat several times over.

While this did lead to some fantastic encounters, it got tiring. This series would build to a peak level of excitement. When a fight ended, your adrenaline would be pumping. This is a state of mind that doesn’t turn off at the flick of a switch. You want to keep going. Season one never did. It instead would come to a screeching halt to do the whole process over again.

It’s okay to have multiple things going on at once. Revving up to a hundred miles an hour takes a bit of time. It’s not instant. A concept Fairy Tail seemed to understand as it went forward.

This series would start having its action pieces occurring at the same time. There was always something going on. Too bad this show almost never got it right.

A perfect example of this came in the Edolas Arc. If you read my season three review, you know where I’m heading with this.

If a story plans to cut away from a gripping fight, it best cut away to another gripping fight. This was an important reason why the Great Magic Games and the Tartarus Arcs were so good. Everything that was going on had equal importance. As well as equal excitement value. It was never fun pulling away from certain battles, but at least we weren’t moving to something duller.

The events of the Edolas Arc weren’t what I would call stale. In the grand scheme of things, that story was fine and made sense. Except every action scene was competing against a monster. Everyone and everything was trying to coexist with what should have been this series’ most epic face off. A face-off the Edolas Arc arc, for some reason, didn’t want to return to.

I already went on enough of a rant in the season three review. I don’t want to repeat myself here.

Compounding this problem was when Fairy Tail fell into simple storytelling traps. For example, in the Tenrojima Arc.

The final boss fight for that particular storyline wasn’t that energizing. A stand out moment since the climatic fight was usually Fairy Tail at its strongest. What happened here?

To kill any tension in an action scene, someone only needs to say one line. Let me set it up for you. There’s a big clash. Smoke and fire billow out from the epicenter. It’s hard to see what exactly transpired. The heroes emerge battered and out of breath. There is a likely chance everyone’ stamina is running on empty. Here is the ideal opportunity to deliver the ultimate mood killer.

“Did we get them?”

Of course, they didn’t. To Fairy Tail’s credit, this almost never happened. The end of a fight was clear and this story never left an outcome ambiguous. Except for the Tenrojima Arc. And it did this multiple times. Once is headache inducing enough, any more is a bad joke.

Yet the worse bit of pacing came during the Eclipse Arc. Coming off the awesomeness that was the Great Magic Games finale, this story needed something huge. Something which this story had. A lot of energy had gone into setting the next threat up. This was going to be a massive throw down. It would take a special kind of skill to ruin it.

Congratulations Fairy Tail, you managed to pull that off. How you ask. By making this fight last five episodes longer than it needed to be. This resulted in a dragged-out plot and a boring conclusion. I asked this question in the season seven review and I will ask it again here.

How do you make a dragon battle dull?

Keep in mind, what we talked about were the extreme examples. The pacing was a problem for this series. But it was usually on a much smaller scale.

The Anime Exclusives Arcs

This was Fairy Tail at its lowest. Whenever this show tried to have an original story, you could feel something was off. The biggest thing being the general quality of everything taking a nose dive into the abyss. The arcs adapted from the manga had issues. But they were never bull crap.

If you want a small taste of this nonsense, watch the Daphne Arc. Nothing about this plot made sense. Not the actual events, nor the timing. This came right after the far superior Nirvana Arc. Fairy Tail had just faced and defeated a team of powerful, dangerous wizards. Over the course of that battle, our team got everything kicked out of them. And they still pulled off a resounding victory.

How the hell am I going to believe some puny scientist, as in one, can pose a similar threat? A scientist who couldn’t even use magic. A scientist who was not just up against the well-rested team from Nirvana, but the entire Fairy Tail guild. This included Erza, Mirajane, and Master Makarov. This shouldn’t have been a problem. Why did it take so long?

Also, this story needed to take its overinflated head and shove it up its own ass. Gray betrayed Fairy Tail, what sorry idiot would believe that? He must have had a reason for his actions. Regardless of what they were, though, this being his solution was dumb. There were so many easier ways to achieve the same goal.

And this was only four episodes. Imagine sitting through the same kind of nonsense again. Except now there are twenty-five episodes and it’s even worse.

The Starry Sky Arc was stupid. I hated it. This was a massive train wreck. Fairy Tail never came close to reaching this level of garbage before or after it. This was an absolute anomaly. The only positive thing I can say is the fact that it is one hundred percent skippable. It is so far removed from the rest of this series, you do not have to watch it.

I go into more detail about this abomination in the season five review. But I want to forget it happened.

To close this off, there were actually three anime exclusive arcs. The third one, the Eclipse Celestial Spirits Arc, wasn’t bad. It at least felt like it was Fairy Tail. What made this one work was its antagonists. They were believable. The threat was real. There was a reason why everyone would have trouble facing them. That and it was fun. More than what I can say about the other two.

Except having a thirty-three percent success rate isn’t great. 

Final Thoughts

And like that, we have reached the end.

Before I close everything off, there is one more thing I must say. I’ve done my best to avoid bringing it up. I was saving it for now. Fairy Tail Month has ended. Fairy Tail has not.

In July of 2017 series creator, Hiro Mashima revealed on Twitter the final season of Fairy Tail would be airing sometime in 2018. At the end of the season eight review, I said this series found a good place to take a pause. Now we play the waiting game.

So, after everything we’ve been through, there’s only one final question. Would I recommend Fairy Tail? Absolutely. I don’t think that’s a shock.

Yes, there will be rocky moments. Not everything is going to land. There will be frustrating points. But those are the exception, not the rule. This series was great. It’s a long journey. Except it’s a journey you won’t regret. Plus, it is a journey that, for now, has further to go.

Thank you all so much for joining me for Fairy Tail Month. Though I say the end, we will be coming back to this series one day.

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