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Friday, December 15, 2017

Anime Hajime Review: Fairy Tail Season Five (Fairy Tail Month Part 5 of 9)

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

Season Positives

This last batch of episodes made up the Key of the Starry Sky Arc. For the series up to this point, my favorite storylines have been the Moon Drip, Tower of Heaven, and Nirvana Arcs. Adding to that, some of my favorite moments occurred during the Edolas Arc ending and to the lead into the Tenrojima Arc. Along the way, there have been plenty of lows. There have been many highs. There have been more highs than lows.

That was where my mind was when beginning the Starry Sky Arc. Looking back, this one was indeed special. Starting at episode 126 and finishing at episode 150, this marks the halfway point of this series and month. And this span of twenty-five episodes is one-hundred percent skippable.

The Starry Sky Arc was utter garbage. This was so bad. By its own merits, this was a complete mess. When compared to Fairy Tail that came before, this was painful to sit through.

It’s hard to only say there was a dip in quality. It was like watching a different show. The unfortunate part is, this wasn’t unprecedented. Although not on this scale, there was a moment that was similar to this gigantic fumble. The Daphne Arc.

Across the board, these plotlines shared many of the same, irritating characteristics. The stories made little sense. Established character personalities were flat out ignored. Everything was counter-intuitive to what should’ve happened. The actual threats weren’t ones. Nevertheless, they became one. Then by each respective end, nothing changed. Making these ordeals a giant waste of time.

Starry Sky Arc’s specific offenses will come in a moment. Yet there is one other, more telling similarity to the Daphne Arc. Both are anime originals. They weren’t adaptations of any storyline from the Fairy Tail manga. These were filler arcs.

Each of these plots felt like they operated in their own universe, separate to the world of Fairy Tail we’ve grown accustomed to. This isn't a notion that's dead in the water. I have no problem with deviations in principle. As long as said deviations retain what makes, in this case, Fairy Tail, Fairy Tail. Or at a minimum Fairy Tail as seen through the anime.

With that, the Starry Sky Arc felt like a massive step backward. In one sense, this was a slight continuation of the Edolas Arc. In another, this was a sequel to the Nirvana Arc.

Regardless of how you look at it, this was a failure on both accounts. A massive annoyance since this was the first arc following the seven-year jump in the story. Not to mention a pseudo fresh start since the Tenrojima Arc could’ve worked as a finale.

In the last review, I wrote how the Tenrojima Arc did get on my nerves. But when it was said and done, I still enjoyed the thing. That did not happen here. Every problem I had with the Daphne Arc got compounded in this one. Also, the Daphne Arc at least had the good graces of being short.

Before getting into what made this arc so infuriating, there were a few things of note.


Fairy Tail has been doing a decent job of using its characters. As well as maintaining a sense of companionship amongst the Fairy Tail wizards. That was no different here. If anything, the Starry Sky Arc gave us pairings that are unlikely to occur often. Or ever again for that matter.

Gajeel and Juvia got a chance to fight side by side. Something I don’t believe happened even in the Phantom Lord Arc when they were members of the same guild. It turns out, their familiarity wasn’t in name only. They have known each other for a long time. They made an effective team.

Gildarts traveled with fellow Fairy Tail guild member Laki Olietta (voiced by Ikumi Hayama). If you're wondering who the hell she is, you’re not alone. I didn’t know she had a name. Actually, I’m not convinced she’s had more than five lines in this entire series. She’s been a background character. Too bad for her, this was her first chance to do anything of note and it wasn’t much.

It was nice to see the three Strauss siblings together. While by no means a new team and one that has a high chance of forming again, this wasn't a bad thing to see. Also, we got what should be our only glimpse of an even more powerful Mirajane (voiced by Ryoko Ono). Much like Laki, I have not mentioned Mirajane yet this month. Unlike Laki, though, Mirajane is one of my favorite characters. I just haven’t found a spot to talk about her.

This may be the only instance of Mirajane’s more destructive form because, anime original. Would I like to see it again? Yes. If in the future, she gets into a losing fight and doesn’t use this technique, that would be silly. Except that’s probably what’s going happen. There was one detail which gives Fairy Tail a reason never to do this again. This form is so devastating, Master Makarov forbade Mirajane from using it. I guess we're going to have to accept that.

One of the better pairings from this arc was also the most random. This was with Wendy and Bickslow (voiced by Yoshihisa Kawahara). Bickslow has been around. He’s proven to be a strong wizard. Except he is, without a doubt, a secondary character. I can think of no reason why these two would ever tag team it. Yet, here we are. And would you believe it, they were one of the more successful pairs.

What I like about this most was how this showed Wendy’s relationship with the entire Fairy Tail guild. Amongst her group, she has proven herself time and time again. This demonstrated how everyone treated her, not as a kid, but as a Fairy Tail wizard.

The last team I want to talk about was Erza and Gray. Before you think otherwise, look at what I wrote. Natsu and Lucy were not with them. This was a duo that has not been a thing. The idea behind it is fascinating. It should be a lot of fun.

It wasn’t here. This served no point. Nothing happened. Nothing came of this. It was more awkward than anything. Granted, awkward in a funny way. That doesn’t change saying, though. Why would you waste this opportunity? This is where not adhering to the manga could be a benefit. Anything could’ve come from this. Instead, it might as well have never taken place.

Despite not everything working out, I will give the Starry Sky Arc this. It was willing to experiment with this one area.

Michelle Lobster

I liked Michelle (voiced by Yukana Nogami). Of the things added, she was the best. To be fair, her competition was sparse. Even saying the word “added” is a little wrong. Yet if Fairy Tail’s idea of anime originals were more like her, this would be a different kind of review.

Michelle's chemistry with Lucy was genuine. The two formed a deep bound. Michelle never felt out of place and fit right in with the rest of the cast. By that I mean, the cast from the previous arcs. There’s a difference. I’m getting to that.

I don’t want to give too much away, but Michelle’s story wasn’t bad. Who she was and where she came from was sweet. This helped strengthen her connection with Lucy. This was the only part of this arc I found myself caring about. This worked well enough. That is, as long as you don’t think about it that hard. Which is what I’m about to do.

To simplify things, I have to give away this one plot detail. I don’t mind doing this because it was dumb and stupid and I hated. Oracion Seis made a return. They were the villains Fairy Tail already defeated in the Nirvana Arc.

There is no reason this group should’ve used Michelle. She was the person who delivered a key plot point, a memento from Lucy’s father. For this to work, Michelle would’ve needed to earn the trust of Lucy’s father. Okay, fine. Except the timeline doesn’t add up.

This arc didn’t do a great job of explaining how things came to be. That, in combination with me going in and out of paying attention. This arc had long since lost me by this point. So, I’m going to present my understanding to the lead-up to Michelle’s involvement in the Starry Sky Arc.

Michelle and Lucy do have a connection. That is not a lie. Oracion Seis had to know that. Because for their plan to succeed they needed a celestial wizard. In other words, Lucy.

So Oracion Seis had Michelle meet Lucy’s father. Lucy’s father felt confident that Michelle would deliver this dangerous item to his daughter. This would then be the thing to get Fairy Tail looking for similar items. Once collected, Oracion Seis would have what they wanted. That in of itself is not preposterous. This arc did confirm Michelle and Lucy’s father to have known each other for a long time. Yet there is one huge problem.

It sure is impressive how Oracion Seis knew Lucy was going to come back.

Lucy’s father died only a few months before Lucy returned from being missing for seven years. If Lucy’s father had obtained the item before meeting Michelle, that says to me Oracion Sies knew Lucy was not dead. They knew her return was coming. Oh, and by the way, Oracion Seis did have a time limit. A time limit that was fast approaching.

But if Lucy’s father had obtained the item after meeting Michelle, then Oracion Seis made two ballsy assumptions. The first, they assumed Lucy’s father would come into possession of the item. The second, again, Lucy was alive.

All this for the sake of having a heartfelt moment at the end. It would seem to me this anime original didn’t know what it was doing. I may not have noticed this if the rest of the story was decent. And I know I wouldn’t have cared if even I had. Too bad I did notice and I do care.

F@#$ this arc.

Season Negatives

I can pinpoint the exact episode when I knew there was a problem. Episode 130, Targeted Lucy, five episodes into this story. This coincided with the arrival of Legion. This fateful encounter was a preview of what this arc was going to be.

Legion was a collection I’m surprised hasn’t appeared yet. There were a few characters from the Edolas Arc that only had their Edolas versions. Well, here they were. Though not a pressing matter, it’s nice this was finally addressed.

That’s the only thing I have nice to say about this.

This one episode captured everything wrong with the Starry Sky Arc. Lackluster fights. Uninspired villains. And a total disregard for characters we’ve grown to know. A perfect storm to make something forgettable.

The Fights

Legion’s goal was to kidnap Lucy. Not the first time this has been a thing, but what else would you expect. This arc had few strengths and creativity wasn’t one of them. Anyway, if Legion didn’t get what they wanted they would use force.

Let me make sure I understand. There were only three Legion members and they were going up against most of Fairy Tail. Why should I be worried? These guys shouldn’t have been a problem. So then how did they manage to make Fairy Tail look like a bunch of schmucks?

Sure, many of the guild’s heaviest hitters weren’t around. Erza, Gildarts, and Master Makarov were off doing things. Gray and Juvia were busy. Gajeel was off being a little bitch. Which, by the way, what the hell?

Natsu lost in a spectacular way. Gajeel, who was to fight next, chose to run instead of making an effort. Excuse me, what? The proud, arrogant, hot-headed Gajeel ran away from a fight? One of the three Dragon Slayers was worried about getting hurt? And by an opponent, he did faceoff with once? A faceoff he did well in? Gajeel was a lot of things and this arc thought coward was one of them.

Getting back on track, Fairy Tail may not have been at their full strength when up against Legion. Except that in no way should’ve mattered. Natsu, Wendy, and Elfman were around. Lucy possessed most of the twelve Zodiac Keys. And the other members aren’t incompetent.

And if that's not overkill enough, Mirajane was also right there. An S class Fairy Tail wizard, one of the show’s most powerful, probably could’ve taken care of the situation herself.

Legion was outclassed, outgunned, and outnumbered. How did they win?

From this to the end of the arc, every single fight was terrible. Fairy Tail didn’t lose because their opponents were better. They lost because the plot needed something to slow down what should’ve lasted five episodes.

Don’t believe me? The moment this story was ready to move forward, Fairy Tail destroyed whoever they were facing. Almost with no effort at all.

This included Erza and Gildart’s fights. How do you make these boring? I’ll tell you how. First, you turn Erza into a bumbling goofball. While that has been her character, she's never been that way in battle. When facing an opponent, any opponent, Erza is a stoic, no-nonsense warrior. Next, you limit what Gildarts can do. And that’s just no fun.

The Villains

I want to remind everyone about the powerful demi-god wizard on the loose. I feel it necessary to say that since it wasn’t referenced once in this arc. I could’ve lived with this too as long as the actual villains were decent. Which they weren’t.

That said, Legion could’ve filled the role. Minus the aforementioned inferiority. Introducing the missing Earthland versions of Edolas characters was a neat idea. A neat idea that was squandered the second brand new characters came in. What was the original point again?

Then there was Oracion Seis. They had proven themselves to be formidable back in the Nirvana Arc. They faltered here because Fairy Tail already beat them. They no longer stood as an insurmountable barrier.

It also didn’t help when they appeared from out of nowhere. There was no reason why Oracion Seis had to be the bad guys. If I had to guess, this story went with them since it required the least amount of effort. This arc didn’t need to spend time establishing them. 

And never mind how Oracion Seis lost the same exact way they did in the Nirvana Arc. With so much copying and pasting, you’re going to find yourself comparing the two. And this is a contest the Starry Sky Arc can’t win.

Especially since Oracion Seis was so thoroughly beaten before. 

This plays back into the weak fights. Not only were they subpar, they were unoriginal.


There was one final indication from Legions’ introduction. It, or rather she, came in the form of Mary Hughes (voiced by Shiori Izawa).

As seen in the Edolas Arc, characters’ personalities were opposite to their counterparts'. Edolas Natsu was timid. Edolas Lucy was violent. Earthland Hughes didn’t have that. She was pretty much the same. Aside from Earthland Hughes being female, not male.

The sex change isn’t what I want to focus on. This could not bother me any less than it does. What does bother me is the reason behind the switch. It took me awhile to realize it. But when I did, everything became clear.

The Starry Sky Arc didn’t give a damn about characterizations. It just wanted another pretty face.

Fanservice is nothing new to Fairy Tail. It’s been around since episode one. These characters are attractive. This series does not try to hide this. Natsu and Gray often have their shirts off. Lucy and Erza look stunning in bikinis. Many of these moments and there are many, are nothing but eye candy.

However, along the way, Fairy Tail made sure to give us characters to care about. Everyone has a personality. I don’t like Fairy Tail’s strongest because they look good. That’s only a nice bonus. I like them because I feel like I know them. We know what they’ve been through. We know their triumphs, their hardships. Some of the best moments of the series involved painting these characters as people.

When this arc elected to ignore this, it lost an irreplaceable element of Fairy Tail. Now Mary Hughes wasn’t the worst culprit of this story. Too bad what she started turned into a slippery slope that will try your patience. Culminating in the time when Erza, Wendy, and Cana dressed in skin-tight jumpsuits and shook their asses for the camera for five minutes straight. Yeah, that was stupid.

Do you want context for that? A recurring “joke” for this arc was the Jiggle Butt Gang. If their name isn’t enough to clue you in on how insufferable they were, I don’t know what will.

Any meaningful sense of character development came at the end. Lucy realized how much her father loved her. It was sweet, yes. Too bad we already went through this at the end of the Tenrojima Arc. Which was, surprise, better.

Then it was over.

Season Five Final Thoughts

Let’s hope this was a setback and not a sign of things to come. To say this was the worst of Fairy Tail so far is misleading. It insinuates a connection with Fairy Tail.

A terrible story. Underwhelming fights. Boring villains. No hint of caring for these characters. The list goes on.

Unfortunately, there are still a few loose ends. Should the series choose to ignore them and move on, you won’t see me complaining. Whatever does happen, it should be better than this. Right?

Fairy Tail Month will continue December 18th with season six.

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