Reviews, Top Tens, and more! Posts every Monday and Friday at 8:00 AM PST. Follow me on my social medias for updates and other random nonsense.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Anime Hajime Review: Fairy Tail Season Seven (Fairy Tail Month Part 7 of 9)

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

Season Positives

First thing, ninety episodes. Even if good, a watch like that takes a lot out of you. It also takes up a ton of your time. About thirty-six hours’ worth in case you were wondering. When getting into these types of runs, you can only hope they will be decent. Given this was Fairy Tail, the odds of that being the case were in our favor. It wasn't one hundred percent, but it was still pretty high.

This season was coming off a year’s hiatus and it could not have been more obvious.

The animation and general design of this series underwent some changes. Changes for the better.

In addition, the first few episodes were hilarious because you could see what this season was trying to do. It was attempting to get the audience back up to speed. This involved simple, and sometimes awkward rundowns of who was who. In Fairy Tail’s defense, this would have been necessary back when this first aired. I won’t dwell on how silly this got. Besides, it didn’t last that long.

This season contain three major arcs, the Eclipse Arc, the Eclipse Celestial Spirits Arc, and the Tartarus Arc.

Each of these storylines varied in quality. So much so it appeared as if different teams worked on them. The positives and negatives for each were specific. This makes it hard to judge this season as a whole. Therefore, I won’t.

For this review, much like the others, I will look at how these arcs held up on their own. That said, there was one overarching thing about this season. There was never a full repeat of the Starry Sky Arc. Does that mean this was a headache free sit? Let's hold off on that answer.

Also, between the arcs, there were several filler episodes. More than I remember there ever being in this series. They weren’t perfect, but most were a ton of fun. Some were total time wasters. Except these were fine since these were the ones that were super cute too.

There were other side stories that I didn’t need to know, yet am now happy I know them. It wouldn’t have bothered me if some of these one-offs were longer. It’s not like Fairy Tail doesn’t have a slew of characters who never get the chance to do anything. And as a hint of things to come, some time spent on random nonsense would have been time better spent.

With those miscellaneous thoughts out of the way, let’s look at this season’s three arcs.

The Eclipse Arc

The first half of this story was the conclusion to the Grand Magic Games Arc. If you want to get technical, I should continue referring to this arc as such. Except Fairy Tail had been building up to the opening of Eclipse gateway. To help distinguish seasons, I’ll refer to the Eclipse Arc when discussing the second half of this larger story. The one that came from this season.

If you recall my thoughts from the last review, I liked the Grand Magic Games Arc. Up to that point, it was the most thrilling arc of this series. Some of this show's coolest moments came from those episodes.

This culminated in a match between Natsu and Saber Tooth’s very own dragon slayers, Sting (voiced by Takahiro Sakurai) and Rouge (voiced by Kenichi Suzumura). Not to mention, that season ended on a huge cliffhanger. A cliffhanger that bothered me something fierce in between my watches. And that was only a week at most. I hate to think what a full year would have felt like.

The Games half of the Eclipse Arc was an adequate conclusion to its predecessor. This had a ton of stand-out scenes and a number of spectacular fights. As well as an interesting dilemma. Leading up to the actual threat of the story, this arc did a good job of keeping everything vague enough.

Last season we learned something terrible would happen at the end of the Grand Magic Games tournament. Here we learned that thing involved dragons. The reveal of what that entailed came at the right time. Not too early, not too late. Aiding in that was a time travel mechanic that left everything muddy. It was difficult to put the puzzle together.

At the start of this season, circumstances forced our team to split. A celestial wizard was vital to the activation of the Eclipse gateway. Therefore, opponents of its opening arrested Lucy. To have a chance to meet with the King and plead their case, Fairy Tail needed to win the games. But, since this was Fairy Tail, they weren’t going to play by those rules. Not only would they compete, they would attempt a simultaneous rescue mission.

Perhaps some of you are starting to see where a problem started to arise. This arc got busy. While the excitement of the Grand Magic Games Arc returned, the pacing did not. This story kept jumping back and forth, breaking up the action. Not unlike what the Edolas Arc did. Except there was one crucial difference.

The Edolas Arc had only one super cool amazing fight that I cared about. Thus, when that story kept ignoring it, it was frustrating. The Eclipse Arc got around this by having every fight be super cool and amazing. Cutting away from a battle did suck, but at least we didn’t cut to something boring.

Gray got a chance to redeem himself and his fights are usually good. Remember I said that. Natsu’s always entertaining. Erza was Erza, so yeah, that wasn’t a problem. The same goes for Mirajane and her fight was a blast. But these were what I expected. There were a few that were pleasant surprises.

The first was Lilly (voiced by Hiroki Tochi). It’s easy to forget, but he is not a sidekick like Happy or Carla. He is the Exceeds' best fighter and was a legitimate obstacle when introduced in the Edolas Arc. This was his best fight of this series. Beating out the time he went toe to toe with Gajeel. Speaking of which.

Gajeel finally had something to do. This was a perfect reminder that he is not someone to underestimate. He is every bit as hot-headed and stubborn as Natsu. Plus, he is a dragon slayer. He has the power to decimate opponents. Which is what he did in this arc.

The other big fight came from Laxus. No doubt what he did in the last arc was way more impressive. Yet for some reason, it was this arc that made me realize something. Laxus was once a huge prick. This series did a thorough job of making him unlikable in the first season. He has since made up for that and then some.

Last, and without question, the greatest moment of the Eclipse Arc was at the end of the games. Spoilers, Fairy Tail won. Were you expecting anything else? But it was how they won that made it so memorable. They won in a way only the Fairy Tail guild could pull off.

Following the end of the games, the story was ready to focus on the opening of the Eclipse gateway. With that came the promise of dragon battles. There’s no reality where that doesn’t sound awesome. It would be hard to screw that up. And I’m going to stop talking now.

The Eclipse Celestial Spirits Arc

From what I can tell, this was another anime original. I can’t say I was looking forward to this one. This series’ track record with these types of arcs isn’t one to be proud of. Though I wanted to keep an open mind, I was preparing for the worst.

Thankfully, the worst did not come. The Eclipse Celestial Spirits Arc wasn’t bad. Except saying it was the best of the anime originals isn’t an honor. It’s not like that's a title that was hard to earn. This was by no means amongst Fairy Tail’s strongest storylines. But if the Starry Sky Arc had only been half this decent it would have been much more bearable.

The major thing this story had going for it was its idea. What if Lucy’s spirits rebelled? It would be a real problem. It was jarring to see these characters we’ve grown to know get corrupted. This was especially hard with Leo (voiced by Daisuke Kishio) and Virgo (voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro). There was a lot more going on than doing the same thing again.

In the Starry Sky Arc, there was no reason why Legion could hold their own against Fairy Tail. It made sense why that was the case here. The spirits have proven themselves to be reliable allies. They are what allow Lucy to challenge this series’ most dangerous foes. Not only that, the Fairy Tail fighters would have a reason to hold back. These were their friends.

Because of that last bit, it wasn’t strange that many of the fights in this arc weren’t straight up fights. Some were more competitions than anything. Canna was in a card battle. Erza was in a glorified sparring match. Wendy spent her time in an amusement park. Levy was on a Fairy Tail quiz show. Connected to that, how Levy’s segment ended was adorable. These less intense battles helped declutter the whole arc if you can believe it.

Since there were twelve keys, that meant there were twelve fights going on at once. The vast majority of these were throw-aways. The battles that meant something, as in the ones involving Lucy and Natsu, were going to take the most time. While there was a lot going on, the pacing was as good as possible.

Did this redeem the other piss poor attempts this series tried at making its own stories? I wouldn’t go that far. But it was a step in the right direction.

The Tartarus Arc

I’ll admit it now. The Tartarus Arc should be in its own review. If you want to split this season up, this is where you would do it. But there’s a reason I’m not doing that.

The start of the Eclipse Arc showcased an upgrade in visuals. The Tartarus Arc did so again. This story had a different feel from the rest of Fairy Tail. Its effects were immediate. I don’t even need to mention the episode this arc starts. You’re going to know exactly when it does. It’s a bummer the rest of this season wasn’t like this. In more ways than one.

The Tartarus Arc was fantastic. This was so good. This was so God damn good. I said the Grand Magic Games Arc was the best of the series up to that point. I only said it that way to keep the possibility of something better coming along open. I did not think something would actually do that. Yet here we are.

This story went down a much darker path than anything we’ve seen out of Fairy Tail. The stakes were never this high. The threat was never this intense. The foes Fairy Tail has faced had something in common. They all had tragic backstories. There were reasons behind their turn to darkness. Not so for Tartarus. This was a guild that needed to be stopped.

Other villains sought destruction, power, and wanted to conquer everything. Tartarus wanted to eliminate magic and bring about the apocalypse. Yeah, that would be bad.

Supplementing that, death was possible during this arc. This series never had a zero percent chance of this happening, but some characters seemed immune. Not here. Everyone was vulnerable. It became more of a question of, who is it going to be?

The silly nature of Fairy Tail didn’t go away, but it wasn’t always there. This arc had a handful of heartbreaking scenes. As well as a ton of bad ass ones. To list each one would take too long. There were so many in fact, I’d risk forgetting some of the lesser. Even though those lesser ones stand above other high points of this series. Some of the pivotal ones involved a few characters giving their best. This includes Gajeel and Lucy.

Gajeel had a great fight. While watching, it was hard to imagine this character was once an enemy. Now, he is one of the guild's most unshakable members. That business with Phantom Lord is no longer a thing of tension. It hasn’t mattered to anyone for the longest time. This arc ensured that anyone that still harbored doubts about him no longer does.

Lucy is one of Fairy Tail’s strongest members. It’s that simple. She may not be as destructive as her comrades, but she is not the weakling she was at the beginning of this series. What she managed to do in this arc was something I never considered. This display of power was epic and one time only. The price was too much. The only reason it happened here, there simply was no other choice.

In every conceivable way, Lucy had the best moment of this arc. Or at least that should be the case. There was just one other that blew it out of the water.

One of my favorite moments of this series came during the Grand Magic Games Arc. It was the scene involving Erza that I mentioned in the last review. That was a pinnacle of this show. It was awesome. The Tartarus Arc had something that rivals it. And it belongs…to Wendy.

There’s only one thing I have to say about this. In the Eclipse Arc, Wendy fought a dragon. In the Tartarus Arc, she became one.

Season Negatives

To have a flawless ninety-episode run was something I did not expect. I figured there would be a few instances that would be difficult to get through. It’s not that I was right, it’s more, that was what was going to happen. My concern was, would these problematic moments be the exception or the rule.

For the most part, they were the exception. Though a ton of that credit goes to the Tartarus Arc.

Actually, that’s why I chose not to make it its own review. The negative section of such a thing would have been almost barren, filled only with nitpicks. If there was one thing I can say, the final episode felt rushed. Yet if that’s the only thing going against it, I might as well add Tartarus to this review.

Also, a tip for you fellow marathoners. When watching this season, you can skip the first six minutes of almost every episode. That kind of time adds up in the long run.

The Eclipse Arc

The Eclipse part of the Eclipse Arc was such a good idea. An idea that almost held out. Too bad there were too many things going against it. Three things to be precise.

The first was how this story, and by extension, this series, wasted Ultear Milkovich (voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro). We met her in season one but got to know her in the Tenrojima Arc. She had a nice backstory. As well as a ton of potential that is now squandered. Why, because of shock value.

The big climactic fight of this arc was intense. It was dangerous. It was the greatest conflict of this series until the Tartarus Arc took that crown. Was it possible for characters to die here? Absolutely. But there was a limit and this arc got too greedy. There was a certain character that got “killed” and the first thing out of my mouth was “Bull s@#$. There is no way this character is dying here.”

This had nothing to do with me knowing there was still seventy episodes left in this season. This moment happened so quick and so unceremonious, it did not feel legitimate. This story was not going to go through with this. To make matters worse, this was the first in a quick succession of “deaths”. So, when this person got brought back, the others were coming too. The way this arc ended up doing this was through Ultear.

It was unnecessary. It did not need to happen. There is a slew of other ways this arc could have avoided doing what it did. Except now we’re stuck with it and that blows. And it’s not like it played any significant role for the rest of this season.

The second thing going against this arc was the villain. They were not interesting. In fact, this character felt like their name was pulled from a hat. That was how much thought went into it. There was no build up. The reveal was hollow. The reasoning remained vague enough to render everything moot.

Since I don’t want to spoil this, what I’m going to say next will sound weird with no context. I do not like this villain. The “villain” part is important. When that distinction is not there everything else is fine.

The third and biggest issue with the Eclipse Arc was how it made fighting dragons boring. The latter half of this story dragged on. This could have resolved itself in six episodes. So why did it last eleven? There was a point when no progress was being made. It would have been one thing had Fairy Tail been losing. But no, nothing was happening.

There were dragons flying around and destroying stuff. Why did I not care about that? How do you screw that up?

The Eclipse Celestial Spirits Arc

The Eclipse Celestial Spirits Arc was the weakest of the three. While it may have been the best of the anime originals, it never rose above that trait. It felt separate from the rest of this season.

That said, there was one filler episode prior to the main storyline that did end up paying off later. The reason I mention it is because I don’t know if it was anime filler or manga filler. Either way, the episode in question did lead to one of the saddest moments of the series. If that was the Eclipse Celestial Spirits Arc’s doing than I want to give it credit.

There was one thing that made this story tough to get through. The ending. The final fight was impressive, but there was one constant. This arc kept making things up. At some point, I became lost to what was going on. Nothing was making sense.

Plus, the final episode could have been way more satisfying. Except, since this was an anime original, this story could have a profound impact on the actual canon. Thus, I get why this arc didn’t go further, but it still should have.

Season Seven Final Thoughts

We have one more batch of episodes before the final overview of this series. And the conclusion of Fairy Tail Month. And given how next season is a prequel, that means we’ve reached an important point. The Fairy Tail story, as of this review, is done.

Also, the next installment is only twelve episodes. That’s nothing compared to what just happened.

This season continued with what has made this series so fun. As well as giving us its crowning moment. Although, it may be too early to confirm that. The next story got hinted at throughout the Tartarus Arc. I am looking forward to it. If for no other reason other than we finally get to learn more about Master Mavis.

Fairy Tail Month will continue on December 25th with Fairy Tail Zero.

               Google+                        Facebook                         Twitter

No comments:

Post a Comment