These are strange times. We’re in the home stretch for what is perhaps the best story arc of Fairy Tail thus far, and its in these final moments, that the story is starting to display some problematic tendencies. What’s even stranger this week, however, is that it wasn’t the adaption that was the major problem. It was, in fact, the actual original story and plot themselves that were the true weak points this week.
This week was where Erza and Kyouka’s battle finally took center stage and concluded. To simply call this battle “weak” or “bad” is boiling things down too simply. Its not just weak or bad, because while it is those things, there’s almost ideas and moments of sheer brilliance in there as well. Its kind of perplexing really, because for all intents and purposes, I should’ve liked this fight. I even did, a bit, but the few good ideas that there were seem to have been sacrificed for the greater good.
The primary problem, this week, was that the larger plot just superseded everything. Character moments, natural progression, and even just pure logic and common sense. Certain things had to happen, regarldess of whether they should have or even could have, and that pretty much removed any worth or even any believability from Kyouka and Erza’s final clash.
What’s so frustrating though, is that at the core concept level, this battle was actually pretty darn great. Fairy Tail, kind of artificially, brought in some serious stakes for this battle last week so… The fight definitely wasn’t inconsequential. Erza was fighting Kyouka to put an end to the Face threat and that had the magic of everyone in the world at stake. Then there’s Kyouka herself, who had such an impressive ability that I think was utterly devastating.
We saw earlier that in this arc that Kyouka can adjust people’s sense of pain, and make it greater. That by itself is a pretty powerful move, and its a nice little foil to the very being of a character like Erza. Erza’s entire character arc, if we really boil it down to its core essentials, is about overcoming pain. Emotional pain, physical pain, Erza’s had the worst brunt of all of that, and she’s overcome it. So having an opponent that can literally control pain itself is pretty much Erza’s arch-nemesis.
To make matters worse, as the two clash, Kyouka not only brings Erza’s sense of pain to an inhumane point, but she even robs her of all five senses. This is such a fascinating and powerfully devastating thing. Its often mused that if a person loses all five senses, then they are, for all intents and purposes, dead. They can’t communicate, can’t feel anything, they’re just pretty much isolated to whatever little space is left in their own mind.
And Erza is put in there. She’s got excruciating pain that can be triggered by the wind just touching her body, and then on top of that she’s got all of her fives senses locked down. Now, logically speaking, anyone who goes through something like that, would be driven mad. Its quite possibly the worst thing that can be done to any one human being. Its also exceedingly twisted and sadistic.
I think a part of me actually kind of freaked out at how sick and utterly devastating the whole situation was. I also kind of wondered about Mashima-sensei as a writer and storyteller, because while his stories are ultimately feel good lighthearted romps, this is perhaps one of the darkest things I’ve seen from any kind of story.
Any kind of agency, anything power that Erza has a human being to feel, do and experience the world was robbed from her. And the fact that Kyouka robbed that from her as a very “rapist” like undertone to it. I’m not going to even touch the topic of rape in reference to a Fairy Tail story but, make no mistake, what Kyouka did is pretty sick, twisted and all about dominating the other person and robbing them of any kind of chance to fight back.
So… We have that situation. Erza is in perhaps the most hellish situation that any person can possibly ever be in. She’s lost all her senses, and there’s even a pretty nice sequence that we see where she imagines herself inside some kind of underwater abyss, simply floating. That’s how I IMAGINE that situation to be like, or about as far as my imagination can take me. But while the situation is so darn hopeless, Erza still has to get out of it.
I mean, if you’ve watched the episode, you know that Erza wins this battle. But how does she win it? That’s the core problem of the story this week, the thing that completely throws logic out the window. See, because of the kind of writer that Mashima-sensei is, and the kind of stories he writes, he has to have Erza win and stand above the challenge and trial that he’s put her in. Erza has to be greater than the horrors that she’s subjected to, and that’s a notion that I don’t disagree with.
The problem is that, by putting her in such a hopeless situation, Mashima-sensei pretty much wrote himself into a box. There is no fathomable way for Erza to come out on top, or maybe there is, but it’d be pretty darn contrived if it did exist. So the solution to Erza’s escape and ultimate win? She’s Erza.
Yep, that’s the solution right there. Erza just does it somehow, because well.. She’s Erza. There’s no explanation as to how she actually does it, just that she mentally powers through it all, and is able to fight Kyouka without all five senses and an excruciating amount of pain. To say that that makes even a lick of sense, is throwing any form of logic and reason completely out the window.
And that’s upsetting, its disappointing, because even when characters in Fairy Tail get sudden power ups and win out of nowhere, there IS some kind of reason behind it. But here, Erza just kinda does it, spouting some nonsense about comrades and the light of her path and what not. There’s even some speculation from the peanut gallery thrown in, where Lector thinks that she perhaps developed a sixth sense or something. But I think Happy just summarizes it best, and its an open admission from the story itself that there’s no real reason here:
Ouch… That’s not just insulting to the audience, its insulting to Erza as a character. It spits on her achievement of powering through this horrible situation, one that would drive any reasonable human being completely mad. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but unless something was horribly changed from the manga, I think the problem was Mashima-sensei’s story in this case.
I mean, even just thinking on the whole thing for a few seconds, one can come up with SOME kind of explanation or idea that at least sounds better. What if, for example, Erza was actually using her sense of pain to guide her? What if because she had the excruciating pain attacking her from all sides, she could use THAT one sensation to guide her actions and basically tell where everything was, and when she was walking, moving e.t.c.
It would make sense, because that heightened sense of pain could’ve led to a heightened sense of awareness. Now I admit, that’s not the best explanation, but at least it IS one. My 20 seconds of thought are more effort than what we actually got in the story itself. I would’ve been fine with that. I would’ve been fine with some kind of idea, or logic behind Erza’s win.
And to be honest, I also would’ve been fine with Erza losing entirely. There’s no reason for Erza to have to win every battle. I would’ve been totally fine with Erza completely succumbing to the despair of the situation and just shutting down. Kyouka would’ve died anyway and the powers would’ve been reversed then. There could’ve even been an interesting story of Erza overcoming the horror and pain of that situation, and all that it had done to her. Erza could’ve had a new demon to deal with, and there’s a pretty solid Post Traumatic stress disorder story in here as well.
Instead, Erza just basically took on and defeated Kyouka, because that’s what the plot had to have her do. To make matters worse though, her win ultimately didn’t count for ANYTHING.
See, While Kyouka ends up being beaten, and even friggin Minverva jumps in to deliver the final blow, the Face counter still reaches 0:00. Yeah… That entire battle, with Erza winning at the expense of logic? There’s no real point to it. Face still activates, and Kyouka still wins, and all that battle really amounts to is a weak attempt to make Erza seem cool. Erza had to win, so she won, but Face still had to go off, so it did. Plot, trumping everything else…
To call this entire thing a blundering mess is putting it lightly. I don’t think I’ve ever quite seen Fairy Tail’s story do the kind of weird things it did this week. And its all because a fight was shoehorned into a place where it didn’t need to. I don’t pretend to even imagine how difficult it is to write a story like Fairy Tail, and how much effort is must take to both write and DRAW the manga on a weekly basis, but I’d say this is one time when Mashima-sensei really did mess up. Its the only time that I’d actually call a blunder or outright failure.
And to make matters worse, all the side content this week, all the filler material, the bits with Igneel and Acnologia, the quick check in with all the other characters? All of that actually worked. From an adaption perspective, it was all actually really well done. The spacing between the Erza battle and everything else felt appropriate, and felt needed. The animation was pretty good, as was nearly everything else from a production stand point. But no matter how much you try to build something up, if the foundation is shaky, the building is still going to topple over at the end of it all.
So yeah, I guess this would be an all time low for a Fairy Tail episode. I went in with pretty low expectations, I went in expecting the battle to be kind of a throwaway one, and I even went in thinking the anime adaption itself would be horrible. I didn’t quite go in thinking the story itself would just throw logic completely out the window, and undermine one of my favorite female characters in a cast that’s full of great characters in general.
Ah well… I suppose its done now. We can just pick up, and move along to whatever is left. I think Fairy Tail’s Tartaros arc is unique in that its brought us not only some of the franchise’s highest points, but also some of its lowest ones as well. The good news is, there’s only one way to go from here, and that’s up.
Seems like we’re entering the final bits of the Tartaros Arc now. Lets see how this all resolves.
Posted by setsuken
Posted on November 14, 2015 at 11:31 am
in Fairy Tail
Tags: erza bikini, erza fanservice, erza scarlet, erza vs kyouka, Fairy Tail, fairy tail 2 episode 84, fairy tail anime blog, fairy tail episode 259, fairy tail episode blog, fairy tail episode recap, fairy tail images, fairy tail recap, fairy tail review, fairy tail screencaps, fairy tail screenshots, kyouka life link, natsu dragneel, natsu vs mard geer, tataros arc
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