Despite all odds, this week’s episode of Fairy Tail was actually pretty darn good. Its a strange thing to say, I know, especially given that we’re in what has to be one of the best story arcs of Fairy Tail to date. And yet… The sad reality is that this week’s clear improvement in quality was a breath of fresh after a slew of pretty disappointing weeks that were marred by some really baffling adaption choices.
The problem for Fairy Tail, in this latest arc, has rarely ever been the story. There have been some moments sure, like the whole Erza Kyouka thing, but beyond those random instances, Tartaros has had a pretty on point story filled with cool moment after cool moment. The problem, and one that only emerged in the last few episodes of the Tartaros Arc, has been the adaption of the manga itself, and the often terrible pacing.
I don’t think I’ll ever quite understand the decision to stretch out and mess with a story in service of keeping a production schedule or making the arc a certain number of episodes, because I think the Tartaros arc itself makes the case for and against this particular idea. When the arc started, the pacing was pretty on point, and as we approached the final leg of the story, the pacing devolved into something extremely sluggish, often taking detours and ruining the momentum of the larger story.
There are many things I can forgive, filler episodes, even the sometimes sub-par animation quality, but what continues to hurt is the fact that the show will throw in pointless filler content within an episode, and make me feel like its wasting my time. And yes, while this episode was better, it didn’t quite escape that particular problem entirely.
This week’s episode opened strong, as Fairy Tail usually does. We got our resolution to the whole issue of Natsu and Gray having been possibly killed, and the fact of the matter was that they survived. Here’s the thing, I actually didn’t mind this particular instance of the story, because Mashima-sensei provided a plausible solution to the whole situation. Gray now has Devil Slayer powers, so its understandable that he can block Mard Geer’s curse power with his new abilities.
I don’t think I’m being too forgiving here either, because if anyone actually expected Gray and Natsu to be dead for more than few minutes, then well… Yeah, I’m not sure I can empathize or sympathize here. Natsu and Gray were always going to survive that attack, whether it was through Lumen Historie or whether it was via some other plot device, so good on Mashima-sensei for putting up a solution that I didn’t entirely see coming, and can be content with.
The more important thing, beyond the survival of the heroes, was how the story followed up that particular reveal. And that, I think, is where this episode delivered. The whole followup and defeat of Mard Geer was utterly and completely fantastic. It oozed style, it was decently animated, and each bit of it echoed that feeling of brotherhood and comradery that Gray and Natsu always seem to have in times of trouble.
There’s a nice contrast between how the Tartaros arc started, with Natsu and Gray barely being able to stand one another, to the final battle with Mard Geer where they put their complete faith in one another. Gray blocked Memento Mori and believed that Natsu could follow up, and Natsu did.
I admit, I liked the idea that Natsu went into Dragon Force for a few minutes, as a last ditch effort. I’ve always wondered when we’d get to the point where Natsu can go into Dragon Force Mode at will, and while we’re still a bit far off from that particular reality, this was a pretty nice tease. The final attack that Natsu unleashed was pretty cool, even if it was just a straight burst of pure Fire Magic being concentrated into a beam.
What I think, really brought the fight to next level, in terms of satisfaction, was what came after. Sure, Natsu was able to damage Mard Geer pretty severely, but that didn’t quite finish the job. It was actually Gray, however, who delivered the final blow.
Natsu believing that Gray would follow up after him, and Gray just totally and utterly killing it with that Bow and Arrow? Yes, yes yes! It really brought the whole conflict with Mard Geer to a satisfying conclusion. Natsu and Gray started this battle as a team, and for once, Natsu and Gray both ended it as a team. No one character ended up “saving” the other, they both relied on one another and used team work to overcome this particular trial.
Not only was this just awesome to see, but it represents a real change in how Mashima-sensei does things. Uptill this point, we’ve always had the secondary characters like Gray kind of get overshadowed by Natsu. Natsu has to come in and save the day at the end, because he’s the protagonist. While its been cool to see, that mentality has had its share of problems, the primary one being that some of the characters in the cast really got the shaft.
To see Natsu and Gray share the glory and really kind of act as equals in this battle, was just something we haven’t seen before. Its something I hope we see more of in the future, if only because it just makes for better and more believable conflicts and battle sequences. I’m sure Natsu will always have a moment or two where he’ll be the last man standing, but I think Fairy Tail works better as a story where all of its characters work together, rather than one particular character being the one that really “counts”.
Now… While Natsu and Gray taking down Mard Geer was well and good, I really really dug the fact that there was a bit of a divide after the battle. Gray understandably wanted to destroy END, while Natsu had more or less promised Igneel that he wouldn’t. Things got really tense there for a second, and I almost wondered if Gray and Natsu would come to blows again.
Gray’s reason for existing is the eradication of Demons, at least in the short term. Its the will he inherited from his father, Silver, afterall. Natsu, on the other hand, has his own father’s directives and the promise at some real answers. I think its just really fascinating to see Natsu and Gray have more or less the same overall goal, but slightly diverge when it comes to the approach.
Call it a missed opportunity, or a “saved by the bell” moment, but thankfully, Natsu and Gray didn’t actually have to work out what to do about END and the book, with Acnologia coming crashing down and FACE being activated and all.
In regards to Face, I’ll admit I was a bit taken a back at how nonchalant everyone was being about the whole thing. Things like “Oh, we didn’t make it? That’s regrettable” and simple, calm things like: “Is this the end?” hardly felt appropriate here. You’d think there’d be more panic among our heroes, especially given that they all basically failed at stopping the one thing they had set out to do. So yeah, that did feel a bit weird.
And speaking of weird, while it came inbetween the Gray and Natsu battle, I didn’t really care for the segment of the other guilds coming in and trying to destroy Face. For one, their efforts did jack all, as Face is impervious to magic. And the dialogue between all the characters, as they tried to figure out what to do, was hilariously bad.
Moments like Lyon being interrupted by Jura with the words: “STOP!” and then “We have no time!” were just so contradictory and honestly, just lazily done. Its one thing if we learned something interesting about the other guilds, or even got a funny moment out of it but… Nope. All we got was a few meaningless scenes with all the other guilds flailing around, trying to do something about Face.
What really gets me about this whole segment is how utterly and completely pointless it is. I think someone mentioned in the comments last week that the other guilds part of this episode would probably end up being anime original, and it definitely felt like it wasn’t Mashima-sensei’s stuff. Its this kind of pointless, time wasting stuff that I think has ruined what was otherwise a pretty solid story as a whole throughout this arc. Fortunately, while the these moments were odd and utterly throwaway, they at least felt like they weren’t as pervasive as they have been in past weeks.
I will say that I did like the fact that FACE wasn’t some kind of giant explosion, but was more of a vacuum that slowly started sucking in magic. I think calling it a “bomb” feels a bit wrong, given what it does, but I’ll give Fairy Tail a pass on that one, especially because of how the whole FACE thing got resolved.
DRAGONS! The rest of them I mean. XD
When Igneel showed up to take on Acnologia, I really did wonder why he was the only one that was actually DOING something. I mean, if Natsu had housed Igneel, then that meant that all the other Dragon Slayers were doing something similar. Where was Grandine? Metallicana? And the rest? Well, it turns out they were out there, flying around and taking care of all the FACE bombs across the continent.
That was actually a really cool and clever moment. Igneel towering on top of a fallen Acnologia, and then urging the humans to press on and not give up was great. And then, All the Dragons flying around and taking care of the rest of the face bombs was just such a welcome surprise, that it made the episode really stand out. It was a nice, powerful and surprising moment to end on too.
I think at the end of it all, that’s what made this week’s Fairy Tail episode better than the last few. Yes, there was pointless filler in there, yes it detracted from the momentum of the story, but there was ENOUGH story, and enough movement, that the episode largely felt pretty darn great. Its not as great as a purely manga based, fast paced adaption, but if an episode like this is what we get, then I’m fine with that particular compromise.
We’ve got two more episodes to go, and I think Tartaros is positioned to finish on a pretty decent note before we head into January and Fairy Tail Zero. Fingers crossed on the idea that we get more of what we got this week in the coming episodes, rather than what we’ve been getting in the weeks prior.
Now, the final thing I’ll say is that if you haven’t seen the preview, then avoid it all costs, because it ruins another pretty darn awesome surprise. Other than that, I’ll see you all next week, same time, same place! XD
Tags: dragonforce, Fairy Tail, fairy tail 2, fairy tail 2 episode 88, fairy tail 2015, fairy tail 263, fairy tail anime blog, fairy tail episode 263, fairy tail episode blog, fairy tail episode recap, fairy tail recaps, fairy tail review, fairy tail screencaps, fairy tail screenshots, grandine returns, gray fullbuster, igneel vs acnologia, mard geer, mard geer defeated, mard geer vs natsu and gray, memento mori, metalicana returns, natsu dragoneel
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