So… its been a while huh? Counting weeks, I’ve been away for around 14 weeks, about three and a half months of not posting about Fairy Tail. Some of you may have gleaned from the comments on episode 29’s post that I was going through my last semester as a college student, and that things got a bit out of hand for me. It got to the point where sleep became a luxury, let alone watching and writing about Fairy Tail.
That said, there’s always a silver lining to most things, and the one here is that I got to bulk watch a bunch of episodes for Fairy Tail at once. Bulk watching anime is generally the way to go, at least for me, although my patience rarely holds out long enough for me to realistically bulk watch all the series I enjoy. Once in a while, however, life can be annoying, get in the way and give you that 14 episode marathon of anime to enjoy.
Generally speaking, whenever I’ve seen Fairy Tail in bulk, even if its been filler, I’ve come out with a mostly positive impression, often even more so than if I had been watching it week by week. In the case of the recent filler arc though, I couldn’t help but feel the reverse; The experience would’ve probably been a lot more pleasurable had I not watched all 14 episodes in one go.
Its no big surprise that the latest filler arc isn’t all that great. I think if something to the contrary had happened, it would’ve been a lot more surprising. Besides just stating the obvious though, I’ll say that while this specific arc never devolved to the horrible moments of the filler arc from the first series, It was still pretty below average in terms of quality.
I’m definitely really curious about what manga readers thought of it, mostly because a filler arc is that rare instance when both anime and manga watchers are pretty much equal. Neither really knows what’s going to happen, and its all new.
Now… I really did wonder about how I was going to talk about this latest arc, and I decided to take a unique approach. Rather than start by harping on all that’s wrong for a few thousand words, I’d rather state the few things that I did like about the filler arc first. This is really because despite its faults, there were quite a few moments buried in the mediocrity that were genuinely good, and that I appreciated.
The first thing that I’ll give the filler props for, is in its setup, or the idea of it. The idea that the Eclipse Gate had some lasting after effects on the world and the Celestial Spirit world, is pretty believable and clever little insertion point for a side story. It makes a lot more sense than what we got with the last filler arc for sure. In general its great when stories are built upon events previously established, rather than spinning off in some weird new direction or an odd tangent.
Beyond that, the other thing that was pretty interesting was the whole “Reverse” personalities for the Celestial Spirits. You can observe some really clever thought put into the what-if scenarios for each celestial spirit’s new form. Whether its stuff like Aquarius being a child (loli), or Leo being a traditional gar knight, or whether Taurus being a book reading gentleman, I think those bits were pretty well done and a great surprise.
Added to that, the stakes are pretty high too. The Celestial Spirits wanting freedom, and willing to achieve it but only living for 12 more days is pretty dire. That and the whole exploration of the whole “servant and master” relationship between Celestial Spirits and Mages is also an interesting topic to tackle.
Now… With having mentioned the good, I can’t move on without mentioning the few things that felt off. I think for one thing. the execution of the idea was a bit “eh…?”. For starters, the celestial spirits making a fake a request and luring Lucy to a beach? That made about as much sense as anything. I think from the start, you can see the cracks emerge in the details pretty clearly. I’m sure Mashima-sensei came up with the core idea, but when the anime writers had to fill in the details themselves, things go awry. Not having a manga to adapt panel by panel brings a completely new dynamic to the whole production.
The other big problem, and one that’s quite apparent, is the pacing and balance of talking to “events happening”. You could really see that characters were spending too much time just sitting around discussing things, and stating the obvious. And of course, it was apparent that time was being filled, rather than something meaningful happening.
And then there were the ideas that started off cool, and then didn’t go anywhere. Natsu going off on his own into the Celestial Spirit world was a pretty neat idea I thought. Of course, nothing really came out of it, and he was simply thrown around, and booted out after encountering Taurus for a bit.
And I think that brings me to the worst crime that the fillers seem to commit, and not just in Fairy Tail. You can definitely feel like things happen because they HAVE to, and less so because they organically feel “right”. The worst problem with the filler is that it pits characters against other characters and then has one of them run away, because its not yet time for a resolution.
Too many times, Natsu would face off against a Celestial Spirit, and then just get knocked around because… the story wasn’t ready for Natsu to win yet. Instead of having Natsu be overpowered though, the series went into this weird barrage of bad comedy moments. I think the worst offender of bad puns and horribly off base comedy was the whole thing between Pisces and Natsu. The same-same (pronounced sa-mei) stuff, alongside the Kappa stuff was just… bad.
Things also felt pretty contrived by adding in Hisui and Alcadios, and while the addition of the characters themselves isn’t all that bad, I totally didn’t buy the convenience of Hisui being able to create the keys. Yes, it was explained that Hisui’s a sort of Celestial mage herself, but it still felt more like the plot needed Fairy Tail to have a weapon against the Celestial Spirits, and so ta da! Hisui arrives with some keys.
From there on, the battles between Fairy Tail and the various Celestial Spirits started, and thats where things really began to oscillate between “That’s actually pretty clever” to “Oh my god… That’s just bad”.
The “battles” if you could call them that, are definitely a mixed bag. Its worth noting that some of them weren’t that bad, but the “lion’s share” of them were less than interesting XD (See what I did there? Eh? Eh??!?!?! *is shot*).
There were some that I really thought were not just clever, but very very funny. My favorite has got to be the Yu-Gi-Oh! Styled parody card battle between Cana and Scorpio. Maaan! As someone who’s actually been a fan of Yu-Gi-Oh! I couldn’t help but marvel at how sharp the poking and prodding at some of the franchise’s faults was. The absurd card effects, rules and twists were exaggerated to great comedic effect, and everything from monster fusions, to graveyard card effects got their due thrashing XD
That said, some of the other battles didn’t fare that well. Wendy and Aquarius’s whole “playtime” was pretty bad, and Leo/Loke’s battle with Natsu was pretty sad. And then there were some pretty gaudy moments like Mirajane’s thrashing of the mother-son Pisces.
Some of the battles were just plain silly, and Gray’s whole transformation into Michael Jackson was just on the nose enough to be amusing. Lucy’s whole punishment from Virgo was pretty crass, as usual. I literally “facepalmed” when Virgo brought out the Mayonaise… But lets just leave it there. I also wasn’t a fan of Elfman’s whole “man sweat” defeat of Taurus, which bordered on disgusting.
The Quiz Battle between Levy and Capricorn, on the other hand, was pretty amusing. Some of the questions were pretty tough and some were played to great comedic effect, while some revealed some interesting tidbits about side characters. The closing question, where Levy had to say who she had romantic feelings for, just took the cake.
I was a bit disappointed by the fact that we couldn’t hear her say it, but anyone with half a brain cell that’s been following Fairy Tail could tell it was Gajeel. I wish the anime staff had just grown a pair and let it out (so to speak XD).
The final inclusion was of this weird 13th Zodiac Nurse Character. Its safe to say that every scene with her in it was just… gaudy. It was hard to watch, and I found my hand twitching to hit a fast forward button (Unfortunately Crunchyroll doesn’t have one).
And I think once all the Celestial Spirits were out of the picture, and we neared the end of the arc, well… That’s when things got really bad.
Make no mistake, the final 4 episodes are some of the worst most generic nonsensical stuff I’ve seen come out of Fairy Tail, in a while. These last few episodes are a special kind of travesty, because not only did they have the issues of pacing, but any sense of flow or logic was completely abandoned.
The first issue was I think, some unwritten rule that said that Natsu HAD to be the one to end things, and save the day, regardless of whether it made sense or not. The plot, story and everything was literally warped so that Natsu could power up and go punch something.
That and the fact that the new solution to any problem Natsu has is to simply eat something with magical power, and then power up. This not only seems like a really cheap trick from a writing stand point, but it completely breaks Natsu’s power balance.
Natsu has, to date, only been able to eat and absorb things that were related to his element of Fire or Dragon Slayer Magic…. And simply expanding it to “everything” is waaay waaay too OP and broken.
The whole “Celestial Beast” monster thing was the most contrived, unoriginal “final boss” I’ve seen in a while. Its something that a Final Fantasy would pull maybe, as a final boss out of nowhere, not Fairy Tail.
Plus the whole thing about the Celestial King just “having a dream” was pretty lame, as far as plot points go. So Eclipse basically put him to sleep and he had a BAD DREAM? That’s like the worst trope in the storytelling craft to use.
In the last few episodes, it really did feel like the Anime production staff was just… Done with it. The story needed to be wrapped up, and it didn’t matter how. And that’s pretty apparent I’d say.
The one thing I will note before I close this off, is the fact that I think the Animation Budget got a huge facelift in these last few episodes, and with the new OP that creeped in as well. I was kind of surprised at the timing of the new OP, given that that the filler arc was about to end, and the new manga arc is coming in a couple of weeks, but whatever, It was still a nice, well animated OP with great music to boot.
I think that’s a good note to end on, as I think the worst is behind us, both from a production and story stand point. Fairy Tail is hopefully going to swing back to being great, and given that the next big manga arc is something that’s great, I can’t wait!
Either way, since I’m done with school, and am pretty much a NEET at the moment XD, I’ll definitely be back to covering Fairy Tail every week. For those that actually missed my little rambles, I apologize for not writing for so long, and I am truly sorry for not doing what I consider to be both a job and a matter of pride. I know for a fact that there’s a certain enjoyment in reading about an episode you’ve just seen and then commenting on it.
I hope you all haven’t left, as part of my enjoyment of Fairy Tail is writing about it and then hearing what the very insightful commenters have to say in the comments!
OP 18 [Breakout] by [v6] : (A)
This is a pretty nice OP, though like I said in the actual episode post, its kind of odd that it happened the way it did. We’re supposed to be about two weeks away from the next manga arc, and yet it seems that the new OP is entirely focused on filler content (From the looks of it). I did like the song itself, and the Fairy Tail in Mafia getups was pretty sweet to see. Another solid OP overall!
ED 18 [Don’t Let me Down] by [Mariya Nishiuchi] : (A)
I’d say as far as EDs go, this is another strong one. While the animation features all those cool Reverse Celestial Spirit forms, its all timed and animated to the music pretty well. And I’d say that this is another great song, one that feels a lot more upbeat than a lot of good Fairy Tail EDs, but still gives that feeling of “an ending”. Its great to see that both the production values for the animation and the music are starting to get back to top form!
Seems like we’re getting another omake chapter like episode, which is great in my book. Those episodes have been pretty solid, and I’m interested to see how Natsu does as a babysitter XD
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