As Fairy Tail just released the end of its English dubbed Tartaros Arc, I figured it’s a good time for a review of the series. The show only has one more arc to go as many believe that the next Alvarez arc in the Manga will be the final arc of the series. So it’s as good a time as any to take a good look at the entire series.
To be clear the end of a show can be disappointing but the show itself can be solid. Need an example? Take one of my favorites Dragonball Z, it had an awesome overall series but had a lackluster end. I use it as an example because it was and still is a huge gateway anime. Many people who are not even anime fans watched it at one point or another.
For those who not in the know, the story of Fairy Tail centers around Natsu and his friends as they travel the country of Fiore and their wacky adventures in a wizard guild. Natsu himself is the titular main character and shares many qualities with the Goku archetype. He eats lots of food, he has a strong bond with his friends, and he gets and angry and powers up to defeat bosses. This is not necessarily a bad thing, many main protagonists in anime share the Goku archetype since its inception and they are still popular.
Most of the main story focuses on the Kingdom of Fiore, full of magic, wonder and mystery. At first with the many varied locations it is easy to assume they travel the world, but later on it is revealed that the world is much bigger than the small focus of the show. In its final arc more of the world will be fleshed out as a different country is explored. So even after all these years the world of Fairy Tail has barely scratched the surface of how wide it is, leaving plenty of room for spinoffs or sequel series.
The humor in the show is excellent. Now humor is a little tricky. It can be hit or miss. You can love some movies or shows for its humor and hate others. Fairy Tail has a combination of anime humor that is hilarious. It has over the top reactions, zany heroes and situations, along with its own unique gags central to its own world it created.
The humor can be a little jarring for non anime fans unfamiliar with the tropes. So it might not be the best gateway anime. It does have some sexual humor and adult content in it. Nothing explicit is ever shown, it just playfully brushes the topic of more adult humor. It never crosses the line into crude humor.
The character development in Fairy Tail is excellent. Even though it starts small with just Natsu and Lucy, it very quickly assembles an ensemble cast full of quirky and fun characters. Everyone has their favorites, but it’s hard not to love the team as a whole. With each new challenge and each new arc our heroes grow a little as people as they all follow their own paths.
Each character does start out as a typical anime character, but as more of their backstory is fleshed out through backgrounds, flashback, and their own unique episodes you get to know them all better. By the end you are completely invested in them all, though likely you will have one or two you care about more. This is what separates Fairy Tail from other series. It takes the time to make sure you learn about a large cast and really feel for them, and root for them to overcome their struggles. Despite Natsu being the primary protagonist, there are entire episodes and arcs spent on others.
My personal favorite is Gray Fullbuster. To be fair I wasn’t big on him when you first meet Gray. He seemed like the stereotypical ice wizard with a cold heart. His magic also seemed very limited to ice construction. His full powers were not showcased much in the early episodes, so it made him seem like a side character that would never change the entire series.
Then as the arcs go by he gets more powerful and learns new techniques that make him a more capable wizard. On top of that we learn more of Gray’s tragic backstory and what his life was like before he came to the guild. I could honestly write a full story on Gray himself, but I’ll be brief. Gray’s overall character is about grief and loss. His background is full of both, and he seems perpetually stuck in the five stages of grief, which keeps him from moving on.
A lot of his development seems centered around Juvia Lockser, especially in the later arcs. It starts out as a funny one sided crush on Juvia’s part, but eventually turns into something more. Simply by being there for him, it helps Gray. The changes are very small and subtle. You have really read between the lines to see it. From a literary standpoint however, it’s pretty obvious that they are more than just friends.
The strength of Fairy Tail is in its plot. It could easily have become a cliché anime focused on one main hero and bunch of side characters with no development that help him. Natsu could easily have become a character more like his archetype Goku, who always wins with the power of the pen. Yet it learns from the mistakes of earlier series.
Natsu doesn’t always defeat everyone. The show actually goes out of the way to show how weak Natsu is compared to some others. It is unlikely he will ever surpass the likes of Gildarts or Erza. However these limits play to his strength, they give him a goal to reach. Natsu also doesn’t defeat every big boss in the show. Though to be fair he does defeat most of them.
In the end Fairy Tail is a series well worth it. It does have its flaws. Most criticisms I’ve read are fair. However it is still a very enjoyable series well worth any anime fan’s time.
Fairy Tail’s end game is coming up. From what I know in the manga it’s going to be exciting to put on the silver screen. We’ll hopefully get a satisfying conclusion of everyone’s arcs. Even if we don’t it will still have been a fun ride with lots of unique characters.