I approached Earl and Fairy with my expectations firmly in check, looking forward to nothing more than a whimsical but competent series that would remain mildly entertaining at best. While this series is indeed away with the fairies, it still couldn’t meet even my modest expectations; it’s messy in content, immature in tone, and underwhelming in the extreme.
Earl and Fairy’s primary achievement is to bamboozle the audience with as much random Celtic folklore as possible. Some viewers might draw comparisons with Princess Tutu, which borrows from several recognisable fairytales, adds its own original twists in the process, and, most importantly, pulls them together into a focused thematic narrative. No such ingenuity with Earl and Fairy: there’s no recognisable theme, just disconnected legends plucked out of their context and thrown into the plot because they’re convenient. Lydia sees herds of brownies frolicking on every street corner, takes Edgar on a journey to find something called ‘the merrow’, not to mention the banshees, silkies, leprechauns, coblynau, phoukas, and Unseelie Court also name dropped in this tick list of mythology.
Having failed to frame its main theme in any meaningful way, the adventure trudges along with the tiresomeness of a nursery rhyme on repeat, neither going anywhere nor achieving any true climax – just hour after hour of silly expeditions in search of fairies and the occasional battle with nondescript antagonists who get in the way. Since such material can take Earl and Fairy only so far, it tries to bolster the plot using a formulaic love triangle between Lydia, Edgar, and an abrasive kelpie called… Kelpie. Younger fans might enjoy the countless ‘misunderstandings’ and the constant blushing that ensues, but, meaningfully, they only add layers of contrivance to the already flimsy narrative.
At first glance, Earl and Fairy’s fluffy world concept and gentle colour tones look highly appealing, but even an oil painting loses its fascination if you stare at it for long enough. And Earl and Fairy is no oil painting. Within a couple of episodes, the bland backgrounds start to merge into each other and the lack of conceptual detail means one less thing to hold my attention. For example, the fairy world, which should be a hive of sumptuous creativity, just turns out to be a grassy embankment, and, as if to emphasise the series’ characterless nature, everything is washed in bleary soft focus. Then there are the generally awkward movements and flat character designs which wouldn’t look out of place in a thousand other shoujo series. As a whole, Earl and Fairy would stand up well as a series of screenshots, but, as part of a moving narrative, it’s nothing more than functional.
Apart from the up-beat opening theme with its curious use of violins, Earl and Fairy offers a cheap, insipid soundtrack which sounds like something from a 1980s role playing game. Sometimes the music just about complements the mood, but, most of the time, it detracts from it instead.
Lydia, a country bumpkin with a rather unique profession, is certainly likeable on first impression, but is also wholly uninteresting. As her only meaningful contribution is spouting useful tidbits of knowledge when most convenient, her role as fairy doctor remains disappointingly vague. Where her understanding comes from and how it affects her as a person doesn’t seem to be of any interest to the series whatsoever. Moreover, with a passive nature and saccharine personality, she has about as much screen presence as a care bear.
Edgar, on the other hand, has an interesting dark background, but his portrayal as an anguished romantic figure is so repulsively corny that dredging up sympathy for him becomes an ordeal similar to pulling teeth.
In regards to the supporting cast, apart from Edgar’s butler, Raven, who provides many of the ‘action’ scenes, none of them is even worth mentioning.
Earl and Fairy will no doubt amuse young teenagers and hardcore shoujo lovers. With such an aimless plot and a cast of clichés, however, there’s just too much mediocrity packed into these twelve episodes for anyone else to swallow.
I approached Earl and Fairy with the expectation of a fairy tale. I wanted to be swept off my feet by handsome young men, and I was not disappointed. Earl and Fairy didn’t quite live up to its potential, and is certainly not for everyone, but I’m glad I watched it.
Story – 6.5
Meet Edgar, a handsome young earl on a quest for the sword of the merrow (mermaids), which will secure his place as the Blue Knight Earl.
Meet Lydia, a beautiful, naïve fairy doctor from the country side. It’s her job to mediate between fairies and humans. Since she can see and hear fairies when no one else can, most folk consider her to be a bit crazy.
Edgar needs Lydia’s help on this quest, and uses some rather bizarre circumstances to enlist it. I loved Edgar and his equally handsome and fiercely loyal servant, but they weren’t enough to impress me. The short quest for the sword didn’t quite do it either. It all seemed rather cliché and rushed.
Nonetheless, the show hooked me after the fourth episode. Why? The sword arc was over, and the meat of the story began. But I don’t think that was quite it. I believe the simple joy of a fairy tale did the trick.
The rest of the anime brings in more romance and even some humor. Two main conflicts are maintained: Edgar securing his place as Blue Knight Earl, and the relationship between him and Lydia. Because of her past, Lydia struggles to believe that a man would honestly pursue her. Yet she is pursued, by at least one man and a Kelpie (kelpie = mythical being in the same vein as fairies). Isn’t that every girl’s dream?
Accompanying the romance and fairies is a bit of adventure, including interesting fights.
However, no amount of romance or adventure can cover for the fact that the story feels rushed. You can tell that the creators of Earl and Fairy wanted to fit it into a single 12 episode season. As such, the story is not as rich as it could have been. The bit of show after the end credits is not a true preview of the next episode. If you miss that content, you will still know what’s going on, but you will feel there are even more gaps in the story.
So, let’s see…
Fairy tale and satisfying romance… plus!
Cliché and weak first few episodes… minus!
Plot is clear and rather satisfying… plus!
Story is rushed… minus!
More than one main conflict to keep me interested… plus!
The fairy tale romance gives Earl and Fairy a big boost. Unfortunately, for the sake of this review, I still can’t give the story more than a 6.5. That might even be generous.
Animation – 5.5
I love the style of animation in Earl and Fairy. Unfortunately, again, it didn’t live up to its full potential. So here we go…
I immediately noticed the beautiful, painting-like landscape and much of the scenery. This helped set the fairy tale feel.
There were very handsome male leads, but again, they weren’t brought to their full potential. I immediately noticed that all the beautiful and handsome characters had very similar noses. This is a small detail, but very important when you’re trying to draw in the young lady audience members by their hearts.
The animation of almost all the characters (including fairies and the cat, Nico), remind me of what I’d see in a children’s production – pleasant, but not near the quality needed to impress adults. The Undileen Court wolves were particularly underdone. Of course, there are more handsome men than you see in children’s shows.
Movement of characters worked, but it wasn’t great. My dream is to see a show where the movement made by the wind is stimulated by more than a loop of cells. Earl and Fairy did not complete that dream. In the first few episodes, there were multiple scenes with wind, and Lydia’s hair and clothing rippled with movement clearly made by looping a few drawings together.
Earl and Fairy’s animation was beautiful, but not of the quality it could have been. I give it a 5.5.
Sound - 4
Voice acting was good, though the sound of two voices, Nico and a very minor character in the first episode, grated on me.
The music was decent, I suppose, but forgettable when it was used. The opening and ending music wasn’t much. In the fourth episode, Raven (Edgar’s loyal servant) fights one of the mythical wolf creatures… to the light hearted, unimpressive opening theme. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This scene had loads of potential, all ruined by the music. I was tempted to go to the other tabs of my internet browser, like I usually do during opening themes, but I stayed since it was actually a part of the show.
I give sound a 4.
Characters – 5.5
During the first few episodes, a little fairy ran around in my head shouting “Cliché alert! Cliché alert!”
“Yes, yes,” I told the fairy, “But I want to review this anime, so I’m going to watch the whole thing. Besides, it might turn into a fun romance. It has potential, what with the handsome and charming Edgar.”
“Cliché alert!” the fairy repeated, “Edgar’s the case in point. Cliché alert!”
Earl and Fairy did turn into a sweet romance and wonderful fairy tale, but that little fairy was right. We have Lydia, the sweet, naïve, beautiful girl who longs to be accepted even though she talks with fairies. She doesn’t complain, but we know that’s what she wants. Then there’s Edgar, the wonderfully handsome and charming young noble. But he’s not what he seems – he has a dark history, and longs for Lydia’s love. And, of course, we also have Raven. Taken in and accepted by Edgar despite the sprite within him, Raven is dark, handsome, and fiercely loyal to his master.
During the second episode, I wrote, “Yeah, yeah. I’ve seen it all before.”
And then Lydia and Edgar started making sacrifices for each other – and not the I’m-a-good-person-so-I’d-make-this-sacrifice-for-anyone type of sacrifice, either. It my opinion, this happened too soon, without enough relationship building.
But all was not lost. Edgar and Lydia ended up developing well together. Lydia’s character development worked well, and I sympathized with her fear of loving, fear of insincere love. If the story had not been rushed and were brought to the richness it could have been, I have a feeling romantic character developments would have been even better.
So, the characters were a bit cliché, but not hopeless. I don’t think I can give them more than a 5.5 though. Some people might consider that generous.
Overall - 6
Using my usual averaging methods (where the story is counted twice), Earl and Fairy’s overall score ends up being a 5.6. However, I’m going to cheat at add an extra .4 points for the wonderful fairy tale effect, making it solid 6. Call me a subjective reviewer or whatever you like, but I enjoyed Earl and Fairy too much to give it any less.
Hakushaku to Yousei (Earl and Fairy)
Plot: "Throughout the ages, fairy doctors served as liaisons between humans and fairies; but in the present time of the 19th century, fairies are nothing more than an old wives' tale. Nineteen-year-old Lydia Carlton is one of the only remaining fairy doctors and enjoys a quiet life in the countryside of England - that is, until the dashing Edgar, for mysterious reasons, whisks her away on a daring adventure. Said to be the descendent of the earl of the fairy nation, Edgar desires the noble sword of the merrow that serves as proof to his lineage. Though his motives and origins are questionable, Lydia now sets forth to help Edgar on his quest." (site synopsis)
~Warning, this review might contain heavy spoilers~
Story: After watching a masterpiece like Spice and Wolf i decided to choose an anime thats not far from the briliance which Spice and Wolf had so i gave a try to Hakushaku to Yousei. Even though the background of this anime is abit different (the background is more modern than the feudal, medieval setting of Spice and Wolf, typical in the 19th, early 20th century), and it doesnt revolve around a wolf god and a merchant this time. The story of Hakushaku to Yousei revolves around a girl named Lydia Carlton, which happened to be a Fairy Doctor, a person that could see fairies and it could help them as well. Unfortunately, fairies at that time were concidered as a fairytale, and also Lydia Carlton is one of the few remaining Fairy Doctors enjoying a peaceful life in the countryside of England. Her life wasn't filled with adventure until the day when a mysterious, handsome man named Edgar managed to whisk her away. He claimed to be the descendent of the earl of the fairy nation so he desires the noble sword of merrow which served as proof to his lineage. Not everyone could become the Earl though, the sword accepts only those who really are the descendent's of the earl lineage and not someone else. Captivated by his beauty and his determination to obtain the noble sword of the merrow, Lydia Carlton, offers her help, and toghether with Edgar and his loyal and protective butler, assistant Raven sets up on a quest to find and obtain the noble sword of merrow. Though Edgar's actions were questionable, Lydia was aware that he trusts her mainly because he storied to her details about his past. But even though his determination seems to be pretty credible, his motives and orgins are still questionable, since Lydia just met him it seemed difficult for her to trust him after all for her he was nothing more than a stranger but still she remained by his side even though she had no idea of what he was planing. To be able to obtain the noble sword of the merrow, this requires a sacrifice, though Lydia wasn't aware of that. Even so things turned out to end differently, Edgar becomes the Earl of the Fairy Nation, the noble sword of the merrow accepted him as the Earl and so Lydia becomes his personal Fairy Doctor. Though this is not the end, many enemies were ploting against Edgar and he had to deal with them. Also as he spent more and more around Lydia, both of them started to develop feelings for eachother. Still Edgar's past was still haunting him, though he loved Lydia he couldn't stop thinking about Ermine, Raven's older sister which apparently died. Even so the story of Earl and Fairy its filled with holes, whats even more its unfinished, and there are no signs of a second season as well.
Animation and Sound: In terms of animation Hakushaku to Yousei its nothing that catches you attention, the typical animation style and directing from nowadays, the character designs were average, given the fact that this show has some reverse harem influences we see many bishounen/bishoujo characters. The sound as well is nothing that impresses, the opening was average as well and the background sounds were suitable to the anime mood and environment.
Characters: Another low point of Hakushaku to Yousei is in terms of characters. There aren't much things, details about characters, we know some stuff about Lydia, that she has a unique profession and that her father used to be married with a fairy doctor as well though her role in the story of this anime is pretty unsignificant other than accompanying Edgar and his servant Raven and sometimes cheering and helping him up with minor details. Edgar on the other hand is the most captivating character of this show, he has a dark past covered in mystery, and also he has a romantic side which at times its damn funny especialy when hes goal is to marry with Lydia. Other than this two, only Edgar's butler Raven which provides the fighting, action scenes may seem interesting but even he was shalowy developed, not too much information, details about his past as well, only that he used to travel alongside with Edgar and that he had a older sister named Ermine.
Overall: One thing i have to say regarding Hakushaku to Yousei, this is a shoujo type of anime (mainly because it features reverse harem aspects) and its appropriate for younger people, someone with more knowledge would definitely see the low points of this anime but sufice to say this anime is pretty entertaining even though its uncompleted. Making hopes for another season isn't quite the best idea, since this anime wasn't a great hit there is no real interest in continuing it which kinda pisses me off (a second season might have made it more popular though). Oh well, at least it managed to entertain me quite abit. So girls, if ya wana see another anime with bishounen characters then this might be a nice choice.
~Enjoy and Cya Around~
I'd have to say that while I enjoyed the anime I did find myself wishing for greater character development and a second season for some resolution. I couldn't help feeling that despite the backstory we received for (I can't remember their names, which I suppose tells you something) the main characters I still had trouble really identifying with the female lead. Part of this is I found myself wanting to know more about Raven and Kelpie (can you tell I have a type?) and I really wanted more depth for what's-her-name.
A distince lack of growth and arch on her part made her the weak link for me. She never goes anywhere because they started her off as a MarySue there only to make the action of the men possible. For me she could have been dropped entirely and a young man used instead, but I digress.
The plot overall was made clear from the beginning - to take control of a title and two estates (one on Earth and one in the Faery lands) a young man needed a sword from the merrow. Okay. Unfortunately this is resolved before the season is half over and we are then left with what felt like an apology for failure to recognize the full potential of the McGuffin. It felt like lazy writing, as though the author wanted to get to the romance and recreate a lighter version of Emma rather than work with the structure they had created. Don't get me wrong, I love a good romance - heck, I write them! But when I'm promised adventure through the land of the fey in search of a sword and mermaids, I want that to be the focus of the show!
That said, I still enjoyed the show. The artwork was beautifully rendered and gorgeous in motion. The characters were well suited to their appearance (though I did wish Raven had been taller) and never left me feeling they were too generic. The music was acceptable and the voice acting commendable. My one issue was the sheer amount of "kawaii" fairies and pixies thrown in for a laugh. The only one I did like was the little lost borwnie, but more because that created a moment for (Ah!) Edward and Lydia. I've seen the show in its entirety and read the manga. While I found no glaring omissions or additions (okay, there were a couple but I won't get into them here) my problem remains the romance between Edward and Lydia. It feels unneccesary and implausible given her complete lack of depth.
I started watching Earl Fairy with high expectations but was sadly disappointed. While the characters are beautifully drawn in this anime, this story has too many holes and unanswered questions. I wouldn't recommend watching it unless your bored.