Ah, gotta love the masses and their love for mediocrity. Fairy Tail (FT) is from the pilot chapter/episode an average shonen series and yet it is loved by many for being just that. I guess rehashing notions from Naruto or One Piece can make a success out of anything. Because just like those shonens, FT has superpowers, adventure and a big cast of colourful and eccentric characters that occasionally get focused upon and fleshed out. Nothing we haven’t seen before but, hey, if it worked before why wouldn’t it work again?
Because it’s WORSE!
It is hard to talk about anything in this show without feeling like I am just stating the obvious or just describing a different shonen. For to be honest, there is approximately zero innovation in this work and it just walks upon the path others paved before it. It can work alright but it will never stand out on its own; it will forever be just a rehash of already established formulas that have been attributed to others at least a decade earlier. Not only that, but the show rehashes them in a watered down way to the point it becomes a Saturday morning cartoon.
- Animated by a collaboration of studios A-1 Pictures and Satelight. The first usually have very good production values and the later have low. What they have in common is how most of what they have made over the years is mediocre and forgettable.
- Directed by some nobody who never made something significant in his whole career.
- Based on the manga by Mashima Hiro, whose only previous major work was Rave Master. In case you didn’t watch that show, I advise you not to do so; for it’s a completely generic, aimless, boring, and incomplete series. Plus you can easily see that Fairy Tail is basically its improved remake, reusing the same character archetypes and feeling. In all, the mangaka is not much of talent for anything past creating mediocrities.
- Art and animation are rather crude for the time the show was made. The most obvious fault is how they use repeated footage during summons and attacks, an element that is in fact absent from fighting shonen and better affiliated with mahou shojo or mecha. It is a very striking weakness that alone makes it seem lazy compared to others shonens.
- The initial episodes had really jerky motions and many complained how the characters didn’t look or behave at all like in the manga. For an adaptation that is NOT trying to be a spin off but a direct adaptation, the first impressions they offered was the middle finger. They improved it later on a bit but the damage was already done.
- The setting lacks characterization. It doesn’t seem to stand out from the lot like others do, which again makes it hard to be remembered in the long run. Unlike other famous shonens like Naruto or One Piece, there is no theme in the FT world and it passes by as a generic fantasy realm.
- The character figures are again nothing memorable; most are basically counterparts of people from other shonens, so again it has a problem being remembered for anything. As for the more eccentric-looking ones, they are somewhat original for their looks but they are all minor characters that are defined by a quirk and are defeated and removed from the show in just a few episodes. And of course we have most of the girls running around half naked and acting like they are in permanent heat. So this is a cast you will be staring at for the bizarre or sexy way they look and not because they have any special charisma in their personality.
- A minor thing that irritated me a lot. They placed Plue as cameo, a creature from Rave Master. Now what did that manage to accomplish other than annoying the average fan? Is that their way of telling us even clearer that they are rehashing other works INCLUDING their own? That is really tasteless. I hear he was placed there to please the fans of Rave Master but I don’t believe that. Who still likes that boredrome?
- The music part leaves me with very little to write about. The OST is fitting for such a series but I don’t find any memorable songs in it. Voice acting is ok too with what is going on in the story. No amazing performance though.
The story is completely generic stuff and easily the weakest part of the show. It plays out like some MMO game, where you join a guild and take seemingly irrelevant to one another missions, while at the same time leaving a few openings for character colorization and world-building. It all plays out quite childishly and there isn’t even an objective for anyone in this show; they just take missions and hope to find something that interests them in the process. For example, we know Natsu is looking for a dragon but did he actually look for him? No, he is just fooling around in his guild and takes part in whatever mission comes along.
The scenario ends up driving the characters and not the other way around; and even that happens in a bad way since the heroes are not actively doing anything. They just fool around until a villain or a mission appear out of nowhere (no foreshadowing at all) and just decide to take part in the whole thing for money or to save some girl. That makes the protagonist and his gang completely boring since they have no goals in life to go for without some world threat standing in the way. Heck, they would probably be sleeping all day long if they had no obstacles.
Now it is true that many events lead to character immersion and reveal more aspects of the world, but all that don’t add anything significant to the show. It’s like drawing more hearts around a short love letter; the contenct is the same but just looks cuter. The plot is always predictable, since it repeats in the exact same way all the time with no interesting plot twists or memorable events. Some character’s past is revealed, some old enemies of him appear, some sinister plan of mass destruction takes place, and then the heroes storm in and win with the power of friendship. Thank you very much; I have seen it all before and in a more mature form. They also add nothing to the show besides more cardboard characters with no significance or moe sancy areas you will never see again.
As if that wasn’t enough, just like with all perpetual on-going shonen the anime reached the manga at som point and the creators had to turn to slower pacing, fillers, and eventually to cancel the show prematurely in the middle of an arc. Not that it would be any different if they did what the Big Three do to bust our balls with 10 fillers followed by 2 canon episodes of snail fast plot but the show is left incomplete. Not that there was much of a plot to care for...
If there is something good to say here is how all the arcs are relatively short and with a fast pace to the most part. Unlike most shonen, FT does not try to stretch each arc too much. Of course technically most battles are dead time, since they offer nothing to the plot, plus are predictable and repetitive. So to the most part you are still watching a show which repeats itself faster than the average of its kind and is mostly canon filler.
The cast is eventually the meat of the show, since the plot is mostly about somebody’s past creating problems in the present. This way you feel like everything is revolving around them and that they are not irrelevant to the main problem of each arc. Some of them count as cool and fleshed out to bother paying attention to but don’t try to find unoriginal characters because you will be disappointed. They are all following a rather typical demeanour but at least they do it right to the most part. There is variety in personalities and powers and most have a rather basic but sufficient backdrop to work with.
Of course they are still shallow as heck; their personality can fit in two lines including their signature move. So the mangaka had to resolve to keeping all the girls half-naked and in constant heat in order to keep the viewers/readers from realizing that. For a show that aims at children, I must say there is too much fan service in it that is there specifically to distract you from thinking how stupid it is.
Needless to say, don’t expect any drastic character development to take place since most of whatever the characters learn in one arc, is immediately forgotten in the next. They keep trying to make you believe they are gradually getting stronger but you can never see that on-screen. In fact you never have a clear picture of who is stronger and by how much, much less where he excels enough to be able to defeat opponents who are in overall more experienced. So how do all the battles resolve if there is no balance then? Oh come on; you can probably figure it out immediately; it always comes down to the power of friendship. To hell with strategy, planning ahead, learning from your past mistakes, or even paying attention to your injuries. Just storm in and win against all odds with the almighty POWER OF FRIENDSHIP! I MUST PROTECT MY FRIENDS! FRIENDSHIP MAGICALLY HEALS MY GRAVE WOUNDS! FRIENDSHIP BRINGS EVEN THE DEAD BACK TO LIFE! Yes, get ready to eat up a lot of this baby food, for the whole plot runs purely on this sort of fuel. Needless to say, it is stupid, overdone, and eventually tasteless.
The series is aimed at younger teens; even younger than the target audience for Naruto or Bleach. There is a lot of silliness (more than the usual) and violence is really basic and mostly bloodless. And of course nobody ever gets killed, or in the rare case he does, he doesn’t stay dead for long. It is by no means a serious show and nothing in it feels important after awhile. Just to give you an example, it has a mascot in the form of a cheery blue flying cat named… Happy. Imagine a scene where some demon prepares to blow up a village full of people and the camera suddenly zooms to Happy’s permanently happy face. Yeah, the excitement vaporates right there. It is very hard to be interested in whatever the heck is going on when everything looks so easy going and silly. In fact the boldest thing in this show ends up being the fan service around the girls and even that is completely basic compared to your average modern ecchi comedy.
So is it a good show? No, but it’s a good time killer if your expectations are low and you are not older than 15 with prior experience to other famous shonen. I doubt it will leave any mark in anime history or be remembered as anything more than a rehash of other works. It does it right but at the same time it lacks the unique feeling every show that aims to be loved needs. It is indeed nothing but a fairy tale; shallow and for little kids who still tolerate the power of friendship is the most awesome thing ever. But it can be enjoyable just for that.
Oh, and I might as well add how FT became one of the Big Three shonen, after the Bleach anime was discontinued. That may seem like it’s supposed to be awesome enough to deserve such an honor but in reality it is only because modern shonen are crap. It gets some value for that but it’s otherwise only the best looking trash of the garbage bin. And the funniest part? Now that it is discontinued as well, there is nothing to replace it. Yeah, hard times...
And now for some excused scorings:
ART SECTION: 5/10
General Artwork 1/2 (generic)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 1/2 (typical fantasy world)
Animation 1/2 (average)
Visual Effects 1/2 (typical)
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (good albeit too melo at points without excusing it nicely)
Music Themes 2/4 (average)
Sound Effects 2/3 (um, good I guess)
STORY SECTION: 3/10
Premise 1/2 (as typical as it gets)
Pacing 1/2 (fast but repetitive)
Complexity 1/2 (nothing besides lots of two line characters)
Plausibility 0/2 (THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP is not plausible)
Conclusion 0/2 (left incomplete)
CHARACTER SECTION: 4/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (generic but well defined)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic but it’s there)
Development 0/2 (none)
Catharsis 0/2 (none; the show is left incomplete)
VALUE SECTION: 2/10
Historical Value 2/3 (part of the Big Three for awhile; yay!)
Rewatchability 0/3 (none; too childish to deserve any)
Memorability 0/4 (meh, it is just a watered down rehash of other shonen)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10
Art 0/1 (looks generic)
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 0/3 (feels generic as hell)
Characters 1/4 (they are also generic as hell)
Could they make it any worse?
Let’s start this review by saying that I’m a fan of this show. However, I’m not a fanboy who will look for excuses for every (huge or little) bad point. If you want a huge rant about why FT is bad, go look at roriconfan’s review. If you only want to hear “omg this is tha best show eva omg omg must watch blabla” then you should go somewhere else as well. I’ll go for the way in between those two: I really like the show, but I also see the good and bad points in it. Well, whatever, let’s get started.
Common complaints about Fairy Tail
Yes, this is going first, and it's a long topic. Why? Because people love hating popular things, I guess. Nonetheless, there is some truth in all of these complaints (otherwise they wouldn’t be so common, would they?)
So, the first thing lot’s of people complain about is that Fairy Tail is basically a copy of One Piece. When you look at character designs, that certainly is true: http://i.imgur.com/uedxH9Q.jpg
When you look at their personalities, however, it’s kinda unfair to say that it’s only a copy of OP. These personalities are just typical shounen, and calling FT a copy of OP would be the same on this part as calling OP a copy of Dragon Ball. For all three of them you have this: strong hero-kid that eats a lot, is funny and carefree; girl that is always by his side; get a lot of other friends around them, add some super-powers and you can start your adventure! Oh wait, I just summed up Naruto too… and about 80% of shounen series. Also, apparently the two authors, Oda and Mashima, are quite close (source is Google). Some shout-outs are, thus, to be expected.
Another reason why I wouldn’t complain about this is because the storylines are different (while they still are typical shounen adventures though).
The second thing people tend to bitch about is that Fairy Tail is also “just an improved version of Rave Master”. Rave Master, for those who don’t know, is made by the same author. (for more info: http://www.anime-planet.com/anime/groove-adventure-rave ) It’s true that here too, there are lots of similarities between characters, and there are even cameos of elements from Rave Master in Fairy Tail. However, I don’t see the point in complaining about this either. Why? Look at this: http://i.imgur.com/k2Y2UHU.png . The improvements are showing, aren’t they? Would you complain about an author if his first book wasn’t really succesfull, but his 15th was, but the 15th is very similar to the first? I wouldn’t, and I don’t know why anyone would.
Third complaint: “the power of friendship”. No matter how injured/tired/dying someone is, they will win to protect their friends / get revenge for hurt friends / because their friends support them / …. (you get the point). I’m not even gonna try to defend this, because it is utter bull****. If anything can be said about it, it’s that this kind of crap happens in most shounen series of this type (Naruto: “I will bring Sasuke back!!!!”, OP (although a lot less): “you hurt my nakama!!!”, etc.)
Complaint number four (told ya it would be a long section): fanservice. Yeah, well, personally I don’t really mind this + the fanservice sometimes gives some hilarious scenes too.
So, FT is about Natsu Dragneel, Lucy Heartfilia and a bunch of other characters and their adventures in their guild called Fairy Tail. That’s about all I can say about it, because each arc has different qualities and bad points.Meanwhile, there’s also a bit of a plot on the background going on to be used for later stories (foreshadowing to master Ivan and Laxus as enemies later on, preparations for Zeref and Igneel, etc.)
All in all, it’s hard to give this a score because of the different arcs and because we are still far so far from getting the conclusion. +1 for nicely reusing characters introduced earlier, -2 because nobody ever dies.
Some really loveable characters, some guys you really get to hate, some really manly guys (see: Elfman), some really bad-ass guys, etc.
What I really like about FT is how almost every character has an interesting backstory. However, most of them are still quite shallow.
At first it felt like it was just ok, later on it gets always better, making the fighting scenes amazing.
Another part that I just love about the show: the soundtrack. I never get tired of the theme song during fights. The emotional songs were done very well too.
The voice acting was also good.
some really good humour imo
You get things your inner 9-year old will love, like:
colours (like really, blue, pink, red or green hair?)
good guys punching bad guys
people punching monsters in the face (or slicing them through, if you watch episode 167 “100 vs 1” - spoiler: http://goo.gl/kPsuxz )
All in all you could say that this is probably not a good series. However, there are so many things I like about it, that I still like. Number 1 guilty pleasure then, maybe? To say the least, I found this really entertaining.
This is by far my favorite anime. I loved the characters, the plot and the constant supply of entertainment and action. I really enjoyed the way the whole anime panned out and it never dragged on an arc for too long however it was a litte boring for a while after the S-Class exams.
When I heard that the mangaka who did Rave Master had created another manga, I immediately checked it out...which, of course, led me to the anime version, as well.
Fairy Tail is unique, yet repetitive. I'm going to try to be as unbiased as I can in this review, but I'm afraid some of my love for the series will leak through.
It starts out with a girl named Lucy Heartfilia who wishes to join the infamous Fairy Tail guild...and gets even more incredible from there.
Really, I can't go into details on the story without spoiling the entire thing, as even though each arc seems independent of one another, they're all actually connected by a similar undercurrent (which is revealed later on in the story, and even more so in Series Two).
This first Series has a multitude of arcs:
The "Lullaby Arc" is the first one to occur, and happens after all of the main protagonists are introduced (Lucy, Natsu, Gray, and Erza). This arc spans episode 5-10, and all in all, I'd rate it a 7/10. It does a great job in introducing the characters and showing them off a little, but we mostly just get to see Natsu with the exception of the fight against Lullaby.
The next arc is the "Galuna Island" arc, and is one of the couple "character study" arcs. This arc mostly revolves around Gray and his past; him being my favorite character, this is my favorite arc out of all of them. I'd give this arc a 10/10, as it also starts to foreshadow some future arcs.
The next arc occurs immediately after Galuna Island, and is the "Phantom Lord" arc. This was another arc done extremely well, and touches upon some of the backgrounds of other Fairy Tail members (such as Elfman and Mirajane) while it divides up the battles evenly between all of the characters (no "main protagonist fights the boss" in this arc, either). It also highlights Lucy's past, so again, another character arc which is a major plot point as well, so 9/10.
There's a mini-arc afterwards which involves more character development, this time with Loke. This is short (only 2-3 episodes long), but is also one of my favorite arcs due to the emotional impact is has for such a short arc. It's a solid 9/10, and only due to how short it is. However, it also sets up the next arc.
The "Tower of Heaven" arc is Erza's backstory, though she takes a backseat in the final battle in the tower. Although the arc makes up for that a little by including some mini-bosses the characters have to go through (and includes a former Phantom Guild member now trying to be in Fairy Tail), and though I can understand why Erza couldn't go all out in the final "boss" fight, it becoming the "Natsu show" during Erza's character arc was something I could not forgive; 7/10.
The next arc is the "Battle of Fairy Tail" arc; another character arc on a guild member named Laxus. While this arc drops hints to something which isn't revealed/explains until the Tartaros Arc in Series Two and I have to give it props for that, the arc on its own becomes the "Natsu show"; aka, main protagonist gets the boss fight. The ending makes me cry every time with how emotional it is, and between that and the set-up for how far back the plot of Fairy Tail really goes...that bumps this arc up to an 8/10.
Oracion Seis is the next arc, and is probably one of the most well-developed arc. There's a new character who appears in this arc and has some character background, and other guilds get involved in the struggle which shows the return of a couple characters and introduces some new ones, the majority of the "main players" (aka, the Fairy Tail members) have been established by now. Though Natsu does get the boss fight again, this is probably one of my favorite arcs next to the Galuna Arc, including emotions. 10/10
There's an anime-only filler arc here called the "Daphne Arc". To be honest, the only point in watching this is if you can't get enough of Fairy Tail or plan on reading some fanfiction (as some fics are based off of the events). 2/10; not even worth time to write about.
The "Edolas Arc" is the next huge arc, and if Natsu is your favorite character, you're going to love this one because it pretty much follows his journey through Edolas for 3/4 of the arc. Probably the best thing about this arc is that it explains the origins of Happy and Charle, and Happy shows some great character growth (which, unfortunately, isn't often seen ever again). It also explains something very important with a particular character, and explores Mystogan. Putting my annoyance aside that it mostly centers on Natsu with a side dish of Happy, I'd say it's a 7/10 arc.
The true final arc is next with the "Tenrou Island" arc. This is the arc which brings together a lot of the events which has occurred up until this point (but still leaves an air of mystery about them, and introduces two even bigger mysteries). An S-Class exam for Fairy Tail turns into more than meets the eye as origins are uncovered, and a dark guild sets their sights on something wicked. This is one of the most complicated arcs, and though it leaves more questions than answers them, I'd give it a solid 9.5/10.
After that is a seven year time skip into a huge filler arc which is quite honestly worse than the Daphne arc. It's called the "Key of the Starry Sky" arc, and spans a ridiculous amount of episodes and isn't even really worth watching. 1/10; just skip to episode 151 after watching 124...you'll thank me later.
While I don't know why they decided to divide the "Grand Magic Games" arc by putting half of it in this series and the other half in Series Two (Fairy Tail 2014), episodes 151-175 are the first half of the games. This is quite possibly the longest arc to be created thus far, even in the manga. If I can be honest, it gets a little confusing since there are often about four battles happening at the same time, so until it starts more on the 1v1 and the like in Series Two, it can be a little disorienting. Not the best, the decision to divide it between two seasons was rather poor, and I didn't even like how multi-tasking it was in the manga let along the anime (though, this series wasn't sloppy with it, at last; Series Two, on the other hand...).
In any case, because the anime was divided up in the middle of the arc and had an overwhelming amount of characters, battles, and plots all occurring at the same time, I have to bump the rating of this to a 6.5/10. It was still good, but some things just cannot be overlooked.
Whew...finally got past the "story" section! Fairy Tail has an overwhelming amount of characters, between the mages of the Fairy Tail guild to the mages of other guilds...and many of them with their own circumstances and backstories!
The main characters we see the most often are:
-Lucy Heartfilia; whom the anime/manga starts out with and uses Celestial/Summoning magic.
-Natsu Dragoneel; your typical shounen protagonist with fire Dragon Slayer magic. He is accompanied by Happy, who is a flying blue cat (whose origins are explained in the Edolas arc).
-Gray Fullbuster; an ice mage who has a bad habit of taking off his clothes (often too quickly for anyone to see him do it).
-Erza Scarlet; a no-nonsense yet quirky woman whose bite is worse than her bark...or perhaps they're about equal, and equally harsh when directed at an enemy.
What to say, here?
Fairy Tail is an emotional rollercoaster. You'll be laughing at the funny moments, and sobbing like a baby during others. Some episodes, no matter how many times I watch them, always makes me cry.
This series managed to pull emotional scenes from the manga and intensify them (something which, unfortunately, Series Two seemed to lose somewhere along the way) to the point where a scene which makes you tear up in the manga will have you literally sobbing in the anime.
The constant "friends/nakama" theme might get annoying to some people, but it's where the guild gets its strength from (literally, as explained after the seven year gap). People who have ever been part of a "family away from family" might understand a little better, as Fairy Tail is more of a family than just a guild.
The music is what really ties it together; it builds dramatic tension, and adds to both happy, touching, and sad scenes.
The visuals are wonderful...but there is a huge complaint in terms of the visuals, and that can be summed up in one word: Blood.
As in, there is none.
Now, Fairy Tail has some rather lewd moments; it has big-chested women and clothing getting ripped and torn. It has swimsuit specials, and it even got a label of "ecchi" and though it isn't as bad in this season, Series Two might even surpass anime like Ranma and Negima with how raunchy it gets.
With a rating like that, one would think that battle scenes where characters are getting sliced, cut, bruised, and even impaled would show some blood.
Not even a drop.
One character does, indeed, get impaled at one point. There was blood in the manga, but none in the anime...just some lines to mark where he had been hit. It honestly took away from the "realism" of the battle scenes.
I get that this is a work of fiction, but fiction still needs to retain some realism. I'm not saying that it should be gushing blood and gore like Attack on Titan or Saiyuki Gaiden, but at least a little bit of blood to make the battle scenes really stand out would have been better than the lines we were given to indicate there's supposed to be a wound there.
My other complaint is the filler arcs which caused me to dock points from the story, characters, and overall scores; those filler arcs were not in the manga, and I would certainly give the manga a higher score than the anime.
If they hadn't made the filler arcs, I'd give the Story either a 9 or 10/10, the Characters a 10/10, and the Overall a 9/10.
Fairy Tail is the anime adaption of Hiro Mashima's manga of the same name, and since it's debut in 2009, it has enjoyed insane amounts of success, being regarded as a possible candidate for "The Big Three" (many argue it has usurped the spot that was held by "Bleach"), and recieving high critical acclaim from fans and reviewers alike.
The anime has ended, however, a new anime series continuing the adpation of the manga, referred by fans as "Fairy Tail 2" has recently begun airing, and the manga itself is still on-going as well (although, I imagine it won't be going for much longer).
This review will contain very few spoilers, as I'm sure many won't like me for it. At the time of writing I have finished the "Daphne" filler arc, due to me waiting for the English DVD releases, rather than watching it subtitled or online, and not having money to buy any of the recent releases. So this review will contain what I think of the series at this point, although I am aware of future arcs and what happens in them.
So, is "Fairy Tail" all it's made out to be? Let's take a look...
The premise of "Fairy Tail" is actually pretty interesting, and well done, setting up a lot of promises, and building a world that seems to have a certain flavour and charm to it.
Fiore is a Fantasy land filled with the wonders of Magic, which is used to by the Wizards, who govern the world via the Magical Guilds. The Guilds pretty much oversee the world and its development, advancement and keep the peace from those who would use Magic for evil deeds or personal gain. The main story focus follows Lucy Heartfillia, a young amateur Wizard who's dream is to join the most famous guild of all: Fairy Tail. By chance, in her travels, she bumps into Natsu Dragneel, a strange fellow, who along with his pet cat friend Happy, is looking for a dragon called Igneel.
After much commotion, it turns out Natsu is world famous "Salamander" of Fairy Tail, who offers Lucy a place at the guild. From there on, the series focuses on the Fairy Tail Guild, and Natsu and friends taking on quests, keeping evil magic users at bay, stopping several end of the world scenarios (if you can call it that) all with some character backstory development.
Sounds great right? Well, yes, that can't be argued. The premise of Fairy Tail is great, well founded, and sets up what appears to be a unique world whilst making a lot of promises and mystery surrounding various things. However, there's one major issue...
Lack of a proper story:
Despite Fairy Tail's well set up premise, there lies a problem with the overall progression of the series. Yes, there's a well crafted world, but there's not really a primary story focus in the long run. What do I mean?
Well, without giving any spoilers, the problem with Fairy Tail's story is that most of the Story Arcs are incredibly self contained without any real significance to one another, and very little connection to each other at all. Initially, a lot of the arcs are focused on a particular characters past being revealed, and that character then having to relive that past, and come to terms with it, by defeating a big bad villain from their past, and then being reborn as this whole new person and all that shit. And don't get me wrong: that's great and I like it. But the issue is that none of these arcs barely connect. Sure, in the shadows, there's normally a main villain playing the events like a violin and being responsible for everything in these arcs, and sure, everything goes back to Zeref, but that's it... There are some arcs that could actually be entirely missed out and nothing would really be missed, and that's a bad thing...
I am aware that after the timeskip which is near the end of the fucking series that a more coherent and structured story comes about, leading me to believe that Mashima took the Naruto approach and decided to make the entire first half of the series a big giant set up for future events, with lot's of character development, which is fine. But I just can't help but feel there really isn't much of a story here... It's kind of sad...
Another issue with the story itself, is that the outcomes of every arc are ridiculously predictable, to the point that there's no real sense of danger or threat at all. Every single time Fairy Tail comes up against someone, you just know that they're going to win. They never ever EVER lose a fight. Even when it looks like the tables have turned, they never lose. Now, I know we all love to see the heroes win, and it's great, but it shouldn't be this predictable. I can't even recall any instance where Natsu was defeated horribly in a fight for good. I can't recall any moment where I was sitting there and going: wow, Fairy Tail sure is in serious shit right now.
Comparing it to various other shows, it's just kind of funny. At least in "Bleach", despite all it's flaws, Ichigo loses, and he loses several times and it's fucking great. In "One Piece", the Straw Hats have lost several times too. Even in Naruto people have lost fights, like when Naruto lost to Sasuke at the end of Part 1. Why isn't this in Fairy Tail?
Outside of the fights, the storyline itself is pretty predictable as well. Stuff is foreshadowed to almighty fuck to the point that by the time stuff happens, you already figured it out. One example is the plot twist in the Tower of Heaven arc involving Jellal. I'll leave it at that to avoid spoiling it for those who haven't seen it.
This happens so many times, that again, it's laughable. Hell, Naruto may do a lot of stupid shit, but at least I can't guess the stupid shit it's throwing at me.
However, it's not all bad. The world of Fairy Tail is well crafted, and well thought out. The concept of Magic, although done many times before is very well done and in a unique and interesting way. I've always loved the idea of Magic being a resource for every day life, and Fairy Tail executes this exteremly well. The different types of Magic, the Wizard Types, the Guild System, Forbidden Spells and everything else is just great and leaves a sweet taste in your mouth.
However, again, it's not all great. I can't help but feel various elements of this show were taken from other shows. I got a lot of Naruto vibes when watching this. Allow me to explain:
- Guilds = Ninja Villages
- Quests = Missions
- S Class Quests = S Rank Missions
- 10 Wizard Saints = 5 Kage
- Magic Council = Council of Elders
- S Class Mage = Anbu
- Dark Guilds = Missing-nin/Rogue Ninja
- S Class Exam = Chunin Exam
Sorry, but the similarities are there.
And if you want to get really technical, since Naruto copied everything from Hunter x Hunter...
Yeah... Hunter x Hunter was stolen from again. Dammit.
All joking aside however, Fairy Tail's universe is still better crafted than most anime universes, and despite it's obvious copied and pasted elements, it's a joy to dive into. I still love it.
On a final note, the pacing of Fairy Tail, when looked at from an arc to arc basis, is actually really well done. The arcs are of a suitable length, and no time is wasted ploughing through the individual stories. Sadly, the filler suffers from padding.
To sum up, the story of Fairy Tail is mixed. The premise is well set up, and the universe is fascinating, but there's not really any story direction, and that sucks.
The characters in Fairy Tail are were the show shines a little better. Although they are a mixed bag, the main cast of characters are surprisingly well grounded, and likeable. I'll detail below:
Natsu Dragneel: Natsu is the main protagonist of the series alongside Lucy. He's a Fire Dragon Slayer, and thus uses ancient Fire Magic like a dragon. He was raised by the dragon Igneel, and it looking for him to find out why he was abandoned when he was a child (hey look, it's Hunter x Hunter again). Natsu is likeable. He's hot headed, and easy to anger, but at the same time is compassionate and caring when it comes to those he loves and cares about. He let's his emotions rule his judgement, which is sometimes a good thing and other times really annoying. He's prettu dim witted, and isn't too bright, and he serves a lot of comic relief of the series, making him a laugh to watch. I like him as a main character, and it's nice to see a character who is a change from the typical "I WANNA BE THE BESTEST" or "I WANT REVENGE" characters we get in the genre. He also suffers from Motion Sickness, even during fights and although this is funny at first, it gets tiresome after seeing it happen way too often.
Lucy Heartfillia: The second protagonist, Lucy is a Celestial Wizard, and her Magic is focused on summoning Celestial Spirits to do her work for her. Lucy just wants to be a great wizard, and she is a very ambitious girl. She's very similar to Natsu, in that she's easy to anger and ruled by emotion, leading fans to believe they'd be the most perfectest couple everrrrrrrrrr. No. Anyway, Lucy is also subject to pretty much all the fan service in the show, due to her being a girly girl with massive chest and being "cute". Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's too far. She's a likeable character, and ranks among my absolute favourite female characters. I love Lucy as a character, she's great.
Gray Fullbuster: Gray is Natsu's best friend and also biggest rival. Gray is an Ice Magic user, and as such, his magic revolves around fucking ice. His personality is reflected through his magic, as he's calm and cool, and rarely gets angered by anything, with the exception of Natsu who he always fights with due to his opposing nature. The chemistry he has with Natsu is great (no Yaoi, fuck off), and I really enjoy watching them interact. Also, Gray gets all the best fights, making him instantly awesome. Every fan will agree with me there. I like Gray.
Erza Scarlet: Erza is the final member of the main cast. She's an S Rank Wizard, and her Magic revolves around using various different armours and weapons. I fucking love this because it's awesome how many different types of equipment she has. Erza is your typical bad ass female, who is stoic and does awesome shit all the time. She normally acts with the most reason in the group and is often the team leader, holding everyone together. She's likeable, like the rest. Also, she's voiced by Riza Hawkeyes voice actress. Instant win.
However, despite being awesome, the characters are very cut and paste. We've seen this shit before in many, many shows, killing any uniqueness. Doesn't stop them being loveable though. They also don't relly develop much, and barely change from how they were at the beginning. Which is kind of weak.
Secondary characters are very hit or miss, with very little of them having any major roles or influence beyond a single arc. and most of them being entirely forgettable. Seriously, there's a ton of characters that I can't even remember the names of because they've done nothing. It's a shame too, because the secondary characters are more unique than the main cast, yet spend most of their time in the background doing huge amounts of fuck all. It's always about Team Natsu and no one else, which is an unfortunate waste.
In terms of villains, Fairy Tail has again, a mixed bag of them. Some of the villains are fucking awesome in both their plans and personality, whereas some are just dull, forgettable and fucking stupid. I personally found Jellal to be one of the most awesome villains in anime but found Brain from the Oracion Seis Arc fucking boring as shit. It's mixed, and that's both a good and a bad thing.
Overall, the characters are mostly good, but they aren't the god-like perfection everyone makes them out to be. They're good but they aren't groundbreaking, and a lot of them are like Cana: wasted.
Art and Animation:
Fairy Tail was animated by A-1 Pictures, who are very hit or miss when it comes to their animation, sometimes producing high standard masterpieces like "Sword Art Online" and other times producing "meh" and staticy shows like "Black Butler".
Where did they land this time? Somewhere in the middle.
The general art is absolutely beautiful, and I can't really say anything bad about it. The characters are detailed, colourful, and beautifully drawn. The backgrounds are very high fidelity, and capture the fantasy like setting so well, with everything looking gorgeous. Everything is just so colourful and vibrant, and the show is pure eye candy. The Magic looks gorgeous too, and I personally find the addition of the Magic Circles an excellent thing. They look fucking beautiful and I'm sad to hear that they've been removed in the second series that is currently airing.
However, in terms of animation, the show isn't too impressive, and I've seen much better in other shows. It's not bad, but it's far from impressive. Too often characters float across the screen during fights and too often does a character land an attack and we are shown a still image of the attack making impact. It's not bad, and it does the job, but I want fluent animation godammit! Outside of action scenes, the animation is fine. However, there are also many intances where the animation is pretty sweet too, and it normally does it's job anyway, so aside from a lot of static moments, the animation isn't too bad. Heck, it's better than what Studio Perriot does with Naruto Shippuden every week. That shit's getting ridiculously lazy.
The sound in Fairy Tail is probably the shows highest point starting with the music. The music is fucking amazing. I absolutely love it, and it's what got me watching the show in the first place. Most of it is Fantasy like, and a lot of it has guitar, so it's an instant win for me. Holy shit, Natsu's theme is one of the most epic pieces of anime music in existence. Anyway, the music is definitely this shows highest point.
The opening themes are a mixed bag. The first one "Snow Fairy" is probably the best, and most memorable. I listen to it all the time on my iPod, it's that good. The second one, "Sense of Wonder" is mediocre and forgettable. The third opening "FT" (done by the same artist as "Snow Fairy") is fucking awesome and again I listen to it often. The fourth opening "R.P.G" is decent, somewhere in the middle, a little annoying after a while. the fifth one, "Magic Smile" is amazing, and I listen to it often again. The sixth, and final one I've heard up to, "Fiesta" is okay... I don't like it much... Everyone else does for some reason... The accompanying videos for each of them are all great.
The ending themes are less memorable. The first one, "Complete Loss For Words" is alright. The second "Reminiscence Merry go Round" is catchy but not something I'd play on repeat. The third "I'm sorry" is okay. and the fourth "Because you are here" is again okay. The fifth "Holy Shine" is good, and the sixth "Be as one" is mediocre. I don't particularly like the endings all that much, but the accompanying sequences are normally adorable, with little chibi drawings that are so cute.
The voice acting is pretty solid, in both English and Japanese, but I watched the English dub because I'm one of those faggots who doesn't treat the Japanese language like it's some sacred holy language. I was initially worried about Todd Haberkorn being Natsu, but he pulls it off surprisingly well. I can't fault the voices in either language, they all shout, scream, and laugh as they should and personalities are projected perfectly.
In regards to sound effects, Fairy Tail does a wonderful job on them too, with most of them being great and doing their job.
So to answer my initial question: "Is Fairy Tail all it's made out to be?" No. But it's enjoyable enough to be on my shelf of bought shows, and enjoyable enough to make it worth your while.
If you're looking for an anime with an intricate plot, and unique characters, you're better off watching Hunter x Hunter.
But for those who are able to see past that, and want a show with likeable characters, a well founded world filled with magic and wonder, and just want a half decent Shounen with pretty art and epic music, with a great battle or two thrown in every now and then, then you've found it.
"Fairy Tail" is immensely overrated, and it's filled with many flaws, but that doesn't stop me from loving the hell out of it sometimes. It's not for everyone, but it's worth your time.
And now, it's scoring time:
Premise 3/3 - Well set up, unique and makes a lot of promises
Pacing 0/3 - The arcs lack any real connection to one another, with not much happening progression wise. Filler pacing is atrocious.
Conclusion (On an arc to arc basis) 1/4 - Has yet to end. Most story arcs end satisfyingly. However, the conclusions themselves add very little to the already almost non-existent storyline.
Artwork 3/3 - Colourful, detailed and vibrant. Really nice on the eyes.
Character Designs 3/3 - The characters are all very detailed, and stand out from one another. They're great.
Animation 2/4 - Really not the best A-1 Pictures has to offer. Lot's of static and little fluidity, but it's still pretty good.
Personality 3/3 - Characters are fun and enjoyable
Development 1/3 - The main characters don't develop all that much. Outside of the main cast, no one really does anything.
Uniqueness 2/4 - The main cast are typical characters we've all seen before. Secondary characters are mostly unique though, and are far more interesting
Voice Acting 4/4 - I watched it in English, but both the English and Japanese voice tracks are perfect.
Music 4/4 - The music is fucking godly. Epic symphonies that really capture the Fantasy setting of the series. Always conveys the mood it's going for, and connects you to what's happening on screen.
Sound Effects 2/2 - They do they're job, and are well produced, sounding nice and crisp.
It's very good and you should give it a chance.
But hey, I thought "Hunter x Hunter" was a masterpiece so my opinion probably doesn't matter to you people.