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.
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.
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