Earl and Fairy is a strange being for me, because I really liked it, yet came a bit unstuck during the last four episodes. Oh, it seems fairly linear with the amber, Lydia and Edgar being sent to the fairy realm and the antagonist, Ulysses, making his entrance, but the way it was paced was quite confusing, in my opinion. In fact, this series doesn't really go out with a bang, nor has it ever attempted to.
It trundles along with the same speed as a late Victorian-era automobile, resulting in a safe journey that occasionally has a little surge of power in the engine - its rare good episodes in which Celtic and fairy lore is perfectly explained, and whenever Lydia and Edgar's relationship was actually well-done. For the most part, it was just Edgar being a force of personality, and Lydia biting back but still being soft and mushy on the inside. There were times I thought Lydia would be better off with Cain/Kelpie or Paul, and then I just kept switching until I realised I kind of didn't like either guy and Lydia would really be better off by herself.
I'll also admit that the writing in this show was alright, but whoever decided to make it only 12 episodes long did this series a huge disservice. The anime probably only scratches the surface of a franchise that at current, spans 25 novels, 4 manga volumes, and a Playstation 2 game, and I'm sure there would have been so much more to adapt had the anime staff been given more episodes to work with, which coincidentally, is exactly how I felt after finishing Angel Beats.
I'm quite sure I was giving this series my rapt attention, but I swear nothing ever came of the Scarlet Moon organization, or Paul's reasons for getting close to Lydia, or even more on Lydia's mother and father.
I'd love to know who the Prince is (aside from 'ooh, he's an evil slaver who Edgar is still trying to escape from'), but we're never going to know, it seems. The villainous Ulysses is defeated in episode 12, but like a really bad Hollywood movie you know isn't going to get a sequel (think The Last Airbender by M. Night Shymalan), he utters: 'The prince is coming...' Well, that's jolly good... if there was a sequel, which there isn't. You're going to have to buy the novels and the manga and translate them if you're completely desperate to know what happens next. Have fun mastering a new language! (Or alternatively, you could find a LiveJournal community or some other fansite that hosts the translations, I guess.)
Now, the animation in this series is pretty serviceable. It's nothing spectacular (the opening animation aside), but it's not out to impress. The palette is very pastelly and the character designs are very nicely done, with very expressive eyes and great attention to costume design. I also love the look of the hair in this series, although I have once wondered if Lydia would be an addition to the cast of Shiki - she certainly has the hair for it.
Also, the music in this series is nothing amazing. For the most part, to my ear it sounded like very generic BGM that would be used to score any kind of series set in the Victorian or Georgian era - harpsichords, slow swells of violins, plinky-plonky piano, and dark cello/double bass for the more sombre moments. The opening, 'Feeling' by Acid Flavour is alright, but nothing spectacular. It's a simple rock song with a nasally rock singer struggling to make his voice be heard over the wails of violin and heavy percussion. The ending song by Hikaru Midorikawa, was just as average and immemorable, in my opinion.
Overall, Earl and Fairy is a very good series for those of us interested in girly romances, the Victorian era, mysterious yet gorgeous men, and Celtic and fairy legends. There are plenty of the fae folk featured in this anime, ranging from cú sithe (hounds from the otherworld), goblins, brownies, seelie and unseelie fae,banshee, selkies, merfolk, pixies, and even kelpies, as mentioned previously.
What starts out very interestingly goes very slowly, then has a brief spurt of speed, then crawls to a near-halt and tries to have a satisfactory ending that would have been remedied with a sequel, but ultimately fails at this.
However, I did love its rare moments of romance, I loved how they explained the mythology for both people who know the folklore and those who don't, and the series' art design was gorgeous. I also commend Lydia for being stubborn and actually having a backbone, which is rare to see in shojo anime. Hoorah!
For all these merits, Earl and Fairy could have been so much better, suffering from a clear case of Angel Beats syndrome. If it had been written better, or had more episodes to expand upon (and I do hear the series keeps getting better and better with each novel that's released), it could have been one of my favourites, but unfortunately I'll have to resign it to a middling position on my list of my favourite shojo. Thus, 5.5/10 is the best score I can give.
Hopefully some other studio will pick up where Artland left off, but since it aired in autumn 2008, my hopes aren't too high.
overall score: 5/10
overall score: 9/10
overall score: 7/10
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