Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Anime Review: Fairy Tail

FAIRY TAIL: The power of nakama done wrong

Fairy Tail is about Lucy Heartfilia, a 17-year old girl who wants to be a full-fledged mage. One day, while walking around town, she meets Natsu, a young man who easily gets motion sickness. It turns out that Natsu is a member of Fairy Tail, one of the most famous mage guilds.

The series actually starts interestingly. It shows a lot of promise as a long-running Shounen anime -- solid world, diverse characterization, thematic music, and unique art style. But the problem is, it is lacking in the most important department -- story.

Fairy Tail is the kind of long-running Shounen that has no direct goal. Luffy wants to be the Pirate King. Naruto wants to be Hokage. But what does Fairy Tail have? It is mainly about the missions and adventures of the feature characters Lucy, Natsu, Gray, and Erza. Some may argue that Natsu’s search for the dragon Igneel is the real goal of Fairy Tail. But this is obviously not the case. It isn’t incorporated much in the story arcs to pass as such.


Don’t get me wrong, though. Fairy Tail does have a story. I’m just saying that it has no direct purpose to hook viewers fully, because the story is not all-encompassing.

The story of Fairy Tail is told in story arcs that almost appear to be standalone, meaning that they don’t really interweave to form a singular story. But there are plot points and plot elements here and there that form mysteries and revelations, giving the impression that Fairy Tail actually has an overall story slowly being revealed and hidden at the same time.

This technique is somewhat similar to One Piece, only that One Piece actually has a real, singular story divided into story arcs. I admit though that Fairy Tail’s approach is much more stylish and diverse because One Piece’s style has the tendency to be monotonous. But other than that, I think Fairy Tail’s approach is still inferior. Again, the reason for this is the lack of a legitimate overall story, so the approach just appears to be a heap of unresolved plot points and senseless plot elements.

Their own blandness pisses them off
As for the characters, Fairy Tail is pretty flat for a long-running Shounen anime. The characters have no real depth. They are just recognized from their distinguishable traits, like how Natsu is always nauseous in transportation and Gray is always stripping. They are not entirely flat though. I have seen their motives and their beliefs in the long run. The problem is, they lack the qualifications to be main characters in a long-running Shounen anime. They are just not deep enough.

Despite this flaw, it is still very fun to see the characters interact with each other, as their distinguishable traits clash with one another, creating a sense of uniqueness, and, oddly enough, belongingness.

This sense of belongingness, sense of nakama power, is another factor that has destroyed Fairy Tail. In the long run, it has turned into a cheesy excuse for everything. In the early parts of the series, this nakama spirit is still very acceptable, since it is included in the generic formula of creating a Shounen anime. The real problem is when a series has already developed far enough and still the nakama excuse is used excessively.

The reason why this is very problematic is the fact that it turns into an unimaginative cop out to certain conflicts. This nakama power-up has been used on very desperate situations, and I couldn’t help but think it to be very cheesy and uninspiring, especially if it is used almost every time the characters are in the middle of conflicts.

If there is a redeeming factor for Fairy Tail, that is the thematic music. The soundtracks are mainly Celtic, with the occasional incorporation of flute and choir. Yasuharu Takanashi definitely did a good job.

Nakama power

Overall, I think Fairy Tail is a long-running Shounen anime that has most of the ingredients to make it successful. The only department it lacks is story. In truth, its pseudo-One-Piece style storytelling is really interesting, so I wouldn’t really call it as all bad. The real culprit that makes Fairy Tail bad is the whole nakama thing, and how it has been used excessively until it has become cheesy.

As of now, the anime is on hold, but it is expected to come back soon. Maybe I would still subscribe to it once it goes back on air, and hope that, maybe, just maybe, it fixes the problems that prevent this promising title from being great.

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