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A little less than a year ago now I wrote a retrospective on “Fairy Tail” over on Anime Shelter, who you should all go follow btw. In it, I summarized my feelings on it as more or less a Facebook status: its complicated. While I still enjoy the core of “Fairy tail’s” story a great deal, its largely unchanged aesthetics, combined with its painfully stale sense of humor and needless filler make it much harder to enjoy eight years later.
However, I had yet to finish the series until now, for two reasons. One is the usual “I’m lazy and because I’m lazy I am going to put this off for as long as humanly possible.” The other, although less prominent, was that part of me did not want to finish the series. So much of my childhood was that show, and to think that it is just over was almost inconceivable. However, I finally did it, and well, my feelings have not really changed a whole lot.
The Problems with “Fairy Tail’s” Writing
As I mentioned above, their are quite a few problems with “Fairy Tail,” and a lot of them come from the the show’s writing. For starters, while I do not know which arcs in particular are actually filler arcs relative to manga, their are plenty that feel like it.
A good example of this is the Oracion Seis arcs, and I do mean all of them. While it can be argued that some of the action scenes in particular from these arcs were pretty cool, overall the characters that make up the Oracion Seis never felt particularly necessary to the story as a whole.
While the show was putting up these needless filler arcs, the series also failed to develop a large portion of its supporting cast. Characters like Jet, Levy, Cana, Warren, and a ton of other minor members in Fairy Tail never really got a time to shine despite the guild being the main focus of the series.
It also did not help that many of the minor characters of different guilds were also painfully boring or outright annoying. Although many members of Blue Pegasus and Lamia Scale become fairly prominent near the end of the series, none of them came off as particularly memorable. In fact, outside of Ichiya, the leader of Blue Pegasus, I actually struggle to remember any of their names. For the ones I did remember it was mainly because I could not stand them.
*cough* Tobio and Ichiya *cough*
The show’s humor is also painfully stale at this point. I will admit that when I started watching the show around 13 and even into my late teens, the low effort humor of someone randomly getting naked and/or Natsu, Gray, and Erza fighting was pretty funny, but especially towards the end of the series it gets old fast. “Fairy Tail” uses these same jokes a lot, to the point where it has almost become predictable as to which joke is going to be used and when in any given episode or season.
The Character Design Change
Post the year and a half hiatus following episode 175 of the series, the show got a serious character design change. This was due to both a change in studio and character designer.
Previously, studio A-1 pictures and Satelight had been jointly working on the series, but after the hiatus a studio named Bridge took Satelight’s place. Character designer Aoi Yamamoto was also replaced with Shinji Takeuchi and Toshihiko Sano.
Like with any design change that happens between seasons, such as with Oregairu, people were conflicted. However, looking back at the two designs now, its pretty obvious which one looks better.
Not only did post 175 designs look better, they also visually breathed life into the series and made it much more digestible, despite the plot overall not actually changing.
Aside from just the character designs, however, many of the action scenes also looked incredibly good after the change. The magic designs felt more colorful and explosive while characters were fighting, and as a result gained a more distinct identity that was associated with specific characters.
The Music Never Changes
One can only listen to a particular music track for so long without getting bored. It is one thing to have a prominent main theme in a series that is only 12 or even 24 episodes long, but when a series runs for over 300 episodes and the soundtrack consists of mainly remixes of its main theme for the majority of its more important moments, then there is a problem.
However, this is not just an issue with the main theme. The show reuses a lot of its original soundtrack for similar moments. Whenever a villain is revealed, the same chilling, Gregorian chants kick in. Whenever there is not much going on, the same whistles turn on, etc, etc.
If I had to summarize “Fairy Tail’s” problems in just a sentence, it would be this: The show is far to long to justify its use of repetition in almost every aspect of its execution. If there was even a little more to the show’s presentation, or even a removal of some filler, it would be more enjoyable. As it stands now, the show is still just OK.
How do you all feel about Fairytail? Let me know in the comments below.
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