Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"Fairy Tail" Season 6 Review

*Disclaimer: this actually encompasses Season 6 of the anime. At the time of writing, some of the wikis listed it as a brief fourth season, but were incorrect. I apologize for the mishap*

It has been quite a while since my last Fairy Tail review. Too long, in my opinion. Especially what we got this Season. If I'd known it was going to be this awesome, I would have invented time travel to leap forward in time. Or watched the Japanese Subs, but...no. I'm too committed to the English Dub to turn back now. 

I should also note that this also technically has a "series finale," as in a strange way, this ended the series. I won't get into why, as I'm not really sure why nor are many answers online, so I won't bore you with that. Answers range from the creator taking a break, workers struggling with the weekly schedule, and actors quitting. Take your pick. I really don't care, as long as Funimation keeps on pumping out the episodes (which they will, given its overwhelming popularity). 

You can also tell it's not going to be the end of the series based off of the way it ends. There are three major plot points opened up, a fourth one opened up as well but not nearly as important. The final episode ends on a HUMONGOUS cliffhanger (not really, the clues are pretty evident near the end but still, it just cuts straight to black like what the heck man). 

By the by, no spoilers here. I'll try to keep things as spoiler-free as possible, but I will mention certain battles that come about and my thoughts on them. 

So, Season 4. It's actually the shortest season, with only 24 episodes, and because of this it is self-contained to a single arc, the Grand Magic Games arc. There are also two openings, both of which I'll get into when we discuss the music of the season. 

For being the shortest, though, it might just be my favorite season so far. Yeah, even better than Season 2. It's not my favorite arc, as the Edolas Arc still holds that title, but it's definitely up there with Edolas and Tenrou Island. This, though, brings a lot of new material to the table, which is what I think gives it its charm. 

If you had a favorite minor character, chances are that they make an appearance this season. The plot revolves around the Grand Magic Games, and how Fairy Tail, the laughing stock of the magic world, has decided to enter. But they'll be going up against friends and new foes, such as the strongest guild in Fiore, Saber Tooth. What makes them so special? 

Their Dragon Slayers, Sting and Rogue. I like Sting and Rogue. They make for good contrasts to Natsu while also having their own character. Rogue, I think, has more of a character than Sting because he has his Exceed, Frosch, always by his side. Both are like the ying-yang, as Rogue is always wearing black and constantly moody while Frosch is small, cute, and sentimental. Sting gets his character developed during the fight against Natsu when he thinks about his history with his Exceed, Lector. 

Saber Tooth is probably the biggest thorn in Fairy Tail's side, and is part of the reason this season is so great. They aren't necessarily antagonists, but more of the people to provoke the guild and get the audience hyped for any time the two guilds might clash. 

Raven Tail, run by Master Makarov's son Ivan, is sort of the opposite of that. I think a pitfall of the season was how easily the Raven Tail subplot wrapped up. They were painted as the main rival for Fairy Tail (though we knew it was actually Saber Tooth). But, their motivation was lacking outside of just destroying Fairy Tail and their final stand was sort of "bleh." It was a great character moment for Laxus, actually one of the standout moments of the season for me, but it was just so quick and felt almost pointless, too. With Saber Tooth, there was almost palpable tension between the two guilds. They wanted to go after each other, that was their endgame, that was the major source of drama in the season. In what is now one of my favorite moments from the show, Natsu storms where Saber Tooth is hiding out and straight up challenges the Saber Tooth master. Not only do we get to see Natsu's power since awakening his Second Origin, but also there is major hype for him to just wipe the floor with everyone in the guild. I kinda wanted to see that. 

The antagonistic ways of Saber Tooth and Raven Tail aid the audience in getting behind the Fairy Tail cause, getting behind our heroes in their fight back to the top. It's unlike most seasons, too, in the way that the combat here is done. 

There are few of those typical Shounen moments where the character gets constantly beaten and somehow gets back up. Instead, our characters have such a burning desire to win and prove that Fairy Tail is on top that they never really go down. It's evident in several of the fights, notably in the Dragon Slayer battle as well as when Wendy fights Shelia in the Wind Magic battle. 

Maybe it's just because it's been so long since I've watched the show that I feel this way, but I just think that there was so much more energy put into this season than others. A great air of intensity hangs around every single episode, including some of the filler ones in the beginning. From the second that the guild starts training to get back on top to the final episode, there is a tone of triumph and the need to win that overhangs everything. 

Switching over to the characters, I must say that the show handled the newbies very well. The most notable ones are Kagura, Yukino, Shelia, Sting, Rogue, Rufus, Minerva, and Bacchus. Each had their own motivation (except Bacchus, but his drinking battle with Cana was pretty funny) and their own rival to compete with, particularly in regards to their magic. I liked Rufus's magic and what it brought to the table, but my jaw absolutely dropped when Shelia's magic was revealed. The fight between her and Wendy was surprisingly one of the better fights of the season, and actually one of the best fights we've seen in a while. 

Getting to see Wendy show off the three normal Dragon Slayer attacks as well as two Secret Arts was incredible, as was watching her blossom into one heck of a fighter and a young woman. For her to be able to impress Wizard Saint Jura as well as her guild mates is certainly a feat. Her character still has a ways to go, but she's no longer that little girl who was scared in the opening parts of the Nirvana arc. Her shining moments in Edolas have seriously helped her out here, and this fight is the highlight. 

Kagura was an interesting character in that we don't learn much about her other than that she is extremely strong, probably as strong as Erza, and has a history with Jellal. I won't spoil what it is, but, it adds something to her character and actually puts Erza in a rough situation. Particularly because her old friend Milliana, from the Tower of Heavens Arc way back in Season 1, has the same feelings, and has changed her character up to. 

It's get to see several minor characters like Milliana and Lyon return that also make the season great. Its been years since we last saw them in battle, and seeing where they've come since then is pretty awesome. Everyone has new techniques, including the members of Fairy Tail, and seeing them on display here is pretty great. Every match-up is pretty cool, too, even some of the lesser ones. 

Many surprise cameos also show up. Obviously I can't say what they are, but they provide for some fun "oh, no way, it's them!" moments. There are also tons and tons of throwbacks to Seasons 1 and 2 that do add to the feeling that this is something of a "series finale." 

The true highlight of the season comes near the end, as the battles heat up and we learn more and more what's at stake. There's an ever approaching feeling of doom, capped off by Levi writing doing a voiceover, counting down to the days that apparently things go terribly wrong at the Grand Magic Games. There are tons of signs pointing to what that is going to be, another thing that the season leaves us hanging with. 

The only probably here is that it's confusing which subplot we need to be worried about more, and there is nothing so far we need to be connected with. There's Jellal chasing people around thinking they are connected to Zeref, there is the Eclipse Project that is supposed to save the world (that always goes well), and there are Levi's cryptic writings. So, which should I care about more? The good thing is that the show balances them well so one is not more important than the other--yet--and they are all given pretty much equal screen-time. 

See, I really want to discuss my thoughts on the Dragon Slayer battle, but there are some pretty heavy spoilers involved if I do. So, I'll just say this: it matches the hype, and is so worth the wait of watching the whole season. But, there are also fantastic moments in between, such as some of the games, Wendy vs. Shelia, and Natsu attacking Saber Tooth. Yukino's little episodic moments are pretty interesting to watch as she develops her character, and I do hope she one days joins the Fairy Tail guild (again, don't know, haven't watched Season 5 or read the manga). 

The music this season is phenomenal. There are three standout songs that are new (at least, I think they are new) this season: "Champion of Magic," "Saber Tooth Theme," and "Third Generation Dragon Slayers." The latter is probably my new favorite Fairy Tail song because, quite simply, it's fantastic. It's just the music that should be accompanied to two extremely powerful Dragon Slayers and is the type of music you should be listening to when watching Natsu and Gajeel duke it out against Sting and Rogue. Saber Tooth's theme also matches them pretty well while "Champion of Magic" is a good accompaniment to Wendy and Shelia's battle. 

The openings are good, too. I like Opening 14 better, just because it adds to the vibe that the tournament is really getting going, that the fighting is going to get serious and it's going to be awesome. Opening 13 is a good introduction to the fun times that are meant to be had at the games while also showing off some of the new friends and foes we'll be introduced to in the season. 

Overall, if I had to describe this season in a phrase: bad-ass. 

So many things work well in this season, from the music to the characters to the fighting. There are a few minor things that fall flat but otherwise the plot manages to keep up with itself and seems to answer all the questions we have and that it has to before leaving us with a cliffhanger, as it was sort of building up that it would. This time, sort of knowing what's around the corner, I seriously cannot wait for what comes next. 

If you're still on the fence about Fairy Tail coming off an iffy Key to the Starry Heavens arc to round out Season 3, then trust me, you're going to want to stick around. It gets a million times better, and it's arguably the best season yet. 

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @seanovan13 to stay up to date on when I post. Thanks for reading! 

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