Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Fairy Tail Chat #2

It's once again that time to talk about that odd little Shounen-battle series, Fairy Tail. Not much to review--nothing that I want to right now anyway--since the dub is in filler for now and the regular series is just going through the motions with "Zero." I'll of course touch on both, but what I really want to focus on is the manga because good Lord...the manga right now! 
It's a fresh spoiler-warning, too, so if you aren't caught up through what's been released of the series in any form, proceed with caution. That's the fun of this, too. In a review I'm obliged to talk about the specifics but here? I can go nuts! There's been so much material in the manga that we've seen since we last discussed the goings-on, namely some key fights, and I can't wait to give my thoughts on those.

Unlike the previous installment, though, I'll be lumping the anime into one section rather than "dubbed/subbed" considering the state of things right now. Sure, the dub has not yet reached the Tartarros arc, but I do plan on doing a full review of that once the dub is caught up with that. It's still the best arc of the series, yet this arc now might prove to be superior as it really feels as if the series is going to go off on a high-note. 


I'm enjoying "Fairy Tail Zero" right now. It's a fun little side-quest that is, for once, canon. Speaking of side-quests, I also like that Naruto: Shippuden is also doing a similar thing with Itachi. For fans who may not have gone out to read that material, this is a good way to rope them in. Though unlike "Shippuden," Fairy Tail is more than likely going to just jump right back into the canon material. I liked how the first episode allowed for a little tie, and this does also give us some space for the time skip. The last time skip, seven years, was done over a single episode. This time we have to wait twelve episodes, and thankfully twelve good ones. 

I'm curious how much of Zeref and Mavis's relationship "Zero" will explore, or if it'll mostly focus on the creation of the guild. Not to get too spoiler-y here, but I do want them to touch on the idea of the Ankhseram material some, just to set it up for the pre-war antics coming up. Shedding light on that also opens up more doors for Zeref's character. 

Still, though, "Fairy Tail Zero" was a good move to make on the part of the show-runners. We've seen little of Mavis, Warrod, or Yuri (Precht we've seen enough of) and the mystery of Zera is an interesting one. Who is this young woman that we never see in any pictures of the founding Fairy Tail members? Warrod was also in the Tartarros arc but his backstory wasn't really seen, and also the circumstances with the guild allow for us to look back and see where it all began and how it all began. Sure the events of that series won't have too much of an effect on when we jump back into regular time, but I would rather see this than some made-up filler. 

Okay, technically it is filler, but it isn't non-canon filler. This is all material that we will need to know down the line as we see just how Fairy Tail operates. There are some darker secrets to the guild that the anime has not yet revealed...like what in the heck Fairy Heart is and why it's there. Makarov constantly laments that Fairy Heart is the darkest part of the guild, but why? Well perhaps the answers lie with "Zero" and perhaps not. Getting to know Mavis, though, is very important. 


Okay, serious spoilers here. There are some fights and moments here that I have got me excited and I'm going to get in-depth with these, as I must. Because they're awesome. 

We'll go in chronological order, so first up is the relationship between Mavis and Zeref, and the sort of ying-yang that they have going for them. While it doesn't set up any conflict with them--although if Fairy Heart is unlocked then we may see that--it does set up two very clear sides. Zeref is nothing but death and Mavis is nothing but life, and the fact that they were once in love adds another great dynamic to things. It makes me wonder if Zeref wants Fairy Heart...or Mavis herself to come back? I mean, he and Precht have been talking about the "Grand Magic World" for a while now, but how would Zeref manipulate that magic given the curse he has? Or would he need Mavis to do it. 

Thus far, I'm really enjoying the layers that have been added to Zeref. Between that curse, the fight with Natsu, and the reveal of the true origin of the dragon slayers, he really has come a long way from when we first met him on Tenrou Island. All of his moves since then, though have made sense, though it's clear we're not at the end of them. 

Speaking of Tenrou Island, I'm beginning to wonder if we'll see shades of that once again? Ajeel went down very early against Erza, and considering how long the fighting may last, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets back up again, like those two scouts that fought Gajeel did back on Tenrou. He's weaker and wouldn't cause much of a problem, but it's just another possibility. 

Also the fact that Brandish is starting to come over more to the side of Fairy Tail is another element, much like how Ultear was won over by Gray and his relationship to Ur. Or it'll be like Yukino, who was more subjected to being a part of their guild rather than wanting it. Brandish's story did make sense, though, cliched as it was. She had a history with Layla Heartfilia and thus would become closer to Lucy. I'm hoping that she does make a noble sacrifice to wrap up her character. 

Probably the biggest plot reveal has been the one relating Layla to the dragon slayers: that 400 years ago they were all sent into the future using Eclipse to kill Acnologia, and that Layla was the one that opened the door for them. I have to applaud Hiro Mashima for this, as this has been a mystery building and has such a satisfying conclusion. It would have been easy for him to just say, "Oh no Zeref just locked away Natsu and then he woke up and there was some mystery in the year 777..." but instead it makes sense. How the heck would Makarov or anyone else not have brought up already that they'd seen dragons flying, and that they suddenly vanished? 

Instead, having them all live in the past and have them all begin to be slaughtered by Acnologia only to be forced into the future by Anna and Zeref was a brilliant move. That one scene in the anime, where Porlyusica talks to Igneel in the volcano place, makes no sense but it's forgettable at this point. It also adds to the fact that Zeref and Igneel were once friends, since Zeref convinced Igneel to live with the reborn Natsu. Plus, the kids waking up in 777 with no dragons and them suddenly vanishing does make sense. It makes me question how technology and all that didn't advance that much in 400 years, but they were kids and probably didn't pick up on all that. It may also explain some of their weirder behavior, since they're from another time. 

I have to say, it was a great conclusion to that mystery, and is one that I hope to see furthered. How? Well I feel that in the climactic battle between the dragon slayers and Acnologia (you know it's going to happen) we'll learn some more info on all of that, but most importantly I think we'll find out through how E.N.D. works...because that's still a mystery. 

Ah, and now's as good a time as any to talk about the absolute hype that was the Natsu and Zeref first battle. Probably the best fight of the arc so far? Yeah. It had intrigue, it had intense action, it had drama and heartache. It had everything! I am curious what the full effects of the Ankhseram curse are, given that Natsu could have finished off Zeref. Does it require Zeref to feel love again and then die? Does that mean that the only way for Mavis to be destroyed is for her to feel complete hatred? Who knows. There's probably going to be some loophole in the logic that won't let Natsu die along with Zeref--though that is the current stipulation--but I'm looking forward to their second fight. 

Which also makes me curious how Natsu is going to be able to summon up enough power to land a hard enough attack on his brother given that he no longer has that Igneel magic with him, but given what we just saw in the chapter today I think he's still pretty darn powerful. And apparently he can get more powerful if he allows his Etherious form to take over, which is something we haven't seen yet. Perhaps when Zeref dies it'll be unlocked then? Or maybe he'll turn into a half-dragon, like that one movie poster from a while ago showed us? I get the feeling that when or if Natsu does use his Etherious form is when Gray will return and they may have a brief battle. 

To comment on the battles, though, many of them do feel like they're rather consequential or game-changing, at least. Shelia lost her magic forever. Laxus no longer has those anti-magic particles in him. Brandish is neutral in the war, and Natsu no longer has his Igneel magic and is carrying the burden of knowledge that Zeref placed on him about his status as E.N.D., and that they're related. It's clear that Hiro is going to avoid damaging the dragon slayers as he wants to set up a conflict there, and that battle is probably going to raise the kill count a little more. 

Oh, and Acnologia? Best entrance to a battle so far. God Serena was pretty darn hype, able to take down the top for Wizard Saints and master eight different dragon slayer lacrima, but Acnlogia took him down in a single hit without even blinking. Now, some may worry that the battle against Acnlogia will be unrealistic if the dragon slayers come out on top. To that I say:

Laxus defeated Jura in the Grand Magic Games and has only gotten stronger since, possibly even stronger since he's freed of Tempester's curse. Wendy can go in and out of Dragon Force consciously and got a temporary boost from Ultear. Gajeel will probably reveal a Dragon Force of his own soon. Cobra, while the weakest link, will probably serve a good meat-shield. Sting and Rogue are capable of going in and out of Dragon Force and Acnologia may be the one in this new timeline to kill Frosch and send Rogue into his demonic dragon magic. And Natsu took down a god in one punch. Yeah, Acnologia's got his work cut out for him, and not to mention that all seven are fighting with a bit of a chip on their shoulder and they may have Zeref's help. 

I don't foresee the final battle being one between Acnologia, Zeref, and Natsu anymore. Acnologia may actually be the final boss, and Zeref be the second to last one that liberates Natsu from any curses and then he jumps into the fight against Acnologia with his friends. I would like to see Natsu and a Spirit Mavis, or possibly regular Mavis, square off against Zeref, that would cap off Natsu, Mavis, and Zeref's characters all in a single stroke. 

Today's chapter only heightened my theory on that. Mavis, we now know, can be injured and damage to her affects Fairy Heart. So she may be able to do damage to others. Natsu is back in action and I imagine he and Lucy will make quick work of this assassin guy, since Natsu was able to hold is own against Zeref and there's no way Lucy is going to lose a fight when she's with Natsu. At first, I wanted him to at least wipe out some of the smaller guild people to show he's a threat, but when he's defeated I imagine they'll come back. At this point, Natsu and Lucy will run off and the guild, led by Makarov, will have to fight the "smartest wizard ever" in August. This way, we'll get to see everyone else in their final battles, too. 

I'm just wondering when the next major death is going to be. Obviously, we're going to have some B-list characters get the axe, like a Lyon, Minerva, or Kagura. But I'm talking someone big within the guild, like Mirajane or Elfman. Maybe even Erza or Juvia, who knows? Gray did make an ominous promise that when the fighting was over he had something he needed to tell her, so, who knows? Maybe tragedy will strike and he won't be able to. 

In all this mess, though, I'm having fun keeping track of where everyone is and who can strike next. It seems that Erza and Gray's camps are set for a fight and we haven't seen Gajeel or the two other dragon slayers in a while. Plus, Jellal just showed up. The biggest wildcard of them all, though is Acnologia, who was mysteriously not brought up in this chapter, since he was last seen with August and the assassin. 

For right now, though, Fairy Tail is riding high. The battle have been pretty good so far and the big reveals have all hit home and made really good sense. Some characters perceived as dead have come back in minorly upsetting ways, but it's far overshadowed by the epic events that have proceeded them. I get the feeling, too, that this hype train isn't stopping anytime soon. 

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