Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Fairy Tail Season 7 Review

The final few episodes of the Tartaros Arc of Fairy Tail have landed for the English Dub (thanks Funimation! 😄)  which means that Season 7 (aka Fairy Tail 2014) has come to a close and the anime, for everyone, is on official hiatus. And with not enough time for me to talk about what I was originally going to, eh. Fairy Tail's always a fun substitute for me. And this time I actually got the season numbering correct! 
This season takes up the entirety of the material released starting from 2014 in Japan. If you wanna be technical, it's from Episodes 176 to 265. From the arrival of Xerconis to the closing moments with the battle of Tartaros. And only one filler arc...though it is a bit more unbearable than the previous filler arcs, but it's squeezed between two of the best action-oriented arcs of the show.

What makes this season stand out, besides it's length, is it's attention to detail. Particularly with the narrative. Whereas with the previous series it was always clear, but never brought to direction attention, that Zeref was the be-all, end-all threat, this season puts him in the forefront. The Tartaros arc really makes you want to go back and rewatch the previous arcs to see how they all add up, too, as it answers a ton of questions and reveals a lot of information you didn't think you needed. 

I always love it when a story can do that. It'll give me concepts or ideas that I didn't think I would need and that make everything I've seen previously that much cooler. Or, at least, it touches up on ideas and characters to refine them and make them fit better. Sure some people might see that as a retcon (retroactive continuity) of sorts, but it actually helps the story immensely for this season. 

This season comprises of three main arcs: the Grand Magic Games (or, at least, the conclusion of it), the Celestial Spirits, and Tartaros. Tartaros is the best of the bunch and is debatably the best arc of the entire series, including the manga, so far. It has the most weight, gravitas, and character development in it. I don't want to spoil any of it for you, since most of that material comes at it's back half as characters are dealing with consequences. 

That idea of consequences is huge for this season, too. While the Celestial Spirits arc feels like a bit of a ripoff from the Shadow Dragons arc of Dragon Ball GT, it does spin out of a major plot point from the previous arc. The only real reason it's filler is because this is hardly mentioned again and it picks up like the manga does, with everyone kinda just now settling back in after the Games. 

The animation quality this season has been seriously stepped up. The color scheme changes quite drastically after the Spirits arc, and I'm not sure why. I do like it, though. Everything feels grittier, darker, more visceral. The Spirits arc made sense to have more color, since they were in the Spirit world. This animations style was sort of hinted at during the latter-half of the Games saga. 

Character designs are a bit different now, too, if only because their colors and outfits will often change about midway through an arc. It's a bit random, but, the outfits are for the most part cool or have significant weight to them. Wendy and Gray are the only ones to get a drastic change in design in the Tartaros arc, while it's mostly just outfits in the previous two arcs. 

Seaosn 7, barring the filler, deals wth two concepts of Fairy Tail that, again, have been more mentioned than realized: Dragons and Demons. Both are actually pretty integral to the overal plot of the series and to see them come to forefront was refreshing. Even more so was getting to see Dragon Slayers actually battle some Dragons, as well as see them combat the Demons that have been pretty hyped stretching back all the way to the first arc where we finally meet Erza. 

It's not like this story has some subtlety to it, though. This season, more than ever, had to be blatant about what was going on since it feels like the series kinda dragged it's feet at times. The more I think about it, the more Edolas feels like a filler arc because it only accomplished the displacement of Mystogan, Lisanna, and Panther-Lily as well as explain the Exceed background. The Nirvana arc also feels a bit random, though it did introduce us to the Oracion Seis. But the Tower of Heaven and Tenrou Island stuff definitely helped push the story along, giving us insight into Zeref as well as Jellal, who are huge players right now. 

The Grand Magic Games is a bit story on it's own and becomes much more relevant as the series progresses beyond the point of the anime. Eclipse is a really neat concept that gets to be explored again, and it's introduction and use here is also pretty sweet. The hype it generates here is definitely worthwhile. The Books of Zeref aren't mentioned as much later, but, their story does come to a close after what we'd seen of them throughout the series. 

The only confusing things about these arcs are the motivations of the villains. The Nine Gates of Tartaros, as is stated, don't actually know what their true goal is outside of the eradication of magic. The villain of the Games (whose identity I shall not reveal because spoilers) was also there mostly as a means to cause mayhem with Dragons and get revenge, I think. That last part might've been a bit of a retcon as we learn later in the manga. It's not that their bad villains, but they aren't on the level of Zeref and Acnologia. Of them, I would say that Mard Geer is the most intimidating, particularly since he gets the highlight battles of the Tartaros Arc. 

Regarding our main cast, though, they go through the most character development in the Tartaros Arc. The Grand Magic Games, to me anyway, always felt like a way to get the side-characters in on the action. And it was pretty cool to see the Dragon Slayers, all of them, finally gather as well as watch all of the other guilds take part in an epic battle. It was a good introduction to Sabretooth that would pay off in the Tartaros Arc as Sting and Rogue and Minerva became closer to the Fairy Tail members, who are certainly battle-hardened at this point. 

It's clear that the gang of people that goofed around all the time are now matured. They take their missions seriously and will do whatever it takes to protect the ones close to them. Not that they didn't before, but it now it really feels like they mean it. The motif of consequences comes back here, but more than anything, the Tartaros arc is about family and what it means to be "family" with one another. It's a sappy concept, sure, but damn if there aren't some emotional scenes. 

I could easily make a Top 10 Fairy Tail Moments list and have most of the entires be from this arc alone. There are so many gut-wrenching, heart-pounding, and yet also fist-pumping moments in this arc alone. Everything really does come to a head, and unlike the rest of the series, it doesn't end on the happiest of notes. Nobody is really cheering at the end of the day. It goes to show the immense weight of the battle they just waged. While fighting the Oracion Seis and Grimoire Heart was difficult for the guild, this was an impossible battle that, ultimately, they may not have won. 

I would argue that this is the strongest season of the show because of the Tartaros Arc alone. If you're curious about the show or might've dropped it at an earlier point, I definitely suggest getting through the Grand Magic Games (which, again, is a pretty fun arc), skipping the Celestial Spirits, and then gear up for Tartaros. It's an emotional roller-coaster and has loads of payoff for what the series has been building up. And it foreshadows some incredible events to come in the manga that I can't wait to see adapted into animation. 

Fairy Tail Season 7 may not be the last of the show we see (Fairy Tail Zero has something to say about that) but it filled with huge, greatly animated battles, epic character moments, and a super awesome score. 

Oh yeah let's talk about that. The composition for the music is different from the first season but it's awesome. It adds a level of intensity to the fights that is probably unparalled. The songs will get you jacked up, get you crying, they get you in the proper mood. I love all of the opening theme songs, too, particularly 16, 19, and 21. 

Okay, but yeah, Fairy Tail Season 7 continues the legacy of a pretty fun anime and ramps everything up to 11 by the time it all wraps. Definitely check it out when you can. 

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