Review by Judy Winters
Title: Fairy Tail (Feari Teiru)
Note: Based on a Japanese manga of the same title. The manga author is Hiro Mashima.
Number of episodes: 260+
First aired: April 2014
Genre(s): fantasy, adventure, action
Recommended audience: 17 and up (violence, blood, fan service)
U.S. distributor: Funimation
Where to watch: DVDs, Crunchyroll.com (subbed), Hulu.com.
Countries of popularity: The Philippines, France, Vietnam and the United States.
Most popular characters (based on Google Search): #1 - Erza Scarlet, #2 - Lucy Heartfilia, #3 - Natsu Dragneel.
Synopsis: Based in Magnolia Town, Fairy Tail is the most powerful wizard guild in the Earth Land kingdom of Fiore. The guild is infamous for being a rowdy bunch and for causing collateral damages during missions. One day, young celestial wizard Lucy Heartfilia is invited by Fairy Tail member Natsu and his cat companion Happy to join the guild. Heartifia quickly strikes a bond with Natsu, Happy, ice master Gray Fullbuster and S-class mage Erza Scarlet. Together with other guild members, they overcome many powerful opponents including rogue wizards, demons and dragons. However, Fairy Tail is about to face their most difficult opponents yet in dragon king Acnologia and the dark wizard Zeref. Will they be able to survive?
Story/Direction: A manga author is at his best when he could create a world or a premise that is unlike any other. Masashi Kishimoto was able to create Naruto's Shinobi World, a refreshed look at the tired ninja cliché. Yoshihiro Togashi does likewise with the Hunter Association. Fairy Tail's Earth Land belongs with the aforementioned. Creator Hiro Mashima is able to put together a unique world filled with magic, humor, intrigues and memorable characters. We have seen many manga and anime series about magic and wizards before, but none has the depth and breadth of Fairy Tail.
The anime adaption of the manga series is solid, though it has suffered somewhat from the lighter tone. The series is clearly geared toward younger fans, as demonstrated by the lack of blood during fight scenes. The adaptation is also more comedic and light-hearted. Story-wise, the anime remains mostly faithful to the manga especially in regards to the important arcs.
Animation: Like many long series, the animation in Fairy Tail is clearly on a budget. However, the visuals during the key arcs are generally good (though not as epic as they could be) and the fight scenes are adequately animated. The series does have a good amount of mild fan service, so people who are into these things may find enjoyment. In all, animation is not one of the show's strengths.
Music: Fairy Tail features a number of opening and ending songs. Many of them were memorable and helped set up the right mood for the series.
My Favorite Couple: Natsu and Lucy. Aside from Juvia's one-sided crush on Gray Fullbuster, romantic relationships between the main characters are neither explicitly stated nor properly developed in Fairy Tail. However, there are hints throughout the series of future romantic developments. Some possible couples include Erza and Jellal Fernandes, Happy and Carla, Gajeel and Levy, Elfman and Evergreen, Natsu and Lucy. Of these couples, I enjoy the pairing of Natsu and Lucy the most. Their friendship was the starting point of Fairy Tail and their strong bond is the gel that keeps Fairy Tail together. Hiro Mashima has given many hints of this budding romance, from the many occasions where Lucy sheds tears for Natsu to the many times when Natsu found an extra gear near death to save Lucy. It will be interesting to see how their friendship turns into romance.
My Favorite Arc: The Grand Magic Games Arc. There are many great arcs in the series, but the Grand Magic Games Arc stands out as the most exciting. The subplots in this arc are intriguing. Dragons from the past come back to break havoc in Fiore? Mutiny in Sabertooth, Fiore's strongest guild? Dark guilds? Ultear's redemption? This arc features some of Fairy Tail's greatest fights and introduces many interesting new characters. There is a sense of danger in every episode and the actions are non-stop. If you could only watch one arc from this show, the Grand Magic Games Arc is probably your best choice.
Final Comment: Fairy Tail is at its best in the key arcs -- the Grand Magic Games, Tenroujima Island, Edolas, Tower of Heaven, Oracion Seis. I am purposely omitting the Tartaros Arc, because it is so much better in the manga than in the anime. If you just watch the show for these arcs alone, you will be extremely satisfied.
Verdict: Two thumbs up!