For the past 10 months, a few others and I were doing a thing on Twitter where we were watching a series in all of its glory. That series was Fairy Tail. The massive hit anime from the manga of the same name by Hiro Mashima, who also made Rave Master, the only one of his to make it on U.S. TV (Both Cartoon Network and SyFy showed it). The series went along with the hashtag #YearOfFairyTail, and it chronicled the best, the worst, the maddening, and the exciting moments that happened from the show. It was a ride for me. I captured a lot of pictures, had a lot of the “good shots” from the show, got shadow-banned/locked from my account for posting said shots (I may have been hacked as well with nothing doing, because Twitter is a bitch), and had to go to my other account to see it. It was interesting, to say the least. For one thing, I had a lot of fun doing this, despite the troubles caused, because Fairy Tail is a fun show to watch. But, I had another reason why I wanted to join in with the other people who did this group hashtag. You see, I only had seen the first series of Fairy Tail, and not the 2014 version. This was a good set-up for me to not only watch it, but to review it as well. Which is what I did on Swim Squad over a year ago with the first Fairy Tail series. Since Swim Squad is now dead, I thought it be a good idea to wrap up the review I been longing to do on here. So without further ado, here’s my review of Fairy Tail 2014.
There will be some spoilers from me on here. If you haven’t seen Fairy Tail 2014, you have been warned
If you have read one of my long-ass reviews before, then you would know I start these things with the description of the characters. I did a long chart of that in the first series, so you can read it in the link above (or not. Your choice.) So instead, I’ll just do a quick rundown. Fairy Tail 2014 continues the adventures of the wizard guild, Fairy Tail. They include Natsu, the Dragon Slayer, and his flying cat pal, Happy. The Celestial Wizard, Lucy, the Ice-Maker Wizard Grey (Yeah, I spell his name like that. It can go either way), the Requip-Wizard Erza, cute Dragon Slayer Wendy and her flying cat partner Carla. Others in the guild include their master, Makarov, Juvia, Gajeel and Lily (another flying cat with a Dragon Slayer), Levi, Elfman, Mira, Lisanna, Cana, Laxus, and a whole bunch more wizards that make up the guild. Also with them is their first master, Mavis, who is there in ghost form with only guild members being able to see her. Don’t ask why. The guild makes money from jobs, competes in games, and beats up whoever dares to mess with their guild, be it other wizard guilds, dark guilds, demons, dragons, or emo, misunderstood dark wizards. Basically, just about anyone who gets in the way, because they are a family.
Since I got this out-of-the-way, now it’s time to go on to what I am gonna do: Break down the arcs. There are only 5, so it should be easy enough to follow.
The Grand Magic Games Arc – Episodes 176-203 (continue)
This arc continues on where the series left off at in Series 1 with the Grand Magic Games. Before, Natsu beat The Dragon Slayer duo Sting and Rogue of Sabertooth, and sent Gajeel down a shaft into a dragon graveyard. In the graveyard, they meet up with a dragon, or the ghost of one, who tells them about how Acnologia came to be, the dragons in the past, and other stuff. Also, Sabertooth gets real messy with their own guild, the Grand Magic Games continue, there’s big fights and all, including with some weird, underground kingdom people, and well, Fairy Tail wins the GMG. Oh and by the way, BLOOD!!
That’s right. The show which would not show any blood at all in the first place, shows it here. I’ll get to that more when I get to the animation part, but for now, let’s talk more of this arc. We meet a new character, Hisui, who is this chick. She’s the Princess of this land.
Also, she doesn’t do anything to help. Nothing. In fact, she causes more problems than she does solve them. She is like a certain pink-hair girl on another shonen show. And what problems might those be? Why dragons, that’s what. It involves taking everyone’s magic and putting it into a weird portal that involves time-travel. There, not only do dragons come back, but so does Future Lucy, whose own timeline got destroyed by said dragons, and a Future Rogue, who’s from the same one, but evil. Because we have to have someone evil. Basically, every guild in the GMG fights the dragons, and it doesn’t get pretty.
The whole fight with the dragons concludes with Ultear, the once-evil “Zeref lover,” who tries to re-write her sins, sacrificing herself and re-doing time by a minute, reversing things and turning the tide as Natsu beats Future Rogue up. She eventually dies, as does Future Lucy, and Sabertooth’s master as well (Because he messed with the kitty. You don’t mess with the kitties), making 3 more deaths of “important characters” to go with Simon from Series 1. This won’t be the last one, trust me. Overall, there’s definitely some flaws that are hard to even explain or even defend. But overall, it’s still a fun way to close out the Games.
Celestial Spirits Rebellion Arc – Episodes 204-226 (Filler)
I won’t waste a lot of time on this arc. Basically, Lucy spirit friends go nuts and start their own rebellion in this arc and it’s up to the Guild to stop them. This also had the spirits change into different personalities (Virgo being a sado-machochist dominatrix, Taruos being a gentlemen, Loke being a douche) to overall appearances (Aquarius in loli form, Sagittarius as a centaur, Capricorn getting a giant goat head) that ends with them fighting the Celestial Spirit King as he went mad too. This was the filler that a lot didn’t like, and some thought that stalled the series/ruined it altogether. I wouldn’t go that far. It wasn’t too bad, just pretty mediocre. It was still way better than the Michelle/Oracion Seis filler arc from Series 1 (which was much better than the one mini-filler with that annoying cowgirl). The highlights, in my opinion, were the King fight, the Wendy/Aquarius fight, and the Grey/Cancer dance-off.
Also, it gave me a new avatar for awhile on my other account with Afro Happy.
Sun Village Arc – Episodes 227-233
This arc is a short one, as it takes us through the backstory of Flare, the creepy/sexy Raven Tail fire-hair chick, and her village, Sun Village, as it has been frozen. The Guild is sent there by a former Council member named Warrod, a guy who looks like dried-up broccoli.
I’ll get to him more in the last arc, but for now, he’s important. Anyway, they go there, and run into trouble investigating the Sun Village. With annoying treasure hunters, Minerva (who Erza f’d up good in the GMGs, by the way), and all the frozen ice. Also in the way, demons. Yes, demons. One of said demons actually turns the characters into tiny versions of themselves.
Eventually, they beat the demons, and do solve the puzzle with the Sun Village being frozen, unfreeze the giants and their burning fire. However, the person who did the freezing? A guy named Silver. I’ll get to him in the next arc, because he’s also important.
Tartaros Arc – Episodes 234-265
The longest arc of Series 2 starts as calm and peaceful as can be. With everyone on the Magic Council getting murdered in an explosion. Did I say calm and peaceful? Oh well, screw the Magic Council. Not only that, but we got another (sorta?) major death in Lahar, one of the guys who got in the Guild’s business a lot. As I said, a lot of people die in this series. Anyway, the Council got targeted by the demon guild, Tartaros. Their mission is to resurrect Master E.N.D., the strongest demon in the “Book of Zeref.” They’re out to kill all of the Council members, current and former, to activate FACE, a weapon that can wipe out all magic within Magnolia. And since they’re demons who use “Curse Power,” they won’t be affected. Well, one of the Council members gets attacked and Laxus and his Thunder Region pals are with them, meaning they also get attacked. This forces the Guild into action to not only face Tartaros, but protect the remaining Council members, which they don’t do a good job of.
There are actually 2 sections to this arc. The first section is the “Prologue,” which I mostly just described all above. It’s the start of all it, with the members starting their fight with the Tartaros demons and beating a couple of them. The 2nd section shows the Guild and Tartaros fighting. But it wouldn’t be a review without going through the new characters. They are “The Nine Demon Gates”. As such, there are nine of them. There’s Jackal, who is basically Bakugo from My Hero Academia as a catboy. Tempester, who is a beast, and when beat, can release Magical Barrier Particles that affect a magic users body. Franmalth, the annoying asshole who can steal souls and usually asks “How Much” for it. Kyoka, the bird demon who’s into really kinky pain stuff, and Seilah, who can control others (as seen when she controls Elfman and makes him blow up the Guild) and who has a crush on the bird woman. Keyes, the spooky skeleton dude who hates humans and can resurrect dead people. Ezel, who is a giant pine tree who only wants to kill people. Torafuzar, who is a big lizard dude who can make deadly water. And lastly, there’s Silver. He’s the odd one of the bunch, since he’s not a demon, but an actual human. He can use Ice “Devil Slayer” Magic, which can affect the demons, and yet he is with them. Also, there’s Lamy, an annoying, hot guys-obsessed bunny girl who’s not one of the Demon Gates, but does help them and can randomly turn into a JoJo character at times.
The head guy in charge of all of them is the “King of the Underworld.” His name is Mard Geer. He is the best of the bunch. He is the strongest of them, is as overpowered as they come, and is a delight. Mostly because he doesn’t care about how he does things and has a smugness to him knowing that he can win.
Look at him in this chair. He’s the epitome of being a badass, and he knows it. To be honest, we need more smug villains like him. Moving on, the arc itself has basically everything. We see the fights between these groups. We see Natsu and the others’ parents again. And by that, I mean their dragons that disappeared. Speaking of, there are dragon fights in this. There are characters who are turned into demons themselves. We have the Celestial Spirit King make an appearance. Hell, want some bad child memories/abuse thrown in? We got that with Minerva and her dad. There are also plenty of badass moments, and not just from the usual suspects. For example, Wendy. She goes from the cute, little ray of sunshine we all know.
Into someone you don’t want to mess with.
And then some.
Dragon Force Wendy will kick your ass. She has her moment to shine in this, as do others like Grey, who also finally gets a power-up that matches him with Natsu.
There’s also moments where the emotions can kick in. There’s the aftermath of Wendy’s fight with Ezel, involving her and Carla. There’s Gajeel and Levy and what happens when he is fighting. There’s Lucy having her actual moment to fight, but it comes at a cost involving her and Aquarius, which is also where they finally bond as one after 200+ episodes. Then there’s the Grey vs. Silver fight. I didn’t even mention Silver’s full name yet. It’s Silver Fullbuster. As in, Grey’s dad. There’s a lot going on that takes too much time to explain, so just know that end results ties in Juvia’s fight with Keyes, and also involves Grey getting that new Devil Slayer power above. The last involves the Dragon Slayer’s dragons coming back to them, and having Igneel face Acnologia. Oh, poor dragon daddy. Overall, while I do think this arc does carry a bit too long (They showed the Erza vs. Kyoka fight, then for no reason, showed it again as Natsu faced Mard Geer), the fights are all great to see, and lead to plenty of action in this arc. Mixed with the emotional moments and comedy bits to boot, the Tartaros arc is one of the better Fairy Tail arcs of the whole series.
Fairy Tail Zero – Episodes 266-277
The last arc of this series starts off with Natsu and Happy going on a 1-year training journey after Tartaros, and the whole guild disbanding. However, most of this arc involves the adventures of Fairy Tail’s first Master, Mavis Vermillion. It shows her past, how she came to be friends with a girl named Zera, her first encounter with Zeref, how she formed the Guild, and the adventures that came during it all. It also shows the members who made up the Guild with her, that involve 3 treasure hunters. Remember that guy named Warrod that I mentioned before? He was one of those original members. With him as well is Precht, or Master Hades as you know him before he became all evil. And rounding out the bunch is Yuri, who is Makarov’s father. The arc shows how the group became trusting of each other, got to use magic, and some of the troubles that came to be. It also showed Mavis using illusions for her magic, which has something to do with Zera. That got as emotional as any Fairy Tail moment. They also explain how Mavis appears as she does. It’s a very decent arc with a lot of backstory to Fairy Tail’s history. It also gives us some very cute Mavis moments.
Now on to something that was a big discussion about this series. Fairy Tail is made and produced by A-1 Pictures, as you know. However, they do have another company that works on the show. In the first series, that studio was Satelight. In Series 2, the 2nd studio is Studio Bridge. There’s been a lot of fuss over it because the animation looks a lot different from before. Let me give you an example. Here’s a shot from the Satelight series.
Yeah, I’m sorry you had to see that. Maybe. Anyway, here’s a shot from the Studio Bridge series.
Does that work better? Also, see the difference? There’s a bunch of different things that are going on, more so in the facial features. This is my opinion here, but at first you could definitely tell how different some characters looked with the change in studios, like Lucy, Cana, Erza, and Elfman. (Biggest change, maybe? Loke, who for some reason got cat ears in this series because he’s the Lion Spirit.) For others, there wasn’t too much of a difference for me. But after awhile, I got used to it and didn’t really notice a thing. And that was from someone who spent nearly 6 months watching the first series everyday and was only used to the original anime designs. It all depends on who sees it, I guess. Another change was not in just the face area, but also in overall design. Some of the animation at times appeared darker than before. Like a bit darker hair, darker clothes. The background feeling more like it had a filter on it, taking out some of the highlights. The canon parts themselves definitely had more of a darker tone to the characters’ colors to me. For some reason, the filler arc felt more like the original series in animation tone, but as soon as it went back to canon, you could see the shift back to the overall tone of this series. It felt strange going from that filler animation’s to the canon arc. Overall, it may have seemed weird, and a turn-off to others. But mostly, I found it okay overall.
Another thing Studio Bridge did that I highlighted in an arc above: Blood. Lots and lots of blood.
Okay, maybe it’s not a total gore-fest. But compared to the first series, this one seems like it. The first Fairy Tail was known to not have blood due to censorship laws. Why they follow it but other shows don’t? Who knows. But it ruined some pretty great scenes that were in the manga, making them look less than stellar.
While the show doesn’t go all out with it as the manga does, they do show the moments where blood should happen. Especially with the sword stabbings. Be it with Erza or with some random fat guy being stabbed in the back, Studio Bridge did something that Satelight wouldn’t do, so I applaud them for it. The animation here isn’t going to win many awards. But even with some of my complaints, the animation does at times look more fluid than the original anime did. If I could give it a grade, I say it’s a B- at best.
If you read my reviews, what I like to do is highlight the music. It’s something that I love listening to, and something I hope you can enjoy and relax to while reading this. The main theme for Fairy Tail in this series is a bit different from what it was in the first series.
However, it still keeps that quaint, middle ages-adventure feel that the previous anime had. Same with most of the character themes, fighting and comedy scenes on here. The music may sound different, but it’s more or less the same as with the previous incarnation.
Now we get to the fun ones: The opening and ending themes for the show. As with most shonens, the OP/ED to them have some pretty great tunes to it, and Fairy Tail is no exception. I listed my favorites ones before on the last Fairy Tail review, so I’ll make a top 3 here. With apologies to “The Rock City Boy,” I believe I have an all-new #1 Fairy Tail Opening favorite.
1. “STRIKE BACK” – BACK-ON
The 2nd OP of this series is amazing, and gets you hyped for the last part of the GMG arc. The whole song feels like you want to join in and punch some dragons and Future Rogue’s face with the group. But why leave it for 90 seconds? The Full OP is even better.
2. “NEVER-END TALE” – Tatsuyuki Kobayashi and Konomi Suzuki
The 20th OP of the whole series (or the 6th for the second series) is part of Tartaros arc, and the J-Pop ballad of this duo do a good job of setting the scenarios for the fights to come, and making this feel like an anthem for the Guild itself. Plus, the OP animation for this opening is fantastic.
3. (Tied) “Yumeiro Graffiti” – Tackey & Tsubasa
“Ashita wo Narase” – Kavka Shishido
Yeah, I got two listed for the 3rd spot, because I couldn’t choose which one was better overall. The 19th OP and beginning song of the Tartaros arc has some energy to it and a fun, overall feel. Plus, how can I not include it with how confident Happy looks at the end of it? The Fairy Tail Zero OP is a good rock track, and I been enjoying the song to its fullest since I got done with it. The singer brings her all to it. It’s a good song to rock out to.
“Mysterious Magic” – Do As Infinity
The 17th OP that starts the filler arc is a short, energetic song that does a lot in the 2 1/2 minutes it takes up. Plus, the OP animation has Erza in a bikini. That’s a plus.
“MASAYUME CHASING” – BoA
The first OP of this series sounds like something you go into a club, be it Japan, America, wherever, and you would hear this song playing. And guess what? I would prefer this over most of the crap they play anyday. NA NA NA NA NA NA! HEY! HEY!
Now on the endings, and …. I actually didn’t have many endings that I liked. I guess I can put “Landscape” by SOLIDEMO and “Kimi to Kare to Boku to Kanojo to” by BREATHE as honorable mentions. But there’s only one that belongs as the best to me.
“FOREVER HERE” – Yoko Ishida
The 20th Ending of the show somehow pares well with “NEVER-END TALE” well for me, as its soft, melodic rhythm brings a certain calmness to everything as all the stuff goes down in the arc. I say it may be the best, if not 2nd-best, OP/ED paring of the series. Plus, the whole ending wallpaper to go with it is pretty killer.
The Problems With Fairy Tail 2014
I did this with my last Fairy Tail review, so why not bring it up again to close out this review. Like any long shonen, there are going to be faults throughout that make you question why this was included and what was the intended purpose. Fairy Tail is no exception, and is usually one of the top ones to get called out for it. One of the biggest ones I see is with something I like to call “Magical Friendship Bullshit Power-Ups.” Or as I have shorten it to, “MFBSPU.” What is this? It’s when the power of friendship comes in hand to give the good guys all the power out of nowhere to beat a villain. Now this is nothing new to the world of shonens, as basically every show uses this in some way. However, Fairy Tail is special because of the way they use this. Friendship and family is the core key to this show, and man does that power come kicking in full force. Be it Natsu’s last second victories, or Levy kissing Gajeel in poisonous water, Grey and his ice coming through, or anytime Erza is near death but kicks ass at that moment. Don’t even get me started on that Erza/Kyoka fight where she lost all her senses and still somehow won by unlocking an “Erza Sense” because “That’s the Great Erza, for ya!”
Mentioning that fight, the writing on here can be a big hassle as well. Grey had a lot of writing issues, as that fight with Rufus in the GMG was “MFBSPU” all over. His fight with his dad left me confused a lot as it kept flip-flopping everywhere. And even when he gets his new power to show off, the anime doesn’t show it much. Example: he was going to one-hit kill a demon like what happened in the manga. But Hiro decided to showcase Laxus in the anime instead, so we got about a 2-episode filler for him, instead of seeing Grey do his thing. And that’s not even the worst part of this writing on here. That Doranbolt reveal at the end of the Tartaros arc was as big an ass-pull I have ever seen. As was the dragons coming back, but them saying they were “Inside the Dragon Slayers bodies” the whole time. While also somehow being dead, too. And as mentioned before, Hisui was nothing more than another Sakura Haruno clone of uselessness that just gets screen time for no reason. There’s Jellal and the Oracion Seis, as they get written in for what looked like they were gonna join and fight along with Natsu and the others against the Tartaros demons, but nothing came to be. Another thing that did get to me too was some of the action. While there was a lot of it and I did praise this for it, some of it felt very stale. There was no motion to it. That’s a problem with the animation. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like this through the whole series. But when it did happen, you can easily tell right away how bad it was.
And yet, after all I said, I haven’t gotten to the biggest problem of Fairy Tail that is also its most telling feature: The fanservice.
Now, let me tell you. I actually like fanservice. I usually have no problems with it in anime, and Fairy Tail brings a lot of fanservice to the table and then some. However, that is also its problem. There’s so much fanservice here and it’s amazing that it can get away with it. Be it Lucy being stripped of her clothes in any way possible, the panty shots that appear, the general boob and ass shots all around. There’s a ton of spots that these appears in. And that’s the thing. They appear so often, it actually gets annoying. Hey, there’s a serious moment where someone is having a very emotional moment. Well here’s a big pair of boobs to ruin said emotional moment.
There were so many moments just like this that felt like it cheapened the whole mood of what was happening. Look, I’m all for more Mira booty shots in latex, but don’t do it when we all thought someone actually died or someone has an emotional breakdown. Plus, it doesn’t help that the youngest members also get the fanservice treatment. The “Treasure Hunt” episode of Fairy Tail Zero had too many uncomfortable crotch shots of 13-year old Mavis in a bikini. And not even Wendy is safe from this. Sure, it’s fine when she’s in her pajamas being cute.
But when it’s like this? Hey, why do I see police lights outside my house? Basically, there’s nothing wrong with a little fanservice. There’s just a limit to it, and the show passed it long ago.
To conclude my thoughts, Fairy Tail 2014 has some faults. It also has a bunch of highs. The arcs were mostly solid, the characters are still fun, and the action, while at times not the best, were still good overall. The emotional moments did have some impact, the comedy was still as good as ever. And yes, the fanservice was still ever-present. While the animation may not be to some people’s liking, I found it to be okay from the new studio. Fairy Tail may still have its naysayers out there, and they have every right to complain, but I still find this series to be one of the best shonen shows out there. I have it right next to One Piece, Hunter X Hunter and JoJo for one of my favorite shonen series. The 2nd series still kept up with that for my first time viewing it. This whole #YearOfFairyTail group watch may have had its ups and (very, locked-up) downs for me, but I’m glad I did it. I’m glad I got to experience Natsu and friends for another series. And I’m glad the Guild is coming back in 2018 for one last animated go, as the manga has now concluded. Until we meet again, Fairy Tail Wizards. Until we meet again.