The Fall 2019 Anime Preview Guide
Fairy Gone Season 2
How would you rate episode 13 of
Fairy gone (TV 2) ?
What is this?
After surviving the massacre of Suna village and spending years hunting down her missing best friend, Veronica, Maryla Noel eventually found herself working for Dorothea, a government agency that works for the Unified Empire of Zesskia in hunting down rogue Fairy Soldiers. These individuals have bonded with the magical beings known as Faeries in order to obtain superhuman abilities, but they have been outlawed since the Unification War. In her time with Dorothea, Maryla has managed to reunite with Veronica, uncover conspiratorial plots against the government, and even survive all out war against powerful Fairly Soldier foes. However, Veronica still has her vengeful hatred of Ray Dawn, the Duke who ordered the massacre at Suna, and Ray's own mysterious schemes will have Dorothea on the front lines again, sooner or later. Maryla will have to fight to save not just her friend, but the whole of the Empire. Fairy gone is an original anime production, and streams on Funimation on Sundays at 12:00 PM EDT.
How was the first episode?
Saying that Fairy gone's first new episode since June is it's best in a long while is to damn it with faint praise, because the gap that divides its best and worst episodes is a thin one, indeed. The first half of Fairy gone's two-cour run was plagued with a pervasive thread of dull ineffectuality, the sense that, no matter how many dimly-lit and blandly colored action scenes the show tossed out in between its many hours of plodding exposition, the story would not end up amounting to all that much. Fairy gone's reentry into the fall season avoids some of those problems by spending 95% of its runtime on flashbacks, detailing the destruction of Suna village and the ruination of the lives of Ray Dawn, Maryla Noele, and Veronica Thorn. This is the cataclysm that was supposed to form the emotional heart of the whole series, and while Fairy gone has alluded to it over and over again, this is the first time we've seen the events unfold more-or-less linearly.
So, instead of wasting time on which politician is plotting what uprising with whatever the latest anonymously villain is, Fairy gone is finally spending some time trying to get us to care about the supposed main protagonists and antagonists of its story. Unfortunately, Fairy gone seems to still be operating under the disastrous misconception that oodles of goofy character names and dryly narrated exposition are what make for a good story, instead of interesting characters or a plot that people can be bothered to remember. Fairy gone spends this whole half hour either repeating information we already know, or delivering backstory that is not immediately relevant and could have been summed up in a couple of scenes. Since the action is as muddy as ever, and the animation continues to be the very definition of “shockingly average”, the only thing to possibly grab on to with Fairy gone is its plot, which is lacking to say the least.
Have you ever had a friend that is really into writing fantasy or D&D campaigns, and they'll spend hours trying to tell you every minute detail of an original setting they've been cooking up in their head, without any regard for story structure, or character development, or any of the other trappings that make worldbuilding any fun to begin with? Now, imagine that friend is telling you all of this at three in the morning, after a long day of work, and it is taking a Herculean effort simply to stay conscious, much less engaged. That's what watching Fairy gone is like. There's still plenty of potential to be found in its magic vs. technology conflict, and I'd still love to see Maryla and Veronica be anti-authoritarian girlfriends who burn down the Empire with their cool fairy powers. If Fairy gone never figures out how to make its world and story just a little more interesting, though, it will all be for naught, and I couldn't recommend the show in its current form to anyone except for the most die-hard of fantasy anime fans, or those who haven't slept in too long and need a quick way to knock themselves out for the night.
Fairy gone is a series that I rather badly want to like, as I think it has some of the year's best visuals, Marlya is one of my favorite characters of the year, and the world-building is quite rich and intricate. The main flaw with the first season was the reverse than what normally happens: it got so wrapped up in its world-building and its tone-setting that director Kenichi Suzuki and series writer Ao Jūmonji neglected to assemble a compelling storyline or even any real degree of enthusiasm. Jūmonji has made the slower and more methodical story approach work before – he is the creator of Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions, after all – but that previous success involved a story told on a much smaller and more personal scale. He didn't sufficiently adjust the storytelling approach for the much grander stage here, and that cost the first season dearly.
It's still too early to tell whether or not that will continue to be a problem this season. While continuing to clean up the mess from the attack from last season's climax, the episode spends the bulk of its time on a series of flashbacks to more fully flesh out the backstory involving the “fairy village” of Suna. Some of this is ground the series has tread before, but this time it goes into much more exacting detail about how Marlya ended up being called a “cursed child” and provides a vague implication that Veronica's life also might have been spared by the self-sacrifice of Suna's Guardians (as she would have been a prime candidate for sacrifice as a “blessed child”). It also better fleshes out Ray Dawn's reasoning for why he destroyed Suna: he believed that making Fairy Soldiers gave humans dangerous levels of power, so he sought to cut off the ability to create more by removing those most sensitive to bonding with fairies. And if that meant he had to commit evil to stop even greater evil, so be it. That implies that he's not actually on a power trip but is instead winding a torturous path towards eliminating fairies from combat.
As interesting as that logical progression is, the episode still ultimately suffers from being a bit too repetitious and methodical. The technical merits are still there, but the series badly needs an injection of stimulant to get something going here. Otherwise this could be the first drop of the season for me from among the shows I intend to follow.
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