Fairy gone
Episode 3

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 3 of
Fairy gone ?

Before we get to the mission of the week, Fairy gone's narrator takes some time to catch us up to speed on details the audience should have already been able to figure out. The War of Unification lasted about 14 years, and Fairy Soldiers were the elite magical forces that drove the conflict. Wolfram Row was one of those soldiers, and while he was off fighting for his country, his family paid the price, so now he's a traitor who sows chaos by selling mechanized fairies to the rebel forces. The only new bits of jargon we get, like how “Fairy imaginals” are the creatures that were turned into the soldiers' weapons, are explained later in dialogue anyway. We also meet a mercenary leader named Beevee Liscar, whose silly name makes him sound much more interesting than he is – as far as I can tell, the only reason Beevee gets introduced now is because he shows up for a few seconds in the post-credits scene. This kind of tell-don't-show storytelling isn't just boring; in Fairy gone's case, it's often a waste of time.

The next chunk of the episode has Marlya and Free visiting the Vice-Minister of Fairies, Marco Bellwood, and instead of providing interesting character dynamics or plot developments, this scene mostly spends its time explaining the MacGuffin of the episode: The Black Fairy Tome. There's much talk about the various Fairy Tomes that are all confusingly lumped into a single text also known as the Fairy Tome, and the show even stops to name-check every tome's author, but I'll only bother with those if they ever become relevant. All we need to know is that there's the Original tome (which Marco's ancestor Hel), the Red one, the Blue, the White, and the Black. The Black Fairy Tome has been unaccounted for since the others all got collected, but Marco thinks he's found a copy, which is what Marlya and Free are sent to retrieve. A page from this tome is what Veronica was seeking back in episode one, so that vague connection to Marlya is the closest this episode comes to explicitly addressing Fairy gone's larger story.

When the two get to Ishtarot to find Cain Distarol, the man who has the Black Fairy Tome page, they also run into Bitter ‘Sweetie’ Sweet, an absurdly-named femme fatale who apparently has a history with Free. Bitter is an entrepreneur with ties to the Mafia, so it doesn't take a genius to figure out she's also after the page. Ridiculous name aside, Bitter is a perfectly fine character, the kind of cliché that can be fun when executed correctly. Unfortunately, most of the middle act of this episode is decidedly lacking in fun – it's just more bland dialogue and exposition. There's little opportunity for any meaningful character interactions, and there's no reason Fairy gone couldn't make more of an attempt to round out its narrative hooks while checking plot points off a dry list.

The one area where this week improves on the show is in its action. The stakes are actually much lower than before – a Mafia goon steals the Black Tome page, so Free, Marlya, and Bitter all give chase – but there's much more style to the execution. The direction is fairly snappy, and Know-Name's score goes full-on jazz, which fits the style and tone of Fairy gone so much better than the mid-2000s butt rock throwbacks that kept popping up. This is also where Bitter gets to show off her fun moves, even if they're somewhat predictable for my tastes. Even Garo: Vanishing Line, which was literally Butt Rock: The Anime, had the good sense to introduce its sexy leading lady with a little more creativity than Bitter, who just comes across as Diet Fujiko Mine.

The art is also maddeningly inconsistent during the chase scene and beyond. The model work is especially sloppy; there will be scenes where two shots of the same character make them seem like entirely different people. I'm usually just nit-picky about characters being off-model in more spectacle-driven shows, and only when it becomes distracting or downright ugly to look at. But the artistic problems were just so pervasive in Fairy gone this week that I couldn't help but notice them. It made the handful of decently framed and animated cuts stand out that much more for all the wrong reasons.

If you're feeling a bit of deja-vu after last week, then you're not alone. The subject matter might be entirely different, but Fairy gone is still two for two on delivering completely middle-of-the-road table-setting episodes that don't do much beyond dish out new plot beats. It's too early to tell if this will be better or worse in the long run, but I sure hope not every episode feels this boring going forward. This is a show about people with Magic Fairy Ghost Powers doing battle! We ought to get the needle moving on the Fun-O-Meter just a little bit more.

Rating:

Fairy gone is currently streaming on Funimation and Hulu.

James is an English teacher who has loved anime his entire life, and he spends way too much time on Twitter and his blog.


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