by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Fairy gone ?
There's a certain type of writing trap that I've seen many fantasy/science-fiction stories fall into, which I've come to think of as “checklist writing”. You get the impression that these kinds of shows were planned out as literal checklists of stuff that the creators felt were important to the story's world – lore details, snappy names, and elaborate political relationships between various locations on the map. Everything else that usually forms the backbone of a narrative, such as conflict, character development, themes, tone, and even the plot itself, exist as selective delivery devices for all of this content. There's some joy to be had in reveling in the minutiae of an original world you've created, but it's all too easy to lose the forest for the trees, as Fairy Gone has thoroughly proven by this seventh episode.
As has been the case for almost every prior episode, “Stubborn Blacksmith and Biased Rabbit” is the epitome of checklist writing. It makes me think about scripters and storyboarders being hooked up to some kind of Ludovico device so they can memorize pages and pages worth of names and places alongside a timeline of plot points, all of which ultimately got translated to the screen with as little creativity as possible. The plot of this episode is a direct continuation of the hunt for the Black Fairy Tome pages and the investigation into the sabotaged Artificial Fairies that got started last week: There's another Artificial Fairy malfunction, Nein has to go to a meeting with some higher-ups to discuss it, the rest of the gang interviewing people about who could've done it, and so on and so forth until someone points out the obvious: whoever is messing with the robots probably comes from inside the government itself. Meanwhile, Free spots Wolfran out on the streets and begins to suspect that the Arcame mafia are planning some nasty shenanigans for the approaching anniversary of the Unification War's end. Then Bitter Sweet shows up, invites Marlya and Klara to a meeting with Gilbert Warlock, who has come to possess the Tome. The two agents are unsurprisingly betrayed. Roll credits.
To be frank, you could literally just pull all of my criticisms from last week's review and copy-paste them onto this one. The animation is dull, the characters have nothing to do but spout exposition, and the story up to this point has been little more than a dull recitation of MacGuffins we've been given no reason to give a damn about. Even worse, this week doesn't even have the pretense of focusing on an underdeveloped character to defend itself. Klara's involvement in episode 6 was underwhelming, but it at least gave that chapter some kind of identity. This time, every agent of Dorothea falls victim to the checklist plague, as they dutifully show up on screen for a few seconds at a time to move the plot along by mercilessly slow degrees.
On Wikipedia, there are summaries for each episode of the show that average about ten sentences in length. The difference between taking a half hour to watch “Stubborn Blacksmith and Biased Rabbit” and simply reading its paragraph-long summary is almost nonexistent. There are no visual flourishes, subtle character beats, or moments of spectacle to be found in the experience, nothing to take advantage of the innumerable possibilities afforded by the medium of animation. Even the music has become a dry repeating loop of the same handful of tracks, so much so that I can't help but laugh when the telltale piano bop shows up before the end credits, as if that one musical cue alone can trick the audience into thinking something interesting has just happened.
Going back over my notes, the only thing I wrote down that wasn't just a log of names and titles that popped up on screen was “Serge looks distractingly like Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Recreation”. It was the sole moment of emotion that this episode provided. Last week, I remarked that Fairy Gone was liable to put me to sleep if it didn't pick up the pace, and sure enough, this episode had me truly struggling to keep my eyes open for most of its runtime. It made twenty-three minutes feel like an eternity. If things don't improve, I'll need to pack some energy drinks for these reviews, lest I get knocked out completely every time.
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