by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 1 of
Fairy gone ?
How would you rate episode 2 of
Fairy gone ?
Fairy Gone's premiere was a moderately entertaining slice of cheesy fantasy-action. The world-building was shaky and overstuffed, as is often the case for series like this, but I liked Marlya enough as a protagonist, and the concept of an agency that hunts down rogue magical elements is always a solid premise to fall back on. The series recently got listed to run for a full twenty-four episodes, which will either be a blessing or a curse, depending on how Fairy Gone handles the freedom of its two-cour structure. Ideally, Marlya's quest to save the soul of her friend Veronica will become more developed and engaging over time, but I could just as easily see the story succumbing to the weight of its own narrative ambitions.
As far as second chapters go, “Wolf Collar and Swan Feathers” doesn't do much to indicate which way the story's pendulum is going to swing in terms of quality. It's primarily a table-setting episode, meant to introduce us to the rest of the show's core cast while tossing in some action to keep things entertaining, and in that regard it mostly succeeds. It's lacking a certain something though, a particular flavor or spark that would help viewers get invested in such otherwise by-the-numbers proceedings. The opening flashback checks all the boxes that it should on paper, but the execution is muddled. Marlya is the one narrating, offering tidbits about her lonely life and the family she lost in the years leading up to her joining Dorothea, but these vague snapshots are also intercut with some of Free's backstory. He was a Fairy Soldier in the war, and one of his comrades, Jet, sacrificed himself to keep Free from dying on the battlefield. It's nice that we're privy to this information early on, but Fairy Gone could have been much more graceful in the delivery.
The present-day story is the typical dose of episodic military espionage you'd expect for this stage of the plot. Marlya and Free are tasked to travel to the Dupre Ruins in the former province of Timoon, where the Arcame Mafia is suspected of illegally trading in Artificial Fairies. The soldiers not capable of using real Fairies fought in these mech-suits, and if any provinces get the idea to stockpile them in case another conflict breaks out, it's bad news for everybody. This first act of the episode is primarily about reintroducing Free and Marlya, getting everyone up to speed on how our heroine came to wield her Fairy Power, introducing us to characters like the commander of Dorothea, Nein Auraa, and so on. We get some dialogue between Free and Marlya that reminds us that the search for Veronica is still ongoing, and it's generally fine genre stuff, albeit not exactly riveting. I'm not entertained when an anime's script seemingly focuses on filling out its Wiki entries in real time, which is the vibe that “Wolf Collar and Swan Feathers” evokes too often for my tastes.
Things become more compelling once the duo makes it to the rendezvous, where we're introduced to even more primary cast members: Clara and Serge. The former is a serious-faced young woman who seems like a capable Dorothea agent, while Serge is the jokester who keeps the mood light while he's picking off bad guys with his rifle. They're a fun pair, and I can see them adding some much-needed diversity to the cast dynamics, since Marlya and Free are not yet developed enough to carry the story on their own. The second act also gives us our first antagonist outside of Veronica, a former brother-in-arms of Free's named Wolfran Row, who's gone rogue for vaguely tragic reasons. Free taunts Wolfran about the wife and child he “used” to have, and the post-credits tag sees Wolfran visiting some anonymous graves that presumably belong to his deceased family.
Wolfran is a Fairy Soldier, and he also happens to be the one spearheading the sale of the Artificial Fairies, so the extended fight scene involves him and a squad of mechs squaring off against Free, Marlya, Clara, and Serge. It's an alright action scene, but it never rises above being purely functional. The camerawork is dependable but not very dynamic, as the cinematography cycles through close, medium, and wide shots in a predictable rhythm. I continue to enjoy the designs of the Fairies, and the blend of their CG models into the 2D environments is hardly the worst example I've seen of the technique in anime. Outside of the modeling and animation inconsistencies that can probably be expected to continue going forward, there's nothing here to get truly miffed about, but nothing that inspires awe or excitement either.
That lack of inspiration was my main takeaway from this second episode, and I hope it's just a case of Fairy Gone warming up the engines before it hits the gas pedal. It's too early in the show's run to say whether or not the story is working, and I will admit that there's still a lot of promise in the plot and characterization we've gotten so far. In order to realize its potential fully, Fairy Gone will need to dial back on its exposition and perfunctory plotting, and instead take the necessary time to ensure that its world and characters have emotional stakes worth getting invested in.
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