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Fairy Tail: Final Season
Episode 280

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 280 of
Fairy Tail (TV 3/2018) ?

Despite the fact that we're moving through the source material at a decent clip, Fairy Tail is still managing to cover all the important bits while maintaining its sense of the characters and lighter moments. That's mostly because the adaptation is good at picking out which pieces of the original manga are the most important to the central storyline, as well as the arc (Avatar) we're on now. Do we need to linger on Juvia's depression or her life with Gray? Not really; we just need to know that it happened. Right now it's more important to devote episode time to a flashback of Future Rogue telling Natsu about Frosch, because that piece of the past directly informs what's going on in the present moment.

And what is going on is that Gray appears to have been taken over by his dark side and joined a Zeref-worshipping cult. That's a major blow for Natsu, Lucy, Wendy, and the cats, because he was one of their closest friends when the guild was still operational. Natsu theorizes that Gray learned Demon Slayer Magic too quickly and wasn't able to properly acclimate to it, but what's more important is that a piece of him has been expecting this moment to come. A year ago, Future Rogue told him that Gray would kill Frosch in, well, a year, and when Natsu hears that Gray has vanished, he immediately thinks that the future might not be as changed as he'd hoped.

More importantly, this episode reminds Natsu that he really did do a pretty awful thing to Lucy, marking one of the few times he's really had to consider his actions and their impact on people rather than buildings he's destroyed. When the gang finds Juvia living alone in a rainy village and she tells them that Gray just up and left without a word, Natsu gets angry at his former friend for doing something so awful to Juvia. Lucy quickly points out that he did the exact same thing to her, and we get a few moments of Natsu just staring at Lucy with a conflicted look on his face. It's as if it's finally hitting him what effect his actions had on her, and it isn't a comfortable moment for him. Perhaps that's in part why he grabs Lucy's hand as he charges off after Gray to stop him from killing Frosch rather than just charging off himself.

None of this is to imply an advancing romantic subplot, although on the whole I'd call Lucy and Natsu's relationship healthier than whatever Juvia and Gray have. It's more a statement on Natsu doing a little thinking and maturing, as well as his devotion to making sure Fairy Tail is more than just the group assembled thus far—and I think that regardless of anything Gray might do to Frosch, Natsu's probably looking forward to having an excuse to beat the crap out of him.

How easy that will be remains to be seen, because Gray looks well and truly evil now, a clear sign of which is his slicked back hair. (I mean, the black marks covering his body. I'm sure the hair is just evil's devotion to style.) The Avatar group he's now a part of is basically a cult rather than a guild, made up of people who worship Zeref as a god. (How you feel about that is likely tied to your thoughts on Fairy Tail Zero.) They look like the series' usual rogues gallery, but I'm going to go on record here as saying that if you ever meet someone who says “smile” without smiling, you probably should run the other way. Fortunately for Natsu and Lucy, there is help en route in the form of Gajeel and Lily, who are now basically enforcers for the new Council – although Gajeel isn't likely to show Gray any kind of mercy.

Rating: B

Fairy Tail: Final Season is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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