Fairy Tail: Final Season
Episode 291

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 291 of
Fairy Tail (TV 3/2018) ?

You never do get much calm before the storm in Fairy Tail, and that generally works in the series' favor, making sure that there's not too much downtime in a fast-paced story. Also, Zeref is growing impatient, as we've seen in previous episodes. Now that he thinks he might be finally approaching his goal, he's in no mood to wait around: attacking now is much more his priority. It's hard to blame him for that, which is what makes him such an interesting villain – the story's gone out of its way this season to explain how much hurt and sorrow he's carrying around and how that has warped a good person into the monster he's become. There's a sadness in knowing that underneath it all he isn't horrible, that he wasn't born evil – life and his own mistakes have made him that way.

Not that that detracts from the immediate disaster Fairy Tail is facing. Mavis' calculations and Warren's radar system are both foiled by the Empire's decision to attack from the sky as well as lacking a true understanding of just how powerful the Twelve really are. Not only to they surprise everyone by arriving earlier than anticipated (such bad guests!), but somehow Brandish even manages to slip into Lucy's bathtub while Ajeel is on the sky ships. The latter Mavis at least had some idea of (although she sadly forgot that whole “dragon wizards get sea/air/carsick” thing); the former no one saw coming. That's left Lucy on her own against one of the Twelve, which sounds even more dangerous than Erza taking on Ajeel herself.

On the other hand, Lucy does have a good knowledge of narrative convention, and that may save her skin here. Apart from the fact that she stopped Natsu from raising his death flag earlier in the episode, she's one of the few guild members who knows the value of talking things out and negotiating. Since Brandish immediately tells Lucy that she's somehow caught her attention, that means that Lucy may be able to, if not reason with her, at least delay her by using her smarts rather than her magic. In a battle of the latter, Lucy'd be in trouble because Brandish is ludicrously strong; in a fight with the former, she stands more than a fair chance.

That's the kind of strategy that Fairy Tail is going to need, and fortunately they do seem to be thinking along those lines. The fact that Mavis has used the code name “Osprey” for Bisca's role in things is another indication of that – ospreys, or fish hawks, are small raptors who are not known for giving up. I've watched them take on bald eagles, my pet rabbit was almost snatched by one when I was little while we were all in the yard, and you never walk within 100 feet of their nests, especially when they have chicks. They are tenacious little suckers, and that's what Fairy Tail is going to have to be in this fight. Luckily for them, they're clearly going to get some help from other guilds; the fact that they already have the Jupiter canon is one indication, but the new opening theme also does a good job of depicting the all-out chaotic battles that are coming. While I'm not loving the song, the visuals are a good preview, and Wendy fans should keep a close eye on her blink-and-you'll-miss-it scene of total awesomeness in the middle. It's short, but terrific.

On a totally different note, character relationships are also on display this week, including one I wasn't sure the anime would keep. That would be the indication that Gajeel and Levy are in bed together; in the manga, it was two panels separated by others but which were clearly halves of the same image. Here it's that they're under the same blanket, albeit shown in two separate images. It's racier than Fairy Tail is generally comfortable getting (at least in a serious sense), which makes it interesting in and of itself. Meanwhile Gray promises Juvia that he'll give her an answer to her feelings after the battle, which I'm more mixed on. I've never liked them as a couple because Juvia's feelings for Gray have become her character and I never got the impression that she even liked herself. That's uncomfortable and unhealthy, and while they are more canon than not, it definitely dimmed my enjoyment of the episode a little.

Fortunately, things are moving in a direction that's going to focus more on Fairy Tail trying to beat Zeref's forces than dealing with romance. The ending theme's use of clock imagery suggests that time is of the essence. Let's see if our heroes can make their time count.

Rating: B+

Fairy Tail: Final Season is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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