Fairy Tail: Final Season
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 295 of
Fairy Tail (TV 3/2018) ?
We've probably all got some family history we're not especially proud of, but hopefully none of us are in line for the kind of shock Natsu gets this week: not only is he Zeref's (dead) little brother, but he's also from 400 years in the past and a demon of the Book of Zeref – the notorious E.N.D. Even for a more intellectual character, that'd be a lot to handle, and it's still definitely a blow for Natsu. Despite that, his anger at Zeref and determination to take him out means that even if he'll die as well, he's still going to make sure that Zeref is no longer a threat.
It's at this point that Fairy Tail turns somewhat philosophical, albeit in an understated (for it) way. Natsu's perfectly okay with being the one who dies to save the thousands, but Happy is not. Just when Natsu's about to land the final blow on a quietly crying Zeref, Happy pulls him away, unable to stomach the idea of Natsu's death. Can we read this as selfish? Yes, fairly easily. If Natsu had killed Zeref, the assumption is that the killing would stop, effectively saving the world. But what guarantee do we have of that? The Twelve are apparently very devoted to their emperor, so just taking Zeref out of the picture is no assurance that they'd just stop their forward movement. Who's to say that his death wouldn't motivate them even further, now adding revenge for their fallen leader to the mix? They're all pretty ambitious themselves, so assuming that everything would just stop with Zeref's death feels kind of naïve.
Thematically it doesn't quite work with the series, either. Looking back, Mavis basically attempted the same thing a few times, and look where that got her. Famous Last Stands sound better than they ever turn out, and Happy's refusal to let Natsu make one not only saves Natsu's life (and his friends emotional pain) but also reminds us that Fairy Tail is strong because they're together. Even Zeref reflects that he had a lot of help along the way, and if we read between the lines, it was only after Anna and Igneel took Natsu to the future that things went sideways for him – in other words, when he was alone. It was his aloneness that turned him into the person he's become in the first place as well, and the message is that being alone, fighting alone, is much, much harder than when you have someone to help you. That's part of Zeref (and Mavis') tragedy, and Happy's not going to follow their path.
It's an important move in terms of not repeating the past, as well. We know that Lucy's (matrilineal) family has been involved in this since the beginning, helping without managing to do quite enough for Zeref to prevent the current situation. Since Happy saved Natsu from his ties to his brother, at least to a certain extent, that opens the door for Lucy to truly fulfill her ancestress' wish to help. Lucy and Natsu are, in effect, the inheritors of a shared history, and rather than either of them making a Famous Last Stand, by working together as the friends and guild family that they are, they may be able to finally get things right. Since neither of them is laboring under the same curse that Zeref has been, that means that their affection is their strength where it had to be Zeref's weakness. That plus their combined heritages gives them more than a fighting chance to pull through and save everybody – including themselves. But that's only possible because of what Happy did.
We'll doubtless know more next week, when Brandish finally tells Lucy about her relationship with Layla, Lucy's mother. It's an important piece of the puzzle that we've been missing, and it will be interesting to see how it affects both Lucy and the story's endgame. Likely we'll also get more of the balance of battle scenes and plot points that the show's been working with these past few weeks. It's a tactic that's working well, making sure that things stay exciting while also giving us much-needed information, ensuring that the wait feels longer for each episode every week.
Fairy Tail: Final Season is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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