Fairy Tail: Final Season
Episode 296

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 296 of
Fairy Tail (TV 3/2018) ?

Fairy Tail typically excels at mixing action with exposition, but this week doesn't quite live up to its standard. That's probably because it tries to do a little too much in order to move the story ahead in terms of the battle against Zeref and his minions; the problem is that in doing so it short-changes Lucy and the guilds that aren't Fairy Tail.

The former feels like the bigger issue at the moment. After all of the time devoted to Natsu, Zeref, and Mavis and how their pasts shaped the present, we know that Lucy's ancestor Anna was involved from, if not the strictest beginning, then at least close to it. Anna's help with Natsu and the other dragon slayer kids at least partly is responsible for Zeref's descent into madness (although no one anticipated that result, least of all Anna and Zeref), and the women of the Heartfilia line have been involved from that point on. That makes Lucy's relationship with Natsu not just the result of centuries, but possibly throws a little bit of destiny in there as well – as her ancestor helped his brother, now Lucy can fight with Natsu as the culmination of everything. Add to this the fact that Lucy's the main female character of the series – and the point-of-view character for much of it – and glossing over her family history and her mother's role in things getting to this point feels unfair. When we add in that Brandish has been operating under the misconception that Layla killed her own mother, who used to work for Layla, and that this has in large part lead to her siding with Zeref and half an episode devoted to their storyline hardly seems like enough.

Not that the episode doesn't manage to say everything that needs to be said. Aquarius' return to clear things up is welcome in more than just her filling in the blanks – she's the one person who could possibly reassure Lucy at this point because of her close ties to Layla. (That she's also the only one who can get through to Brandish is an added bonus.) Lucy needs that reassurance right now, because not only has she just learned that her mother basically sacrificed herself for Natsu (and Gajeel, Wendy, Rogue, and Sting), but no sooner does she learn that than Happy bursts in with a mostly dead Natsu. While this does mean that he's still slightly alive, Porlyusca's diagnosis of what's basically terminal cancer with an overwrought magic terminology makes it seem like “all dead” isn't too far off. Fresh off of memories of her dead mother, this is not what Lucy needs or can cope with right now.

That Brandish is there and can use her oh-so-convenient magic to shrink the tumor into nothingness is great, but the whole thing happens so fast that we barely get time to process it. It also deprives Brandish of her moment of redemption in that she no sooner says “I can fix this” than we see it fixed – we don't get to see her fixing the problem. Sure, it might not have been exciting, but if Brandish is being recast as less “evil” and more “seriously confused and made bad choices” then we really do need to see that transition rather than just being told it happened. Similarly we more see the aftermath of the fights raging in Hargeon instead of the fights themselves. Again, if God Serena is going to take down all the rest of the old guard, we ought to see it happen, because that's some serious firepower. It's less of an issue with Dimaria's fight against Kagura because she resorts to humiliating Kagura, but it still feels rushed.

Now that the pesky plot stuff about people who aren't Mavis, Natsu, or Zeref is out of the way, however, things look to be moving firmly back into the present next week. Maybe the Levy/Gajeel scenes the preview promises will take the sour taste of rushing out of my mouth.

Rating: C+

Fairy Tail: Final Season is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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