Fairy Tail: Final Season
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 306 of
Fairy Tail (TV 3/2018) ?
It's always a kick in the teeth when you get something you've wished for and it turns out to be nothing like you were expecting. When Juvia first hoped she'd be bound to Gray a couple hundred episodes ago (give or take a few), she presumably meant “bonds of love” rather than “bound by a magical ice chain by an evil wizard so that we try to kill each other.” Sadly that's where she is now – attached to Gray by Invel's magic in a variation of the spell he cast on Mavis. Invel's plan is two-fold: he'll get rid of a couple of annoying Fairy Tail members and he'll turn Gray's heart over to the darkness just waiting to take over, therefore recruiting him for Team Zeref at the same time. As evil plans go, it's pretty well thought out; even if Gray doesn't fully reciprocate Juvia's feelings, he certainly cares about her as a friend and guildmate, so killing her with his own icy hands would more than send him into a state of shock. As always, however, the bad guy is reckoning without the powerful Forces of Love, which look ready to turn his plan upside down – the minute Juvia realized what was going on, she began formulating a self-sacrificing way to put a stop to his designs.
That'll all play out next week, and in order to make the timing work, the rest of this episode is fairly lackluster. It's still better than if it had been a full recap episode, which felt like a definite risk. In part that's because so much has happened since the start of the season that we really need to remember going forward that it would have made sense from a storytelling perspective (the show can't afford to assume that all viewers are also manga readers or will own the volumes to look back on). But the other piece of why this could easily have been a recap episode is that the quality has been nosediving in terms of visuals, so taking an extra week, while not good by any stretch of the imagination, might have been necessary. Luckily for us that didn't happen, but this week's episode still looks less than great (especially any scene involving crowds) while also devoting a bit longer than usual to a recap of what's happened so far in the space where we'd usually just get a brief “last time on Fairy Tail.” As far as compromises go, this is an acceptable one, but only just.
Largely that's because only the Gray/Invel fight gets any real attention. Apart from the recap segment, the episode just sort of glosses over what else is going on, with far too much time spent on Romeo standing stock-still when he realizes that battle is a much bigger deal than he assumed and Gildarts getting pretty much nothing when it comes to battle sequences. That's a major waste of his reveal and once again makes him feel strictly like a plot device; the only truly good thing that came out of his scenes was Cana's strangled screech of irritation, which is impressively expressive. Yes, it does allow us to once again see how insanely powerful Gildarts is as he blows a path to the guildhall wide open, but it's almost a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment. That's not how you do a major battle by a powerful wizard, at least not if you want to maintain the tension that's been building.
The only other truly important scene we got this week was back in the guildhall where Irene is trying to pull Fairy Heart out of Mavis. While it is nice to know that Zeref still has enough humanity to not want to see Mavis in pain, what's more worth paying attention to is Neinheart telling Irene that he's found Erza. He's visibly shocked at Irene's statement to just kill her, which, along with a few other hints we've had in earlier episodes, may be giving you an idea of what's going on with that plotline. Answers, however, will have to wait – first we need to see how things turn out when Juvia launches her plan to spoil Boy Elsa's ploy to make Gray kill her and go over to the dark side.
Fairy Tail: Final Season is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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