Fairy Tail: Final Season
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 307 of
Fairy Tail (TV 3/2018) ?
I feel like this episode didn't quite know where to focus, resulting in a story that had the potential to be very moving and tense just sort of existing instead. The problem is multi-fold, with the first and most significant issue being that Juvia and Gray's self-sacrifice isn't given enough time. We knew what Juvia was planning as of last week, and seeing it be carried out – that is, seeing her kill herself rather than have to kill Gray – should have been an incredibly sad moment, as it was with Gajeel and Levy attempting something similar several weeks back. This should then have been compounded by realizing that Gray had the same idea and that they were basically committing shinju, a “romantic” ideal dating back to at least the 18th century of two people who are in love committing double suicide. Whether or not you believe that Gray is in love with Juvia isn't important; in Juvia's mind, this should have been seen as the ultimate expression of his love, and that she could then whip out her special water-blood-transfusion spell to save him would be hers, either speaking to the fact that she understands that his love for her isn't precisely the same as hers for him or that she can't bear to think of him not being alive. Instead the moment was largely undersold, with the episode opting instead for what felt like endless minutes of flashback of Juvia's Greatest Hits. While the idea was presumably to make us sad that we wouldn't get to see such scenes any more, the time would have been better used on tearful farewells and final goodbyes, which would have had the added bonus of not feeling kind of clip-showy. Well intentioned, perhaps, but not well enacted.
It's also almost immediately invalidated by the fact that before the episode ends, we find out that Wendy and Carla happened along at just the right moment to save Juvia's life. While it certainly is another good argument for Wendy's usefulness and power, it takes the wind right out of the episode's sails by not prolonging our sadness. While I'm not a huge fan of sadness, it is an important tool of the storytelling craft, and in this case, having us wallow in it for at least a little bit longer would have made this particular plot more powerful. It also doesn't give me much hope that the revelation Invel tells Gray about who E.N.D. really is will be handled much better. Arguably that's an even bigger shock to Gray than Juvia's presumed death, because he's known Natsu for much longer and, despite appearances, they're a lot closer than he and Juvia. There may be some distraction when the whole “Lady Erza” thing is explained, but I do want to see Gray grapple with this news for longer than he mourned Juvia this week, and possibly look less like a bootleg Dragonball figure while he does so.
The stronger part of the episode is when Natsu and Lucy are confronting Brandish. As you may recall, she carried them off the battlefield last week, and this time she reveals that that was in order to save them from her fellow Twelve. Brandish can't turn her back on her loyalties to Alvarez, but neither can she in good conscience kill Lucy and Natsu. Her solution, therefore, is to take them out of the fight and then return to it, assuaging both of her conflicting loyalties. While this is not something DiMaria appreciates, Brandish doesn't realize that Lucy and Natsu aren't going to be thrilled with it, either. Like many people outside the guild, she doesn't quite understand what it is that makes them so powerful. It's more than just the skills of their wizards, it's also their familial bonds and friendships, but also, as Natsu says, it's the fact that they never stop walking forward, even when that means wading through metaphorical floods or fires. Lucy doesn't want to fight Brandish, but she will if it means saving her friends. It's what truly sets them apart from Zeref's wizards – they know that true strength comes from them working together, and no one is going to stop them from doing that, even if it means having to do a few things that they don't want to.
How that philosophy applies to Gray and Natsu now that Gray knows about E.N.D. is something we'll have to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.
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