Fairy Tail: Final Season
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 319 of
Fairy Tail (TV 3/2018) ?
Something I appreciate about Fairy Tail is its willingness to be sad. It doesn't always stick its landing, but that it makes the effort to let us see even the most villainous bad guy as a person with their own hurts and issues is commendable – and despite my often-voiced preference for happy stories, I also like that there aren't always happy endings here. That's certainly the case with August, who may be the most tragic character in this arc, or at least a top contender for that not-at-all-coveted title. He and Larcade seem at first to be in basically the same situation, with Zeref rejecting them as their father (although in Zeref's defense, he doesn't know that August is his son, biological or otherwise), but August has lived with that hurt for over a century, making it the kind of pain that's always there and never fully goes away. He's also assumed that his mother, Mavis, has been dead all this time, thus depriving him of his second parent, so Zeref was his only hope for any sort of parental love. Larcade at least seems to have been treated somewhat like a son, which is of course why his betrayal and death sting so much (and Kensho Ono does a great job with his anguished scream of “Dad!”), so maybe he actually had it worse. But somewhere inside August's all-powerful adult body, that little kid is still waiting for his father to know him and his mother to find him. That's what makes him try to figure out the love between a parent and child, why Cana and Gildarts are so hard for him to deal with, and, ultimately, what saves everyone – because when he sees that Mavis is alive in the world, it suddenly becomes something worth saving.
That comes, of course, at the cost of his own life, and the chance to tell Mavis that she had a son. But maybe that was a kindness to her – if she'd known, it might have distracted her from the fight at hand, but more importantly, it probably would have broken her heart.
It's a striking difference between Acnologia gleefully stomping on his mother's corpse or Erza's indifference to the same woman. It does, however, show the central theme of the series, which is that friends are the family you choose. August in the end chose not to have that family, while Erza has, for completely different reasons, rejected her relationship with the woman who bore her. Neither she nor Acnologia say anything about their familial connection (tenuous as it may be), which is interesting in itself because Natsu or Lucy would have heard Acnologia call Irene his mother and immediately used that connection with Erza to try and stop the fight, no matter how unlikely such a ploy was to work. Erza and Wendy, however, keep quiet, recognizing, perhaps, that some evils are unlikely to be convinced with heartwarming conversation. That Jellal is the one to swoop in and save the day illustrates that he's more family (albeit of the marrying-in kind rather than sibling) than Erza's sort-of brother. And while I'd normally get a little snarky about some guy saving Erza, I'd say this time she does need it – the poor woman's done enough and is physically and magically a mess; let Jellal prove his worth to her! (Not that he needs to, but still.) Wendy's not in any shape to take on Acnologia right now either, so his timing really is good – and so is Blue Pegasus', with the airship Christina coming in at just the right minute. All of it is a testament to the idea that friends help each other no matter what, and if we get to see Erza, Jellal, and Wendy looking like the world's cutest family unit as well, that's a nice bonus.
Things really are gearing up for a final showdown or two, and with an end firmly in sight (and a final episode count), the biggest challenge will be not rushing through things and making sure that the series' ending feels worth the journey. That's going to start to come clear as soon as Mavis tells Lucy why she's been given Natsu's book and we find out who the mysterious woman on Christina is, so let's hope that this is handled right.
Fairy Tail: Final Season is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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