Fairy Tail: Final Season
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 323 of
Fairy Tail (TV 3/2018) ?
Fairy Tail has a lot of unexpected strengths for what can be a pretty standard shounen action fantasy. One of them comes through this week – the way that a character who initially served as basically a joke can suddenly do something remarkable. Ichiya is one of them – when he was introduced, he was the not-all-that-funny gag of the unattractive man who thinks he's hot stuff. He's always had a good heart, but that's gotten lost in his sillier aspects. This week he makes a Famous Last Stand to save Jellal and get rid of Acnologia once and for all, sacrificing himself to the time rift to make the world a better place. It's certainly in line with the more serious aspects of his character – he's always been (or fancied himself) a lady's man and advocate of true love – but it's also to a degree an unexpectedly serious moment from a mostly goofy character. Anna's decision to participate (well, and to precipitate) the destruction of Acnologia is simply the fulfillment of her four-hundred-year long mission; Ichiya is proving that Fairy Tail wizards aren't the only ones who know how to just do what needs to be done.
Speaking of Anna, the Heartfilia women really are champions at doing what they have to in the moment, no matter what the cost. Anna's part in forcing Acnologia into the time rift, Layla's death, and Lucy's willingness to fight through demon power in order to save Natsu even though she might not live through it all showcase their strength. It's an interesting element of their characters and almost sets them up as Fairy Tail before Fairy Tail – the Heartfilia line certainly embodies a lot of Mavis' and Makarov's ideals and has been doing so since before Mavis founded the guild. The difference between Lucy and her ancestresses is that she has support that they didn't (although Anna now has Ichiya), and with Gray's ice powers to help combat the fire of trying to rewrite Natsu's life, she's able to fulfill her Heartfilia duties and come out okay – or at least has a better chance of it.
I do wish we'd gotten more of what Lucy was doing this week, because without it, Natsu wouldn't have been able to overcome his brother and defeat Zeref. However the act of writing, magical or otherwise, probably isn't all that exciting to animate (or watch, for that matter), so it feels less like underplaying Lucy's power and more like just focusing on the more interesting visual aspects of what's going on. Not that we get a lot of thrilling action, anyway – the focus is really more on the fact that things are coming to a head and what that means for everyone emotionally. Despite the action elements of taking out Zeref and Acnologia, the real meat of the story is the emotional core: Jellal and Erza wanting to protect each other, Natsu understanding what Makarov was really talking about in terms of “family” all those years, and the underlying sorrow of Mavis and Zeref and the curse of immortality. All of these pieces need to come together with the more action-heavy pieces of the story, because at the end of the day, the action is meaningless without the emotions behind them. None of this, after all, would have been set in motion if it wasn't for Zeref's lost family: it brought Zeref and Mavis together, separated Erza and Jellal, and even created Natsu and the Heartfilia family mission. Heartbreak essentially began the story; the question is whether it can be healed in order to end it.
Fairy Tail: Final Season is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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