Fairy Tail: Final Season
Episodes 316-317

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 316 of
Fairy Tail (TV 3/2018) ?

How would you rate episode 317 of
Fairy Tail (TV 3/2018) ?

Although human bonds have always been a central theme of Fairy Tail, these two episodes really do feel like the “friends and family” episodes of the season. Manga readers know that that's largely in service of something that's going to be covered next week, but its more overt usage here treads a fine line between “symbolic” and “beat-you-over-the-head symbolic.” It's at its best in last week's episode, when Ajeel is forced to realize that it's not just this war that's killing people, but all wars. While that does feel a little disingenuous, it also does make the point that previous to going up against Fairy Tail, the Twelve basically just killed people from afar. This allowed them to not really think about the fact that they were wiping out actual human beings who had friends, families, and lives of their own. While I don't really think that Fairy Tail is trying to make a comment on modern warfare, which to a degree does take the up-close-and-personal aspect that trench warfare and its predecessors had, that connection is there nonetheless if you want to see it. When Ajeel realizes that Elfman and Lisanna are brother and sister, it stops him in his tracks. Suddenly they're people just like him, and that's not something he's ever had to deal with before. It's uncomfortable, and it may be the first time he's ever truly thought about what he's doing in the name of power.

Gray is forced into that realization as well, albeit in a different way. When he's intent on sacrificing not just his life, but the very memory that such a person as Gray Fullbuster ever existed, he's thinking not only of saving Natsu, but also that he'll be atoning for trying to hurt his friend in the first place. It makes sense, but what he's not considering is that it's not the selfless move he thinks it is – in fact, it's a very selfish one. For all that he says he's putting Zeref on ice for everyone else, he's really just doing it to appease a guilty conscience; he's not even 100% sure that it will work. (In fact, Zeref tells him it won't, and our favorite conflicted bad guy may be a lot of things, but a poor judge of his own power isn't one of them.) It's just a good way to stop beating himself up, and that's what Natsu basically tells him when he comes roaring in. By erasing himself, Gray is taking the easy way out – and as far as Natsu is concerned, they'd do better to talk things out and then work together.

This scene also marks the major difference between Natsu and everybody else and will be the catalyst for later actions, whether or not the characters are currently aware of it. Basically Natsu's “never give up” motto isn't just something he says because it sounds cool – he really believes it. He's not going to let Gray just vanish or himself just die simply because someone else said that's what has to happen. Natsu truly believes that he can spit in fate's eye and make his own destiny. Zeref used to think that way as well (it's kind of what got him where he is now), but he's been so worn down by life that he's no longer able to. That caused his emotional death, and it's a point Natsu will never let himself get to.

Alongside all of this is the aftermath of Erza's fight with Irene. While a piece of me did chuckle a little at Erza and Wendy just ignoring Irene's corpse on the lawn as if she was a squirrel the cat left, the difference between their reaction and Acnologia actively defiling the body by stomping it into paste once again highlights the opposite views of the good guys and those against them. Irene, despite being Erza's biological mother, means nothing to her. But to Acnologia, she's the source of his life and anger, and he allows that to take over. Erza has other people to take the sting out of Irene's existence and actions; Acnologia is aggressively solitary and has no one.

This will continue into next week when August puts Cana in danger to see what it will do to Gildarts, and hopefully we'll get to continue to see Gildarts actually do stuff instead of be a plot device. I did enjoy that Natsu and Zeref's fight was devoid of speech, so hopefully the battles will be a bit more rewarding going forward as the plot continues to, if not thicken, at least move forward.

Rating: B-

Fairy Tail: Final Season is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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