Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
BD+DVD - Part 19
Fairy Tail, with the help of Celestial Wizards Yukino and Princess Hisui, learn that they've been going about putting a stop to the Celestial Spirits' rebellion all wrong, with nearly disastrous consequences. Will they be able to make up for their mistakes and defeat the real perpetrator of the problem? Later various guild members go on a variety of little missions, including a mysteriously risen island, saving the city from rogue guildies, and…babysitting?
It's the little moments that make this set of episodes, which finishes up the Eclipse Spirits storyline and then embarks on a series of one-off episodes (plus a two episode mini-arc), none of which are present in Hiro Mashima's original manga. That's been the case for the Eclipse Spirits arc as a whole, and while the last set brought us the amazing Gray dance-off, this time we get the nearly as memorable squirrel Gajeel followed by frog Gajeel and David Wald's entertaining Kermit the Frog impression. It also gives us Erza requipping into a cowgirl outfit that somehow comes with a ball gag for her horse, a Dr. Who reference, and a knock off Night Walker from Princess Mononoke, all of which are amusing, but none of which quite make up for the fact that the arc failed to make use of Lucy's relationship with her spirits, giving the main body of the action to Natsu instead. While I won't embark on a discussion of who the “real” protagonist of the series is, Natsu or Lucy, it once again feels like a very missed opportunity to not build upon the relationships between Lucy and Loke and Lucy and Aquarius, both of which are far more integral to her character and the overall story than her relationship with Virgo or Natsu's ability to punch and burn things really hard. While his fire-eating ability is important to the resolution of the arc, it would have been nice to see things divided more equally between them so as to build both characters for future plotlines.
Despite this issue, or perhaps alongside it, the arc in general doesn't work quite as well as it could in terms of overall quality either. Lucy's bikini fluctuates in size from scene to scene, Libra's fight with Yukino is awkwardly spliced in, and when Horologium brings everyone Celestial garments so that they can travel to the Celestial Realm, he just brings four outfits and four recolors of the same, which feels like very lazy designing on the part of the artistic team. (Although it does allow for a game of “Who Wore It Better?” which is kind of fun.) Most disappointingly, the resolution of the arc ultimately feels disappointing, making it more obvious than it needs to be that this is simply a filler arc, something that is relatively unusual for Fairy Tail, where storylines like “Key to the Starry Sky” actually add to Mashima's original plot.
Once this lackluster bit is over, the show embarks on a much more enjoyable set of one-shot episodes, including an interesting take on the shoujo trope where the heroine ends up babysitting in an effort to show the romantic interest what a good mom she'd make. In Fairy Tail's take on it, Natsu has to babysit Alzac and Bisca's daughter Asuka, and while Lucy is there to make sure he doesn't do something stupid, he turns out to be a much better caregiver than you'd expect, making this the rare “see what a good dad he'd make” episode, something followed up with the two-episode storyline about Kemo Kemo, a mysterious green monster Natsu hatches from a sky egg. It's not only a nice inversion of a tired trope, but it also allows us to see Natsu as competent at something besides fighting. Other highlights of these episodes include the American superhero parody, full of Adam West Batman sound effects (possibly a tribute to Jiro Kuwata's 1967-68 Batmanga), and Lucy trying to force a cross-dressing Natsu to stand in a more feminine pose by shoving his legs together. By far the funniest episode, however, is “Fairy Tail of the Dead Meeeen,” which closes out the set. It's a parody of zombie stories wherein Blue Pegasus' Ichiya accidentally contaminates Magnolia with a potion that turns everyone who smells it (and then sniffs someone else) into Ichiya. They all walk around moaning “maaan” instead of “braiiins” and trying to sniff people, and on the whole it's really funny, and offers everyone a chance to show off their best Chris Guerrero/Sho Hayami impressions. On the less impressive end is the episode featuring Juvia and her obsessive love for Gray. At this point this is a joke that has been beaten into the ground and has taken over any vestige of personality Juvia had left, something even her English VA Brina Palencia remarks on in her commentary for the episode. Palencia suggests that Gray gave Juvia her only sense of self-worth and that's why she has latched on to him the way she has, which does seem plausible given her origins; regardless, the episode feels somewhat painful to watch and Juvia like a character who could have been much more.
This set of episodes brings us a new opening and ending theme, both of which are very catchy, especially Mariya Nishiuchi's “Don't Let Me Down.” Once the Eclipse Spirits arc is over, the show resorts to poorly drawn pinups of various female cast members for the ending credits, most of which have some serious issues with anatomy – Kagura's spine should be snapping given her position and for reasons unknown, someone apparently thinks that cat tails spring directly from the butt in Milliana's picture. As the owner of five cats, I can assure you that they do not, and while the rest of the picture isn't particularly great anyway, it really is an artistic low point for the show. (On the brighter side, the image of Mirajane reclining on a motorcycle is decent.) Extras are the usual fare: two guild profiles, two episode commentaries – one with Brina Palencia for the Juvia episode and one with Brian Mathis (Macao) and Charles Campbell (Wakaba) for the superhero episode – clean openers and closers, and company trailers.
When set twenty comes out we'll be getting back to the main storyline as laid out in the manga. In some ways that will be a relief, but this set of episodes is still far from a total loss. As I said before, it's all in the little moments, whether that's hordes of zombie Ichiyas, Natsu playing daddy, or Happy's recommendation that when life gives you lemons you should blow them up. The Eclipse Spirits arc's wrap up isn't great, but the rest of the set is pretty fun and should hold you over until things get serious in the coming episodes.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : C+
Animation : B-
Art : C
Music : B
+ Post-Eclipse Spirits arc episodes entertaining and subvert a tired trope, zombie episode very funny. Some nice voice work from both casts, new ending theme is very catchy.
Release information about
|discuss this in the forum (2 posts) ||