Review

by Rebecca Silverman,

Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry

Synopsis:
Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry
The King of Fiore summons Team Natsu to Crocus in order to entrust them with a very special mission: Zash Caine, a former minister of the state, has stolen the artefact known as the Dragon Cry and absconded with it to the Kingdom of Stella. Since Zash's goals are absolutely dangerous, as is his mind-control magic, the king wants Natsu, Lucy, Gray, Erza, and Wendy to go retrieve the staff. But infiltrating a foreign nation and going up against a particularly destructive wizard won't be easy – and the fact that this quest is wrapped up in Natsu's past won't make things any easier.
Review:

Before you go to see Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry, the most recent film based on Hiro Mashima's Fairy Tail manga, you need to ask yourself how you feel about spoilers. The movie's plot canonically slots in between the two final story arcs of the series, so if you aren't caught up on all the details of Zeref and Natsu's pasts, or even what's been going on between specific guild members, you're going to either be mildly confused or very spoiled. While very little is explicitly spelled out (Gray's new powers are the only exception), Dragon Cry absolutely assumes that you're familiar with the later events of the story.

On that front, that's actually one of the more impressive features of the film. The story fits neatly into the overall plot of the series, and in some ways it gives us a little breather before the final arc gets going, a moment to just appreciate that Fairy Tail is back together where they belong. Although there are some clear dynamic changes from the last time the guild was assembled, particularly between Levy and Gajeel, it's mostly just a chance to enjoy the calm before the storm that is the series finale. To this end there are some particular highlights, such as Gajeel carefully improving his mind by reading a picture book about cats and Juvia's jealous imagination going into major overdrive. There's also a slight sense that Lucy and Natsu aren't quite as comfortable in their relationship as they were before Natsu's training journey, although it's fairly subtle.

The plot of the film follows a basic Fairy Tail format: Team Natsu receives an important request, Natsu gets motion sick getting there, and the actual quest turns out to be far more dangerous and complex than it at first appeared. Each member of the group does get their moment to shine, with Wendy and Erza being arguably the most dynamic. Lucy, unfortunately, suffers from Damsel in Distress Syndrome, getting captured and strung up and beaten more often than not. While Lucy's sex appeal is instrumental in initially getting to the Dragon Cry, and she does eventually triumph, there's a bit too much focus on her being sexy and somewhat helpless, as if she needs Natsu to save the day rather than being capable of saving it herself. Since we've seen that that's not the case in earlier story arcs, it's off-putting here. The same goes for the film-original character of Sonya – she never really moves beyond being a tool for Zash and Animus, and while she is allowed autonomy, she doesn't use it, instead spending much of her time quivering in the background. While a late-breaking reveal about her (far too easily deduced if you know Latin) does explain this, it doesn't change the fact that she's largely just there to be looked at, which doesn't further the story until too late in the game.

The chief issue with the story is the pacing - Dragon Cry races along at a good clip, but that's occasionally at the price of transition scenes, giving the film a bit of a choppy feel. The opening scenes of Natsu's childhood are nice reminders of what brought him to where he currently is, but ultimately feel like the time could have been better used to fill in a few gaps in the main story. Artistically the animation is beautiful, with some of Erza's fight scenes being particularly impressive, and the movement of hair and clothing consistently excellent. As happens with Fairy Tail, the women's breasts are out-of-control in terms of both size and physics, but the bigger issue may be the attempt to make skin look shiny with a healthy glow – most of the time it just looks like Natsu's got a pimple on his nose while Lucy sports boob zits. A particularly interesting artistic choice is the inclusion of two magical girl-style transformation scenes, one for Carla and one for Lucy putting on her Celestial garb. Both are beautifully done (although the part where girl Carla gets a human posterior while retaining her cat tail is a little sketchy), but they do feel kind of out of place in the story's world. It's also interesting to note that Carla's transformation means that she's actually sexualized more than Wendy – presumably this is in order to maintain Wendy's status as the innocent character, but it's kind of odd if you really think about it.

On the whole, Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry is a fun movie. It nicely builds up to the finale arc of the story – in fact, the best transition in the film is after the credits and relates to this – while also giving us a few nice Lucy/Natsu moments if that's your ship. (Even if it isn't, they're still very sweet.) With its mix of humor, fanservice, and action, the film nicely captures what makes Fairy Tail as a series entertaining, and the addition of gorgeous animation and a strong dub completes the package. Although it isn't perfect, it is worthwhile for franchise fans and an overall good addition to the series' wrap-up.

Grade:
Production Info:
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : A
Art : B+
Music : B-

+ Fits into the storyline smoothly, emotionally effective, nice mix of action and humor, gorgeous animation, Zash is a great mustache-twirling villain
Sonya and Lucy underplayed as damsels in distress, Gajeel and Levy could have been left out, choppy pacing, some artistic hiccups

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Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry (movie)

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