An interesting trend to note with Fairy Tail
is that it tends to alternate between good arcs and bad arcs. However, as it has gone on, both the good and bad arcs have progressively gotten worse.
When the series is good, it focuses on a wide variety of its ensemble cast, has a lot of them get into fights with interesting baddies, and generally the conclusions make sense and are satisfying. When it's bad, it has far too narrow a focus, whether it be in cast, fights, or resolution. So, basically, it focuses on Team Natsu.
Natsu himself is by far the worst part about the series, for outside of a single, tedious Running Gag
, heís a stock shonen hero taken to a grating extreme. His fights follow a specific pattern thatís easy to see coming from a mile away, and heís always the one to fight and defeat the Arc Villain
, regardless of how little sense it makes, often leaving the climax unsatisfying as a result. Itís very telling that the best arc finales generally involve someone outside of Team Natsu.
Outside of its namesake, Team Natsu is okay, if uninteresting compared to most of the other guild members. Erza suffers many of the same problems as Natsu, only to a lesser extent, while Lucy, Gray, and Wendy are all generally fun characters, though a bit bland at times. If not for the strong ensemble cast, Iíd be generally content with them.
However, that ensemble cast is more often than not squandered, making the contrast all the more apparent. Great characters like Elfman, Gajeel, and Mirajane get quite a bit of spotlight, which is good, but if they would ever overshadow Team Natsu at any given moment, theyíre quickly shunted aside. This isnít even getting into the fringe members of the guild, who are woefully underdeveloped and might as well not even exist.
Thankfully, the recent Tartarus arc is the best arc in a long while and seems to be fixing a lot of these problems. It puts the spotlight back on the whole guild, after many arcs focusing on just small groups, and when specific characters get focus, it does a ton of good for them. Wendy, especially, gets a ton of spotlight that helps her be anything other than Team Natsuís token kid, and Natsu actually gets a fight that doesnít follow his strict formula. However, itís too early in the arc to say whether these fixes will truly stick, so for now, Iíd advise against getting into the series.