Reviews: Fairy Tail

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Guardians of the Galaxy of Manga
Joining the ranks of movies such as "Frozen" or the "Hobbit" movies, Fairy Tail seems to be becoming one of the series that's "controversial" to like. Its odd, because even though many of the written reviews are critical (and sometimes rather vitriol), on many sites, the average score for the series (anime and manga) is 8-9 out of 10, or 4-4.5 out of 5, and its still one of the most widely read manga out there, being at least in the top 5 most read. That indicates that there is still a sizable fan base, who do truly like this manga.

The whole concept of it being a cliched shounen seems to be a subjective problem. I've seen plenty of people who don't mind the cliches, and actually enjoy them. I for one, certainly do.. Take Guardiansofthe Galaxyas another example. When I watched it, there was no doubt in my mind about what was going to happen, but the characters were so much fun, the action so interesting, and the details unique enough, that it kept me sucked in. Yes, its Strictly Formula, but for some people, that isn't a big problem, if a problem at all.

The notion of the characters being uninteresting, is also subjective. All these characters are ones I like following, and I can describe all of them if someones asksl. Take note, though that I said "uninteresting" not "stagnant". While I do acknowledge they may not as developed as they should, it doesn't bother me, because they are still lots of fun to watch.

People who accuse it of being ripoff aren't looking at it. The Idiot Hero (which mind you, One Piece didn't invent), isn't played up that much, and the characters' personalities are more different when you think about. And I don't see any similarities in art style at all. To grasp at straws, some designs may be similar, but again, the characters are very different, and the skeleton and abilities are as well.

Well, one way or another, it comes down to personal preference. This isn't a story where you go for in depth character development, you come to see characters who are fun, and entertaining. And that's the most important term: fun.

Personally, its my favorite. While I don't think its the best (I personally believe that distinction belongs to Naruto), I still do like it A LOT. And if you're going to bash me for one reason or another, what do you care?
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It's Brilliant, 10/10
I absolutely adore Fairy Tail. The best part is the characters. Almost all have backstories, and the backstories still influence their character and give them their quirks, weaknesses, strengths. Even without that, Mashima has this ability to make you love a character within one chapter of seeing them, I know that's happened to me several times. And no matter what people say, yes, there is character development. Erza's more open, less prone to attack everyone at all times. Lucy's gone from a vain, typical blonde to a strong mage willing to pick a fight. Gajeel cares about people instead of brushing them off and living only for himself. You get to watch these characters grow in wonderful ways throughout the whole series, and it's awesome.

The plotlines and arcs are almost always top-of-the-line. While there have been duds, I admit it, the arcs have plot twists and will make you really feel for these characters and everything they go through. And I know, I know, you've heard it- the friendship controversy. My god, people, the thing even has an in-story explanation that's been referenced several times. Yes, Fairy Tail often wins by the power of friendship, yes, there have been a few totally ridiculous fights(Erza vs. Kyouka comes to mind), yes, Natsu always beats the bad guy- but remember that to get to that final battle it always takes the characters pure power and strength. In fact, almost all shounen series has this. It's a staple. But I truly believe that even if you hate the friendship speeches, there are many, many moments when the characters win through simply their strength, that you can really connect to.

Also, it's frickin' hilarious. Before I really fell in love with the series, I literally watched it because it was so frickin' hilarious. Even if you hate everything else, the story is promised to keep you laughing.

And the ships are awesome, even if they are sometimes insufferably dragged out (or in Juvia's case in the anime, played for laughs too many times. Luckily, that doesn't happen in the manga.) Going back and reading the character's interactions with each other early in the series, I can really see how the main ships have influenced each other and how their relationships have grown, in beautiful ways.

So watch the anime, read the manga, and don't listen to the haters or maybe even me- draw your own conclusions
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Good but not Great
There are two - okay - three general types of fighting / adventure shonen series. The first relies on a Sorting Algorithm of Evil wherein the characters fight harder and harder enemies and gain additional skills along the way (think YuYu Hakusho). The second is generally framed around small adventure arcs but have very little character development or skill progression (Gintama here which if you haven't seen DO SO). The third type generally subverts the first two where the main character isn't a Hot Blooded Hero or there isn't much reliance on Defeat Means Friendship (arguably Shaman King).

Fairy Tail is firmly in the second. Whatever is going on, expect a happy ending for most involved, most of the antagonists (aside from the really bad ones) eventually getting forgiven and becoming good friends with everyone else and a deus ex machina at least once to prevent the deaths or sacrifices that a character attempts to make. No matter ho bad the physcial damage don't be concerned - the protagonists are in no danger and will walk away from the battle with no injuries after a few minutes. There will be a few of the standard shonen motivations - friendship, hope, fighting solves everything. Almost all the female characters have DD cups and you will see them featured prominently quite often. Same with shirtless men. Both are fine but often during dark, serious events you'll have a lot of Gainaxing to distract you.

That said Fairy Tail isn't bad. The characters are likeable enough and the animation and music is top quality. The arcs last just long enough without becoming tedious and the battles aren't always the same. I did laugh a good bit too.

Its main problem is that everything in Fairy Tail is stagnant The characters rarely change or grow, the arcs don't have a lot of connectivity and there are very few long-term consequences to the world or the individual characters. It's shonen so it's not supposed to be deep but Fairy Tail relies heavily on the most basic formulas and tropes imaginable. Definitely worth an afternoon watch with some snack food but it's not going to stand out that much.
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Lives and dies by its characters (mostly dies)
As a series with such a huge ensemble cast, itís hardly a surprise that the quality of Fairy Tail depends almost entirely on how well theyíre written. And the answer to that is: not very well at all.

Despite its large cast, most of the characters are glorified side characters. Team Natsu are the only members of the titular guild to appear in half of the arcs, and in the other half they still get the majority of the focus. This would be fine if Team Natsu was at all well-written, but instead theyíre among the most grating characters in the entire series.

Natsu himself is by far the worst offender, being a bog standard shonen protagonist, with the exception of a single tedious running gag being thrown into the mix. In any panel where he appears, Natsu is a void that actively drains any coolness away from fights, poignancy from emotional moments, and humor from comedic moments. The series could be exactly the same, with the sole change of having literally anyone other than Natsu as the protagonist, and itíd be significantly better off for it.

That said, it would still only be decent at best. The rest of Team Natsu alternate between dull and only slightly more bearable than their leader, with the majority leaning toward the latter in any given arc. Perhaps more telling than anything is that as of the most recent arc, the only one I didnít detest was Wendy, the character created solely for kid appeal.

The worst part about Team Natsu being so uninteresting is that the supporting members of the guild are so much more likable. Though perhaps their not being in the spotlight as often is what makes them more bearable; that way, theyíre not around long enough to get sick of them. Even if that was the case, the series would benefit greatly from rotating the focus more, instead of clinging to Natsu in a desperate attempt to prove heís in any way interesting or likable.

I would say Iíve gone on about the characters for long enough, but thereís really nothing else to discuss about the series. The general plot lines sure arenít anything to write home about, and the quality of the various minutiae of the series depends entirely on how the characters are written. If Mashima was a competent writer, Fairy Tail could have been an otherwise standard battle manga with enjoyable characters and character dynamics.

Mashima is not a competent writer.
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Don't waste time with it
Forget Bleach, forget Naruto, heck, forget Dragon Ball, Fairy Tail is the ClichťStorm for excellency. This shows, while admittedly having a good animation in the anime, suffers heavily of any semblance of originality.

Let's start from the first arc, especially the pilot and the Deliora arc, they are mostly a rip-off of One Piece, with Lucy a stand in for Nami (only her running gag inverted)and Natsu fulfill the same role as Natsu as the Unskilled But Strong Idot Hero.

Most of the characters are forgettable, their design uninspired due to being either Gonk or Fanservice incarnate. The Running Gag aren't amusing either and the friendship speeches are Anvilicious enough to make Tea cringe, and the Power Of Friendship makes the characters Boring Invincible Heroes. No tension in fights as the enemies hyped up are crushed in Curb Stomp Battles. Admittedly, at least, in this series Dragons are really badass, and there is a character, Erza, with a genuine character arc.

However, the series is dragged down by being So Okay Its Average and, when there are twists, they carry out nothing (like Lisanna's return).

Most disappointing in this point is the Tenrou arc with the promise of being a Wham Episode with deaths and reveals. While a few decent reveals about the Big Bad, they carry no relevance and only (two) villains die, while all the other prove lackster.

If it is your first Shounen, it will be good, but any frequent viewer would quickly figure out most plots and don't bother with it.

6/10
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A good ride with a twist of reality
This is a review of the manga up to chapter 191.

Apart from my PSL for Erza and Lucy, I liked:
  • The slightly more realistic tone. Unlike One Piece's protagonists, they still have to submit to authority sometimes. Plus the Guild conflicts (internal and external) showed promise. I hope they'll expand upon those a bit, but it's shonen, so yeah.
  • Erza is badass and a good character besides. I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop and for her to be depowered, derailed or forced into the background to make way for the main hero, as has happened elsewhere. The fact that she hasn't is a source of joy and squee.
  • Following on from that, there's a good bit of teamwork. Natsu is often their trump card, but the team doesn't stand around waiting for him to show up.
  • Power is not everything here, and neither is fighting. Skill, experience, luck and a cool head can triumph. There's that 'realistic' touch again.
  • The multiple cute women of Fairy Tail. It has to be said. :-) Interestingly, there is one old woman in the recurring cast; a skilled healer, she looks old but is neither a Gonk nor comic relief, as so often happens.

What I didn't like:

Recommendation: Read if you like fighting, teamwork, magic used in ways both creepy and cool, badass ladies of war, and can tolerate teen-oriented fanservice and The Power Of Friendship.
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Pokemon anime Level
That's putting nicely, as it's as simple and unoriginal with gimmicks as one a running weekly anime/manga should be. Sure it gets good a couple chapters and episodes like the first arcs and established plots but then it starts getting repetitive until it runs dry and excute this same basis over and over again leaving you incredibly underwhelmed with annoyance.

-Characters: Each one of them are as uninspired as any shounen cast, but somehow they did the impossible for me by being even lamer and cheesier than the Strawhats. I mean Natsu is the obvious expy of Monkey D. Luffy but far more blander and is such a static character with unlikeable heroic traits that even you would prefer Luffy over. Erza is the blatant Mary Sue of this story, such as she wins more unbelievably than the main hero and solves all the problems in the main team, Gray is Sasuke/Riku with ice magic gay fanservice, Lucy is basically all the ingredients of shonen main females being annoying with a hint of Kagome and Toryu Honda and she's the most sexually exploited girl, Happy is actually kinda funny but fails to be a point other than a troll. And the others will be even more stagnant and one dimensional and all you need to know about them is the main gimmick or magic that personifies them.

-Story: It's about a bunch of crazy manchilds and women childs beating the shit out of other mages for their friendship and be Team Gurren Wannabes, nuff said. They are epically lame because none of them kill people despite them causeing enough anarchy to topple a city or country. And they're kinda dicks since they only have the right to overthrow law and order for their own reasons disreguarding the safety of innocents when their destructively rampaging on some bad guys. The story is small and only follows Natsu D Luffy with Tony Tony Happy leading his Mage Hats on a quest and shit, and character development is always about bonds and nakama making it the same ass stuff.

-Music: The music kicks ass, which is the only good thing I will say about it.

Overall 3/10. If you have good taste, only good thing about the series is the Shippuden/Celtic music I referred to.
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Quite Likable
As fan of a manga and animes who are perfect examples of True Companions and The Power Of Friendship who also loves as a plus to have likable character with Hidden Depths as their main characters and between Well Intentioned Extremist, Woobie Destroyer Of Worlds and Noble Demon for most of their main villains (with a few exceptions) alongside with Growing The Beard quite early my mind mind, having interesting uses of magic and having in my mind a great Myth Arc I was quite interested in to see how Fairy Tail held up, as I is was told this had a little bit of everything I liked about a story

And in my mind its biggest strength its that is has a likable cast for the most part

Granted, it does its weaknesses in terms of story telling (Especially in the Tournament Arc where some of the victories come as predictable just because itís against Fairy Tail, which come as a tad cheap) but whatís story doesnít have its weaknesses? But in my mind its biggest strength is the fact that a great number of the characters are actually quite likable and have their own interesting personality. These are the kind of people I would spend my time reading about because I enjoy seeing them win, because I enjoy their friendship and their bonds as a family and True Companions. I enjoy reading it because the majority character actually bring a grin to my face and I like how their personalities mesh together to make the wacky yet likable as they are. Granted, this might be because my own family is really this close, or because overall in the Sliding Scale Of Idealism Versus Cynicism I am almost always in the idealist side to the point that its sometimes funny, but this is a manga is really something to me personally because how it treats the bonds of trust and friendship.

And sense it seems every time I turn it seems most still ongoing Shonen seem to being going towards the unnecessarily Anti Hero Darker And Edgier route (with a few notable and very worthy as well as excellent exceptions) this manga really is like the much needed breath of fresh air I greatly needed

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Not without flaws, but well worth the read.
How the series weighs overall, as of chapter 328,

Pros:
  • Fights are fast paced. No match drags on into tedium.
  • The comedy. Even as the threats become greater, Cerbus Syndrome is never powerful enough to kill the seriesí sense of humor.
  • The characters are well developed for a shounen.
  • Fan service is fairly equal. The author does not objectify women while ignoring that some fans are female.
  • Strong female characters. The girls are not left waiting for the guys to save the day and often contribute just as much (and sometimes more) to achieving victory.
  • The continuity. While itís not without slight consistency errors, the series does a good job of remembering the entirety of its cast, which is no small feat. Minor details in character design and relations between characters are never missed.
  • The plot. Fights are somewhat predictable in that hero will obviously win, the twists and turns that each arc takes, especially later arcs, is always a surprise.

Cons:
  • The shortage of overarching villains leads to new enemies being hyped to make them seem like a threat. Coupled with short fights, this can lead to anticlimactic moments.
  • The fan service. While balanced, it can detract when it comes too frequently.
  • Lack of death. While the series isnít void of it, you will never feel like something bad could happen to anyone in the core or even supporting cast, and the loss of a minor character is so rare that itís a shock simply because someone actually bit it.

And on the anime, up to episode 175:

Itís well animated, though not without the dips in quality that you would expect in a long running series. It follows the manga closely, with the only notable changes being aesthetic adjustments to an early arc. It also adds details to early scenes that the manga did not think to mention until later, giving certain events a stronger emotional impact. Itís had two filler arcs so far. While the first, which was fairly short, is a completely skipable nightmare, the second is impressive to say the least. Without reading the manga and knowing its filler, you may not even notice a difference in it and the other arcs. That the manga creator got involved in its writing and even made a point of referencing the events of the arc within the manga itself may contribute to this.

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A Guilty Pleasure
Fairy Tail is enjoyable, not good, enjoyable. I say this because it follows the vast majority of shonen tropes to a T, with the notable aversion of property damage being taken extremely seriously. Despite the fairly cliched plot, the feel of the world and powers are well enough in sync and the characters likable enough to be a competent and enjoyable execution of said cliches.
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Fairy Tail: First Impressions
Well, I've reached the end of the Phantom Lord Arc, and this series has won a new fan. There isn't much different it from other shonen, but there are small touches that I appreciate. The one that's first and foremost is the humor. There's nothing really different about the tone of humor from the norm, but what I appreciate is that it doesn't stop. Many series, such as Bleach or One Piece tend to annoy me somewhat because the plot tries to take itself absolutely seriously aside from extremely jarring instances of Mood Whiplash. (OMG, the villain just slaughtered that entire villa—huh, why are these two arguing over something petty? Aren't you supposed to be hurrying to the rescue?) Fairy Tail, on the other hand, constantly maintains humor at virtually all times. Even during "serious" battles, facial expressions remain cartoonish and exaggerated and characters remain consistently silly. What's funny is that before I saw this series, I would have sword that heading in the opposite direction (more consistent drama, less silliness) was the proper way to go. Fairy Tail has changed my mind about that.

The second thing I like about it is that, so far, the story arcs are short. A consistent problem in anime/manga these days is that the buildup and execution of climactic fights slow the pacing of story to ridiculous levels (example: the entire Hueco Mundo arc in Bleach). Fairy Tail's arcs don't tend to last that long so far (again, this is a first impression review, so I have no idea if this changes) and the story continues at a refreshing pace. Likewise, battles are rarely longer than an episode, which I really, REALLY appreciate. The annoying practice of shonen battles sluggishly shifting back and forth between a series of No Sells, anti-left-handedness, and Plot Leveling just wears things down horribly. I sincerely hope that Fairy Tail keeps up such a pace.

And lastly, the cast is likable. As it currently stands, my favorite characters are Team Natsu (Natsu, Gray, Happy, Lucy, and Erza) along with Juvia. Everyone else isn't bad, but these six are my favorites. Everyone gets their own spotlight and the story doesn't typically amount to waiting for Goku to get to Namek Ichigo to escape Hueco Mundo Natsu to beat the Big Bad.

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