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A series of progressively lower highs and lower lows
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.
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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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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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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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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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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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