Written by: Shiggins
400 chapters. 200 episodes. And still going to this day!
For Fairy Tail Week’s final article, I’m going to take a look at the first anime of Fairy Tail, which lasted 175 episodes before taking a hiatus to prevent catching up to the manga. I would review the second anime too but it’s only had 25 episodes and I think it deserves more time to impress me.
This anime is one with many ups and downs, so unlike my opinion on Naruto Shippuden, this one will be both positive and negative in areas. Some areas are amazing, and other areas are… lacking. Once again, the areas I’ll be judging are animation, music, story, openings and endings and The Others.
I’ll try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, although expect some minor ones.
This one is actually the most difficult for me to judge because my opinion of it has changed over the years. As expected of Fairy Tail, it’s very bright and very colourful. It’s a happy series and the animation does a great job to show just how happy it is. Some of the buildings look brilliant and large landscapes do fit in quite well with the characters. The actual animation of the characters looks great too, with many details in their appearances not ever looking half-assed. So for the most part, they do look good and fun.
|My personal favourite location in big bright colours!|
On the other hand, this raises an interesting conundrum. If the light-hearted moments look amazing, what about the darker moments of the series? And for me, they are okay but not as dark as they should be. Heavily emotional moments can be difficult to portray properly and in some cases, the animation makes them look too childish for the darkest moments to work.
|A truly sad and heartbreaking moment... in big bright colours!|
Another really weird thing about the anime was the use of “Magic Seals” which would appear whenever a spell was cast. The anime constantly made this appear at the beginning of the anime and it never really made sense. It was awfully distracting. The early stages of the anime also suffered from reusing the same videos of Natsu using a certain technique. These two problems were fixed over time, but rewatching the series can be frustrating when you go back to the earlier episodes.
Fucking amazing! This anime might have my favourite musical tracks of any anime ever! (It’s a big maybe though). The tracks are so unique and interesting, with so many themes playing out. I have downloaded so much of Fairy Tail’s music that it’s really hard to write about this without cheering my ass off! There are so many tunes that convey emotion, fear, or badass battling perfectly.
|Oh come on! You knew I was going to use this picture for the music section!|
Everybody will have a favourite tune. It might be Erza’s Theme with its high-pitched chorus, or it may be the hardcore seriousness of Mystogan’s Theme. For me personally, my favourite is the main Fairy Tail Theme from the Tenrou Island Arc or the Dragonforce music. I’m not a musician so I’m not going to throw around musical terms but I will say this; they are awesome!
As with most adaptations, this anime follows the story of the manga as close as it can. Seeing tons of famous scenes we know and love from the manga being animated in HD is always a treat. However, Fairy Tail does do some things differently. The biggest difference is the toning down of blood to make it more family-friendly, which is unfortunate but understandable when you consider the time of day this must air in Japan.
|Doesn't this just scream "Fun for all the family"?|
Thankfully, this also makes the fanservice toned down in the anime. (Not including the OVAs). While the manga likes to shove as many breasts in our face as possible, the anime does its best to resist showing nudity when they can. This is an odd issue when certain filler moments appear though…
|As you can see, the anime avoids excessive....fanservice....filler.....I'm sorry. I forgot what I was saying.|
The anime has filler but instead of spending time on flashbacks or constant arcs like certain other series do, the majority of the filler is instead woven into the canon episodes. This can cause a lot of confusion to people who read the manga after the anime, but the other way round makes it great fun. In episode 199 for example, the anime showed a great scene involving Levy that provided some nice closure involving a letter. However, I’m not going to lie. The anime does focus on giving us “shipping moments” a little too often.
|Oh my god! JUST FUCK ALREADY!!!|
The series only has two actual filler arcs, when this article was written. (That’s right. Only two arcs in the entire army!). The first arc lasted 6 episodes and was called the Daphne Arc. This is as forgettable as it is short, so chances are nobody will ever consider it a great work of art or anything. The Key of the Starry Sky Arc however is great and lasts 26 episodes. If you think I’m being biased, just remember that Hiro Mashima made this arc canon because it was so good.
Openings and Endings
A slightly mixed bag with this one. The main idea behind this seems to be “make the openings fast and the endings slow”. And for the most part, I can understand that. Most of the endings are very quiet, very sweet and very gentle with female characters such as Lucy, Lisanna or Erza being the main focus. I suppose the idea of focusing on character is a good idea, if done correctly. I can’t deny it is done correctly, even if it can kill the pacing of an episode when it ends with cute twinkles.
|The anime does not seem to understand the concept behind "Spoiler Alert!"|
The openings can be a lot of fun too. Very fast, very wild and filled with characters running about doing poses or showing off who they are. My biggest problem with these openings, besides the horrible “Engrish” of the second opening, is the placing of them all. I found out Jellal returned to the series before the arc I was watching had barely gone past halfway! I discovered Nichiya and saw Juvia as a main hero and so much more, all because of bad timing. The openings are great but too many spoilers ruin any good story. So in that sense, the openings commit the worst crime you can do when telling a story. And that is not good!
Voice acting is a lot of fun. If you watch the Japanese version, you’ll enjoy it without a doubt. Even if Lucy’s voice actress seems to be trying too hard to be over-the-top and ends up being somewhat irritating in long exposure. The English dub is another mixed bag, because a lot of voices are great and really funny. A lot of other voices are way too exaggerated though and I feel some of the voice actors are trying too hard at times.
|No joke here. This man is the epic Christopher Sabat. That's all I have to say here.|
The series is clearly a fan of Rave Master, since they even incorporated their own references into the story, including a jellyfish-character from RM appearing in the background, and the Jiggle Butt Gang (the worst trio of abominations to ever make my eyes bleed) make an appearance sometimes too. I think that’s a fun little fact that makes me enjoy it more.
Worth watching for fans of Fairy Tail or any anime in general. It’s difficult to enjoy at first due to some earlier-mentioned problems and it does feel cheesy when you start it. It takes a while for the anime to seem to adjust to its own style.
However, if you've read the manga, you know what you’re in for but you get the added bonus of enjoyable filler and character moments that have their own charm. And of course, you can’t deny the epicness of that beautiful soundtrack…
|Maybe one day I'll review the 2014 anime... Maybe one day.|
Shiggins enjoys many strange forms of communication, especially those including cosplayers or presents or videos. However, until that wonderful day comes when people care enough to give him things for being him, you can contact him on his Skype; shigginsishere. He can also respond to you if you contact him through GMails at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can find out about him or ask him stuff on ask.fm/shigginsishere.