Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fairy Tail Arc Review - Alvarez Empire

Written by Shiggins

Oh hey, another FT review!

Ever since the war in Fairy Tail started, a slight uprising of requests for a final review of this arc has been increasing. It has been a very controversial arc, especially when this was revealed to be the finale all of a sudden, giving everyone a shock and worried we'd go away unhappy. After it was all said and done however, was the arc a roaring success or a dribbling pile of excrement that has tarnished Fairy Tail's name forever?


Look at all you sexy bastards... Damn. It's like the war of the supermodels.
As decreed by Shakespeare who, as we all know was the first ever writer of fiction, we should start at the beginning of the story. And it has to be said that the opening to this arc is arguably the second-best of the series, right behind Tartarus' grim adventure. The Guild have only just got back together and decided to appoint Erza as the 6th Master, but where is Makarov? Oh, he's in the Alvarez Empire! An empire run by Emperor Zeref! Everyone panic! He and his followers are so damn powerful!

This feels like it was so long ago... Also, goddamn this picture is cool!
And this brings us to what is easily the best asset of the arc; Zeref's Spriggan 12. These villains are an absolute treat, all distinct and unique from each other in their own ways. From the adorable yet selectively scary Brandish to the possible-lesbian Dimaria, to the nutjob cyborg Wall Eehto and even the ultra-powerful God Serena, leader of the Wizard Saints who has betrayed his own country to join Zeref!

"I'm surrounded by idiots."
Sadly though, almost every single one of them is underused or injured by an unfortunate creative decision. God Serena is by far the best example of this, his entire arsenal of Dragon Slayer magic that he keeps shoved up his arse destroyed almost immediately and every scene he enters is brief and cut off by someone else. I enjoyed whenever he was on the page, but does that make it better or worse?

Don't. Okay? Just... Don't get me started. God Serena, the Wizard Saints... None of it. I'm not even touching that.
The Spriggan 12 make up the majority of the battles, but only about half of them are worthy of the antagonists. August, Wall, Ajeel, Invel, Neinhart, Jacob (also known as Jason Statham thanks to a wonderful commentator who ruined my life by pointing out their resemblance) and Dimaria all have good battles but Irene, Bloodman, Brandish and the previously-mentioned God Serena really don't get the spectacles they deserve. Larcade's is okay.

It should be pointed out that, for the most part, these battles aren't actually bad. (Although Erza and that meteor was definitely a load of nope...). In fact, many of them are a lot of fun. However, this is the war arc. The final battle. "Not bad" is not enough. These battles needed to be huge, chaotic and full of agony. People obviously reacted poorly, shitting on the fight scenes for lack of size. And honestly, they aren't worth shitting on. I've looked back now. I've taken a deep breath. Most of these battles are good, but again, the big question keeps popping up; Is that enough for the final arc?

Whenever the series went dark, it was a great experience. More of that, please! (Although not too much, since that would make it an unpleasant read).
The final battle against Acnologia in particular is a perfect example of the problem here; This isn't just any villain. This is the villain. Acnologia, the worst of the worst. And what we got was a subpar thrash, with nobody in the audience feeling enough excitement. We weren't tense or excited. We were getting bored. This could perhaps be the biggest sin of the entire arc.

Now, let's address what is arguably the most prominent issue; The deaths.

Now, I am actually one of the few here who will tell you that no, a series does not need to have deaths all the time. The people who think the only way you can have a good story is by killing off tons of heroes can go fuck themselves in my book... However, this is not just any arc. This is the final arc. The war arc.

The power of boobs solves every problem.
Instead of deaths, we get death fakeouts instead. Characters make the leap to sacrifice themselves for their (future) lovers or friends, which is admirable, but repeated constantly. The tension of it being a war is no longer a big deal, since nobody dies... Oh wait, that's wrong. Makarov died. And then he came back. So in the end, the death toll for the heroes was shockingly small, by which I mean non-existent.

Oh, and we can never forget one of the funniest images in Fairy Tail. Every detail on this thing is just hilarious.
Another major hurting point for the arc was the Heartfilia family, with the exception of Lucy. I've gone about this before but it deserves a mention in this review; Layla and Anna brought some true misery for me. The backstory involving Lucy and Brandish is a neat idea but the resolution for it was a mess, forced and convenient.

Thankfully, only Anna appears in this arc but her scenes are a huge black spot for this review. With almost no explanation and dozens of questions raised, Anna felt like someone who had her story cut off in the middle due to a loss of time. She appeared, brought in a horrible waste of time to try to kill Acnologia, failed, then just stuck around until the arc ended. We never even saw her talk to Lucy until the final chapter when the war was over!

Of course, we all know this isn't the only plot point that was an absolute farce. Natsu's E.N.D is debatably the worst conclusion in this war, basically resulting in Natsu not turning into a demon because... well, because he said he wasn't going to. What could have been an visually interesting representation of willpower essentially dissolves into nothing. Now that is a true shame.

That feeling in my chest as I look at this? Yeah, that's my heart breaking as I realise it is impossible to truly hate this arc.
When the arc does absolutely shine however are during the emotional moments, and you could argue that this is what truly redeems the arc. With the exception of Layla's convenient backstory that just happened to convince Brandish to turn sorta-maybe-good, every backstory or reveal or confession was done with adequate to shining results. Oh, I could go on and on for hours about how fantastic these moments are but instead, here is a list.

Mavis' discussion of how she died.

Mavis' final goodbye with Zeref.

The death of Makarov.

Gajeel admitting his love.

Irene's brutal pregnancy.

Sherria losing her magic.

Sabertooth being crucified.

Gray and Juvia sacrificing themselves for the other.

August's tragic story...

All these moments and more make it impossible for me to hate this arc. When the series stayed focused on emotion and heart, it won. It gave us 5/5 performances, with some hiccups here or there. While you could spend hours nitpicking the logic behind these, that would only be a disservice to yourself. You read manga, so you need to know when to  I enjoyed them greatly and I hope you did.

So in the end, what was Alvarez Empire? The worst? The best? For me, it was neither. It was a good arc with some amazing moments of emotion and character, with spats of problems here and there, most of which are in the second half of the war. I would still probably rank it in my Top 5 Fairy Tail Arcs. However, this arc will be forever plagued by the question; Was it good enough for a final arc? Short answer; Probably not.

Okay, can we now please stop with the wars? Fairy Tail, Naruto, Bleach, Magi, One Piece... Enough! What's next? A Pokemon War?! WHEN DOES IT END?!
Shiggins:[Admin]   .
Born under the stars of the Dark Gods, Shiggins owns the power of the Great Eye and is utterly magnificent in his omniscience. If you dare to discover more about someone as great as him, then go ahead. And to all my friends and family members, YOU are wrong and I should be disappointed! Not the other way round!,. You can find out about him or ask him stuff on or go to his tumblr page


  1. Excellent now I can finally talk about this arc I believe that it is one of the better ones not on par with Tartaros or Tenrou but certainly in my top four. I will not deny that it had problems that held it back from being better but I will defend certain aspects that others may not like.

    I agree that the beginning was good and I enjoyed the arc right up until Larcade's fight and then restarted at August's fight. When it comes to the Spriggan Twelve I agree that a number of the fights could have been better and that the rematches for the Spriggans could have been better such as Neinhart, God Serana and Bradman come to mind. Speaking of which Bradman was a Spriggan whose fight I really enjoyed the fact that he had the arsenal of Tartaros was a neat idea too bad he was incompetent and did not use the most powerful ones. But I liked his character and his abilities and his fight was one of the most memorable.

    Acnologia's fight was also disappointing but also a guilty pleasure as while I would have liked to see the entire guild have a hit at Acnologia it was a treat to see all seven slayers fight him. But his defeat was a cop out and we just get a one hit kill.
    The END build up was complete rubbish I mean you tease us with the idea of one of the main characters becoming a evil destructive demon and what do you do you throw the entire concept in the bin and act like just saying "I'm good" was all that was required. Makes you wonder if Tartaros just needed to be given a frowny face sticker and then they would have turned out alright.

    While August had a good backstory and indeed a noteworthy fight I felt that as the man who had been built up as the king of magic he should have had a much grander battle than just Gildarts and Cana who just threw a few punches and cards and that was it before August starts his kamikaze spell. I like August but I felt that his fight should have been more bombastic and grand.

    Overall I enjoyed this arc the Spriggan Twelve did a good job even if half of them had sub par fights and were removed because of rubbish reasons. But all were more enjoyable than the Zeref fight which only had one good moment and that was the death of Zeref and Mavis. Acnologia was enjoyably crazy and his destructive moments were enjoyable even if he was taken out in a very underwhelming manner. SO a bummer that this was the last arc but the villains kept things interesting for the most part and gave the main cast more chance to develop. It also certainly made a statement that a good manga can still go off the rails during the war arc and smack every fan by saying you think this arc is sub par well start thinking again fools because this is the last arc and rethink your decisions.

    I enjoyed Fairy Tail and will miss it greatly but who knows perhaps Mashima will pick it up again.

  2. I've been waiting for your review of this arc!
    For me, this arc is probably number 3 out of all of the arcs. Maybe just because I like War Arcs, contrary to many other people.

    Everything before chapter 500 was brilliant. I enjoyed every part of it. While one could argue that the fights weren't THAT good, they were still very enjoyable. And they will be even more epic and cool in the anime. Having said all that, I REALLY hope the fights are extended in the anime, because for a series finale, the fights were kinda short.
    All the emotional moments(Gajeel/Levy, Zeref/Mavis, Brandish/Lucy, Gray/Juvia, etc.) were simply amazing. Fairy Tail was always good with these moments, but this arc made them shine even more. The enemies themselves, as you said, are very itneresting as well - easily the best antagonist group in the series.
    And after chapter 500 everything started getting worse...
    First of all, God Serena and the wizard saints. I won't say anything about the Wizard Saints, because that was just dissapointing, but I liked Acnologia's one shot kill of God Serena. It was epic and hyped up Acno even more.
    Having said all that, God Serena was a very interesting opponent, and I hoped he'd return back somehow. And he did, with the help of "Historia" magic. And what do we get? A one shot by Gildarts, which while logical, still wasn' what I hoped for.
    And the further the arc went, the worse it became.
    I also agree that deaths aren't necessary. EVEN for a final arc. But all the death fakeouts, while leading to character development, did get annoying. Especially after Juvia's death.
    Then we get what is easily my biggest dissapointment. Natsu getting rid of his END/Dragon powers. First of all, the moment itself was poorly done. I would be less salty if it would at least be a contest of will with flashbacks mixed in, which would make this moment in Natsu's heart important and fulfilling. But after all the buildup, we got an "easy" way out.
    And the fact that we got rid of END/Dragon powers is very bad as well. END Natsu was hyped from the Tartaros arc, and when we got the idea of a Dragon Demon fusion, I was really hyped. And what do we get? Natsu getting rid of these powers. While it is an interesting move, it made things worse in the future.
    Which leads me to the Zeref fight.
    Contrary to many, I REALLY enjoyed this fight until the last 2 chapters. Natsu's and Zeref normal brawl, which then lead into a more "magical" fight, it was just great. Then we get Natsu's Dragon Force and Zeref's Fairy Heart - it was simply epic and amazing.... And then Natsu used his emotion to beat the god..
    If, for example, Natsu kept his Dragon/END seeds, this could be a lot more logical - make Natsu transform into END and finish Zeref off. That would be a lot less asspully, and people would be a lot more forgiving of that fight.
    Now about the Acnologia fight. As underwhelming as it was, I really enjoyed it. The way the fight went outside, aganinst D-A was amazing, and I can't even point any definitive flaws with that. This could easily be the best fight in the series, if Natsu's fight with H-A would also be good. Which, while it wasn't BAD, was still underwhelming. And if Natsu kept his END/Dragon powers, and say transformed into a demon/dragon with the power of the 7 DS, then we would get an epic and fulfilling fight too. Hell, he could make it not a fusion, but just a full on dragon transformation. That would be epic as well.
    All in all, for me, the biggest dissapointments were at the end. The arc had an amazing start, but failed somewhere midway.

  3. There's nothing I can say that hasn't really been said already about this arc E.N.D turned into a dissappoinment ,Acnologia dissappoinment ,let's never talk about Anna or Irene vs Erza ever. My biggest complaint about this arc it was cramped. Looking back I honestly don't see what Mashima sensei or the editors were thinking trying to end everything in one whole arc it just was not possible to do it well As a result events such as Natsu and Erza backstories, the Grey vs END and whatever the purpose of Brandish were rushed even by fairy tail pacing. Expectations aside from as objectively as I could be it seemed as though a number of concepts were meant to be explored in another arc such as Acnologia and the Dragon slayers or Grey turning evil but suddenly needed to be cut for time. Both interesting ideas both equally deserving of greater focus but were forced to share screen time with the Dozen of other plot points.
    I love the Spriggan 12 and Zeref if the plot suddenly made them the main characters I would've died from happiness and the realization that I've reached the ultimate level of satisfaction beyond even Lacarde fanservice magic but my favourite ofbthe bunch seemed inconsequential.If the point of antagonist is to provide obstacles for our heroes to overcome then they barely pass that bar since our heroes didn't grow from that compared to other fights in fairy tail which had the characters for grow or gain something Natsu and Gajeel vs Laxus lead to the humbling of Laxus and solidified Gajeel being a guild member and shedding his selfishness compared to Zeref vs Natsu which felt disappointing to me at the very least because them being brothers was never explored and if Natsu is a main character and he didn't gain much from the fight it's just lacklustre I enjoyed the Zerefe and Mavis "death" scene but isn't Natsu the main character in this. Then Brandish didn't do much not nor did Demaria even August Brandish is even worse as Anna a character probably made on the spot had more impact then her despite all that focus.

    Despite everything being cramped into one balloon the arc was okay it had terrible moments it had great moments making it slighty abovr okay. Unless you remember it was the final arc then it was mediocre at best.

  4. Ah Alvarez. What a shit arc you turn out to be. Let's count the ways. Natsu being END went nowhere. The built up confrontation with Gray was more about their waifus than their relationship with each other. The fight was crap too. The demon and dragon seed nonsense felt like a conclusion to a character arc that never happened. Natsu vs Zeref, on top of being incrediby lazy even though it's one of the main antagonists of the series, had no emotional impact. You could remove the brother aspect and nothing would change. Luck can just rewrite his book because of...reasons.

    Speaking of Zeref, he was an inconsistent mess. His personality, motives, and goals kept changing throughout. His redemption wasn't earned. He gets exactly what he wants without answering for all the atrocities committed in his name or even what he himself committed.

    Acnologia was an ungodly mix of Obito and Kaguya. His back story was myopic and undeveloped it couldn't be taken seriously. His motivations and goals made no sense. He had no personality. His final battle was incredibly lame.

    The Spriggans sucked. If they weren't underdeveloped, they were inconsistent and even nonsensical. Like the fights with Zeref and Acnologia their fights were often lazily choreographed and ended with asspulls or even just the characters arbitrarily winning just cuz. Ajeel and fake!Wahl had the only good fight's and even then the former somehow loses to Elfman and Lisanna offscreen even though he nearly killed Erza, while the former's real form, while awesome, had a really lackluster fight with Laxus and then gets offscreened. The sad part is that many of them had interesting elements that could have been expanded upon but weren't. Why does Neinhart act that way towards Irene? What happened with Dimaria's people and hoe did she become Chronos's vessel? What the guck is up with Bradman? Why did God Serena betray Ishgar? How do the other Spriggans feel about God Serena. Why does Brandish treat August like her grandfather. WHAT THE ARE THEIR RELATIONSHIPS WITH ZEREF. The August revelation didn't matter because it was inconsequential. We never knew his relationship with Zeref aside from that and it wasn't really developed.

    Brandish was an inconsistent mess that Mashima tried to portray as true neutral, but always helped the heroes. He gave her ridiculously broken magic with no drawbacks. She could have ended the war in mere moments(all of them could have tbh), but didn't for no reason.

    Irene literally made no sense. She was inconsistently written. She basically stopped the story dead. There was no reason to have extract Fairy Heart because Zeref could do it himself much faster. Her connection to Erza didn't amount to anything. Their fight was literally her shoutin her backstory at Erza then killing herself. It makes no sense that Acnologia never knew she existed even though she spent centuries as a crazed dragon. Her outfit looked incrediby tacky.

    Barely any of the side characters of Fairy Tail, he'll even even less outside of it got to do anything. The Strauss siblings and the other guilds, among others are examples of this.

    Fake-out death's galore. Ship pandering aplenty. Unnecessary fanservice(Irene getting tortured? Let's make it sexy! Aquarius telling Brandish and Lucy abut the mothers? Sexy mermaid outfits! Bradish getting strangled? SEXY. And much more where that came from.)

    Mashima wanted big drama and stakes without actually committting. The good guys suffer no consequences(even Chelia's magic is hinted to come back.) As a result, you get this utter mess of arc.

    Is this arc good? Fuck no. Is it the worst in the series? Most likely. Is it the worst thing I've read? Not even close. Thus ends my overly long rant on this dumpster fire.