Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Top 10 Fairy Tail Arcs

Written by Shiggins

Fairy Tail time!

With the series officially over, unless you go to Tumblr or Hiro Mashima's Twitter page where the love and art never stops, its time to take a look back and see which arcs did the best and which did the least-best. I waited to do this because it helps to have some perspective when it comes to a list like this, and now the time has come!

Note: Spoilers ahead. Also, only arcs from the canon manga will be counted here. So no "Key of the Starry Sky" or "Eclipse Celestial Spirits" arcs here. (Even though they are pretty damn good).

Shame we never got an arc entirely about this, isn't it?

10. Avatar

What really gets me about this arc is how perfectly it starts, and how quickly it went downhill. It has been a year since Fairy Tail disbanded due to the events of the Tartarus arc, and Lucy is working alone in journalism while missing her friends. Finally, Natsu and Happy return to her life and the three set out to find everyone else in the guild to get them back together and be a family once more. Gajeel and Levy are working for the Magic Council, Wendy is in Lamia Scale with her friend Sherria, and Gray might have actually abandoned Juvia to become a villain in the dark guild Avatar.

So much creativity. So much wasted.
Right away, you can see the potential here for some truly dramatic mini-arcs. Lucy is passive-aggressively angry at Natsu for leaving, but that goes nowhere. The villains of the Avatar guild are so pathetically weak that all their interesting characterisation is immediately thrown out the window, and we don't even get to enjoy the new challenges that come with their environments that Levy, Gajeel, Laxus and more have been thrust into.

The Avatar arc feels like the beginning of an amazing adventure that was rushed to finish. Moments like Juvia's pain at being left behind by Gray are great, but they are quickly resolved by the lacklustre ending that raises more questions than answers. To be perfectly blunt, this arc would not be anywhere near the top 10 if the first few chapters weren't so fantastic. Oh and if Briar wasn't so gorgeous!

9. Oracion Seis

Funnily enough, this arc would have fallen below Avatar if it wasn't for how damn likeable all the new characters are. From Wendy and Ichiya to the villainous Oracion Seis, there are plenty to love in this bare-bones plot. After they hear about an evil alliance between several guilds, Makarov decides to forge his own alliance between Fairy Tail, Blue Pegasus, Lamia Scale and Cait Shelter so they can take on the Oracion Seis before they enact their evil plot.

A funding for a Guild this size must take forever to justify.
And that is everything that happens. The characters meet, they fight the OS and they stop them from awakening a giant weapon called Nirvana. On paper, its actually quite boring and there are very few twists and turns that will surprise you or even make sense. The sudden appearance of Zero is just plain stupid, as is the amnesia of a once-interesting villain who just happens to be back from the dead and in this area.

Who designs coffins like this?!
The Oracion Seis themselves though are great and they carry this arc. They keep it from falling apart, with Hoteye's ridiculousness, Angel's sadistic nature and Cobra's... well, Cobra is just badass. It also helps to have Ichiya, Jura, Wendy, the Trimen and Lyon to keep the chemistry at a fast pace and never let you settle for too long. Everyone is on point and keeping things hilarious, and that's only just enough to keep the arc from being a failure.

8. Edolas

Looking back at the early arcs, you'll notice a lot of them really aren't that important to the plot as a whole because of how little they connected to each other or the series' eventual arc that would pass through the whole show. And nowhere is that more obvious than Edolas, where Natsu, Wendy, Happy and Carla must travel to the mysterious parallel world so they can rescue their own world's guild from the evil king, who just happens to have an evil Erza working for him.

Are there any cliches more enjoyable than the evil version of a hero?
This arc is probably best remembered for the counterparts of the characters we are so used to, and that's always a fun development in any franchise. While it never reaches the level of DC's Injustice, it is a treat to see Edo-Lucy bully Natsu or Edo-Gray in all his layers of clothing try to woo the cold Edo-Juvia. And Earth-Erza vs Edo-Erza is one of the best battles in the first half of Fairy Tail.

Speaking of spinoffs...
Besides the introduction of Pantherlily and the goodbye of Mystogan (a cool character that really didn't do much when you think about it) however, nothing about Edolas feels important. You could literally pick it up and throw it away, with very little missed. Characters like Sugarboy, Hughes and Coco are fun, but they never return in canon again. I like this arc but I do realise it didn't mean much in the big picture.

7. Phantom Lord

So when I first started, Fairy Tail had only given me Lullaby and Galuna Island to try to really amuse me, and I was so very close to giving up on the franchise. Then Phantom Lord came along. It turns out that all I needed was Gajeel Redfox to jump in and raise the stakes for the first time in the series. Natsu, Gray, Lucy, Erza and Happy return from Galuna Island to find the guild has been destroyed, and the rival guild Phantom Lord has declared war on them!

If Rock Lee can get a chibi series, could Fairy Tail?
This arc does get off to a rough start with the attack on Team Shadow Gear, which consists of three characters we barely knew by this point but were still supposed to be angry over and the destruction of a building we hadn't actually spent a lot of time in yet. However, it is once the battle between the two guilds begin do you start to feel the real weight and tension, as well as the bonds they all share.

Oh no! Not... those guys! I loved the way they... did those things that they did!
It also helps that this arc introduces two of the best characters of the series, Gajeel and Juvia, and finally gives fan-favourite Elfman the screentime he has been begging for. And unlike the Avatar arc, this one ends on a high note with Lucy discovering the truth about Phantom Lord's attack and confronting her father over it. It's a great scene that doesn't throw in a last minute redemption for an obviously-awful man, and he had no good hidden excuse for his actions. Such a cool arc.

6. Battle of Fairy Tail

Unlike the earlier arcs in the series, this one had been a long time coming. We had seen Laxus' mockery of everyone in Fairy Tail a few times, but here we see him finally snap and enter a rage as the reputation of his guild is going down due to the damage caused by Phantom Lord. He decides to take it over by force and uses the Raijin Tribe (a trio that adore him) to make everyone in Fairy Tail fight each other to prove they deserve to be in his guild.

Wow. This Laxus would be the easiest cosplay for me...
The arc has some interesting battles and conflicts from lesser-known characters, like the supremely underappreciated Alzack, although it is truly Laxus that steals the show. It has been hinted that he cares about the guild deep down but refuses to believe it, and here we see him battle his own inner demons as he is forced to accept what is in his heart and the amount of denial he has been going through towards Makarov, with whom he has shared a great relationship.

I guess she's made him... hot? Eh? Eeeeh?
This is the first arc where both Juvia and Gajeel become official Fairy Tail members, and so we're able to see a glimpse of what it is going to be like to have them in the series more. Needless to say, it's great to have Juvia sacrifice herself for Cana or Gajeel try to make up for hurting Levy by taking the pain himself. A predictable arc, but a fun one.

5. Zero

Some might say this shouldn't count since it was released in a separate volume to the main series, but it was written and drawn by Hiro Mashima and it was confirmed canon by Mavis, Zeref and the ghost of Zera so... well, I'm counting it. In this flashback arc, a young Mavis grows up on an island with her one friend Zera. Eventually, three treasure hunters arrive and find out a guild has stolen something from the island. So Mavis and Zera join the treasure hunters to get back the treasure and explore the outside world for the first time.

I am absolutely convinced Mavis is bisexual.
A classic fish-out-of-water tale told through the perspective of Mavis, this arc manages to make every emotional moment count thanks to the wonderfully optimistic personality of our main girl and how it clashes with the more down-to-earth trio of Yuriy, Precht and Warrod. And although it probably goes without saying, Mavis' interactions with Zera and Zeref are absolutely fantastic! Some of the best scenes in the franchise.

True love.
The only real weakness of this arc is the enemy guild. They are rather one-note and lacking in any nuance, but that isn't the focus. The reason this exists is to build on the character of Mavis and her history, and it does that with grace and style. Even if you can predict these moments, you can't predict how heavily they will hit your heart. Such a delight.

4. Alvarez Empire

I've already written a more extensive review on this arc and what it means to the franchise as a whole, which you can read by clicking on this link so I'll just sum it up quickly here. In this final arc, Zeref is revealed as the emperor of an entire country and is coming to attack Fairy Tail in a huge war so he can acquire the grand power known as "Fairy Heart".

"We're here. We're queer. Get used to it."
What really works for this arc are, once again, the emotional scenes. Not all of them hit the mark of course, but many do and Zeref reaches some truly sympathetic heights as his backstory and motivations are more openly explored. However, the true scene-thieves are easily the majority of the Spriggan 12, Zeref's top forces.

What a lovely city of death.
Everyone in the Spriggan 12 manages to be memorable, with my lovely waifu Brandish being the crown jewel. They all have interesting personalities and designs that keep them in your mind, but the action really isn't good enough for most of them. For the final villains of Fairy Tail, they really deserved some more intense battles than the adequate ones they got.

3. Tenrou Island

The arcs so far had all been quite short, but Tenrou Island changed all that with a hefty size that actually let the battles breathe and the characters explore. In this arc, 8 of the Fairy Tail members are taking on partners so they can go to Tenrou Island, where Mavis' grave rests, so they can try to become S-Class wizards like Erza, Mirajane, Laxus, Mystogan and Gildarts. However, the test is interrupted by the sudden invasion of Grimoire Heart, who are seeking the supposedly-dead wizard Zeref!

"Kumbaya, my Lord..."
One of the best things about this arc is the introduction of Zeref, finally creating an element that would connect future arcs together and not make them all feel like one-shots with little-to-no continuity. The entrance of Grimoire Heart also gave us the return of Jellal's briefly-seen partner Ultear, and the intimidating yet silly Seven Kin. Kain Hibiki and Rustyrose are especially memorable for being both threatening and ridiculous at the same time.

Go away, Happy. You're ruining the moment! You don't need to be in every scene!
What really sets this arc apart from the others however, are the partnerships and how characters interact with each other. Natsu is forced to confront his own weaknesses by his mentor Gildarts. We start to see the beginning of a romance between Gajeel and Levy. Elfman and Evergreen are hilarious together. And Lucy is trying her best to help Cana through her drama. These connections and many more are why we remember the arc so well, and why it makes number 3.

2. Tartaros

100 people have just been brutally murdered and some of Fairy Tail's strongest have been taken out! The final dark guild of the Balam Alliance reveals itself as Tartaros, a collection of demons created by Zeref himself! They are going to wipe out all magic and stand above everyone as rulers, unless Fairy Tail can stop them!

Bizarrely however, the anime really butchered the arc when it comes to colour.
The entire arc is instantly calling itself out as different with this death-covered opening in which innocent civilians and old Council members are slaughtered one after the other brutally by the evil Tartaros demons. Unlike previous entries, enemies aren't just sent flying by Fairy Tail's epic punches or knocked out. No, they are killed. You see Natsu, Gray, Lucy and others murder the demons! Which is a shame because these demons are damn interesting.

From an openly-gay couple to a sexy ice wizard in a cape, all of the demons of Tartarus are just cool. They really did deserve to be in the series a lot more, but it was understandable that they would be killed. This truly does feel like war, brutal and unfair, which is something the Alvarez Empire arc often failed to achieve. And incase you are wondering, my favourite this time was obviously Jackal.

1. The Grand Magic Games

I worked in the Forge of Anime one summer, and I learned an ancient commandment; If your anime ever needs a boost, give it a tournament! Much like Dragon Ball, YuYu Hakusho, My Hero Academia and many more, Fairy Tail improved itself exponentially by introducing dozens of new characters to battle in a tournament! For you see, the members of Fairy Tail have returned from a 7 year disappearance to find that they are the most mocked and pathetic guild in the country. To regain their status as the best, Fairy Tail forge two teams and enter the Grand Magic Games!

Spin the wheel, see who you get!
Unlike most tournaments, this one keeps things interesting by giving us different types of events and challenges. A race across trains, team battles and Assassin's Creed-style hunts are just the tip of the iceberg. Favourites like Ichiya return with brand new designs and are joined by newcomers Sting and Rogue from Sabretooth, who become so popular they get a non-canon spinoff, and Mermaid Heel's Kagura who will later have some fun times with Erza.

While some characters obviously get very little screentime, including the overcompensating Quatro Cerberus, you rarely find yourself caring because of how great the ones we spend time with are. This arc knows when to be serious and when to be fun, starting with a ridiculous labyrinth and ending with battles against mighty dragons, there is plenty to love. And despite one or two nitpicks, it easily earns the title of Number 1 Fairy Tail. For me, at least.

In case you're curious, this arc is fine. Has some good laughs and twists, but it's a bit too long and really drags its feet.

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 ask.fm/shigginsishere or go to his tumblr page http://otakugajeel.tumblr.com/


  1. Great review!! I missed your Fairy Tail stuff. It's really interesting to find out all the reasons you enjoy these arcs.
    My list is a bit different though:

    As you yourself said, this arc doesn't feel... important. Having said all that it's above Oracion Seis to me - because of the great moments. I really liked the Happy development, as well as Lisanna's return(even if I grew to hate it afterwards). The plot was also really interesting and confusing, making it more intriguing.

    9)Fantasia arc
    Laxus's arc had some amazing moments, like Mirajane's transformation and the whole Laxus ordeal. Laxus's development was very great this arc, and I really liked what Hiro did with him. Other than that though, this arc seemed a bit mediocre. I still remember it fondly, but the only parts I really liked in this arc are with Laxus.

    Tbh, I think I'm one of the rare people who doesn't dislike this arc. Maybe because I have a soft spot for timeskips and powerups. I actually enjoyed it from start to end. I will agree, that the ending kinda.. rushed things(just like Alvarez) but I still enjoyed seeing Fairy Tail destroy everyone with their new strength. So yea, I don't hate this arc at all. I will agree though that it had wasted potential - it could've been top 5 if done right.

    7)Phantom Lord arc
    This is one of the rare arcs, where I enjoyed every bit of it. From the very start to the very end, it was great. I really liked the Gajeel fight, and Lucy was amazing in this arc. I think that I really started to like her as a character after this arc. And then she grew to be my favourite character overtime.

    6)Tower of Heaven
    Now, I know that you dislike this arc, but most of the people, including me, heavily enjoy it. I won't lie, the 1st part of the arc was pretty boring. But the final parts were so amazing, with a great villain like Jellal, Erza's development and even great moments from Natsu. It was super emotional and deep, and I loved it.

    5)Fairy Tail Zero
    It's funny how it's number 5 for both of us. Despite it being a spinoff, it was so greatly written, that I couldn't help but love it. Mavis and Zeref had great interaction, and Warrod,Yuri and Precht added even more to this arc. Plus seeing how Fairy Tail started was pretty amazing tbh.

    4)Grand Magic Games
    I really enjoyed this arc, which puts it above the other ones. The tournament part was great, and even the dragon invasion was ok. It's just that it had a lot of flaws, and not that many great moments compared to some other arcs(not saying there weren't any). The real thing that made this arc great is the world building and new characters.

    3)Tenrou Island
    This arc is really amazing tbh. The whole Zeref plot, a ton of character moments, and a breathtaking finale - it was a REALLY good arc. It's also one of the rare arcs, where I enjoyed every bit of it, and can't name many flaws.

    2)Alvarez Empire arc
    Despite it's MANY flaws, I still heavily enjoyed it. The Spriggans were by far the best enemies, even if the action was mediocre for a finale. The characters and their development was also amazing, and this arc had a ton of great emotional moments. This arc definetly has a ton of flaws though, more than any other arc. I also have a soft spot for finales, so despite it not being the finale we hoped for, I still enjoyed it enough to rank it number 2.

    I just can't help it - I love this arc. This arc had very sad and emotional moments, great character development for almost everybody from Team Natsu bar Erza, and the demons themselves were pretty good. The finale however, is what makes this arc the best one. Igneel's goodbye, and the disbanding of FT secured this arc as number 1 for me.
    (If Alvarez was done right, it would be number 1 though)

    1. Thanks, man! It's always fun to go back to Fairy Tail articles. I'm always up for ideas!

      I can see why your list is the way it is. And we clearly agree on quite a couple of ideas when it comes to the arcs. Alvarez was a good arc but tons of flaws kept it down from the top 3 for me.

      As for Tower of Heaven, I actually like the stuff with Jellal. From his fight with Erza to the end, that arc is really fun. It's just the rest of it that I dislike, from the boring villains to the thin plot and huge amounts of angst. It probably comes 11th on this list.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Btw the Dragon Cry movie is out.
    Are you going to be doing a review for it?

    1. As soon as I get a chance to watch it myself, yes!