Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fairy Tail Season One Anime Review

Fairy Tail Season One
Feari Teiru
Funimation
Complete Collection - 8 discs
600 mins. - 24 episodes
$54.98 (2013) Blu-Ray/DVD
$54.98 (2011) Part 1-2 Blu-Ray/DVD
ISBN 704400087677
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Shinji Ishihara
Studio - A-1 Pictures/Satelight

Synopsis: Lucy Heartfilia is an inexperienced celestial wizard with one goal in mind - join the Fairy Tail guild!  She ran away from home to make it big as a wizard and Fairy Tail is the guild with the most radical reputation for strong wizards.  By coincidence she meets Natsu Dragneel and his companion Happy, a flying cat, who invite her to join Fairy Tail.  Natsu is a Dragon Slayer type wizard with mastery over fire and an equally hot-blooded temperament.  When Lucy joins Fairy Tail the true adventure begins!
Lucy joins up with Fairy Tail (from left) - Natsu, Gray, Erza, and Lucy!
The famous guild is populated by a misfit crew of wizards including:
  • Natsu Dragneel is known as the Salamander and a Dragon Slayer wizard type.  He's hot-blooded, quick to act, and incredibly powerful.  Raised by the dragon Igneel, he has the physical properties of a dragon including enhanced strength, resistance to fire, eat flames to increase his power, and project flames from his body (including breathing fire).  Natsu is susceptible to a debilitating motion sickness when on moving conveyances (like trains and wagons).  Despite his rash nature he's kindhearted and can usually back up his boasts with incredible power.
  • Gray Fullbuster is an Ice Make wizard and can create powerful objects made out of ice.  He was taught magic by the powerful wizard Ur.  He is usually very serious, but has an odd habit of stripping down to his underwear almost unconsciously (likely because of his resistance to cold temperatures).  Due to their opposite types of magic Gray has a fierce rivalry with Natsu (Ice vs. Fire).  Despite their differences both wizards are fast friends and support each other when needed.  
  • Erza Scarlet is known as Titania and uses Re-Equip magic to summon various weapons/armor to suit any battle.  She is considered the most powerful female member of Fairy Tail and has a fearsome personality which keeps her other guild mates in line.  Despite her rough exterior she truly cares for her friends, but is not above smacking them around if they get out of line.  She becomes fully naked when re-equipping.
  • Lucy Heartfilia is the newest member of Fairy Tail and recruited by Natsu.  She summons celestial deities by using various Gatekeys.  She comes from a rich family and is running away from her careless life to become an adventuring wizard.  The initial deities she uses are Cancer (who appears to be a humanoid crab hairdresser), Taurus (a lecherous minotaur), Aquarius (a mermaid), and Virgo (who dresses as a maid with broken chains around her wrists).  
  • Happy the flying blue cat is also a wizard although not human.  He is Natsu's sidekick and the pair are fast friends.  He loves eating fish and can carry one person when flying.  
  • Elfman Strauss is known as Beast Arm and uses Take Over magic, specifically Beast Soul where he assumes the powers of any magical creature he has defeated.  His control is limited to transforming his right arm.  A tough guy who is always telling others to "man up" or "this is what a real man would do". 
  • Mirajane Strauss is know as Demon Woman and Elfman's older sister.  She also uses Take Over magic, but no longer uses her powers.  She works as Fairy Tail's barmaid in their guild hall, is incredibly beautiful, and very kindhearted.  
  • Cana Alberona uses Card Magic with her magical deck of cards.  She has the unique ability to consume enormous quantities of alcohol yet somehow retain a beautiful figure.  
  • Makarov Dreyar is the old master of the Fairy Tail guild and one of the Ten Wizard Saints, the most powerful wizards in the Fiore Kingdom.  His primary ability is Giant/Titan where his diminutive size is increased to massive proportions!  He is a fatherly figure who cares greatly for the members of his guild. 
Erza pulls Natsu and Gray (with Happy and Lucy tagging along) to
take on the dark guild of Eisenwald
Fairy Tail wizards are constantly looking for work and mission postings are placed on the guild hall board. The toughest missions are called S-Class and prove to be extremely treacherous.  Many missions entail battling 'dark' wizards or guilds who operate outside the influence of the sanctioned Magic Council.  Erza shows up at the guild hall to enlist the aid of Natsu and Gray on a particularly dangerous mission.  Happy and Lucy tag along to help.  
Natsu suffers from extreme motion-sickness while riding the train
The group becomes very close-knit and perform all sorts of missions together with varying results.  The missions include battling a dark guild who plans to assassinate the Magic Council with an cursed flute called Lullaby, stealing a book from a corrupt duke, helping villagers on an island who turn into demons at night, and stopping a secret wizard cabal from resurrecting a powerful demon with ties to Gray's past.  Between missions the Fairy Tail guild members manage to get into all sorts of trouble as Natsu challenges Erza to a fight, we learn Happy's origin, and all of the guild members magically switch bodies!  
Lucy uses a Celestial Key to summon Aquarius
Rivalries between guilds are not uncommon and Fairy Tail is besieged by the Phantom Lord guild.  Each guild is populated by powerful wizards and led by one of the Ten Wizard Saints.  The battles are fierce and stakes are high as Fairy Tail comes under fire.  Lucy's past comes back to haunt her as her friends put their lives on the line to defend the guild.
Natsu's unleashes his powerful fire magic
Pros: Good animation and backgrounds, exciting action and spectacular fights, some interesting characters and origins (Elfman's was particularly tragic), story and missions become increasingly better as the show progresses, Natsu is entertaining when he fights, nice message with emphasis on friendship and camaraderie, fan-service (for gals too since Gray is always stripping)
The origin of Happy the flying cat wizard
Cons: Blu-Ray + DVD = 8 discs total - couldn't they just offer one or the other (and for less money)?, first few episodes were not great and I almost stopped watching this series, recurring joke about Gray taking off his clothing gets old fast, Lucy is not the most interesting character, fairly standard shounen anime, Happy the flying cat is kinda silly, this show is a mashup of One Piece and Naruto, first season ends in the middle of the Phantom Lord story arc
Mirajane is the beautiful barmaid at Fairy Tail's guild hall
Mike Tells It Straight: I had heard some favorable reviews of Fairy Tail and decided to give it a shot.  Based on the popular and long-running manga of the same name by Hiro Mashima (Rave Master).  It's a major shounen series (like Naruto and Bleach) with lots of characters, adventures and sweeping story arcs.  The series started off rather bland and I almost stopped watching after the first handful of episodes.  It was just too easy for Lucy to join Fairy Tail and the first set of bad guys were pathetic (the Salamander impostor and Duke Everlue).  Happy the flying cat was pretty silly and I couldn't take him seriously.  I groaned at the thought of sitting through another lame shounen series with a million episodes.
These freaks are the Ten Wizard Saints?
I stuck with it and was relieved to find later story arcs had some decent characterization and the emergence of an overall theme of friendship.  Things got better once Erza showed up and the Galuna Island/Deliora arc kept my attention.  Natsu, Gray and Erza were all interesting characters along with some of the other members of Fairy Tail.  I particularly liked Elfman's tragic origin during the Phantom Lord arc at the end of this first season (which is actually the middle of the real first season of 48 episodes).  Lucy didn't strike me as a particularly strong character and hopefully she'll show more pluck later on.
The villagers of Galuna Island are cursed with demon parts
While I found Fairy Tail to be relatively enjoyable it was a typical shounen anime - long story arcs bookended by comedy episodes and containing successive 'power-up' episodes (as perfected by Dragon Ball Z).  The show does have mild fan-service (beautiful women/girls and even Gray stripping in every episode where he appears).  Natsu literally looks like a cross between Naruto (spiky hair) and Luffy from One Piece (open shirt).  The series is not overly dark and keeps a fairly light tone throughout with only a few emotional scenes.  It's not a mature show and suitable for younger viewers (they're the target audience after all).  I recommend the series for fans of shounen genre anime, but definitely not a mature show (i.e. latter half of Fullmetal Alchemist).  I'm looking forward to the second season (mainly because this first season ended in the middle of a story arc) and will post a review soon!
Gray is always losing his clothes!

TO BUY and Recommendations: