Hello everyone and welcome to the Otaku Mind with your host as always, Justin. So, this month we’re talking about Fairy Tail. As you all know, Fairy Tail, written by Hiro Mashima came to end in July of last year and for a while now some have been asking me for my opinion of the series as a whole. My thoughts on Fairy Tail are. . . it’s decent. I know that’s vague but that’s really the best way I can describe the series and I think a lot of people would say the same. Fairy Tail is a series that started off well but as time went on it slowly started to decline and led to an ending that was unsatisfying and left a lot of unanswered questions. But why is that, how could a series that started off with so much potential decline so much? Well that’s what we’re here to talk about today. This is the Rise and Fall of Fairy Tail.
Fairy Tail began in 2006 where it quickly gained popularity for it’s good setting, good humor, enjoyable characters, and impressive action scenes. The series focused on a girl named Lucy who joins the well-known troublemaking guild Fairy Tail in the hopes of going on adventures and using that as a source material to write a book about her adventures. Once in the guild she befriends the problem child Natsu a dragonslayer who was raised by a dragon and his good friend a talking cat named Happy. She also forms a friendship with the ice mage Gray and the guild’s strongest female, Erza. Together they go on adventures, argue with each other, laugh and cry, and overcome all their obstacles through the power of friendship. What drew me to this series was for the most part the concept of Fairy Tail, a world of magic and a guild of troublemakers who didn’t care what anyone thought about them and just had fun doing what they enjoyed. Lucy was a well-written female character. She was cute, smart, could fight and defend herself, and was always willing to help out her friends no matter how dangerous it got. She also had a good backstory. We find out that she’s a rich girl who ran away from home because of her father and in one arc of the story, her dad hires another guild to retrieve her so that he can wed her off. His plan of course fails, and Lucy actually goes to face him herself breaking her ties with him and standing up to him. Sometime passes and we find out later that her father lost all his wealth and is taking up a job at a banking guild where he actually met his wife and where they got the name for Lucy. It’s here that the two for the first time have a genuine talk with each other and are on the road to recovery only to have tragedy strike her years later where due to an incident she disappears for a few years only to return and find out that her father has passed away a month before her return. Lucy doesn’t really know how to handle her father’s death, they had a rocky relationship but at the same time it seemed like there was a possibility they could reconcile with each other and be a family. A part of her wants to feel sad and cry now that she’s lost both of her parents but another part of her can’t forgive all the wrong things he did to her and believes he got what he deserved. As she struggles on what to feel, we find out that over the years he paid the rent on Lucy’s apartment, sent her birthday gifts each year, and wrote her letters saying how much he loved her, wanted to talk to her again, and calls her his pride. Despite not knowing what happened to his daughter or where she was, Lucy’s father had complete faith that she was alive and would return one day. Upon hearing all of this Lucy finally cries all while saying how much she loved her father and wanted to spend more time with him as well. That’s pretty impressive for a female character in a shonen story to get that kind of story and conclusion. Natsu follows the typical shonen male lead scenario. He’s strong, badass, short-tempered, and is always there for his friends. Along with him the other characters fill in the tropes of shonen as well. We have Gray the cool guy who is friends/rivals with Natsu, Erza the badass female who kind of serves as the big sister of the group, and Happy the lovable mascot of the series. With these 5 characters serving as the main crew of the series who were all well-written and had touching backstories along with a good supporting cast of characters who also played their parts, cool fight scenes, good humor, and a fanservice moment here and there, Fairy Tail had all the tools it needed to be popular and sure enough it was for a good while until something started to change in the series.
To understand the fall of Fairy Tail the best place to start is with the similarities the series shares with another popular manga. That manga is of course, One Piece. In a way, Fairy Tail has always been in One Piece’s shadow and the two mangas share a number of similarities. For example, the art styles are similar with the only difference being in the cartoony drawings of Fairy Tail and the fact that Hiro can draw women better than Oda while Oda’s drawings seem to have more detailed added to them and he makes better use of his panels. Now this isn’t to knock the artists, as both Oda and Hiro are amazing artists and both mangas are drawn excellently. However, the similarities don’t stop there. The relationship between Natsu and Gray is very similar to the relationship shared between Zoro and Sanji, two guys who can’t stand each other but respect what the other can do and considers them their trusted ally. The World Government and Magic Council are also similar in that their the authorities of their world who place themselves on a higher level of good but are often seen as antagonists to the protagonists. Both mangas have a timeskip right before an OP character completely destroys the main protagonists only for the characters to return and see that a lot has changed in their absence. But probably the biggest comparison are the characters Shanks and Gildarts. Both of these guys act as the father figure for Luffy and Natsu in their respective stories, are powerful, absent for most of the story, and look very similar to each other. Both stories have excellent fight scenes, villains who return to become allies, place a huge importance on friendship/nakama, and both Natsu and Luffy share a number of similarities such as their love for food, an important article of clothing, and each had a unique power that belongs to them and them alone. But where the similarities stop and where One Piece establishes itself as the better manga in my opinion is with the character development and world building. There’s a story behind every character in One Piece and every bit of information plays a role in the story in some way. Because of this, there’s a sense of reward and accomplishment whenever we read One Piece and see that information play a part somewhere down the line or a see a character change for the better. With Fairy Tail we unfortunately don’t get that. We pretty much just go from arc to arc with the characters having little to no development, learning a few things but seeing them either not play a major role in the story or get skipped over all together, and Hiro doesn’t really explore the world he’s created as much as Oda does. We never get a sense of what this world is like and how it works. For example, what’s the social class like, how does one go about becoming an official guild, how do other countries work, ect.? Hiro doesn’t really answer any of this stuff and doesn’t make any attempt to answer which leads to the major problem of the manga which I’ll get into later.
Where did the Fall begin
It’s hard to pinpoint where the Fall of Fairy Tail began but in my opinion the Fall began with the return of Lisanna. Now, I have nothing against Lisanna as a character but a majority of the problems in Fairy Tail can be summed up with the way she’s handled. Lisanna was the little sister of Elfman and Mira who was believed to have died years ago, only to find out that she was transported to an alternate world and has now returned. Lisanna was Natsu’s childhood friend, she was the one who helped Natsu hatch Happy, and it was even hinted that the two have romantic feelings for each other (she actually said she wanted to marry him when she got older). Hell, Happy even says that she and Lucy lookalike which might explain why Natsu cared for Lucy so much in the early arcs. So, once she returned to the story you would expect to see her and Natsu interact with her and see what this means for their relationship. Are they gonna be shy around each other, is Natsu gonna stick close to her so nothing bad happens to her again, are they gonna start going on missions together, is Lisanna gonna confess to him, and how does Lisanna’s return affect Natsu’s relationship with Lucy who up until this point is actually hinted to have feelings for Natsu as well? The answer, nothing. No joke, nothing happens with her character. Lisanna quickly becomes a support character who only fights in a few scenes and when she does she’s losing most of the time. Her relationship with Natsu never gets addressed and she never plays a major role in the story whatsoever. This means, that her return was entirely pointless and only served to make Mira and Elfman happy for the sake of helping them get over her death. Speaking of pointless relationships, there’s also the relationship between Cana and Gildarts. We find out that Cana, another mage in Fairy Tail who is a drunk is the illegitimate child of Gildarts. When she tells him this not much changes in their relationship. Aside from Gildarts doting on her and embarrassing her their relationship remains the same. Bleak and not given enough information or time to develop. This is huge information on Gildarts’ character, he was seen as a jolly loner and father figure to the other members of Fairy Tail who was next in line to lead the guild should something happen to Markov. Now, he has a daughter who he had no idea existed. What’s the story behind the mother? Never explained. Gildarts continues to be a loner coming and going as he pleases and Cana remains the same.
While Lisanna may not have caused the Fall of Fairy Tail she got the ball rolling on the problems that would become apparent in the manga. The Fall of Fairy Tail really started to become apparent in the Tenrou Island arc. Characters taking a beating only to get back up and win through the power of friendship. Unlocking a new power out of nowhere through the power of friendship. Defeating a powerful enemy with one decisive strike with no build up whatsoever and finally death fake outs. My God, the death fake outs. Hiro used this trope so many times in his story that it was laughable and ruined any suspense we had for certain scenes. Markov had so many fake out deaths only to come back alive. The one that pissed everyone off the most was in the last arc where Markov sacrifices himself to save the others and he dies with what really seems like his legit death only for him to somehow survive through some unknown reason. On top of all these problems a few characters were going through a radical change. Lucy just became the fanservice girl. Love her or not, Lucy was the main character of this series. The story is told from her perspective and at first she started off as a great female lead who as I said before was not only cute but she was smart, independent, strong, and had a goal she wanted to achieve. As the story goes on she just becomes the fanservice girl, the girl who wears revealing costumes, is always getting her clothes removed, and seems to be the damsel in distress who Natsu has to keep saving. What was once a well-written and interesting character who had room for good development, has now become a character who’s only purpose is to provide fanservice. Erza also seem to get the same treatment. While not as bad as Lucy, she also has her moments of pointless fanservice but thankfully her badass moments even it out. The characters never really seemed to have an end goal outside of just completing their mission and returning home. What are their goals? What they do they hope to achieve in Fairy Tail? How will they change and grow as characters? What about the love lives among the characters? While romance wasn’t a huge factor in the manga, Hiro dedicated a number of moments to possible ships throughout the manga and he never takes time to explore them. I wouldn’t care so much because it’s a shonen story and shonen isn’t really all that big when it comes to romance but when you dedicate a number of panels to these ships, it’s clear that you want us to focus on them because they play an important part in the story. All these things never get answered because they never happen. Fairy Tail didn’t seem interested in developing its characters, the world they’re in, and dropping potential storyline. Fairy Tail was becoming your basic shonen manga that was only concerned about hitting tropes and moving from arc to arc.
The biggest fault in the Fall
The biggest fault in the Fall comes from the man himself Hiro Mashima who goes on record saying that he never planned out the ending for Fairy Tail. He admits at the beginning of the series that he was just making up the story as he went along and that’s something you can’t do (especially if you’re writing a weekly series). Even if you don’t have an ending written in stone at the start of the story, you should at least have an idea of how you want it to end. Take my 00 Otaku special from last year. Originally, I was only going to have 15 parts but as I kept writing I kept adding in new ideas as I went along. Now how is this different from what Hiro did? Simple, despite all the changes and extra stuff I added in, the ending never changed. When I first started writing 00 Otaku I knew how I wanted it to start, what was going to happen, and how I wanted it to end. The questions I had to answer were how I was going to reach that ending and what did I want to add in. That, in my opinion, is how you write a good story. Take One Piece for example. Oda says One Piece should have been done a long time ago. He never intended for the story to go on as long as it has but he says he kept adding in new things to flesh out the world more and make the story better. Yet, despite everything he’s added in and all the changes he’s made, the ending of One Piece remains to be the same in his mind. He’s had the ending planned out for years and he’s not going to change it. Hiro had no idea where he wanted Fairy Tail to go and it shows in the writing. Characters having no development, storylines presented but never being bought up again, and all of it led to a rushed ending that comes out of nowhere and ends with many questions left unanswered.
It’s really hard not to get sad over what happened to Fairy Tail. It was a series that started off well but slowly started to fall apart due to the problems I mentioned earlier and became just another shonen manga when it could have been something more like One Piece, My Hero Academia, or Magi just to name a few. However, I still like Fairy Tail. The drawings are great, the humor is good, the fight scenes are awesome for the most part, and the whole concept of the series is interesting and serves as a basis which helped me create my idea for a shonen manga/novel, The Book of Phoenix. Despite all the problems I listed, I still think Fairy Tail as a whole is decent, I don’t regret reading it, and would recommend the manga to anyone interested in shonen manga. My final score for this manga would be a 6/10. It’s a series filled with problems but it’s still a fun read and I’m glad I picked it up. What are your thoughts on Fairy Tail? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time on Project Nitsuj.
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