In the mystical realm of Earth Land, magic exists at the core of everyday life for its inhabitants, from transportation to utilities and everything in between. However, even with all its benefits, magic can also be used for great evil; therefore, to prevent dark forces from upsetting the natural order of things, there exists a system of magical guilds in the Kingdom of Fiore. Under the command of their respective guild masters, these guilds are made up of witches and wizards who take on various job requests to earn fame and fortune. One particular guild stands high above the rest in both strength and spirit, and its name is Fairy Tail.
In his quest to find his dragon foster father—Igneel—Natsu Dragneel, a fiery and reckless mage, and his partner Happy run into a young celestial mage by the name of Lucy Heartfilia, who reveals that it's her dream to become a full-fledged wizard and join the Fairy Tail guild. After rescuing her from an abduction attempt, Natsu offers her a home in Fairy Tail. Now a member of the guild, Lucy teams up with Natsu and befriends fellow wizards Gray Fullbuster and Erza "Titania" Scarlet. Together, this motley crew set out on their many adventures, gaining many faithful allies and deadly foes along the way.
In 2009, Fairy Tail won the 33rd Kodansha Manga Award in shounen manga category, the Japan Expo Awards for the same category, and the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation's Industry Award for best comedy manga.
It has received multiple adaptations; including a 175-episode TV series, a 102-episode sequel, and two animated films. It has also received several manga spin-offs by various authors, a side story novel series, and a magazine to its name, Monthly Fairy Tail, where some of the spin-offs were published.
The series was initially published in English by Del Rey Comics, releasing volume 1 on March 25, 2008 up until volume 12 on September 28, 2010. Kodansha Comics USA picked up the license and released volume 13 on May 10, 2011, a large size 5-in-1 omnibus edition subtitled as Master's Edition have also been published since November 10, 2015. It has also been published in Spanish by Norma Editorial since October 30, 2008; in Italian by Star Comics since January 3, 2008; in Brazil by JBC since October 2010; in Polish by Studio JG since April 2016; and in Argentina by Editorial Ivrea since January 2017.
Oh Fairy Tail, You could have been good, you had so, so much potential in you, but here you are, going out with barely a yelp.
Where did it go wrong Hiro? You had an immensly popular manga at your disposal to really give all your readers a satisfying manga to reread over and over again. You had the chance to make Fairy Tail something really, really great . But you wasted the opportunity. You have thrown it away by being stubborn to the end.
Of course, I'm not saying this out of no reason. There are a lot of good reasons as to why many readers,
including me, were sooooo disappointed at how the manga turned out. However, there is one main reason that has been the biggest downfall to Fairy Tail, and that is the formula.
You see, Fairy Tail only ever has the same formula for every single one of its arcs. Meet Enemy, Fight, Get beaten up, .... activate Friendship power and win. That's it. That is the one and ONLY formula Hiro relies on to create each and every arcs. It's so ridiculous to the point that, in the later arcs, everyone could predict the outcome of the fight so easily. "Fairy Tail will win, Fairy Tail will not lose a single member because Natsu and co. will activate their bullshit asspull to overcome the enemy every single fight." This asspull was somehow most present in the damn FINAL ARC. Meet strong enemies, Fight but get pushed back a bit, then a random speech about family, friends, guild... then win. It's unbelievable how the "hyped" fights were all ended this way. This, this right here is what truly killed Fairy Tail.
There are other reasons as well. The characters were too linear and undeveloped throughout the entire story. Although some of them did seem to get development, particularly Gray, it got nullified towards the end of the story as they just became the same, dumb characters they once were. Almost all of them did have potential to become better to even great characters, but nearly all remained too same, and too much of an annoyance throughout the end.
The plot holes are also very much evident. I can't count the number of times a Fairy Tail guild member had an intense fight and just walked the injury off afterwards like nothing. Characters like Erza, Natsu, Gray... they should be out, they should have been unable to move so easily after the "intense" fights. But of course they are able to run around just minutes/chapters after.
Convenient plot devices like some bullshit returns and lame deux ex machinas did not help cover plot holes either. Oh, and did I mention that there are basically no deaths in the story? This should really have gone with the formula part I wrote, but the fact that almost every characters just come back alive or not die after "fatal" blows is infuriating. Hiro, you could have created some quite powerful moments through some deaths, all the while developing characters, but you chose to bring them back just a couple chapters later... sigh...
Another brief thing I want to bring up is the fanservice. Now, I don't mind a bit of fanservice at all, but Fairy Tail has fanservices all over the place, even in places they do not belong at all. Normal, everyday life will have some kind of fanservice and of course, the supposedly "toughest fight of their lives" will have some kind of fanservice. It really gets ridiculous and just makes light of any kind of situation, even though when the tone is supposed to be darker. *cough, Grand Magic Games, cough*
All right, so is there anything good? Anything?
First, there is the art which is very attractive to many people, including me. The character designs are pretty good, the background is nice and detailed, and overall, although a bit similar to One Piece, the art maintains a clean yet detailed complement to the series. Just unfortunate that the nice character designs didn't equal good characters in the end.
There was one particular arc that actually stood out in the midst of mediocre and bad arcs. And that was the 2nd to last (or 3rd to last if you count the Avatar arc) of the series. Without spoiling it too much, the Tartarus arc is without a doubt the best arc of the series. Contrary to just about every other arc, Tartarus actually has some emotion in it. Not only that, it brings some really surprising revelations the fans were asking for years, along with newer powerups for some characters. It still follows much of the same formula as the rest of the series, but there's no doubt that this was the arc I've enjoyed the most.
Chapterwise, The earlier chapters did give some entertainment and couple chapters midway through the story were pretty fun. Also, the last chapter turned out to be fairy good, at least better than the ending in bleach and Naruto.
That's it really. I was going to give this a higher score had the Final arc been as good as the Tartarus arc, but it was an epic failure, one of the worst in the series. I don't really recommend this series to anyone anymore, especially after the travesty that was the Final Arc. So please, if you want to save some time by not reading through something that will infuriate and disappoint you, please step away.
Actually, just go onto youtube and find the music scores for Fairy Tail. The music score is undeniably great, and most of them are worth listening to at least once. Which makes it even more shame as it was wasted on this.
Good job Hiro Mashima. Good job on throwing away a potentially great manga.
A wise man once said..."To deny Fairy Tail as absolute garbage, is to deny reality itself"
At the risk of this turning into a rant, I will be censoring myself a lot to give a genuine review. This review will contain very minor spoilers as names (except the main character slot) will be withheld because for god know what reason you still want to pick up this manga after everything I said, you won't be spoiled...you have been warned.
Well, well, well...what can I say that hasn't been said about FT? Actually nothing really. FT is what happens when you wrote 1/4 of your manga and then
fire all your co-writing staff, go to a nursery and replace good plot with whatever those toddlers vomit on a page and there you have what FT is. Granted for a battle shounen, you shouldn't expect much when it comes story and characters but this just happens to be worse than every battle shounen I've ever watched/read. How did it fall so fast into the shitter that it actually becomes a chore to read it every week? I remember back in the day when a new chapter would come out and I would genuinely feel excited but as time progressed and the quality of work just became worse and worse, you get the feeling of apathy because your hopes and expectations have been shattered time and time again. At least I can praise FT for one thing and that is its unpredictability because it surprises you every time in how much worse it can become with every chapter.
Normally in battle shounen you see the characters train to become better but not here...no, no, no here the give friendship speeches and cringy one liners about emotions and then gain all sorts of asspull power. Battles go something like this
4vs1...villain slaughters them
*cue the friendship speech*
1vs1...badly damaged FT member one-shots
*cue the viewers tears after watching a horrible fight*
If the whole "friendship" power-up always defeats the enemy despite how powerful they may be (even GODS), what's the point of even training to become stronger? They always put so much effort in fighting the enemy, seemingly intensifying the situation they're in, then use the overused, effortless power-up known as "friendship" that ALWAYS ends it. It's not even because they are stronger than their foe. Sometimes the foes power outclasses them completely yet the 'believing in myself' and 'my friends give me power' stick always wins...I'm surprised the series hasn't ended sooner.
The characters are horrible with almost no redeemable ones among them. Character development here somehow makes the character worse, I didn't think it was possible but Hiro did it. This manga features some of the worst characters I've ever come across and the character assassinations that happen to mildly interesting characters, just because of their contact with the main cast is truly shocking. It's like they are all absorbed into the bullshittery of emotion that is the Fairy Tail guild. They lose their individuality and just like a corporate environment, become slaves in a never ending rut just going with the flow of things. At the end it's like the same characters just all wearing different faces until they just become numbers.
The Main Characters
Natsu - Carbon copy/paste of the idiot shounen male lead that thinks with his fist but somehow he's worse because instead of training to become stronger, he just spouts crap about "my friends are my strength" and one shots the opponent even though the foe was winning 99% of the fight...fucking ridiculous.
Lucy - The fanservice character with forced insertion due to her magic type to make her seem more than a massive set of tits in clothes that are clearly way too small for her. If she's not randomly losing clothes, becoming naked or falling on Natsu's face, she would hardly feature. She's not a good character but as far as FT characters go, she's one of the better ones.
Gray - At least something Hiro done right. With his unique Ice Making magic, he can construct objects and combined with his keen intellect, he uses this and strategy to defeat his opponent in a non-bs way. Then kinda murdered the characters progression to make him blend in with the rest of the mind-numbing cast. Hiro does this with a few characters but why would that surprise you...
Erza - The worst character in the series and I'm not even going to go here. I could start an entire website dedicated to my hatred of this character and how appaling she is written..."because she's Erza" oh the cringe.
Happy - Natsu's flying cat that's there to make jokes and eat fish...that's it...no lie.
The manga art also takes a major change in the middle but personally I was fine with it as it made the characters look older than they were before due to a time passing by but still recognizable. Character outlines are also thinner. I think I was one of the few people to actually like the new art as I've only heard backlash on it but meh, you either like it or you don't. It's not like it subtracts or adds much to this terrible story.
The characters don't even look that much different especially the female characters. It's like Hiro just took the same body shape for every female except for Wendy that is treated as a loli for comedic scenes about her big breast envy and a bit of fan-service for those that want that...just horriible and lazy.
The story is a linear set of events that really serve no purpose other than introducing fodder villains for Fairy Tail to bulldoze and the final arc has to be one of the worst things in digital and printed history. Even the final chapter like seriously? You couldn't give the fans a better ending than that after suffering through that mess? I wouldn't print it on toilet paper. Over 500 chapters and 11 years of work, most of it is horrible but I guess the series had to remain true to itself and remain trash to the end...wouldn't want to mess with the Krabby Patty formula now do we?
Personally I've spent 4 years following this series and it was one of the worse things I've read and now I've have nothing more to say except goodbye and good riddance.
Fairy Tail is the titanic of manga, it starts out on a great voyage and ends up sinking. That’s how I would describe it.
Honestly the amount of potential this manga had when it started was enormous, but at somewhere along the lines it just became a drag to continue reading it. As you were waiting for each release the thing that went through your mind was “can’t this manga end soon?”.
The story of this manga is honestly good, it’s an interesting concept about mages travelling the world to complete quests for a reward and the more quests the guild members complete
the more prestigious the guilds becomes, etc. but everything starts going south with the characters.
The source of the characters power are basically their nakama (companions), if they’re at the brink of defeat but suddenly one of their nakama shouts their name it gives them the ultimate boost to take down the enemy. Although this could be said about most shounen manga.
After a few hundred chapters in you also starts to notice that there’s suddenly a large amount of fanservice. Some hot springs scenes where they accidentally grab some boobs and spank some buttocks along with some naked (but not actually naked, their nipples and genitalia is hidden with hair, objects, and whatnot) scenes during a battle to the death. It almost felt like the author was pushed to implement this because they were losing readers.
I said “battle to the death” previously but there’s no actual deaths… Not during any battles anyway. One of the things that pissed me of was that this one (important) good guy used a spell that would kill himself but save his nakama so he wholeheartedly does it, and honestly if that would have been it that would have been good, but no, a few chapters later he miraculously comes back to life. The author basically wants a happy ever after ending.
All of this is basically the core ingredients for a shounen manga though, so no huge surprise. But while it does have its bad points I would say that it also has some good points, more specifically its humor. While the fighting scenes may be cringe from time-to-time, Fairy Tail has a great sense of humor which makes it stand out from other shounen manga.
Although the biggest reason you may want or may not want to read this manga is the ending. It leaves some plot holes but honestly it’s just purely unsatisfying to read 545 chapters of a manga and then you get such a plain happy ever after ending. But I will not lie, I do not regret reading this manga, it has some great moments and its brought me many laughs; not worth a re-read though.
My relationship with this series could not possibly be more complicated (Spoilers btw).
I've followed this series since 2011 back when it was a fresh manga full of potential and I had even more motivation to follow it when I found out it was from Hiro Mashima, the creator of my favorite manga of all time, Rave Master. It wasn't exactly sparkling with full on originality, but it felt like it could still tell a good story with likable characters in it's own right..........not sure what the hell happened.
The first couple of arcs in Fairy Tail are by far the best, Phantom Lord, Tower of
Heaven, Fighting Festival, each of them involving an interesting antagonist that stay a threat to the very end, giving further insight to already existing characters, acknowledge the characters strengths AND MORE IMPORTANTLY their weaknesses. After Fighting Festival? All of these elements started to slowly fade until arcs just became this clusterfuck of unsatisfactory.
Development started to become exclusive to the supporting characters which were rarely given enough focus to shine to make that development really mean anything, plot points became useless as they didn't play a part at all in future stories (What was the point of Raven Tail, Avatar, and Edolas, someone honestly tell me), formidable characters were later turned into joke characters that were unable to fight the current threat at the time (Kagura and Bacchus). Character death fake outs eventually become so frequent to the point where it gets annoying rather than tear jerking (Don't even get me started on half the reasons the characters survive their "deaths") and just feels like Mashima's wasting our time.
And perhaps the most infamous flaw, protagonists won fights (Erza) because of logic jumping off a 70 story building (Erza) and characters were turned into living plot convenience (Erza), not only making characters less likable as it felt like they were just simply pefect and could never lose, but also making whatever threat was there into a complete an utter joke as antagonists would just stand there with jaws dropped while shitting their pants towards the protagonist fighting them than actually be the threat the plot built them up to be. Didn't help that majority of the antagonists later on were as deep as a kiddie pool, where there was no real motivation for what they were doing, why they were doing it, and who they really were. They were just "the bad guy", even the main villain at the end of the series just briefly mentions his motivation was that "his parents and village were destroyed"........doesn't go any further into that, riveting stuff right?
Art was probably the most consistently good thing about Fairy Tail. Fight scenes had a lot of work and effort put behind them, character designs were interesting to look at, locations would be pretty albeit lacking in terms of standing out when you see how much work was put into designing characters. Basically if you've seen one town or forest in Fairy Tail, you've seen them all.
I've followed this series for 6 years, I saw it's rise, and witnessed it's fall, and it's second fall, and it's third, fourth, fifth, it's a frustrating series, but also a dumb entertaining one that captured my curiosity enough to stay and see how it all turned out. I'd recommend Fairy Tail only if you're looking for some dumb fun, and even then 540+ chapters might be a little too much for that.
FT gets a 5/10 from me. You're better off reading Rave Master.
Natsu and Lucy, the main protagonists of Fairy Tail, have yet to bring good news to shippers of the pair. Given Natsu's man-child personality and Lucy's no-boyfriend-since-birth status, will the two ever end up with each other?