Both pushed to the very limits by their recent experiences, Natsu and Gray come face to face…on the battlefield?! And what chance does the rest of Fairy Tail stand against Alvarez’s million soldiers without them? Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.
1. This episode has a bit of unintentional symmetry here with this battle. Natsu and Gray have been fighting pretty much all their lives–they’re natural opposites, and friendly rivals, so they can’t help themselves. It’s almost how they show how much they care about one another. But now, here at the end–much like the continent in the wake of Irene’s Universe One spell, everything’s broken and wrong. So when they run into each other again in the aftermath of Gray’s victory against Invel, where he learns Natsu’s true identity, they battle again. Only this time, Gray’s aiming to take Natsu (or E.N.D.) down.
To the show’s credit, this is probably the best fight Gray’s had in quite sometime. Usually they’re pretty lazy with his battles, as evidenced with his match against Invel (and best shown with his fight against Rufus), but this one’s on point. Whether it’s because Gray’s Ice Devil form is more powerful than we think, or Natsu’s holding back, the two go at it evenly for the first part of this episode, with Gray smartly countering Natsu’s brute strength with strategy. It’s so good it’s hard not to want the fight to continue at first…until they show what else is happening this episode.
2. With every new ability displayed by members of the Spriggan 12, I become more convinced they should just win. Irene is already capable of doing things like ripping the infinite magic out of Mavis to hand it over (intact) to Zeref, and casting a spell which allows her to look over an entire continent at one time, but this episode takes her abilities even farther. Over the last few episodes, Fairy Tail has been struggling against the army of the Alvarez Empire–a force that’s literally a million soldiers strong. It’s been a battle of attrition–no matter how much our heroes seem to fight and beat down scrubs, their strength just isn’t lasting long enough.
But just as things seem to turn around for a brief moment, Irene reveals she has another ability: she can cast Berserk on any number of her allies all at once, raising their physical abilities several times over. This doesn’t even seem to affect her either, as she doesn’t look drained of mana in the slightest. People complain that this is innate to shonen, but really many action stories run into this all the time: they introduce villains with powers so absurd that even if the hero is capable of great feats, it’s still impossible to win. I think that’s the only reason I’m fine with the idea of heroes having Deus Ex Machinas and ass pulls, especially here in Fairy Tail–the villains just keep one-upping themselves with abilities no one knew they had, so why can’t the heroes?
3. There’s been a lot of complaints about how this arc unfolded in the manga, but since all I have to go off is my experience with the anime, I have to say this episode worked for me. There’s literally zero chance Makarov is dead, but this episode made me believe he was long enough to feel almost as broken as the Fairy Tail crew. With things looking more bleak than before, Makarov decides to use Fairy Law to put down Alvarez’s overwhelming forces. Mavis immediately tries to stop him, pointing out that Fairy Law drains more of your life the more enemies it hits. Realizing this is almost certain death, she urges him to follow her strategies instead. First off: what strategies? Mavis has been around for several arcs now and the only time she earned her “Fairy Tactician” title is during Fairy Tail Zero, her flashback episodes, and the Grand Magic Games. Other than that she’s just stood around looking helpless and on the verge of tears while Zeref’s plans unfold.
But in any case, there’s a LOT to this scene to unpack, and this is what I mean by the anime taking it’s time to elevate the material. The flashbacks aren’t anywhere near as extended in the manga, and the anime gives us a chance to hammer home several key moments. For one, when Makarov talks about how certain he is that Mavis’ plans have a high percentage of success, he also adds that these are his children, and he can’t watch them suffer anymore. This brings us back a character trait from the flashbacks: where the Curse of Contradictions didn’t activate because she was in the midst of war, and her sense of life and death were too muddied up for the curse to do anything. In other words, we already know Mavis can easily stop seeing the human cost of battle when she gets into tactician mode.
And while the flashbacks show some of Makarov’s greatest moments, reminding us that he’s always been there for every single member of Fairy Tail, they do something else as well. They also remind us of Mavis’ tie to Makarov–because of her agelessness, she was there when he was born. She named him, and it was when she first saw him brought into the world that she understood what it meant to value life. And again, here at his death, she’s reminded of that lesson again.
There are lots of other great moments here too, particularly watching Laxus try and console Mavis into getting back up. He’s truly transformed into someone who puts the guild before his own emotions–he’s watched his own grandfather die, right before his eyes, and he understands the necessity of continuing to fight.
Lastly, I can only speak for myself, but this scene broke me, and I may or may not have sobbed audibly on seeing it. Erza lived a very hard life (spending a portion of her childhood as a slave working on building an endless tower) and Makarov was the first adult who ever gave her a chance to be a kid, caring for her, yet allowing her enough room to grow into the woman she is today, the current master of the guild.
4. I’ve seen a lot of complaints online about how Gray’s a dork for fighting Natsu like this. Setting aside the plot related developments for why that’s the case, it’s weird that Natsu isn’t getting criticized as well. It’s not as if he even attempted to back down from Gray–he just rushes right into battle because he figures he can crush Gray then move on to Zeref. This is someone he’s known and looked at as family all his life, and he’s treating him as nothing more than an obstacle to be pushed aside.
While we’re at it, while these two are beating each other into pulp, the rest of their guildmates and their guild leaders are fighting (and “dying”) in an impossible battle that could sure use two of their best warriors helping them out. Frankly, by the end of this episode they both look like total geeks. They’re trying to satisfy pointless vendettas and their father’s basically turned to stone and their team is as broken as they’ve ever been. Erza shows up at the end to stop them from continuing, and I feel like there can’t be anything more satisfying at this point than her explaining how stupid they’ve both been for even wasting time like this.
5. Next Episode: One thing you can’t say about this Fairy Tail is that they waste time. Makarov’s “dead”, but now the entire crew’s got to finish off the rest of the Spriggan 12. At least next episode looks to bring in some of the other guilds again–looks like Sabertooth and Kagura of Mermaid Heel are up in an attempt to battle against Bloodman, August, and Larcade? Hopefully at least one of them walks away with a W. Fairy Tail still shouldn’t have to do this alone.
Fairy Tail is available for streaming on Funimation and Crunchyroll.