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1. “Who cares about foreshadowing”, asks character from genre which is often accused of being poorly written. I wish Mashima had done this on purpose, but we all know better. “Defending Magnolia” kicks off with scenes of our guild members attempting to relax, and Mavis using her ethereal form to fly over Magnolia to check on them all. They’re mostly touching moments, including a bonding scene between Lucy and Erza. There’s also a moment where Gray promises to give Juvia “an answer” concerning their relationship–I half want it to be him just saying “This would never be a healthy relationship. You really need to stop stalking me and find someone you love instead of trying to satisfy an obsession.”, but that’s probably being a bit too hopeful.
The best part though is Happy and Natsu busting into Lucy’s house while she’s writing about what’s happened to the guild recently. She’s doing this super serious narration only for them to appear over her shoulder and comment about how good her work’s become–a nod to the work she did as a journalist in the year after Natsu and the others left. The three take a moment to talk about the upcoming battle, and there’s a moment where Natsu talks about how he has a dream he wants to achieve after they’ve won…only for Lucy to cut him off and explain how he’s raising a death flag for himself. She tries to explain the concept of foreshadowing, but Natsu ignores her and talks about how you have to speak your dreams out loud–a response fitting for shonen action characters, but no less hilarious.
2. Two episodes spent talking about how the team needs to prepare for a war with Alvarez, and they still get caught with their pants down. Warren sets up a scanner to see if Alvarez and Zeref’s forces will arrive by land or sea, but for whatever reason his scanner completely forgets the possibility of an aerial attack, leaving the group with little time to mount a counter attack. Fortunately Freed has a shield up to protect them from being bombed from the Empire’s ships, and Mavis does have a plan–sending the Dragon Slayers aided by their Exceeds to fly around and destroy as many ships as possible. While the Empire’s distracted, the guild’s sniper Biska uses the magical cannon Jupiter to try and wipe out the entire fleet…and gets most of the blast’s energy blocked by Ajeel.
3. We finally have our first face off between one of the Spriggan 12 and a member of Fairy Tail. Natsu and the others try to land on the ships to take the Desert King out, except they forget Dragon Slayers are terrible with moving vehicles and they’re on a flying ship. The trio collapse in a heap of nausea, and nearly get killed before they get saved by the Queen of the Fairies herself, Erza. I’m sure this is going to be a hard-fought battle for Erza, but let’s be honest about this–Erza might just be the most overpowered member of the team aside from Natsu, who’s the main character. She won her battle against a Tartarus dark guild member for no other reason than sheer force of will and plot powers–taking out someone of her level of ability is flat out unlikely.
4. “If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong” isn’t always the best way to start an arc off, but we know we won’t be bored. Just as Erza’s throwing down against Ajeel, the guild discovers in dealing with the Empire’s first attack, they ignored everything else. All at once, they find themselves surrounded from all sides by both land and sea forces, with troop sizes numbering in the thousands. Now normally this is where I’d talk about how I’m sure this is just a challenge for the team to overcome, and that’s partially true. The beginning of this series started with seven people taking down a guild of like 3,000, and the full Fairy Tail guild include a lot more powerful people than Lucy and Happy.
But more than anything I’m astonished at how incompetent they had to be to wind up in this situation. They’ve seen people flying before but never thought someone might come by air? They didn’t think someone could infiltrate Freed’s barrier and get forces inside of Magnolia? They’re surprised someone was able to cross from the other side of the country to attack them on land? I could buy all of these things if they weren’t the group they are–as Fairy Tail they’ve seen and beaten a wide variety of magical abilities. They should’ve been able to see all of this coming, but didn’t either because of fear, sheer incompetence, or a straight up lack of imagination, or a mix of all three. In short, they deserve to have to fight from the bottom this time.
5. Next Episode: “Defending Magnolia” is off to a terrible start considering we’re a single episode in and Alvarez has already snuck inside the city. But worse than that? Lucy’s face to face with Brandish and mini-Marin, and from the looks of things their conversation isn’t going to go anywhere positive. Hopefully the Elfman group can have better luck taking out some of the ground forces.
Fairy Tail is available for streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.