on January 1, 2013
Are you looking for a fun, make that hilarious! and enjoyable cartoon series that does not take itself too seriously, but is not overly childish? This may be what you're looking for!
***This Review is Spoiler Free, and covers the First Two Seasons (Part 1 and 2)***
"Fairy Tail", is based on a Japanese comic book (manga) series, which is based on Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs). Basically, watching Fairy Tail is like watching a JRPG. If you have not played any JRPGs, then you should know that all RPGs are more or less based on Dungeons and Dragons. In other words, Fairy Tail is in principle a fantasy world filled with magic, dragons, and all that jazz. It is NOT Tolkien, so don't expect Lord of the Rings. This series was not created primarily with adults in mind. It was created so that adults could enjoy it, but it's most definitely meant for teenagers. That said, I'm far past my teens and I very much enjoyed this series. I admit that I am a fan of animation, however I am NOT an Anime (Japanese animation) fan. Which is not to say I don't like Anime, I simply don't watch that much Anime. I want to point that out, since I believe this is a series that even people who are not Anime fanatics can still appreciate and really enjoy.
So then, what to expect? Fairy Tail has a number of main characters which I describe below. Note that I will be using the American names, since I only watched the English dub, which I will talk about later. First, the principle players:
Lucy: she is your "typical" adolescent guy's dream. In other words, she is blonde, blue-eyed, big boobs, and is a schoolgirl. Yeah, so clearly she "appeals" to more than just adolescents. Anyway, Lucy also displays other traits common in Japanese Anime and RPGs, meaning she wears form-revealing clothes, get's captured now and then, and cries now and then. She may not sound very original, and in many ways she is not, however she is actually fairly endering and also quite funny. Fortunately, as the series progresses, she also becomes stronger, more confident, and fights more. She has the ability to summon spirits to her aid, and the spirits are very funny! For example, she can summon a Minotaur that is totally infatuated with her (and is quite open about it)!
Natsu: Natsu got rejected from Dragonball, and thus found a job in Fairy Tail. Seriously, if you thought Lucy was generic, wait until you see Natsu! Spiky hair? check. Rebellious attitude? check. Heart of gold? check. Just wants to eat and fight? check. I personally find him the most boring character. That said, he does have his moments, and I find that as things progress he is more tolerable. If I were a really young kid, I would definitely admire Natsu. However, I'm not a really young kid, and I find Natsu a bit cliche. Fortunately he has quite a few funny moments, many due to Erza and Happy.
Happy: Happy is a blue cat. That talks. And can fly. Happy is awesome. He's basically a narrator of sorts (although Fairy Tail has an actual narrator as well) that often helps out the team and is hilarious and cute. He sticks with Natsu, and is far more entertaining in my opinion. This cat has spunk!
Erza: she's your typical beautiful girl-next-door who could beat you to a pulp without breaking a sweat. Although her character is very serious, often when she's around funny things happen. Many people are scared of her, because she is serious and pushes herself and others to the limit (and can beat most anyone to a pulp), and this often leads to wonderfully comedic situations. As you find out later in the series, she like everyone else, has secrets and her own daemons to overcome. Erza is a favorite for many, and for good reasons.
Gray: well, he's a lot like Natsu, but more quiet and thoughtful. Thus, less annoying at times. Still, he is stereotypical in that he gets hit a billion times and then gets up saying "ouch, ouch, OK, I'll get you!" [I paraphrase]. Natsu is a fire wizard, and Gray is an ice wizard, so obviously they get into fights... but fortunately Erza is there to keep these guys on the straight path.
So, the aforementioned are the main characters, but the supporting cast is actually fantastic! One of the great things about this series is that the supporting cast really do play an important role. They are not just there to go on errands for the main characters, but really move the plot forward and show character development. That is one of the great things about this series, there is substantial character development... although Natsu has not developed too much yet, but the series is still young! Anyway, Natsu and all, the characters really mesh beautifully. The stories are often very humorous, and there's enough action to keep things entertaining and fresh.
Animation Style: this animation style is very similar to the manga, with characters showing exaggerated expressions etc. I'm not a huge fan of this style, but for this particular series it fits perfectly. I don't think the animation is as beautiful as some other animated series I have seen. In my opinion it's not as stylistically beautiful as Batman the Animated Series, nor is it anywhere as majestic as the classic Disney or Studio Ghibli films. That said, the animation does the job and at times can be beautiful. Also, the animation is mostly hand-drawn, with some computer animations. I much prefer hand-drawn animation, and fortunately the computer animation is not overly used (all the spells are computer generated).
Music: The opening and closing tracks can be both addictive and annoying at the same time. That said, all the music throughout the series is good. I don't find it particularly memorable, and I have no interest in purchasing the soundtrack, but it fits the bill perfectly. What does the music sound like? Honestly, it sounds like a JRPG (not a surprise).
Story: the plots may be nothing new (good vs. evil...characters with hidden secrets...dragons, magic,...save the city/world...) but you will love how the characters interact, and how they grow and develop! There's romance, mystery, and LOTS and LOTS of hilarious mayhem! This series is basically a fantasy/comedy, and very well done. There is NO nudity nor gruesome violence (I have seen zero blood in this series). It is 100% (well, at least 90%) kid friendly. Of course a young kid will not understand everything that's happening, but I think they would still find it entertaining. Still, I feel this series was made for older kids, including the kid that all adults still have somewhere deep down!
+++Great storytelling! Good pace! Often very very funny!
+++The interaction between all the characters is charming and hilarious!
+++World is dynamic, so characters will change, and the story will progress!
+++Characters do develop (well, most do)!
+++Excellent English cast! I haven't heard the Japanese (it's available if you want it), but I'm super pleased with the English dub.
-characters can be generic/cliche ("oh hey, you've got an evil grin and harsh laugh...gee, guess you are evil")
-you get 4 discs! BUT this is a DVD/blu ray set, so if you want just blu ray, guess what... you're also paying for the DVDs anyway!
-very few extras. I don't consider this terrible, but if you're someone that really likes extras in a set, you will be disappointed.
-the episodes are short, so you will be seeing the opening and ending credits A LOT!
OVERALL: I really have enjoyed the Fairy Tail sets. This is the most enjoyable Anime experience I have had in years. Mostly, this is due to the hilarious nature of the series. If you're an Anime fan and/or JRPG fan, you should not hesitate to get this. If you're like me, and want to give something new a chance, I would recommend purchasing both the first and second season (Parts 1 and 2), since they form a continuous story-arc. Chances are you won't be disappointed. Also, the second season (Part 2) is much better than the first, but remember that the first season is more or less to introduce the characters. I look forward to seeing the remaining series as they are released. As I said in the beginning, this is an excellent series if you know what to expect: a light-hearted action/fantasy series with romance and lots of humor! Happy says "Aye!"