Have you ever had the feeling that sometimes the crews working on animes watch other animes and think, “Hey, this is a great framing device! Let’s use it!” without realizing that anime is about a decade old? All I’m saying, it seems like someone really liked Naruto in the early 2000s and thought no one was going to notice.
Let’s take a look at Fairy Tail Volume 10.
A review copy was provided by FUNimation Entertainment.
This DVD set covers episode 109 through 120, which is the majority of the Tenrou Island arc. Since we didn’t cover Volume 9, here’s a quick recap of the whole thing. As the mages are all ranked, every so often a rank exam comes up. Yup, just like those drawn out exam in Naruto, the plot has all of our favorite mages hightailing it to the island of Tenrou. But, of course, since this is Fairy Tail, nothing is ever going to be that simple and the entire S-Rank Promotion tournament completely falls apart as the world is threatened once more. Again, another terrible force of evil is being summoned, this time by the Grimoire Hearts guild because when else are they going to do it? Off camera? The DVD cuts right before the end of the arc, leaving us on an interesting cliffhanger we’ll get to in the Volume 11 review.
I will say that the Grimoire Heart guild is an interesting group, though I will say that by far they sound better in the Japanese dub than in the English. The voices feel like better fits in this case, even if the English dub tries its hardest. I will say that the English dub, while still strong, feels as though it was slightly off in this volume. I’m not sure if some of the chemistry is fading or if this was a bit of a rush job but there are some episodes where I just couldn’t listen to the English dub at all. Also, is it just me or are the guild members just getting more and more absurd?
In terms of the animation, the quality has remained the same. Cuts here and there in the shots where they do the comedic stuff, most of the battles are still looking good. The battles themselves haven’t changed much either — the same team ups and struggles, and while there are some new attacks and twists thrown in, they just weren’t engaging or exciting.
The music changes on this volume, so we’ve got four songs to grapple with. The rock and female vocal led I Wish, the second opening is by far better than the synth pop heavy Towa no Kizuna that just feels like its digging holes in your brain. Both endings are really digging on the chibi vibe, but neither Kono Te Nobashite or Boys Be Ambious!! really struck a chord with me. The first is great for after sad episode but feels melancholic otherwise and the second is just too energetic (I’m also highly disappointed it was the Morning Musume song of the same name).
As the series progresses, I have come to notice more and more that it relies on the same tropes and copying the same plot lines. I get that this show is in it for the long haul and that what’s interesting about it are the characters, but that’s the thing: even the characters are stagnating. There’s very little in the way of major character development, just more new characters being thrown into the mix. If you’re going to try and make a long series, there needs to be some constant development, not the same battles being fought over and over again. Repetition is no friend to TV shows, and this one is not the exception. Even attempts at something new would be worth experimenting with.
Overall, while this arc has been emotionally packed and with lots of action, it just all feels like deja vu, and not the good kind. If I could some up this section of Fairy Tail into one word, it would be “disappointing.” A lot of the good will and glamour of the first handful of arcs is fading, and with little major character development insight along with another bevy of villains, it just feels worn out and out of ideas. Hopefully, the next couple of episodes will prove to revitalize the series, if even just a little in Volume 11.
– Decent story arc.
– Strong animation.
– Strong Japanese voice overs.
– Good opening theme.
– Boring battles.
– Ending themes feel a little out of place.
– Highly repetitive.
– English dub was not well matched for new characters.