Writing yourself out of a corner can be a particularly tricky thing to do, and most attempts are rather sloppy. I think this is not one of the most graceful attempts I’ve seen, but I will give them points for actually trying to end on a high note.
Let’s take a look at Fairy Tail Volume 13.
A review copy was provided by FUNimation Entertainment.
This collection covers episodes 143-153, ending the Key of the Starry Sky arc and start us off on the Grand Magic Games arc, because nothing says “we haven’t run out of ideas” by doing another tournament style two arcs after the last one. Even if the repetition still exists, Fairy Tail decided that it would be the end of the arc where it was going to throw as many curve balls as humanly possible, not all of them good.
The biggest, and best executed in my opinion, of these is the fact that Michelle Lobster is an imposter: she is a doll called Imitatia (where Tabitha Ray is a much better fit vocally) who has assumed the identity of Michelle to get Lucy and the others in the Fairy Tail guild to build the Infinity Clock. Lucy is captured in order to curse her into a chrysalis form as a way to power the machine. While Oracion Seis using yet another massive machine to gain power isn’t original, it does make for some interesting drama, where there are actual stakes and dealing with feelings of grief and loss. It happens to be muddled in an arc that feels a bit directionless, but it packs a real punch.
Of course, we also get the stupidest of additions in the Jiggle Butt Gang, who are absolutely annoying in both languages and kill a lot of the good will this arc still had. They literally rub their giant butts together until they catch on fire. I get that this show is supposed to be a comedy but this is some ridiculous, out-of-nowhere crap in a decently emotional arc. At least the final episode of the arc is well written and heartfelt, which excuses a lot of the previous bad.
The animation is good in the detail and background work but since I started pausing the video randomly at moments, I started noticing that the shortcuts were getting pretty bad. Missing detail lines, fudging the features and shadows, and of course occasional awkward posing. I get that this is probably a show that isn’t rolling in the studio funding but since it keeps being renewed for new seasons, you would think that the shortcuts would be hidden a little bit better. The quality is much better on the Blu-Ray though so there’s that if you’ve got the option.
The new opening music for the brand new arc actually don’t live up to the former arc’s epic soundtrack. The opening, Break through by GOING UNDER GROUND, is a flat, melancholic number that doesn’t quite fit the scope they are going for in this tournament. While the animation does a good job rounding up all the teams, it just feels sluggish. The ending is Kimi ga Kureta Mono by Shizuoka Kudo is a very sweet song for the ending that actually fits, made even better by the fact that we’ve finally moved out of chibi territory (essentially meaning that this arc is going to be serious business).
The fight scenes are, for the most part, very entertaining, especially the fight with Natsu, Elfman and Coco (and later Romeo) versus Imitatia. The concept of the Infinity Clock is very interesting, even if its use is a bit anti-climatic. The new Oracion Seis has some fun powers, and the dolls themselves are actually quite potent as well (though the fact that they have sentience prior to their new form is quite creepy). Overall, the action has remained strong but what else could you expect from a fighting serial?
As the end of an arc, Fairy Tail has managed to write itself out of a very tricky corner with some emotional punch, but the newest arc doesn’t promise anything new or exciting on the horizon. There will of course be surprises along the way, and apparently some very serious twists and turns, but for now, the Starry Sky arc is a nicely wrapped up storyline that has helped to deal with some of Lucy’s emotional issues. Hopefully in the next arc, we get some of that same emotional impact.
– Strong emotional plot line.
– Good ending theme.
– Good sub/dub.
– Poor humor.
– Shortcuts in animation is noticeable.
– Poor opening theme.