Why do I like Fairy Tail?
Believe it or not, this really isn't the easiest question in the world to answer. It shouldn't be a super new concept to anyone that Fairy Tail is a series that is either loved or hated by anyone who has been in the anime community for more than 5 minutes. And if you somehow don't fall into that obscenely large demographic of fans, well, then this might get awkward. It's a series that took its precious time working its way up the ladders of both popularity and episode count. So much so that it single-handedly changed the well-known title of "The Big 3" to "The Big 4," though it's combined 277 episodes are still about 90 episodes short of Bleach's 366 - it's nearest competitor. Fairy Tail is like Sword Art Online, Attack on Titan, Naruto, or even freaking School Days in the fact that everybody has an opinion on it, whether they've actually seen it or not. If you couldn't tell by the title of this article, I definitely have my own, unique opinion on this fanservice-laden shounen series.
You wanna know what it is?
I like it...A LOT.
Now, before all of the haters chilling in the crowd start stoning me for declaring my undying love for this animated piece of work, here me out:
Objectively, I know this series is lackluster in a whole plethora of areas - truly I do. It's an agent of the status quo in the way that it falls into the same creative holes that the other long-running shounen series do, and then some. You know the main cast will not only never die, but also always come out on top because plot continuously demands it, the concept of the "power of friendship" is gratuitously overdone, there are not only filler episodes but filler arcs that are bloody awful and that some may argue drag the show down with them, there's a somewhat hideous amount of seriously unneeded fanservice, and there are so many ass-pulls that the ground rules laid in the first few arcs really don't matter considering how many times they conveniently don't apply.
Yes. I can see all of these glaring issues with this series. I might go as far as to say that any human with any semblance of analytical capabilities should be able to pick up on, at bare minimum, a couple of these problems. Yet, as hard as I try to dislike this series by mentally applying these instances of repeated objective obtrusion as marks against the series, I just can't do it. I'm not capable of hating or even disliking this series, even with all it's obvious imperfections.
Now why is this?
Honestly, I'm not completely, 100% sure. However, I don't think any human who experiences any palpable level of emotion would be able to describe in detail every reason as to why they adore a series. Most of the time, it just boils down to whether or not a series resonates with a person the right way at the right time. For the most part, I think that's what occurred between me and Fairy Tail. But for the sake of this article, I'll attempt to give you some legitimate, possible explanations as to why I like Fairy Tail so goddamn much.
So here are some reasons why I do like it:
So lets begin this portion by discussing what is objectively good about Fairy Tail. Though some of you reading may believe that this series is utterly vacant of any redeemable qualities, I believe that Fairy Tail does objectively succeed in some regards.
1). The Animation/Art Style: First off, I love the art style for Fairy Tail. It takes the same general style from Hiro Mashima's original manga series and adapts it slightly better by widening the faces and bodies. Also, the color palate is perfect with all of the bright, exuberant colors that it uses, giving the series a more uplifting vibe to it. However, I do think the animation style in the first 175 episodes is better than what is used in the following 102.
The animation is a bit more difficult to tackle. In terms of comparing it to other recent anime, the animation is only slightly above average for a majority of the series. However, one must remember that they're most likely drawing comparison to a series that is 26 episodes in length or shorter. For a series of 250+ episodes, the standard of animation that is upheld is actually fairly astounding when you think about it. Most battle sequences are relatively detailed and the movement isn't abrasive or jerky for the most part. I mean, it's quite glaring in the moments where the animation takes a dip in quality and the animation utilized for the fire always kinda bugged me; I personally think it looks like red and orange Laffy Taffy. However, I think A-1 and Satelight did a tremendous job at spreading the budget evenly in terms of the animation and keeping a sense of consistency.
2). The Characters: I'll be blunt with this next statement. I absolutely adore most of the main characters and supporting cast in this series. Natsu can still go suck donkey scrotum, but I digress. Some of you may use the counterargument that most of the characters in the series are archetypal in terms of personality traits and therefore, are not an objectively positive asset of this series. While I can't exactly argue that they aren't archetypal, if there's one thing that shows such as Boku no Hero Academia, Hibike! Euphonium, and other long-running series have taught me, it's that as long as stereotypes are executed well, they can still be enjoyable.
Now, as singular characters, the main and regular supporting cast in Fairy Tail don't necessarily stand out all that much in this era's infinitely expanding pool of anime characters. That being said, as a cohesive unit, the cast fairs extremely well. Because of the multitude of clashing personalities that this cast houses, the characters in this series are constantly playing off of one another. This is why the characters are a strong suit. Though admittedly not that deep compared to other characters in anime, the main cast in this series becomes completely fleshed out by about the mid point. Along with this, the characters grow with each other through the series. After spending hundreds of episodes with one another, the characters develop a distinct bond with each other which births a relatively endemic net of unique relationships.
Yes, some characters still retain the ability to grind my gears at points in the series. I mean, they're still characters from a shounen after all. Overall though, I think they're a positive mark for the series.
3). The Motherfucking Soundtrack: This is literally the only time I will ever straight-up declare that I am correct and you're not. Fairy Tail has the best soundtrack in anime and I believe that statement to be highly irrefutable unless you're just devoid of any humanity and are just some senseless, life-hating, fucknut.
When I say that I can't think of anything that can make something better or add to the value of something, it's almost always a hyperbole on some level. In this case, I actually cannot mentally conjure up a soundtrack that is both superior to this one in any facet or equally as fitting. Scratch that last statement. The only thing that could add to the OST is if Korpiklaani did one of the intros. I haven't the foggiest idea of what Yasuharu Takanashi was smoking when he composed this soundtrack, but nobody had smoked it before or has smoked it since. I mean, the soundtrack consists of orchestral numbers and Irish folk metal!
It's my literal dream come true! Sure, the music direction in almost all of his pieces is formulaic and extremely predictable, but I honestly couldn't give two shits seeing that he blends the accordion, double bass pedal, and tin whistle and/or ocarina together in over half of his pieces. And what's even more baffling to me is that even after countless episodes, he still manages to maintain the same general vibe to his music while retaining originality.
Ok, enough with the fan-girling. This soundtrack is honestly nothing like any other OST that has graced my ear canal. It's a gorgeous fusion of three styles of music that just ended up working together fantastically. I can't necessarily identify why, but I can't imagine a more fitting OST for Fairy Tail. This OST is imaginative and whimsical, and yet, harsh, gritty, and aggressive. It's everything that the series needed it to be and even went the extra mile.
Anyway, with that stuff out of the way, let's move on to the more subjective reasons as to why Fairy Tail means so much to me.
Be forewarned that this section will probably devolve into me reminiscing about when I first watched this series.
Everybody and their fuckin' uncle has that one, maybe two shows - be it anime or other - that just hit really close to home and retain a substantial amount of sentimental value. I have several:
Now while the first three in that list basically encompass my entire childhood through the third grade, FMA and Fairy Tail hold a different category of value to them.
They are the anime that got me into anime.
I know this'll sound cheesy and a bit over dramatic, but Fairy Tail was a couple of firsts for me. Not only was it the first ongoing shounen that I watched, but was also the very first anime I finished on my own. The other 7 or so anime I had seen up until that point I had viewed with the company of my friends. With Fairy Tail, I actually had the drive and the resolve to complete the series alone.
Moreover, believe it or not, Fairy Tail added some padding to an otherwise extremely negative period in my life. During the initial state of my sophomore year of college, my entire group of friends had a huge falling out with each other, me included. Combine that with my extreme anxiety and needless to say, I was rooted in a fairly depressive mindset with no clear exit in sight. Oddly enough, like with music or writing, Fairy Tail gave me an outlet. It gave me something to look forward to. It presented me with a group of people that I could legitimately root for, seeing that I had a cripplingly negative view of myself at that point, and that I really couldn't root for anybody else.
It was a source of overwhelmingly positive energy that I craved. It also provided the sentiments of overcoming adversity, overstepping obstacles, and solidarity which I desperately needed. The fact that all of those themes are overused tropes nowadays wasn't relevant to me at the time. I honestly couldn't have cared less. Not only that, but along with FMA and Trigun, it actively illustrated to me what anime was capable of, not just from a narrative standpoint, but from a cognitive and emotional one, too.
Now, as much credit as I give it, I know that all of this subjective praising that I openly hand this series can be effectively boiled down to one key mental concept: Nostalgia.
I'm not just referring to childhood or adolescent nostalgia in the mindset of "those were the days" either. I'm simply referring to the reminiscence of something experienced in the past that had a distinctly positive impact on one's self. Everybody has those things that they remember fondly. However, it's important to note that with nostalgia comes little to no scrutiny. I'm quite aware of that, but that doesn't magically prevent its gangrenous effect on me. As objective as I try to be at times, I am only human.
As a human, sometimes all I want is a ray of positivity in my life. Sometimes I just want to relax with my pals. That's exactly the feeling I get from watching a few episodes of Fairy Tail every once in a blue moon. It's like chilling with some college buddies that I haven't seen in a while. It's actually humbling in a way. That way being that even a relatively objective reviewer such as myself can have a huge, dumb grin slapped across his face by watching an objectively shallow, formulaic, and fan-pandering shounen series such as Fairy Tail.
I'll try to wrap is up quickly, as I know this article has already dragged on for way longer than I intended it to.
Fairy Tail certainly isn't for everyone. It's a shounen series that runs into every stereotypical problem that other shounen run into. The arcs are all essentially the same arc, only with different villains, the fanservice is blatant and obtrusive, the plot armor is real, the story is shallow and repetitive, and it's generally lacking in creativity all over the board. That being said, everyone has one or two guilty pleasure shows that they love watching and just can't seem to hate.
I'd say that Fairy Tail is my guilty pleasure, but I don't even feel guilty at this point. It's an anime that I should hate on from an objective standpoint, but I just cannot. It makes absolutely no logical sense, but not everything does. I'll say it one last time:
I like Fairy Tail
And whether you agree with me or not, you can't hope to change my mind.
Well, that's it for this drawn-out nostalgia boner. I hope you liked it. And as always, keep watching anime and stay tuned for more!!