The Fairy Tail Franchise’s Success: Love and War
Every genre of TV has a series that rules them all. In the anime world (shōnen anime) Naruto, Bleach , and One Piece are commonly referred to as “The Big 3”, as these are generally the series that introduce people to the amazing and creative world of anime. In the recent years the newer anime Fairy Tail has been climbing the ranks and becoming a very successful franchise. On a side note, Naruto has ended and Bleach will soon be finished, and these may be important factors leading to Fairy Tail’s recent climb in rank. It is a new and continuing series, drawing in more viewers.
Starting in 2009, Fairy Tail has been going steady with 7 seasons, and over 270 episodes (including the prequel, Fairy Tail Zero). Some have begun to wonder if Fairy Tail will be next to join ‘The Big 3’. Why has it become so popular? Let’s find out, shall we?
Spoilers to follow.
Each character in Fairy Tail is unique, and our main characters get intricate back stories that are explored in every season. The audience has the opportunity to learn about each character’s personality and connect with them on a personal level. Even more exciting is that the creators (Hiro Mashima) continue to incorporate new details from each character as the series progresses. In order to understand why the characters are such a huge success, let’s take a look some of the show runners.
As our main character, Lucy is fun, relatable, passionate, and, not unlike the other characters, has a hidden past. Lucy is a Celestial Wizard; she is able to call spirits from another world to come fight for her. Most Celestial Wizards in the anime treat their spirits like slaves, but being the compassionate and caring person she is, Lucy respects her spirits, as she does her friends and guild members. In the beginning of the series Lucy is not very powerful and is seen as a weaker member of the guild; however, as the anime moves along, Lucy grows and becomes stronger, not only in the sense of her powers, but her determination as well. Although Lucy can be slightly ditzy at times, she will fight to the death for her friends, and the fans admire this side of her.
Lucy’s partner in crime Natsu is a hot-headed wizard who has dedicated his life to becoming the best Fire Dragon Slayer in Fairy Tail. Being the comic relief with his buddy Happy, they provide humor for the majority of the episodes. Though Natsu is generally more focused on his stomach than important matters, he is always there when he is needed. This exaggeration of his hunger and his humor is a great way to entice a viewer. Although Natsu is generally carefree, he can become very serious whenever his friends are threatened. His love for his Fairy Tail family drives him to conquer all who oppose him. Natsu’s dedication to his friends is fierce, along with his will to never give up, making him the poster child for the Fairy Tail Wizard Guild.
Natsu’s competitive nature would not show as much as it does if it were not for his best friend and rival, Gray. As an Ice Wizard, Gray is Natsu’s natural opposite in every way; where Natsu is rash and impulsive, Gray is calm and calculating. One of Gray’s strange quirks is the fact that he continually removes his shirt as his wizard training involved him running through the snow without any clothes (being shirtless is second nature). Most of the other characters have to remind him to put his clothes back on, especially Natsu. Even though they claim to hate each other, they both know that they would do anything for one another.
Any good team requires a leader, and Erza is the captain of Lucy, Natsu, and Gray’s motley crew. Being one of the strongest members in the guild, Erza is feared and loved by all. She is just as vibrant as her red hair, and can wield magic like no other. Ezra uses equippped magic, meaning she is able to change into various armors, each outfit coming with a special skill set. Most of the characters in the show are scared of Erza, although she is secretly warmhearted. Having a soft spot for her friends is one of the characteristics that ties her to the rest of her team. Any one of them would do what they had to in order to save their friends.
War: Combat Ready Plot Lines
Not only does Fairy Tail have the intense battles, but the combat scenes throughout the different arcs as well. Each character is given a chance to evolve and grow in not only their magical abilities, but their personality. The enemies in each arc are chosen to confront and test one or more character. These foes challenge the characters like never before, forcing them to grow stronger, or perish. In order to examine this, we need to take a look at a couple important arcs that really develop our main crew.
Galuna Island Arc
The Galuna Island Arc is very much Gray’s story. The plot for Galuna Island reveals most of Gray’s background and the connection to his mysterious mentor. Gray faces his former training partner, Lyon, who unlike Gray, refuses to accept their tragic past. Lyon condems Gray as the cause of their teacher’s death and will stop at nothing to get revenge. As the two battle, Gray’s full magical potentional and willpower is seen.
However, Lyon is stronger than Gray, and this is seen in their battle of ice-make magic. Both use the same type of magic, but Lyon can wield this specific power with only one hand, while Gray requires two. Gray is defeated by Lyon, and instantly begins to doubt his own power. In another fight sometime later, Gray is able to harness his power, and use his determination to beat Lyon in hand to hand combat. This showcases Gray’s willpower and need to prove himself to not only his enemies, but his friends as well. The intense battles between Gray and Lyon are what make this arc so emotionally powerful. Both were trained by Ur, and Lyon blames Gray for her death. The strikes from each of them is fueled by anger, guilt, and sorrow. The audience is able to learn more about Gray and the way his past shaped his personality. His hard outer shell and tough attitude come from the training he endured, the brutal death of his parents, and losing his mentor.
Tower of Heaven Arc
In this heart wrenching arc, the viewer gets a look into Erza’s painful past. Not only is there information on Erza, but the rest of the team is tested and put under pressure like never before. Natsu, Lucy, and Gray are all pushed to their limits, and their dedication to Erza is very apparent. The Tower of Heaven is a ‘R-System’, a magical item made out of Lacrima crystal that can revive someone from the dead. As a child, Erza was enslaved and forced to build the Tower, and by liberating her fellow prisoners she was able to escape; however, she lost her dearest friend Jellal to the power of the Tower, as he was taken over by the evil spirit Zeref. 8 years later Jellal has nearly finished bilding the tower, and he wishes for Erza to finish the job. After his minions kidnap Erza, Natsu and crew assemble to bring their friend and guildmate back from the clutches of Jellal.
The battles in this arc are epic, for lack of a better geek term. Erza versus Jellal is by far the most prominent. By shedding her armor and fighting in basic clothes, Erza exposes her primal talents. She is not afraid of Jellal, even if he is stronger than her. Eventually, Jellal is able to force Erza into the Lacrima, attempting to use her as a sacrifice. Natsu then appears and saves Erza, but the real threat is not over; Erza willing to sacrifice her life for her team. This is how deep her love and dedication goes for them. After the intense battle scenes, a gentler and more heart breaking chapter unfolds. Sitting on the edge of their seats, the viewer can’t help but feel the over powering emotions coming from Erza and Natsu in this moment. Both bruised and bloody from combat, they will not give up on one another. This arc is just one of the many moments in the anime that the team is tested and they come out strong. Erza gives up her life and therefore, is rewarded by keeping it. The fact that every main character has the willingness to die for their friends is just one of the many aspects that makes this anime successful.
Romance: Shipping More Than FedEx
What better than a little bit of romance to spice up an anime? Although none of the couples are officially canon in the anime, the fans still ship hard (ship=realtionship or relationshipping). The manga has gone further when it comes to the official couples, but the anime has stuck to a more romance free plot line. However, the affection that these characters have for their partner in crime is very obvious, and it keeps the audience patiently waiting for more. Here are some of the fan favorites:
Nalu (Natsu and Lucy)
Being the one responsible for bringing Lucy into the Fairy Tail guild, he feels protective of her. They are extremely close and in season 1, formed Team Natsu along with Happy. Natsu will not let anything happen to Lucy, even to the extent of laying down his own life in order to keep her safe and happy. In order to help her pay her rent, Natsu finds jobs for them to do together, and specifically looks for job requests within her skill set. He cares about Lucy’s well being, and does everything he can to encourage her.
Although Lucy sometimes gets annoyed with Natsu appearing randomly in her home, and his immature behavior, it shows how close they really are. Lucy would never let anyone else lounge around in her home uninvited. In the Macao Arc Lucy goes up a mountain with Natsu just to help him find his friend, Macao, even though at this point, she has known Natsu for less than a week. Another example of Lucy’s trust in Natsu was when the Phantom Lord guild attacks Fairy Tail; Lucy was taken prisoner and had to jump out of a tower into Natsu’s arms. Lucy is constantly worried about Natsu when he is fighting, but fears there is nothing she can do to help him. For example, in the Tenrou Island Arc Lucy holds Natsu while he unconscious from lack of magical power.
Will NaLu become canon? It is looking more and more like it every arc.
Gruvia (Gray and Juvia)
This is an interesting relationship, as Juvia (for the most part) is the only willing participant. For Juvia, it was love at first sight, and she has been obsessed with Gray ever since. Being a water wizard, she is compatible with Gray’s ice magic, and has made it her life’s mission to be with him. Her love in true, and it was seen in the Tenrou Island Arc, that she would do anything to save Gray. When Meredy uses her bonding magic, she is able to sense the connection between Juvia and Gray. Most of the time Juvia’s affection comes across as strange and obsessive, but she deeply cares for Gray.
Gray, on the other hand, is suspicious and cautious of Juvia. He finds her advances weird, annoying, and is resistant to her affection. However, as the seasons go on, Gray begins to warm up to Juvia. At times he will hold her, or show her his true emotions. At the end of the Tartarus Arc, Gray breaks down and cries in front of Juvia after she admits she killed the necromancer possessing his father. After opening up to Juvia, Gray might come around to her after all.
GaLe (Gajeel and Levy)
This couple had a very rough start, as Gajeel was part of the enemy guild, Phantom Lord. Initially he attacked Levy and her team, pinning them up on a tree with the Phantom Lord logo embedded onto Levy’s stomach. Eventually when Gajeel joined Fairy Tail, Levy was terrified of him. Later, when Gajeel volunteers to be Levy’s partner for the S-Class wizard trials, they begin to grow closer. Gajeel cares about Levy’s safety, so much as that his own life is worth less than hers. He takes on two major wizards on Tenrou Island, just to keep her safe. It will be interesting to see how the creators develop their relationship further in the anime.
All is fair in love and war. Fairy Tail is best known for these two elements, and the fans love it. There is action packed battles, emotional plot twists, and romantic moments that leave us wanting more. Now that we have looked at the major aspects of Fairy Tail, its time for you to decide. Will Fairy Tail make up ‘The Big 4’ with Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece?
What do you think? Leave a comment.