My beef with the Anime Fairy Tail runs deeps. I want to love this series. More than you know. If you take a look at my favourite anime 7/10 of them are Shonen action. So it’s not like I was predisposed to hate the series and I don’t actually hate the series. I’m almost 100 episodes in and I’m still going. I just dislike it. I get why people like it but whenever I here someone recommend it I just feel the need to watch something better. The main reason I dislike it so much is the characters. With the exception of maybe Erza all the characters are just boring or over used tropes. They each only have a few stand out moments, the rest of the time they feel like these characters are in the wrong setting. At the start of most arcs my hope for the series is revitalised with the hope that it’ll finally get good, because Fairy Tail does have some great stories and ideas but it doesn’t properly execute on most of them and I feel there’s not better place to start than with the main character himself, Natsu.
Natsu is as boring as they come. A dumb, strong guy with a bottomless stomach and wins through the power of friendship. Now nearly all of these are fairly common tropes in Shonen leads but I feel that a number of anime do this much better. In Naruto we’re introduced to the titular character as an angry misfit who vandalises and is terrible in school and by the end of the first episode we’re shown that he’s ostracised from society because he has a demon inside of him, causing us to sympathise with him and this is at the core of Naruto’s character it’s about him making friends when he thought he couldn’t and proving everyone who’s against him wrong. Natsu is kinda just a guy. We’re shown from the start that he’s a dragon slayer and it’s explained that this is this rare thing and how strong this makes him and it also makes less relatable as he starts off strong and a bit overpowered. Naruto starts off as nothing, weak as they get and he struggles and trains. This is one of the most satisfying parts of the series as it forces the character to develop. Which is another point about Natsu. He hasn’t really developed much. He’s still kind of just the same boring guy who’s just slightly stronger. The fights always go the same way, some guy who is evil for the sake of being evil is doing evil and Natsu doesn’t like that so he punches him really hard with his fire. And that’s how it ends. You know Natsu is going to win the fight so there isn’t a whole lot of tension. In One Piece they get around this by Luffy’s use of creative and dynamic attacks, where as Natsu’s seem to be standard fire attacks. They also make it more about the two characters. One of the best fights in One Piece is the fight against Eneru because of the apposing ideals of the two characters. Eneru is evil but he’s an interesting character. He declares himself as a god and acts as such. He feels he’s fit to rule over everyone and Luffy doesn’t. Conflict ensues.
The good vs evil dichotomy is a big reason that I can’t buy into the storylines. In real life people aren’t good or evil they’re a mix or somewhere in-between. There’s no one who is solely good or solely evil and this is one of the big reasons I’m not a huge Star Wars fan. I like it and appreciate it for what it is but this light-side/dark-side thing doesn’t really do it for me. I have not ever met someone in my lifetime that has considered themselves evil. It’s spelled out in nearly every arc that Natsu and Fairy Tail are objectively the good guys in this situation and the bad guys and objectively bad. Take the Oración Seis for example. I had such high hopes for these villains. From design alone they looked really badass but then when we actually got to them they were kinda boring. With the exception of Hot-eye none of them got any development and were evil for the sake of being evil. Their whole point was to turn light into dark how boring is that? We’re not told why they want to do this they just are evil and need to accept that.
But getting back to the main team of Fairy Tail, next on the chopping block is Gray. Gray is….fine. He’s no better at fulfilling his cliché role of the rival than Natsu is at his of the typical Shonen lead. But Gray is rarely the focus of the plot so we can often forget that this is an issue. A big problem I have with him is his powers. I feel as though his ice powers are wasted and a lot could be done with them rather than just making weapons and tools out of them most of the time, at the moment he’s more of a glorified Green Lantern. He does use it interestingly sometimes but they’re few and far between. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that he got a development arc so early on, but I feel it could’ve benefited being an arc or two later, just so we could see more of Gray before hand.
Now, Lucy. Where to even begin? How about with her design which is probably the thing that offends me the most about her. She reeks of pandering. Big breasts, Blonde hair tied in a side ponytail. This to me is one of laziest female designs you could come up with. It has nothing unique to, at least Natsu has pink hair and a scarf. Lucy is also just kinda boring. She’s overly obnoxious and I’m aware this is probably meant to feed into the fan-service, the big bossy blonde woman, y’know? But the way the way it comes off to me as more annoying than anything. She also likes to throw around is that she is part of the “Strongest Team in Fairy Tail“ despite the fact that not only are there more powerful members of the guild, Mystogan is stronger than Natsu at least and Gildarts is so strong Magnolia is reformed everything he arrives, and she’s not even though he strong herself. Not only is she beholden to her spirits, some of which don’t listen to her at times, she can’t summon more than one or two in succession meaning she can only ever be useful in short bursts. So other characters have to carry her weight, like Erza.
Speaking of which, Erza is consistently one of the best parts of the series. She’s routinely
badass making nearly every scene better. She’s also one of the more complex characters in my opinion .She has a hard exterior but she’s quite nice when you get to know her. She’s willing to lay down her life for her friends. She’s strong but she’s also broken on the inside and has conflicting feelings towards Jellal at times. And the sheer variety in her costumes and armours is great, although some are better than others. Erza is one of the best characters in Fairy Tail in my opinion and she’s just a great character in general. She does have a lot of fan service but for the most part it’s nothing too bad. So there is somethings about Fairy Tail that I do like just the majority is annoying to me.
For example Happy and Carla’s side story in Edolas was actually pretty good. Easily the best thing in the arc. It gave much needed development to Happy and Carla who were basically just a quip dispenser and an annoying bitch respectively. It made me not hate the characters giving them a reason to still be there.
In general that’s all I have to say on the topic. I find the majority of the characters to just be boring I also have issues with how Jellal is like 4 different characters at once and they can’t decide which they want him to be or how Fairy Tail is meant to be this crazy guild but they’ll just let anyone in or how they don’t do a whole lot guild jobs.
I feel Fairy Tail is a decent starter for young kids as it’s not overly graphic in it’s violence often using stills or panning shots and it’s themes I feel are valuable for every child to learn. But if you’re over the age of 12 or 13 I feel that the original Naruto series would do a much better job as it has similar themes. It has more interesting characters, great plots and kickass fights. Fairy Tail is a series with an abundance of potential but it’s lack of structure and good characters means that I find it hard to get invested. It is, in many respects, like a real Fairy Tale, a story that you’re not really meant to take very seriously but it’s all about the message and themes.