You gotta be spriggan me!
Overview (Spoilers Below)
The “B” team, back on the eastern continent, is enjoying a soak in the hot spring near the Blue Pegasus guild HQ. Ichiya has joined them as well and reveals that Laxus has joined the ranks of Blue Pegasus as well, though he rarely spends time there.
Meanwhile, the “A” team is facing a powerful foe, a female mage named Brandish. After her underling Marin upsets her, she reveals just how powerful she is by changing the very shape of the island beneath them. She orders Marin to release Lucy and Erza, and the two are returned to this plane of existence. Soon after, she makes her own underling disappear, before telling Natsu and the others to stop their efforts to invade the Alvarez Empire. Once that is done, she shrinks the island to minuscule size, and our heroes are forced to depart on a ship.
Mest teleports everyone away to an underwater “mobile temple”, Olympia. The mobile temple is captained by the magical thief, Sorano, who turns out to be the spy they’ve been looking for this whole time. Meanwhile, at the Alvarez Empire, Makarov is having a surprisingly diplomatic time as a welcome guest of the Empire’s prime minister, Yajeel. Soon, Emperor Spriggan returns and is heralded in the city streets. Much to Makarov’x horror, however, Emperor Spriggan turns out to be none other than Zeref. Once he arrives, he’s greeted by several of his Shields and Minister Yajeel, who introduces him to Makarov.
Zeref gladly meets with Makarov and explains that he’s been wandering for 400 years and is both Emperor Spriggan and the Zeref that Makarov knows. Zeref had built the empire many years ago, and under his leadership, it has grown to a powerful nation. Zeref is still insistent on taking the Fairy Heart from Fairy Tail, but Makarov refuses to let him steal away their first master. Zeref uses his magic to try and crush Makarov to death, but Mest teleports in just in time to rescue him from his demise.
After last week’s lukewarm episode, its nice to see Fairy Tail keep things moving along by delivering on an episode that’s got a lot more going for it than the last few have had. Our story this week is less of the episodic exploration of the Alvarez Empire that I had expected and much more a push forward into the meat of the story that is yet to unfold. Still, though, I wasn’t particularly enthralled by this episode, yet I found myself enjoying the confrontation between Makarov and Zeref, who is quickly shaping up to be the biggest bad that Fairy Tail has ever known.
I think the biggest flaw that we see here is that this episode divides itself between the encounter of the “A” team with Brandish and the sudden rescue of Makarov after confronting Zeref. Things go a bit too quickly and need to slow down a bit so that we can relish and enjoy the development of our villains and this new, foreboding nation. Not to mention, there’s that strange aside at the beginning we see with the “B” team, which doesn’t do much for the story and feels a lot like comic relief filler. More time should have been devoted to Natsu and the others just getting to the capital of the Alvarez Empire, instead of just fast-forwarding things to get us to Makarov. Not to mention, Makarov’s time in the empire could have been a great way to acquaint us more with the actual identity of the empire and its relationship to Zeref.
Despite the episodes’ shortcomings, though, its solid 20-odd minutes of anime that’s charming and interesting, just not incredible. Incredible is a hard bar for any anime to reach, but at this late in the game, Fairy Tail needs to pick up its pace if it wants to compete with the other shounen big boys that have a lot of weight to throw around. Zeref, despite all his reputation and the many episodes leading up to him, doesn’t have that kind of world-shattering sense of villainy that I want out of a good villain. There needs to be more to him. I enjoy his pathos as an immortal creature that just wants to die, but there is a coldness to him that makes him rather stoic. If Fairy Tail can just fill in the blanks more on who he is and how he’s earned the respect of those beneath him, this arc could be quite the sight to see.