Alvarez ain’t messing around.
Overview (Spoilers Below)
Jacob has invaded the Fairy Tail HQ and is currently battling against Lucy and Natsu. His abilities are quite powerful, especially his magic that lets him turn invisible. Thinking that he needs to refocus on the mission at hand, he turns invisible to rescue Brandish and Marin, but finds a curious sight waiting for him after he releases his allies. There are two Marins, one of them apparently the result of Lucy’s Gemini spirit’s copying ability. Tapping into Marin’s spatial magic, Lucy releases all the Fairy Tail mages that were trapped in another space of reality. Makarov immediately tosses Jacob out into the ocean with his massive strength and throws Natsu right after him to finish the job. Natsu defeats Jacob with a powerful blast of his fire magic.
With that done, Fairy Tail regroups and assesses the damage to their HQ, while the forces of Alvarez continue their march forwards. Fairy Tail’s magic radar is jammed, and Mavis introduces Cana to a plan she has to defeat Zeref, but it comes at great risk. To defeat the mage of despair, she’ll have to break open the resurrection crystal her physical body is stored in. Meanwhile, out in the northern front of the war, Gajeel’s forces come across the Alvarez soldiers marching southwards. They see a grizzly sight: their friends and allies from other guilds strung up on crosses carried as symbols of Alvarez’s might.
Erza, Jellal, and Kagura are taking on the ships of the Alvarez fleet, which are protected by the Spriggan 12 mage, Neinhart. They’re surprised to find Kaguya’s brother, Simon, fighting them. Neinhart reveals that his magic allows him to create people from the feelings and memories of the people he’s fighting, called “historias,” effectively allowing him to bring people back from the dead in his service. Jellal and Kagura get blasted by Neinhart’s magic and trapped on the ocean floor, leaving Erza to fight Neinhart alone. Neinhart creates two more historias to fight Erza, Ikaruga and Azuma, and then eventually creates Kyoka as well. Overpowered and outnumbered, Erza falls to Neinhart’s incredible power, as a bunch of historias are created all over Ishgar to fight Fairy Tail’s mages.
Watching Fairy Tail often feels like driving a beat-up old car. You can appreciate it for what it is, getting you from one place to another, and even respect the fact that it was once a new car full of life. However, at the end of the day, all it really does is get you from one place to another in a way that’s functional, but not very pleasant. So it is with this episode, as it is with most Fairy Tail episodes in this season. The pace just sort of shambles along with any sense of time progression or differences in location. Characters are just where they need to be for the next setpiece regardless of what’s happened before. Powers are malleable and vague and tend to bring up some obvious logical questions about how they actually work. Questions like, “If Neinhart can just make new mages out of people’s memories, why doesn’t he just do that for everyone and build an army out of the most powerful people ever fought?” Things like that, along with some pretty stupid characters who are supposed to terrifying but just make stupid mistakes all the time, (I’m looking at you, Jacob) really take me out of the story and make this episode an absolute chore to watch.
That’s not to say that there aren’t concepts that I liked in the show. Seeing the forces of Alvarez display the crucified bodies of their fallen foes is a good way to make a viewer grit their teeth a little bit. It helps make a viewer feel and understand how evil Alvarez really is, and not just have to rely on being told that they’re evil. And, as problematic as Neinhart’s ability is, having to fight your old foes can be a good emotional moment for certain characters if the fight is crafted well. Spoiler alert: this one isn’t, but the potential is there.
This last season of Fairy Tail being as lukewarm as it is doesn’t inspire the kind of fun anger that accompanies a passionate critique. It’s not so bad that it inspires voice and retribution, it’s just kind of sad and boring. Fairy Tail is usually a show with so much life and fun in it that having to bear witness to this awkward mess of an arc really just makes you wish for the glory days of this beloved shounen. As it stands, though, we just have to accept Fairy Tail for what it is, right now. No amount of wishing is going to make this show good again.