General Mavis is in command.
Overview (Spoilers Below)
The members of Fairy Tail prepare for battle, readying themselves for the imminent invasion of Ishgar by the Alvarez Empire. To that end, the town of Fiore has been evacuated, as it is to serve as the battleground where the war between Fairy Tail and Ishgar will take place. Natsu visits Lucy, who is writing her novel, while Erza and Wendy take a bath together and Gray tells Juvia he needs just a little more time to be her boyfriend.
Sooner than expected, the forces of Alvarez arrive in the form of a massive fleet of airships, led by none other than Ajeel the sand mage. The ships begin to open fire on Fiore, but a magical barrier erected by Fried is able to keep their cannon fire from leveling the town. Meanwhile, on the ground, Bisca the sniper lets off a powerful blast to the sky using the Jupiter Cannon, but Ajeel deflects it easily with his palm. Fairy Tail then counterattacks, sending Wendy, Gajeel and Natsu up into the sky to shoot down the Alvarez ships one by one. They land on Ajeel’s ship but quickly succumb to motion sickness. Erza arrives soon after to take the vanguard, as Natsu and the other members of the dragon squad head down below.
Things take a turn for the grim, however, when the barrier over Fiore gets breached by a curious mage named Wall, who seems to have the ability to break enchantments. Meanwhile, the rest of the Alvarez fleet touches down to invade Fiore, leaving the dragon squad to face them. Up in the sky, Erza faces Ajeel, but finds her Requip magic to be stalled out by Ajeel’s sand magic, putting her at a great disadvantage. What’s worse, Lucy finds Brandish naked in her bathtub, making the powerful mag her next opponent.
Mavis surveys the battlefield using the guild’s scanning magic and is filled with a sense of despair. Things look bad, with Fairy Tail being completely surrounded. Mavis sees no way for the guild to win this battle, and its only just begun.
This season of Fairy Tail seems to very keen on rushing into things before they’re ready to go. We’ve only just arrived back on Ishgar’s soil and now we’re already at the beginning of the grand battle for Fiore. That’s not to say that this will be the fight to finish this arc, but such a grand scale invasion would demand more time to let the tension of the impending invasion sink in. This would be the time to have our characters interact and prepare, using that time together to further individual story arcs and connect them to the battle to come.
That’s what this episode initially starts as, and I was hoping that this would a “Calm before the storm” situation, filled with tender moments of connection between our vast, vast array of characters. I was hoping this would give the coming war greater focus, but that was not the case. After a few short minutes, we just jump right in, and what happens next is just an absolute mess. The direction is unfocused, poorly timed, and heavily reliant on budget-friendly “Fish lipping” animation that serves the pad out the episode. The animation is so limited that all life is just completely drained from the battle. It doesn’t feel much like a war at all, just a series of small conflicts; its missing that “Epic” feeling that comes with a true and powerful climax.
It’s just a poor showing all around. Fairy Tail has been running a “Hot and cold” gambit for some time now, giving me episodes that are quite solid and moving, but then dropping the ball when it comes to the execution of the long-awaited action episodes. It’s one thing for the show to tell me that this battle is going to be important, but its quite another for it to demonstrate how important it actually is. And there’s no easy way around this, no magic button or thing that the showrunners can do to make an action sequence good. It’s the small details, the well-timed moments, the payoffs to storylines long developed. Without those, this battle sequence is just an unfocused mess.
I hope Fairy Tail can recover, but now that the trigger has been pulled, we can’t put the bullet back in the gun. If the show misses the mark on this arc, then this final season will be seriously hampered.