Lucy is a 17-year-old girl, who wants to be a full-fledged mage. One day when visiting Harujion Town, she meets Natsu, a young man who gets sick easily by any type of transportation. But Natsu isn't just any ordinary kid, he's a member of one of the world's most infamous mage guilds: Fairy Tail.
Consider the idea of the quest. The quest in most cultures requires a protagonist, an antagonist and a goal. What separates bad quests from the good ones are that the bad ones make you not care about the characters. Eragon is the main culprit when I think of a bad quest story. I've tried to be a good sport and read the books but I didn't make it past the first one after I'd read the first 200 pages and realised I'd met these people before and still didn't care if they lived or died. Now, I've read stories that were generic as hell but still liked the spirit of the story and the people in it, just so we know that I've not got impossible standards to meet. Fairy Tail is a story that I've read and watched before but I still found myself bouncing in my chair as the heroes started in to a beat down of the bad guys. That's a good feeling, being happy to be doing something. And that's a recurring theme in the show, exuberant happiness. Natsu Dragneel, the fire wizard, is a devil may care young man who only wants good food, good fights and good friends around him at all times. Spending five minutes with him will get you fed, punched out or laughing in convulsions. So when he comes across Lucy Heartfilia, a celestial wizard, in the town of Harujion, he helps her out with a sticky situation and invites her to join the magic guild, Fairy Tail. Lucy, who is the only, THE ONLY, sane person in the series, is a great character. She is our narrator but she's also the second lead. We hang out with Lucy but she has her own arc to follow. She only wants to join Fairy Tail because it's the one all the magazines and people talk about. What she doesn't realise or seem to notice is that Fairy Tail is famous because it has a reputation for a wake of destruction wherever it's members go. But she soon finds out.
The characters of this series are a legend (Dublin slang expression)! Within Fairy Tail, Natsu's fellow wizards are as bad as he is. Grey is an ice wizard who naturally sets him against Natsu's fire abilities but more than that, they share a friendly, if at times strained, rivalry. Grey is unmatched in the Guild for ice magic. Um, he also seems to lose his clothes, bar his briefs, at the drop of a hat. Erza Scarlet is the most badass fighter in the guild and along with the Major and Balsa from Moribito, is the anime girl I'd most like to marry. Hmm, all my favourite female hubba hubba characters are all women who could make me into two pieces. I sense a pattern forming here. Anyway, back to Erza. She's a weapon wielding wizard who can call any kind of weapon into existence from a pocket dimension that she controls and she's the second most powerful wizard in Fairy Tail next to Master Makarov. Makarov is a pint sized demon of a man, an eighty something lecherous Yoda, who rules Fairy Tail with an iron fist. It just so happens that the iron fist has a velvet glove over it. Makarov love his students like his own family and is not afraid to go toe to toe with the authorities or the Magic Council (all the guilds answer to them) in order to protect his children. There are other characters like Cana, the spell card wizard, who can drink barrels, and I mean BARRELS of beer without feeling any ill effects or Happy, the flying cat who is Natsu's constant companion who seems to be have off days that result in him crying, being picked on by the team or generally being light comedy relief but I'll leave you to discover them by yourself.
The series itself is good fun and I found myself going in hearing how it was Diet Dragonball and I have to say that's what has put me off watching it on Crunchyroll. So far, the show is up to an episode count of 114 (as of the time of this review) and I'm sorely tempted to watch the current episodes as they come out. I think at about the halfway point of the 14 episodes, in the set I viewed, that I stopped worrying about things making sense in the show and just ran with Natsu blowing the living daylights out of the current story arcs villain. The fact that the outside world just accepts that, of the all magical guilds in Fiore, Fairy Tail is OK demolishing things makes me laugh. And that all the cast seem to drop everything to wage war on villains, rogue guilds or anybody else who threatens Fairy Tail reminds me of the fight-all-comers attitude of the residents of Asterix' village from the stories by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. Things will blow up, get destroyed and the townspeople of wherever they are will hate them but it's all in a days work for our heroes. Grey loses his clothes all the time, Natsu eats, literally eats, fire for breakfast and people who've never been to Fairy Tail's home town of Magnolia quake in fear of Erza's name being mentioned. What's not to like? The dub despite being a standard effort from Funimation was genuinely enjoyable. Todd Haberkorn sounds likable and energetic but I kept laughing every time I heard him because he sounds like Matt Stone from South Park doing one of his "serious adult" voices. Cherami Leigh does a good job as Lucy and I can't fault Funimation alumni Colleen Clinkenbeard or Monica Rial in their roles of Erza or Mirajane, the official Fairy Tail pinup. Newton Pittman as Grey is a problem as he only seems to have two settings: low level whsipers or full on screaming into Natsu's face. But maybe I'm asking too much of such a light hearted show. On the Japanese side, Aya Hirano as Lucy and Tetsuya Kakihara as Natsu make the rest of the cast swing in orbit around them so it's all good.
In terms of animation, I'm happy for the most part. A-1 Pictures and Satelight do a good job with CG symbols and shapes for the spells the cast project to the utilitarian animation work for the characters and backgrounds. The fights are well done but suffer (at least in the episodes that I viewed) from too much of "KABOOM! Something exploded! Now, Natsu is flying headlong into an enemy and then there's another KABOOM!!!" variety of work. One thing that made me scratch my head is that in some episodes, on both language tracks, characters talk but their lips didn't move. Since none of the dialogue needed responses from other characters, I cannot tell if it's a inner monologue or bad animation. Is this a recurring thing? Please, someone let me know.
Extras wise, two commentary tracks from the English voice cast plus the clean OP and ED clips wind things down. The commentary tracks, for once, don't have someone saying "I'm really impressed with the script [INSERT ENGLISH VOICE DIRECTORS NAME] wrote for this show". I really hate the use of those words. English VA directors, you didn't write the script. A person in Japan did. You wrote the adaption of the script for English purposes. That's like having Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai DVD or Blu Ray having a Criterion commentary track with the English dub director saying "yeah, that was a pretty good script I wrote for the film." Stop doing it, please. Or at the very least, correct your grammar.
I love this series and only a catastrophe of epic proportions can ruin Fairy Tail for me. Now, to decide if I should play catch up with the episodes on Crunchyroll or not. Decisions, decisions, decisions...