The war between Demons and Fairies is at an end, and the Dark Guild of Grimoire Heart vanquished. But still, Fairy Tail hardly have time to draw breath before a colossal black dragon descends on the guild’s holy ground of Tenrou Island. As they throw themselves at this new enemy, Dragon Slayers Natsu, Gajeel and Wendy burning with the memory of the beloved dragons who gave them their powers, a certain mysterious young man has been observing all this time. Though he has been killing all in his path as he traverses the world, his disappointment with humanity rose from witnessing 400 years of war. He has since realised the preciousness of life, taking souls only to quiet his seething grief.
As the young man faces the Magic Council in all of his displeasure, he avails himself of the name Zeref, the Black Wizard. He takes one more life, just to prove a point, then buggers off, never to be seen again for the whole of this collection. This is the main reason why FUNimation’s tiny collections of this show are more damaging to the story’s flow than anything else. Starting with the tail end of the Tenrou Island arc and including a measly 11 episodes, the most you get is the scrag end of one saga and the beginning of another, with a bit of fluff in the middle. And we are talking sagas here, as there’s a seven-year gap between Tenrou Island and the following arc, X791.
In the interim since slaying the black dragon (euphemism unintended), the illustrious Fairy Tail guild has fallen from grace. All the core members of the guild, including Natsu, Lucy, Wendy, Jellal, Erza, Gray and Master Makarov Dreyar, even Happy, Carla and Panther Lily, have been missing since the destruction of Tenrou Island. You can imagine how the guild has fared with their sudden loss since. The new guild Blue Pegasus has gained control, and lesser groups like Twilight Ogre barge in and bully Fairy Tail out of their Jewel. Luckily, our heroes are found and brought home. After all, this is anime. The only trouble is settling in with the new state of things at the guild.
When Fairy Tail began, the characters were so loveable that I just wanted to spend time with them. Their presence and interactions alone made even the filler episodes time well spent, at least as far as I’m concerned. But after the time skip, we’ve missed so much of the guild growing up, grieving for their lost and forging new friendships that the whole dynamic is different. For me, everything feels out of whack. I suppose I’m feeling just the same as Natsu and friends would in that sense, but it doesn’t help that the story is rushing ahead without us, as though we can connect just as naturally as we did at the start.
For now, it seems the proud Celtic soul of the show’s score is the one remnant holding together the old and the new. Even as some of our friends have heartbreaking revelations in dealing with the time they’ve lost, there is a gulf of strangeness that can’t be bridged until we know the new Fairy Tail better. As it is, there’s no satisfying end or appropriate cliffhanger to this collection. For now, all we know is that new foes are after Lucy for a hidden power she holds. How many more 11-episode collections will it be before we feel at home with Fairy Tail again? Who’s to say. But, even as estranged as I feel now, I’m still not prepared to abandon the guild.
English dub; episode 126 & 130 commentary; Todd Haberkorn at Otakon 2013; clean opening/closing animations; trailers