Lucy has had her last memento of her father torn from her hands. The fabled Key of the Starry Sky was stolen by the Legion Corps, holy warriors working under the doctrine of the Zentopia Church. With that, the ambition of our beloved celestial mage could have gone to the clutches of thieves. But with her Fairy Tail friends at her side, none of them are going to let it go that easily. They all decide to split off into small parties on a quest for the key, along with the other pieces of the Infinity Clock that make up the mystery of the key’s legend. “Time ticks forward, on towards inevitable chaos”, and so the guild will poke their noses in for better or worse.
What was a promising start to this arc towards the end of the last collection soon unravels. The one thing holding it together was the key’s function of uniting Lucy with Michelle, a distant relative who has become a surrogate sister. At times, their journey together is one of trust and determination, binding them together in the faith of Lucy’s father even as a niggling something seems out of sorts with Michelle. But much of the time they’re subjected to dilution in the midst of the disjointed, exhausting search for the clock fragments. Alongside Natsu, young Romeo and the eternal Exceed ray of sunshine Happy, their search for closure to the death of Jude Heartfilia becomes little more than a loop of booby-traps and throwaway fights. Between the endless underground flash-bang fisticuffs are monotonous rounds of exposition, ticking all the boxes for the worst a filler arc could offer.
There’s an awful lot of deja-vu in yet another collection that’s much too short for its own good. The Legion seems to have been taking ill-advised notes from much earlier releases, as the bad body doubles of Collection Four make a tailback, along with the Holy War palaver back in Edolas with the Exceeds. Natsu and Happy even take a moment to note the similarity, disallowing any doubt that this arc is leaning on past events. We also have the unprecedented return of the Butt Jiggle Gang (whose first impression I found so ineffectual they didn’t get a mention in my review of Collection 11). Nonetheless, they’re back, proving to be Fairy Tail’s flatulent answer to the Ginyu Force.
Once the big baddies have unveiled the twist in their plot, assuring that their Holy War is for the greater good, Lucy is still set on getting all the clock pieces. Even knowing what the Infinity Clock will wreak upon the world, she keeps clinging to an assumption about Daddy’s last will and testament. She was never this silly, was she? I’m sure I’m remembering her right when I envision her as the ditzy, but savvy wizard with a whole undiscovered well of talent. Where does she go in this arc?
Even though the rest of the guild have been scattered far and wide, they all somehow pop up to aid Natsu, Lucy, Romeo and Happy against the Legion in the nick of time. Their journeys all wind up diminished by the fact that this arc doesn’t devote enough time or attention to either one, speeding through an anime-original story that should have been buffed out and beautified as much as possible. While there are occasions of ethereal awe with the murky, Indiana Jones-y caves that Natsu and co. trek through on their search, it all ends up feeling pointless. By the end, they’re all back where they started anyway, an interpretive mix-up undoing all meaning of the key’s story thus far. It’s a lesson on letdowns where the myth-and-archae-ologies align, but overall, it’s an odd little blip in the continuation of Fairy Tail. For now, it’s on to figuring out the secrets the Zentopia Church hides behind its hired muscle.
Extras: English dub; episode 137 & 142 commentary; episode 140 video commentary; clean opening/closing animations; trailers.