I was seriously surprised by how much i enjoyed this chapter. Not that i was amazed, more like i had absolutely no interest in the chapter even as i was reading it, and hence found myself rather surprised at the fairly dynamic and unpredictable nature of the events that occurred.
Gray Vs. Doriate commences. Doriate puts Gray on the defensive with his powerful attacks. Before Gray can regain his footing and counter, Doriate unleashes his magic once more, retrogressing everyone on the battle field to their child like state, including, Erza and Minerva.
As a kid Gray's attacks have absolutely no effect on Doriate and it is only with the help of Charlie and Happy, both too young to fly more than a foot or two off the ground, that Gray manages to stay ahead of the demon.
Nearly going down after just one hit, Gray notes that while his Ice is unable to hurt him, earlier on Doriate was hurt upon crashing into the frozen bushes, causing Gray to conclude that Doriate is vulnerable to the ice freezing the village.
Initially stomped on how to make use of ice he is unable to melt, Gray figures out a way to channel its magic into one hand, through his body and out the other hand, putting Doriate down with one hit.
Defeated, Doriate speaks of as Gray having been the one that had opened the gates to hell.
Before he can elucidate further though, a massive black bird descends and eats him.
I wasn't too enthusiastic to read this fairy tail chapter. The first few pages did little to change that with what was pretty shady art-which continues through out the chapter by the way.
None the less i was pleasantly surprised by the Gray fight. Of course Gray spent most of it on the defensive, but i loved the organic flow of events, watching Gray face an opponent he couldn't beat, try his best and logically fail, but choosing to try a different approach each time. It feels like every time Natsu comes up against an opponent he cannot beat, he keeps doing the same thing no matter how ineffective it is or how much of a beating he takes until his attacks take affect, basically taking advantage of the opponent's fatigue, if you think about it.
That annoys me about a lot of shonen heroes. Gray was using his head in this chapter and that much impressed me. He knew when to flee when threatened and when to attack. There was a clear path followed from facing the obstacle, analyzing the situation, locating a weakness and making use of that weakness.
And i was especially happy that Gray didn't use a Nakama type ability to somehow overcome the limitations of his small body. There were no sudden and unexpected power ups or never before seen techniques that gray pulled out of his magic bag. This was plain old strategic thinking.
That ending made the chapter for me though. We can safely say that this underworld business is going to take a much darker tone than i anticipated. I actually figured that the term underworld was just metaphorical, but Doriate seemed to be quite serious when he spoke of the gates of hell.
This arc seems to be taking a turn for the better, and i am happy we are done with the chibi gimmick. Finally we can continue the true Erza Vs. Minerva battle.
Next week's chapter is called the eternal flame. It seems we are finally going to put an end to this one mystery about what exactly the eternal flame is.
I am far from excited about next week's chapter, but i will admit to being a bit intrigued. Clearly the ice is linked to the underworld somehow. Doriate assumed Gray was linked to the underworld because he could use ice magic.
My prediction is we are going to learn more about iced shell, the powerful suicide type ice technique Ur used to put Deliora down. Clearly the ice encompassing the village is similar to iced shell's form. Admittedly i am curious to learn where this arc is heading, especially since it looks like we might get another Gray centric storyline.
RATING:> 2/5, basically okay chapter, the art was horrible actually. I couldn't follow the Gray Doriate fight. I hope there is an improvement next week.
HIGHLIGHT: The appearance of the giant bird.