I couldn't have started the review at a more convenient place. Episode 11 is the start of a new story arc that will carry on to episode 18. This was also the point where I noticed a significant improvement in the series. The animation quality improves slightly, bit by bit, and the music quality improves immensely. For the first ten episodes I noticed far too much unoriginal music along with the original soundtrack. Starting with this storyline we get not only a fully noticeable track of original music, that music also kicks a ton of butt. As my previous review already stated.
For those of you that have gotten used to my image heavy reviews I'll have to apologize. I don't really have much to use here, but I'll try to use as much as possible. Fact is I don't know how many images I'll use for this review and the next one, but once I start reviewing individual episodes I'll be able to take screen shots that I can use. Quality might be questionable, I usually download 480p files just because they're faster and the lower resolution makes it easier for me to watch them on my computer.
The Galuna Island arc is the first major arc of the series, both in the anime and the manga. Granted the Cursed Lullaby arc was also fairly major, but comparatively it was shorter and seemed more like one of the introductory arcs of the series, kind of like the Everlue Mansion arc. The Galuna Island arc is the first arc that introduces characters that will reappear later on in the series. Though I can't help but wonder if the anime will last that long. I can only hope that it will.
The thing about this current arc is that it's the first arc that introduces the past of one of the supporting characters. In this case Gray. The arc starts off with Natsu and Happy convincing Lucy to go on an S-Class mission, an elite mission category for which they do not have clearance. Lucy at first resists this idea, being the voice of reason that she is, but once she realizes that part of the reward is a rare Key of the Zodiac, she quickly abandons reason for self interest and heads off on the quest with Natsu and Happy.
Once Master Makarov realizes that the three of them are missing he sends Gray off to bring them back. He tries to at first, but is tied up by Natsu and dragged along with them to the island. Once they get there he changes his mind and decides to help them. When they discover the frozen remains of the demon that destroyed his home town, and that his master sacrificed herself to seal in eternal ice, Gray realizes that there is more to the curse that turns the islanders into demons at night than they at first realized.
The main antagonist turns out to be Gray's former fellow pupil Lyon. What follows is Gray's back story, along with an explanation of why he has the chronic habit of stripping down to his underwear without noticing.
My favorite part of this arc is definitely Natsu's fight against Lyon's two henchmen Yuka andToby. What I like about this fight is that not only does it show Natsu fights in the typical determination style as most shonen protagonists, but he's also really inventive in the way he fights and actually really smart. Smarter than Toby at least.
Natsu may be naive and goofy most of the time, but he isn't an idiot, which is a refreshing change of pace from the Gokus and Narutos and Luffys out there. I still love those characters, but a change of pace is always enjoyed. If I had to explain it, I'd say that Natsu has good common sense for a dragon, not so much for a human.
After the eight episode arc the last two episodes, nineteen and twenty, are both filler. Out of those two filler episode twenty is Happy's backstory, and taken directly out of an omake in the manga, so it's not entirely filler. Episode nineteen was one of those filler episodes that gave me a little bit of faith in A-1 Pictures and Satelight, the production companies. The previous all filler episode wasn't anything special, but it wasn't horrible, this episode on the other hand was actually kind of funny, as Natsu discovers a request sheet on the board that contains a spell that switches the bodies of several of the guild members standing there. The episode ends with everyone still in the wrong bodies, but it's made quite clear that it doesn't really have anything to do with the main storyline. Granted as far as standalone episodes go it isn't necessarily the greatest and I wouldn't want to see Fairy Tail devolve into an episodic type of show. But it was funny enough, and watchable enough that my worries about the series being ruined by filler, as too many others have, were calmed for now. I'm still keeping my eyes open for lousy filler, but so far the studios have done good.
These ten episodes are definitely the turning point for the series. They are when I realized that the overall quality was going up, and that anyone who has lasted this long won't be going anywhere soon. And anyone that gave up on the series in the first ten episodes, I urge you to come back to the series, as the quality really did improve.
I'll admit, I'm two episodes behind on my own watching, but that's more because of two Loki centered episodes that aired around the time I was approaching midterms. And since Loki isn't exactly one of my favorite characters, I tend to dislike the flirtatious characters on principle, I put watching them off for a while. Also, I have to confess, the Tower of Paradise Arc isn't one of my favorites from the manga, but it's not enough to make me stop watching completely. Really I think it's after that arc that things really pick up in the storyline, or at least I have some of my favorite arcs. Here's hoping the anime makes it past that untouched by filler arcs.
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