Putting this next to the latest episodes of NARUTO SHIPPUDEN, you’d have to conclude that most bright and whimsical shonen shows are on an inevitable slide to de-saturated dourness that usually involves giant, monolithic beasts. In NARUTO, it was colossal spirits/demons with varying numbers of tails. Here, it’s dragons who might be made of fire or stone.
When FAIRY TAIL started, fans generally seemed to dismiss it as a warmed-over ONE PIECE. To be honest, Salamander always struck me as what you'd get if somebody just took the art template of Luffy, died the hair pink and swapped the clothes out. The glaring issue now, I guess, is that ONE PIECE-like characters look incredibly ill-suited to a SHIPPUDEN make-over.
I’ve always thought that throwing ‘grimdark’ around as a pejorative for adventure serials is an ill-founded complaint. People respond to higher stakes and graver threats in their comics. That's just natural growth. The difference here is that, even when it touches upon borderline-inappropriate ‘issues’ like drug abuse, ONE PIECE always maintains its color and sense of manic creativity - - even when those elements are almost jarringly at odds.
In this sample of FAIRY TAIL, it’s especially telling that the intro features the band of heroes marching through the rain and shadows, trying their damnedest to look badass, and trying too hard at it. No getting around this: it really seems like the crew just copied the appearances of other, more successful shows, without understanding the meaning underneath what they saw.
I'm all for a series growing up. But, I don't know -- it's hard to watch talking cats and a band of Fairy Tails expecting to be taken this seriously.
Watch "Life Time!" and decide for yourself.