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after finally catching up with the anime and making the transition into the manga, i have to say this series is damn good
natsu fits the prototypical shonen protaganist; well defined morals, impulsive, hard worker, oblivious to his feelings(lucy lol), orphan. nothing i haven't seen before, but handled very well, albeit with a mostly vaugue background
lucy is what every damsel type character fails to be. she may need to be rescued from time to time, but she doesn't put herself in that position and when she's in it, she able to put up a fight. at first glance i was expecting her to be the typical fan service lead and boy was i wrong. she has depth, strong characterization, conviction, and a fresh personality.
erza is a breath of fresh air;she's strong and beautiful without either aspect compromising the other.i'm so glad she didn't end up like my initial impression of her being a tsundure, cause god i hate that trope(so glad juvia outgrew that).i like how her toughness isn't downplayed because she's a woman and that her fellow guild mates acknowledge her prowess based on her own merits
gray reminds me of myself when it comes to the whole wheres your clothes gag lol, sometimes it's cool to wear just draws in your own home okay. i like his resolve and dedication, as well as the fact that his rivalry with natsu has more of a mutual respect vibe as opposed to the jealous frenemy vibe. he needs to wake up when it comes to juvia though lol.
the side characters are surprisingly well developed. this show has successfully gave me reasons to care about pretty much all of them. from elfman's struggle with his beast soul, to cana's opening up to her dad gildarts. my favorites are gajeel and laxus, the former is a contender for the biggest face turn i've seen in an anime since vegeta(it was kinda rushed but turned out great later on) and the latter being an absolute bada#@. imo lisanna is the only one who feels redundant. keeping her dead gave elfman and mirajane more depth and she hasn't done anything to justify her existence. if it was to have her as a triangle option for natsu, their interaction has been too little developed
the plot is where this series succeeds the most. combining magic users and mythology in way that feels truly unique. the approach to the arcs and the overarching story of dealing with zeref, the dark guilds and the dragons reminds me of mass effect in that there's plenty of world building. there's a central enemy at play but there so much to do before we get there. the filler is a doubled edge sword;while it makes me more attached to the characters, it's delaying some key plot points that need addressing before we can get to the climax
the fights are well done;placing an emphasis on strategy, strength and endurance/limits. i will say the filler battles are either too long(especially in the anime) or there too numerous. the main battle could be a bit longer and have more people resolving it then just natsu.
like most shonen, it's kept at the background and used for gags, but the ships are well handled as far as teasing and development. with nalu in particular, i just ove the fact that they are both oblivious to how much they care for each other. it's classic 'best friends turned lovers' at it's finest. jerza 'tragic pairing vibe is very believable within it's context and gale is a classic oddball pairing that works surprisingly well.
anime v manga-
based on what i've compared between certain episodes and their respective chapters, the manga is definitely better. this stems from less censoring, better dialogue and less omitted material in general. the anime has a a great ost, but the art style took a hit in the new series
overall, this series is one i wished i had given the chance earlier. to sum things up, the best thing about fairy tail is that it succeeds at being nothing like what you think it will be if you've never seen it.