Happy in the cover, which is nice for a change! He also looks like how he did in the beginning of the manga which is kind of nostalgic.

The chapter begins with the usual format of Lucy recounting the recent events. She swears to protect Fairy Heart, saying that because of her "they met" (probably meaning Natsu and Happy, or Fairy Tail in general), and surprise surprise, Natsu and Happy intrude again. I'd be happy if Lucy kicked their asses but apparently after the timeskip Natsu is too strong for that? Who knows.

They do share a nice conversation though. Apparently the fight begins the next day and Natsu clears up that he's not excited, because it's a fight to the death and not a simple contest of strength.

I actually like Natsu in the last few chapters because he finally shows some growth as a character. He is not afraid to be afraid, and knows his limits. He also knows which fights must be fought and when he should seek help from others. It arrived a tad bit late, but I really like that he finally shows those traits!

Also, I guess shippers were really happy about his "something I have to do once this is all over", and rightfully so. Also, I like how Lucy almost broke the fourth wall and told him to not make things too dramatic because it's like making a death flag. It's usually true :P and Natsu, your Igneel example does not make things better, because he also died after making some dramatic declarations. I wonder how that convinced Lucy that he was right >_>

Then he suggests strip poker. Guess he matured in more ways than one. Gildarts would be proud.

Also, ghost!Mavis stalks flies by all the members during the entire chapter.

And YES! Crime Sorciere will officially join the battlefield as confirmed by Erza and Wendy. If the translation is accurate, then the others guilds will probably also join, because Wendy said something along the lines "Crime Sorciere will also join?" I hope that's true. If it is, I'll be even more pumped for this arc ;D

We also have a moment mirroring Zera x Mavis, but with Wendy x Erza this time, in the hot springs. It would be really nice and heartwarming and all, but Mashima paid too much attention to Erza's ass and the whole nakedness for me to fully enjoy it for what it was, and came off as a fanservice moment instead.

I did like how Erza remembered all the journey Wendy's been through, and how Wendy swore to protect Erza. I never thought much of their bond until now. Meanwhile, Gray tells Juvia that he'll give her her answer after the final battle, and that he's also got some aces up his sleeve.
a. Doesn't every single fighter at this point got an ace up his sleeve? Why are those two acting like they're the only ones who trained hard? ( ._.)
b. Gray, you gave your answer by rejecting Juvia. Why not have that be the end of story? >_>

Makarov, Warren, Macao and Mavis are the only ones doing something meaningful, preparing for war and making tactical decisions about the battlefield. Nice! It's good that Macao is appreciated more. Wakaba too.

Anyway, as Makarov swears to protect his children, some battleships appear in the sky, declaring war on Fairy Tail! As Ajeel looks down on the guild and the town (literally), we are ready for the war to begin next chapter!!! This also means he'll probably go down first, but we already knew that :P

...Also, looks like Natsu was playing strip poker with Happy, who wore no clothes....? Lucy was on her bed ignoring them. Weird.

The Good

  • Taking a peek into the lives of the members shortly before all hell breaks loose. I like this kind of transition!
  • Natsu's general growth.
  • Erza/Wendy moment (to some extent)
  • Confirmation that Fairy Tail won't solo Alvarez
  • The eldest members being the tacticians of the guild!
  • Ajeel's epic face.

The Bad

  • The ecchi was unnecessary.
  • Ajeel will go down first probably.
  • Everything Gray x Juvia, but I'm generally not a fan of the ship so yeah >__>

Final Verdict

A really nice setup chapter, and one that has me really excited for the war to come next chapter!

Raven's Ratings: Chapter 453
Art 10/10
Story 9/10
Fight 0/10
Chapter 9/10
Who will obliterate Ajeel?

The poll was created at 11:14 on September 19, 2015, and so far 148 people voted.
Who are you looking forward to seeing fight more?

The poll was created at 11:14 on September 19, 2015, and so far 169 people voted.

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