Well, this was easy enough to catch up on. The episode starts out with some flashbacks of Natsu and the Twin Dragons of Sabertooth fighting Mard. But when they're about to be taken out, Gray shows up and saves their asses before being knocked down by...Jiemma. Where the hell has he been for the last 100 or so chapters? Right, so he takes on the Twin Dragons while Natsu and Gray team up against Mard.
There's also what appears to be a brief flashback on Erza taking out Kyouka with the whole "losing my friends is worse than this pain" crap and standing up in spite of having no senses. Thank god I didn't have to review that episode.
So while various Fairy Tail Mages are expositing easily inferable, Acnologia is fighting Igneel. Meanwhile, Jiemma is knocking around the Twin Dragon Slayers while Mard, having transformed, is basically making Natsu and Gray eat dirt by dragging their heads through the ground in a scene that's more unintentionally comical than actually suspenseful.
During his fight, Jiemma goes on and on about "strength" cause that's the kind of 1-dimensional character he is. Sting and Rogue retort that thanks to Fairy Tail, they've learned the importance of friendship and all that jazz, allowing them to defeat their former master and collapse, leaving it all to Natsu cause "protagonist power", thus concluding this incredibly unnecessary battle.
Elsewhere, Natsu and Gray are thankfully having a bit more trouble against Mard Geer. As they fight, they do break free of Mard's clutches, who then hits them when Memento Mori, a strong spell that seemingly causing their elimination as they're nowhere to be seen when the dust clears. He claims that when E.N.D is resurrected, he can then kill Zeref.
This episode was just....blegh. Aside from the Igneel vs. Acnologia content, everything else is just a pain to get through. Both Erza's fight and the Twin Dragon Slayer's fight end with basically the characters talking about the power of friendship and beating their opponent, as so many others before them. Exposition that just delivers what the audience either already knows or can infer doesn't help at all either.
Verdict: 3 / 10
Did anyone expect that Natsu and Gray would be dead? Doubtful. As expected, both of them are alive but Gray faints cause the power he got from Silver was what saved them and how he's exhausted. So, of course, he's gonna leave it to Natsu. Dear lord, they should just rename themselves the "Natsu dick-riding guild".
Anyways, Ichiya and Blue Pegasus send out a message to other guilds about Face. Lamia Scale, Quatro Cerberus (I still like Quatro Puppy, lol) are out and decide to do something about Face. We also see Mermaid Heel get ready to help, causing Mega to cream his pants. Unfortunately, this is Fairy Tail, and that means their attempts are effectively useless unless the series needs them to be useful and/or doesn't want to wank the power of its protagonists. Nothing that the other guilds can do to the Face devices can phase them.
Meanwhile, Natsu takes on Mard Geer Tartaros in a 1-v-1 match. He fights him and even uses Dragon Force in the fight, saying he "inherited [it] directly from Igneel". It does look cool but I think that the ability to use Dragon Force should've been something he worked towards, rather than "inherited". He does take down Mard though, allowing Gray, who wasn't out, to finish him off from the ground. Sadly though, we also have to watch Erza take out Kyouka. >_>
With Mard gone though, Natsu and Gray argue over the book of E.N.D. and Gray refuses to listen to Natsu even though Natsu was told what to do by Igneel, someone who has dealt with E.N.D. before. No, Gray's too devoted to following the desires of that father of his, whose chest he put a hole though.
Anyways, the countdown of Face reaches 00:00 and Magic begins to disappear. The Fairy Tail Mages feel the effects too. Their bodies grow weak and Lisanna's Animal Soul disappears, rendering a view unto Lucy. Thankfully though, the unnecessary fanserivce is brief and we start to see the more important problems that are occurring.
However, we then see the solution to the problem arise. No, it's not the protagonists working together to solve things. It's the Dragons. An unexpected force has come in to save the day. Y'know, those Dragons who disappeared when those they were training and raising were young. They're here and they take out the Face devices as the Mages watch them from afar.
Ugh...I'm going to say this episode is about as bad as the last one. While I am glad that Gray had an important role in beating Mard Geer Tartaros, the unnecessary fanservice (which would've been fine if it weren't treated like a joke) and ridiculous appearance of the Dragons coming in to save the day really drags it down.
Verdict: 3 / 10
So, most of this episode's first half is centered around the Dragons destroying the Face devices while all the Mages of Ishgar marvel over their own inability to be of use (lol). However, it's then that we get the exposition of this episode in which Igneel (whose voice I hate cause it's the narrator's voice and doesn't fit him imo) reveals that one reason the Dragons were inside the Dragon Slayers all along for the purpose of creating antibodies inside them to prevent the dragonification that affecting Acnologia, like in that story from way back when.
Before he can reveal the other reason though, Acnologia, whom he'd seemingly defeated, rises up and the two resume their battle in the skies. As expected, Acnologia isn't really afraid of E.N.D. but sadly, he's a generic "I want to destroy everything!" villain. Granted, his history and status prevent him from being as poorly written as Zero in an absolute sense, but I still regard such motivations as being inherently bad for a series that is attempting to be dramatic.
Anyways, the two do have a nice battle in the skies while on the ground Natsu and Gray continue arguing about the book of E.N.D until suddenly, Zeref shows up to reclaim it. At the same time though, he imprisons Mard Geer back in his own book before burning it. Confronted by Gray, he said he merely had no more use for Mard. So...Zeref apparently acknowledges the value of life, but is still willing to throw his underlings away because they aren't useful at a given moment...yeah that totally makes sense >_>
So while fighting, Igneel is suddenly on the receiving end of a beating and tells Natsu telepathically that the other reason the Dragons were inside the Dragon Slayers was so that they could beat Acnologia, ergo waiting for an opportunity. The reason they never told the Dragon Slayers about this is.....never explained. Ok... >_>
The fight does end well though, as Igneel takes out Acnologia's hand but loses most of his body in the process, sending him plummeting down to the ground. Seeing this, Natsu begins remembering all the times he had with Igneel when he was a kid. Watching this, as well as Igneel's subsequent obliteration at the hands of Acnologia's roar, Natsu is understandably devastated as the sun then begins to rise.
This episode is...actually fairly improved over the last two. Granted, I still don't think it's legitimately good but it's not nearly as badly handled as it could have been.
One thing I'd also like to mention is what I presume to be character development for Natsu. Back in 2013, we briefly had a discussion in a podcast regarding this scenario and while it played out differently (the key being the substitution of Acnologia for E.N.D) we were of the opinion that it could be great. You can listen to it from the specified point by clicking here.
Differently, but still regarding Natsu, the flashbacks to his childhood with Igneel are quite the mixed bag for me. While important character building aspects to be sure, they are all being given to us now. We've had very little of this ever given to us before thus we never fully understood the relationship beyond the superficial level of parent-child. Not to mention, it hammers further the point that Natsu never truly tried to find Igneel. While he did go to Hargeon once (hence his meeting with Lucy in the first episode) and he "tried" to follow Gildarts' lead on the black Dragon, he's never really been shown as having done anything to further his original goal of finding Igneel.
The episode suffers a lot from similar issues shared with other episodes as well as problems with the series in general, but it does manage to competently deliver some content, which is quite welcome. Anyways, I don't wanna be too negative here; I did enjoy this episode more than the last two.
Verdict: 6 / 10
Back at the guild, that little tease over getting to see Lumen Histoire is gonna have to be put on hold. Since the Dragons bailed everyone out, there's no need for that. Mavis, having been conspicuously absent for the entirety of this war, suddenly shows up though to tell Makarov that it's fine and that this apparently just wasn't the right time.
Back at the battle field, the Dragons reveal that they were previous killed by Acnologia. Sadly, we don't get to see it but they do tell us that they stayed in their Dragon Slayer's bodies so that they could extend their lives, in addition to the previously-mentioned antibody thing. Apparently, they can also manipulate memories, which is why Sting and Rogue think they killed their Dragons. No idea why the others didn't manipulate their kids' memories into something to make sure that the kids didn't simply think that they were abandoned.
So, the Dragons disappear, Gajeel and Metalicana even have some amusing banter. Evidently though, Igneel was a big human enthusiast and loved them. Probably why he adopted Natsu way back when. Too bad he didn't ever explain the situation to him and just let the poor kid think he'd been abandoned. Anyways, their spirits pass on but Igneel, despite being seemingly dead, tells Natsu to stand on his feet despite his sadness and that he'll be watching over him in spirit.
A week later, things are being rebuilt cause man did Tartaros ever wreck the shit out of the continent. The guild members are all sad over their guild building being destroyed (again) and elsewhere, the Thunder God Tribe are watching over Laxus. Freed even has a nice speech about his powerlessness that is sadly ruined by some inappropriately timed comedy. Suddenly though, Laxus wakes up and hugs them all close. Kinda awkward but moderately understandable. Still, I wish he would be more distant.
Meanwhile, Wendy's hair is restored to its normal length 'cause Mashima says. Gajeel's taking a snooze nearby, in a scene that would definitely remind my teammates of what I do in the office. At his house, Natsu is packing up to go away, but has a letter he needs to give first.
Far away, in what appears to be the ruins of his old home (didn't he live seriously far away?), Gray is sitting alone when suddenly Juvia approaches. Her hips apparently don't feel the cold. So, she tells him she killed Keith, who was controlling Silver and thus no longer has the right to love him. He seems angry at first, but then Gray suddenly hugs her. Admittedly I still think Gruvia as a pairing sucks, Juvia sucks and Gray is boring as hell, but this scene is actually quite well done.
Elsewhere, Erza is sitting all alone on what appears to be the same riverbed from Gray's flashback in the Tower of Heaven arc. She's remembering her torture at the hands of Kyouka as well as her captivity in the Tower of Heaven when she was a kid. Thinking about how it all came to be, she suspects that she'll be having trust issues in the future. This could actually be the start of some great character development for her, like if she relapsed to her "armor-wearing" persona from way back when. PTSD isn't really something manga do but this could be the start of it.
Except it's not. Jellal just shows up after having been god-knows-where (he does appear in the background a few times in previous episodes but those were never even worth mentioning) and basically tells her she's great. He is the darkness, she's the light and so she'll be fine and that she should incinerate them, basically.
Dear lord, Mashima. this is NOT how you tackle PTSD! You're supposed to slowly identify the issue, diagnose the symptoms, have the person start to work on it. After that, you work towards curing it over the course of time. This is just a general overview, but the point remains. As she is working on it, and perhaps it's really hard, that would be where Jellal could come in. Furthermore, this is NOT how you tackle the JellalxErza relationship! Show us that they're better together than separated but are technically fine either way. Show us that there is a connection between them that justifies them being together. Show us that they bring out the best in one another and can help one another overcome their problems! But of course, you won't do that. Oh, no, that'd make too much fucking sense. Gah....
Minerva's brought back to the Sabertooth Guild and begins crying uncharacteristically. Thankfully though, the camera isn't pointed at her boobs like it was back with Flare in the Sun Village arc.
At night, Makarov is met by Doranbolt, who reveals that he completed his mission to erase everyone's memory of Lumen Histoire's existence. He doesn't want to erase his own though, and Makarov says it's fine revealing that he is actually a Fairy Tail member. Evidently he erased his own memories so he could infiltrate the council. Why? I...don't have a clue; they don't tell us. But apparently, Makarov wants to disband Fairy Tail. Because...that's never revealed either. And all that stuff he's said all this time about the importance of the guild?
At her house, Lucy finds the letter from Natsu, saying he's going away for a year. With Aquarius gone, Lucy's now all alone and runs after him, shouting and crying. Oh, Happy's going too, but you guys know that I'm more than happy (lol) to be rid of him =D
Well, we close off with a little montage of various scenes of the Tartaros arc. The arc started off awesome but honestly became pretty crap as it progressed. I'm at the end of it now and unless the anime has done something far worse than the manga, I stand by my decision to stop reading and I still consider this Fairy Tail's worst arc.
This episode in particular though has be seriously bugged. On the one hand, I do like the departure of the Dragons. I do wish more had been explained about them but this is not as bad an ending as the ending to the Grand Magic Games arc.
While the Gruvia scene was handled well in my opinion, the Jerza scene was terribly done. Character relationships should not be built like that and Jellal should be more than what he has been so far. I can definitely understand the feelings of Jerza fans who disliked this. Just to be certain too, I went and looked at the manga chapter and it was basically the same thing. It's a fact that this pairing will end up happening; I just wish we had some good moments for the two of them separate and alone.
Coupled with the peculiar decision to disband the guild (which I've been told was rendered irrelevant shortly later and made no sense to begin with based on certain scenarios), there's the fact that Natsu apparently values his friends and yet can't say goodbye in person, making me wonder what his arbitrary problem is.
Verdict: 2 / 10
Aaand...that's it' folks! This has been the four episodes of this month's Fairy Tail anime!
Overall Score for This Month in the Anime: 3 / 10
Verdict: A disappointing conclusion to an arc that started out so promising.
Next month though will be the premier of the anime adaption of Fairy Tail Zero. That ought to be good. Whoever is reviewing that next month, I hope you enjoy.
Till then, this has been Ultraprime2! Take care and have a Happy New Year!