ANIME & MANGA - Review
17:00 - 25th April 2014, by Alasdair Stuart

Fairy Tail, Part 6

Juvia, Natsu and friends return in the sixth collection of Fairy Tail, and, of course, Natsu is in trouble. As the huge city of Nirvana continues its march towards Cait Shelter, Natsu and Happy are caught in an aerial battle whilst their friends struggle for survival on the ground. Even when that's done, and the surviving members of Fairy Tail return home, trouble isn't far behind.

It can be a little concerning sometimes looking at episodes with titles like 'Super Aerial Battle: Natsu vs. Cobra!', especially if you like character development slightly more than you like watching extended fight sequences. Thankfully, any concerns are allayed before the opening credits start with one of the funniest 'previously...' recaps in recent history. Once that's out of the way, the show's off at a dead sprint, cutting between Natsu and Happy fighting Cobra and everyone else trying to work out how to stop the monster they're trapped on from causing even more destruction. There's a real sense that this is a problem too large to be solved by one character alone, as well as some really smart, subtle cliffhangers. This is a big story about a big problem that never once feels padded or stretched. The fact that it's well animated and crammed full of some really smart action beats helps too.

However, the set really comes into its own with the second story arc. Returning home, the members of Fairy Tail are reunited with their Guild and, almost immediately, caught up in Daphne's elaborate schemes. A scientist obsessed with dragons, Daphne is trying to create an artificial one, and Natsu is the key to her success...

This arc has everything. Daphne's a funny, disturbing villain, and her plan is epic in scale and yet oddly personal. More importantly, it gives lots of other characters a chance to shine, especially Gray, Juvia and Erza. The scale of the action demands this, as the entire Guild has to rally to save Natsu and stop Magnolia being destroyed. How they save the day is where the real fun lies though, through destructiveness, resourcefulness and the good natured banter that defines the show. The character development and dialogue is exemplary, and the characters dynamics have real weight to them. We're not just talking about the leads either; one of the most affecting moments in the entire set is a simple act of heroism from a Magnolia resident.
Every episode here is impressive, but the second arc - and its finale - really stands out. The designs are outlandish, the scale is huge, but fundamentally, you care about these characters and what's going to happen to them. They're flawed, boisterous, and hilariously destructive, but they're heroes. In fact, they're more heroic because of their faults. Even better, they make this volume an action-packed, very funny and oddly sweet excursion into their world.

What could be a tedious collection of fight scenes is instead massively breezy and fun. Smart writing, flamboyant designs and the wonderfully grounded, bickering banter of the characters makes this something special.
SCORE: 4/5
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