Bleach, Naruto, Gintama, One Piece, Fairy Tail – long-running shonen shows that have drawn many thousands of viewers, they are based on long-running manga that is still running, we’re talking over a decade. There’s a lot of money in these shows, and as such they keep them running though often there is no real content to show – so things get paced poorly (see my post on Naruto), and they add a lot of original content that’s usually a lot poorer than the original content (called “Filler”). But it keeps going on, because we enjoy watching those shows.
A month ago I’ve began watching Fairy Tail, and over two and a half weeks I’ve watched all of it (minus the filler episodes), aside from how silly the first episode was – which actually filled me with concern that I won’t like the show, it was just too silly and random – I’ve really enjoyed this show. I am sure that it might not be the favourite show of anyone, but I still think that out of the shows above, it’s the most well rounded one, and might be the best as well.
(This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that have risen in my mind as I’ve watched it. I expect no spoilers in this post.)
Some background – I’ve watched all of Bleach, I’ve watched Naruto up to Naruto Shipuuden episode 87, I’ve watched 12 episodes of Gintama, and I hadn’t watched One Piece (the prospect of beginning to watch a show nearing its 600th episode is worrying :O).
So, each of those shows has a different mixture of things – Naruto has some silliness, combats that drag on endlessly, some slapstick humour and some emotional content. Bleach has angsty teenagers, but it’s mostly about fighting – the feel is darker and more serious than Naruto, at least Naruto’s earlier offerings – the colour palette is also darker to support it. Gintama is very silly – it’s essentially a comedy show with the rest inside.
The focus of each show is different and as such I expect different people will find a different one of the shows to be their favourite, because it gives them a lot of the content/feel that they like, and only a smaller amount of everything else – almost non-existent, in fact.
Fairy Tail is different – it has a lot of emotional content, it has quite a bit of humour – not just splastick, but it goes a few steps forward, and there’re fights, obviously. I think it has its airtime percentages split more equally amongst its constituent components, so the “leading one” has less space, but the show as a whole is much richer. If all you want are comedies, you should look elsewhere, if all you want are emotionally resonant moments, look elsewhere, if all you want are endless determinator battles – look elsewhere. But if you want one meal that’d fulfill all of those different things – watch Fairy Tail.
When I’ve reached episode 175 of Fairy Tail I’ve searched online to see when the next episode is coming out, and I’ve found out the show is going on a break – rather than pad all the episodes as they’ve done in the last season – where the recap of previous episodes grows longer, and you have someone in the beginning of each episode telling you what is going on – which drives people crazy and throws the show’s pacing out of whack – or throw endless filler episodes at us (which also make people drop the show), they’ve decided to let the show take a breather as they wait for more manga material to be released. I appreciate their decision, which is not the one most of those shows make – which is keep airing content at all costs.
Here’s another thing, when Bleach’s anime-run ended and the manga hadn’t, I had no real issue with going to read the manga. When the Sword Art Online show ended, I had no issue going to read the future books (ok, let’s be frank, I couldn’t stop myself from doing so). I can’t imagine doing so with Fairy Tail. The voice acting is really good. The soundtrack is superb, it is very much Irish music fused with punk/rock, with a small dash of choir music thrown in. The music has a large part in magnifying the emotional gravitas of scenes – whether it’s light or dark, heavy or cheerful, or just to prepare you for seeing a super-magic unleashed – where it feels you with dread as the power is gathered. This is everything a series’ soundtrack could ever hope to be, and reading the manga without the soundtrack would feel like half of the heart is missing, and I’d be amiss to read it like that.
Score: Fairy Tail deserves 8/10 precious moments spent with everyone. I don’t think it’ll be the favourite show of many out of the endlessly running shonen shows, but I think it’s the most well-rounded one, the one with the most content to fit everyone. And while I feel most such shows are aimed at 12-15 year olds, with perhaps a few more years for Bleach’s darkness and Gintama’s humour, Fairy Tail feels the most complete show, also complete emotionally, and as such the most fitting for viewers who are older and look for real emotional content in their shows.
The show does have a bit too much fan-service – as in, at some points you go “Was this shot really necessary?”, but the show is definitely worth your watch, and the soundtracks as well.
P.S. Another thing this show had done for me personally is redeemed Rie Kugimiya. I love her character in many shows, I love many anime she was a main in. But her roles are too samey, and her type-cast was getting very annoying to me. Happy, the flying cat, had been a breath of fresh air and is my currently favourite role by this voice actress.
Hunter x Hunter is the best ongoing shonen (yeah I’n aware of the hiatuses. Fairy Tail is just another derivative shonen.
1. All long-running shonen shows are derivative. I think if you’re looking for innovation in these shows, then you’re obviously going to get disappointed.
2. “There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” – Audre Lorde. Or in other words, the innovation is not in what they tell in Fairy Tail, but the execution, which for this type of anime is rather unheard of.
3. I considered mentioning Hunter x Hunter, which I hadn’t watched yet, but with only 77 episodes out there it’s still a fledgling show – “only” 77 episodes :D
I haven’t finish Fairy Tail yet (should do that soon), at least, not until the point where they decided to be on hiatus. In fact, not just Fairy Tail but I find some other anime, especially long ones, applying this too instead of airing tons of flashbacks or fillers. I can see that you’re still at the beginning parts of Gintama (not sure about now), but if you watched further, you will notice that Gintama likewise, was also broken down into different breaks, instead of airing everything in consecutively. Even though I would watch Gintama fillers anytime anyway, it’s indeed a very respectable thing to do.
And indeed, Fairy Tail’s music is awesome.
Yeah, I know Gintama actually went on breaks. I only need to watch the fillers of Fairy Tail, I might actually go back and do so since people told me they were alright and I liked the show.
In Bleach, after watching the “Dolls’ Fillers” I skipped the rest, and in Naruto I skipped the 70 episode mega-filler before Shippuuden, I did watch the Sora fillers later on, but these days I mostly skip fillers – they just frustrate me and my time is very precious as it is.
I never got to Gintama beyond episode 12, I just couldn’t get past it, though I understand that like many shows the opening is the exposition, and then we move on to more plot. Maybe I’ll get to it in the future :3
I much prefer when they wait for the manga, otherwise we get travesties such as Hellsing which you are familiar with ;) Or having to air Fullmetal Alchemist twice, or the horrible truncated Fruits’ Basket… wait, be patient. The thing is, they usually want to begin airing the shows while the manga/LNs are at the peak of their popularity, even though it causes issues later, such as waiting 4 years for the last season of Zero no Tsukaima.
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These are the very reasons why I also like Fairy Tail. And I have to concur with you regarding the voice acting role of Kugimiya Rie.
About the decision for the anime production to have a break, it was also attributed to the decreasing sales of the manga. :(