Thursday, July 8, 2010

Anime Reviews: Fairy Tail Episode 35 - Voice of Darkness

The episode starts off with Natsu running around looking for Happy, while the latter is still stuck in Milliana's room.

After that Erza continues her story. The slaves continued their revolt, taking the guards by suprise. A good portion of the fights are still frames, not ideal, but not enough for me to be concerned about their budget, especially considering that the quality has continued to increase ever since I first noticed that improvement.

Meanwhile the two higher ups continue to torture Jellal, attempting to steal his life force to be used for the R-System. Jellal snaps, muttering to himself about how he hates everything about the world, and about the people that have enslaved him, after they have left him in the room to go try and get control of the riot. This hatred allows the spirit of Zeref to posses him, twisting his hatred and turning him evil.

The rebels have found a short reprieve and are bandaging their wounds and making plans to continue their coup against the cult, when they are attacked by the magic troops, who only continue to add to the freaky imagery this episode is throwing at us.

The magic troops start raining down explosive spells on the slaves, and it looks like all is lost as Erza attempts to rally her troops back into order. But they all run, leaving her facing the magic troops completely defenseless.

She is protected at the last minute by an old man she calls "Grandpa Rob." He turns out to not only have once been a wizard, but a wizard of Fairy Tail.

I'm not afraid to admit, but the music playing while he shields Erza from the blasts and the as we see a flashback within the flashback to where Rob explains magic to Erza, and finally dies, is enough to bring me to tears. I've been getting a lot more emotional lately, I have no idea why.

The entire thing ends with Rob's body cracking and exploding into fragments. I kid you not, he explodes. I guess what happens is that his body becomes brittle as he uses up what little is left of his magic, and the stress from forcing more out crystallizes it and causes it to shatter.

Her grief from loosing one of her friends causes Erza's latent magic ability to awaken, not quite sure how exactly it did, but it makes perfect dramatic sense, and she unleashes all the scattered weapons and pickaxes on their enemies.

Once again, I can't help but stress how well the music fits the scene. It's incredibly effective at evoking emotions, and it is much more than I'd expected from this series as far as music goes when I watched the first episode.

Also, once again, Erza reminds me of Braveheart, if William Wallace were the little red haired girl.

Face it Chuck, she's out of your league.

Erza makes her way to where Jellal is being held, but unfortunately she is too late, and he is no longer the boy that she knew. He kills the two that were torturing him, and tells Erza about his intentions of keeping everyone there to finish building the tower. Erza tells him that everyone just wants to leave, and that there's no reason for them to stay in that tower any longer. Jellal tells her that she can leave, but all the others are staying with him, and if she tries to come back to free any of them then he'd kill them.

And with that, the flashback ends and we can finally pick up on the actual story that we've become invested in. It's strange how crucial flashbacks are, but most of the time they are universally hated because they break the flow of the action, and interrupt the story that we really want to continue following. I wonder if there are better ways to do this?

Anyway, the episode ends with Sho having heard Erza's story, and claiming that she was just lying to make herself look good in front of her friends. Simon appears and confirms that Erza's story is the truth, that he never doubted her in the slightest. Simon and Sho join Erza's group, and go off to find Natsu before he and Wally can confront each other.

I know it's kind of strange, but at this point I think I'm liking the anime over the manga. This is especially strange because it's usually the other way around for me. Normally the anime makes changes from the manga that are to the detriment of the overall story, but in this case some of the changes that I'm noticing are actually improving on the manga. I still love the manga, but I still think that the way the anime tells the story, and adds a few details, and in Simon's case makes changes his character design give the story a different feel that I kind of like. Granted, I'm on the fence about Simon's character design change.

Under Simon's mask in the manga.

And in the anime.

Not entirely sure what to think of this change, my best guess is that the purpose is to give viewers one more reason to sympathize with him? The more positive qualities a character has, the more sympathetic they are. And while appearances are a fairly shallow way of doing this in graphic media, it's still an effective way of pulling it off. The Simon from the manga has plenty going on for him as far as being a sympathetic character. In the anime's case he has all that, and he's better looking than his manga counterpart to boot.

Here's what confuses me about this though. Fairy Tail is aimed at a mostly male audience. As in, the audience that really doesn't care if the male characters are good looking as long as they are awesome. So perhaps the change was only for the female audience? Or, perhaps, it suggests something about people in general, that we are just that much more likely to value a person or character if they are physically good looking? Oddly enough, I'm pretty sure that with enough research I could prove that this holds true even for male readers. Normally we like to think of ourselves as above shallow opinions as far as the male characters are concerned, or maybe we don't want to draw attention to it out of fear for having our sexuality questioned. But I'm convinced that regular, heterosexual males prefer to watch anime, or read manga where the main character, or more, are at least passably handsome. It's a strange phenomenon, but there you have it. Humans just like looking at attractive humans more than ugly humans, and hence the change in Simon's appearance.


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