I contemplated doing a review for this because the Fairy Tail series is coming to an end once again, but after thinking about it, I decided that I’m just going to review the Fairy Tail Zero portion of the show for a couple of reasons. The first is that the Fairy Tail anime will be returning after another break so the series is not completely over, therefore, it doesn’t warrant a full series review (which also means that the review is going to get even more massive once it does finally end. Eep!) The second reason is that even though Fairy Tail Zero was included in the main run of the series, it was titled and treated like a separate anime. Therefore, I decided to review the anime adaptation of the Fairy Tail Zero spinoff manga!
As implied by the Zero in the title, this is a story of Fairy Tail’s beginnings. I want to state flat out that this is NOT FILLER. Yes, it was a deviation from the main story and a device to stall the series to allow the manga to continue, but the Fairy Tail Zero spinoff manga is considered canon and is part of the full story. Canon material is not truly filler so anyone who calls it that is sadly mistaken. If you want to know true filler, go watch the money no justu episode of Naruto. Yeah, THAT never happened anywhere outside of the anime (thank God.)
The story starts off with Natsu and Happy visiting Tenroujima Island to start off their training. We then transition into the past when Mavis Vermillion, the first master of Fairy Tail, lived on this island as a part of the Red Lizard guild. Mavis was treated terribly by the guild, but all of that changed when their rival guild Blue Skull showed up and destroyed everything. Mavis’ guild, her home, everyone she knew and loved were gone… except for Zera, who was the guild master’s daughter. Zera and Mavis lived together on the island alone ever since until the day when three treasure hunters arrived looking for the Tenrou Jade.
After having discovered that the Jade has been stolen by Blue Skull, Mavis and Zera accompany the treasure hunters on a journey to retrieve the Jade and it is through this journey that we get to see the birth of the Fairy Tail guild.
The story itself was very VERY touching with a few shocks here and there. It explained so much about Mavis and the entire story also sets up an upcoming explanation of what Lumen Histoire is. Whether or not the main anime will get to that point before it goes on hiatus remains to be seen. We get to learn who taught Mavis magic as well as the beginnings of three of Fairy Tail’s major characters. The story also has a bit of tragedy in it which, coupled with the show’s phenomenal soundtrack, has the power to move you to tears. You really get an amazing connection to Mavis and the other characters in this series and I think this is one of the best story arcs ever produced throughout the entire Fairy Tail series.
Speaking of the characters, let’s take a look at them.
The cast of Fairy Tail Zero is not large. In fact, there are only five characters worth talking about, but this arc accomplished so much with such a small cast. It is the perfect example of a “less is more” situation and it just works so well!
She is our main character and the first master of Fairy Tail. She knows illusion magic due to being an avid book reader. She loves burning the days away burying her face in books and learning everything she possibly can. This thirst for knowledge has made her an extremely clever girl and a master tactician. Despite all of this, she cannot use magic… yet. She does get taught magic later on in this series by a certain someone. Her personality is really lovable as she’s innocent, full of curiosity, clever, cunning, and so care-free. Being sheltered on Tenroujima Island for all these years have really made her naïve to the world, but it is that child-like innocence that gives her the courage to step off the island in the first place. Thanks to Blue Skull, she witnesses conflict in the world, but instead of letting the events of Red Lizard’s downfall haunt her, she is filled with a sense to do what is right.
The only thing I didn’t really care for about Mavis is the voice acting. It has nothing to do with line delivery or any of the sort, but just the way her voice sounds. It’s the kind of voice I can only listen to for so long before I just want to tell that person to shut up. I don’t believe many people had an issue with this so it’s more of a personal taste that mine, but I just didn’t care for the way she sounded.
She is the daughter of Zeeself, Red Lizard’s master. Zera, at first, is a very spoiled brat with an attitude who is always looking down on Mavis, however, after losing everything, Zera realizes that Mavis was the one who saved her and she begins to warm up to her. By the time they set out on their journey, Mavis and Zera have become inseparable for many reasons. They are the epitome of best friends and their banter together clearly reflects that.
Overall, though, I think Zera was treated more like an afterthought throughout the entire journey. She just seemed “there” as a character and only really offered support when needed. There is a pretty good reason for this, though, but I wish they had done something a little more with Zera up until that reason. It just felt like: “Welp, there’s Zera and, oh look, some back and forth banter between herself and Mavis.” Then again, looking back on the series, I don’t know if it were really possible to do anything more with Zera without ruining a future plot point in the story. It’s kind of a tough situation that I may be asking too much from.
He’s one of the three treasure hunters and is a pretty silent character, for the most part. He spends most of the series just standing around observing conversations, but he does open up a bit towards the end of the arc. Out of the three, he is the most interesting character because he later goes on to become the second master of Fairy Tail and then ends up becoming Master Hades, the master of the dark guild Grimoire Heart. This story explains a lot about Precht as well from how he got his eyepatch to why one of his attacks as Master Hades is a magical chain.
One thing I thought was great about the character was how he was portrayed as this stone cold tough individual, but in reality, he was just really awkward and clumsy. He had next to no social skills whatsoever and his information gathering techniques were really hilarious to watch. He seemed like a far cry from the Master Hades character and it made me wonder how someone like this could turn to the dark side, but they actually touch upon how that happened. I don’t wish to spoil it, but it’s a pretty interesting reason. Out of the three treasure hunters, he is my favorite.
The last name of this character should instantly clue you in to who it is, but in case you’re the person who doesn’t bother with last names, Yuri goes on to become the father of Makarov Dreyar, the third master of Fairy Tail. Yuri is an extremely greedy treasure hunter who is known for not always thinking things through. He’s cunning and only befriends Mavis in order to seek out and take the Tenrou Jade with the intention of leaving her high and dry once they have it in their possession. However, through their journey, just getting to know Mavis changes Yuri drastically and he becomes one of her closest friends. He also learns lightning magic which also explains the roots of another member of the Dreyar family.
Other than what I outlined above, there’s really nothing more to Yuri. Watching him grow and transform as a character, however, was a complete and total joy. When your sense of ideals gets flipped on its head thanks to the influence of another, it carries with it an impactful meaning. To see Yrui become someone who would do anything to project Mavis from someone who simply wanted to use her, really accented the kind of character Mavis was. Her positivity was so infectious that it caused a complete change of personality and way of thinking for Yuri.
Warrod is the third treasure hunter who later goes on to become one of the Ten Great Wizard Saints, and among them, earns the title of one of the Four Kings of Ishgar. We’ve seen him at the start of the Tartaros arc as he’s the tree-like human who sends Natsu and company to the ice village. In Fairy Tail Zero, Warrod has not transformed into a tree, but it is here where he learns plant manipulation magic. Warrod is a jovial man who wants nothing more than to be a help to his friends, but often feels conflicted on whether or not he’s of any use.
Outside of struggling to learn magic and finally being able to do so, thus squashing his doubts of being useless, Warrod doesn’t see much character development. In fact, I found him rather bland and fairly average. For someone who was known for cracking bad jokes left and right in the present day era, I would have thought that Warrod would have been a more interesting character in his beginnings. It kind of makes you wonder how he became that way.
Art, Animation, and Sound
A-1 Pictures did an above average job here with this arc and by above average, I’m not talking Sword Art Online levels, but I’m merely talking about Fairy Tail standards. Since this is a long-running series, A-1 has neglected the budget of this show in favor of other, shorter series. The animation and art have suffered greatly throughout Fairy Tail, but it seems that A-1 tried and put a little more effort into Fairy Tail Zero. The characters weren’t really amazingly depicted, but the backgrounds and magic received a bit of a step up in quality.
Mavis’ Illusion Magic
The Animation itself seemed a little bit better, but still had that Fairy Tail feeling to it. Many are wondering if Hiro Mashima halted Fairy Tail because they were, perhaps, changing studios. This was the rumor when the show resumed in 2014 and with a new, jaw-dropping opening, many had thought it had, but it was just A-1 showing that they still gave a damn. If anything, A-1 will be in the driver’s seat once again when the show returns and this break is just to allow the manga to get further ahead. I would love to see what a studio like ufotable (if they’re not bankrupt by now) GoHands or CoMix Wave could do with a show like this, though. Entertaining the thought of a new studio is kind of enticing, but it’s not really likely to happen. I highly doubt A-1 will be dumb enough to let an insanely popular franchise like Fairy Tail slip through their fingers. That also means we’re going to get treated to more sloppy low-budget animation in the future.
The Light Which Purifies All Evil: Fairy Law!
A nice little touch that A-1 did here was with the title screen. Each time the title of the episode came up, the 0 in Fairy Tail Zero slowly disappeared little by little until the final episode where the 0 was replaced by the anime’s major plot point. It was very subtle at first, but after the fourth or fifth episode, if you were really paying attention, it would have caught your eye and made you begin to wonder just why that 0 was disappearing. Very nice touch, indeed!
The OST for Fairy Tail is, hands down, one of THE BEST OSTs in the history of anime. Yes.. I said the HISTORY of anime, meaning all-time. Comprised of five different volumes, the OST shines here and even introduces us to a couple of new tracks which makes me excited. That means when Fairy Tail does return, presumably in a year from now, that we’ll be getting a sixth volume of the OST and more Fairy Tail music is a good thing. Everything from heavy Irish rock-driven battle themes to soft, somber music that can move us to tears, I don’t think many animes throughout history have been able to produce a soundtrack as good as this. Hell, if I had to rate this series overall just on the OST alone, it would get a 5/5. It’s that good.
The OP theme, “Ashita no Orase” by Kavka Shishido is simply amazing. It opens up with a bit of sass and then transitions into a driving rock theme with an amazingly harmonized chorus. It is one of the best openings for Fairy Tail in quite some time. While the original run featured light-hearted openings that just screamed “it’s party time!” the second run that started in 2014 has featured more serious opening themes and I really love that new direction. It’s like they can mix the old with the new which reflects the direction Hiro Mashima has been taking the manga as of late.
The ED theme, “Landscape” by SOLIDEMO is another amazing theme. It’s soft, somber, and fits the mood of this arc PERFECTLY. The last time I felt an ending did this was when w-inds. performed “-Be as One-” back in the original run. Just a great song to listen to!
I loved this arc a lot. Seeing Fairy Tail’s beginnings, seeing some of the most popular side characters get fleshed out with, not only, more information than expected, but meaningful and impactful information, was a complete and total joy. We got a much better understanding of the world of Fairy Tail, how the guild was formed, and saw the beginnings of some of the events that have occurred or will occur in the not-too-distant future.
This arc brought emotion on so many levels. It brought intrigue, shock, laughter, and sadness… sometimes all at the same time. It was a great roller coaster to be on that only Fairy Tail can pull off. Even though I wished some of the characters were developed a bit more, the way they were presented, the way the story was handled, and the way everything tied into each other in the end, I don’t think it would have been feasible to dig deeper into these characters. I am very happy with what we got and, perhaps, fleshing everyone out more would have been overkill.
If this is how the side mangas are going to be treated, I really hope the others get animated as well. If you skipped over this arc because it was filler, then slap yourself in the face and go watch it. Not only does it give you in-depth insight to the history of the Fairy Tail guild, it makes you establish a unique connection with some of Fairy Tail’s most beloved characters. This is a definite must watch!