WARNING: Contains spoilers to previous collections.
While the fighting still rages on in the penultimate collection, there is plenty of drama to come as we approach the end (or should it be E.N.D.?) of Fairy Tail.
At the end of the previous episode, Mavis ordered Cana to free her physical body from under the guild building so that she could help with the fight. Cana does as she is told, but suddenly things change dramatically. One of the Spriggan 12 wizards, Irene Belserion, a woman whose enchantments can strengthen objects and people, finds herself in a duel with Acnologia. However, Irene gets out of it by using a destructive enchantment called “Universe One” – which causes the entire continent of Fiore to shrink to a twelfth of its original size.
The various wizards across several guilds all find themselves in unfamiliar territory, but it is not long before groups are able to form, thanks to the land being smaller. The only person who doesn’t seem to move is Mavis, who enters the main hall of the guild only to find Zeref is now there. He, along with the Spriggan 12, seize control of her, and start the process of getting the material from her that Zeref needs for his grand scheme.
The other wizards finally discover the guild building the next morning, on top of a newly formed mountain. The final battle begins, with some latecomers finally arriving to join the party. Gildarts at last turns up to take on some of the Spriggan 12 for example. However, it is our main regulars who still form the backbone of the fights. Gray and Juvia take on Zeref’s deputy Invel, a user of Winter magic who is so strong that the Invel is able to force the two lovers to fight each other to the death. Natsu witnesses what he wrongly thinks is the death of another wizard close to him, which causes a moment of insanity that looks as if it will awaken E.N.D.
However, it is Irene who causes the most destruction. A special enchantment that gives Zeref’s foot soldiers increased strength at the cost of their sanity is so devastating, that Makarov has to make a final grand stand to save the lives of the wizards who make up his “family”. Things however may become even worse when Irene finally encounters another wizard in Fairy Tail to whom she has a personal connection.
The drama forms the main focus of these episodes this time. We again learn more about some of the origins of the main characters in Fairy Tail, including one related to Irene. There is also a sequence where Natsu, in a coma following one particular fight, has dreams in which he sees several friends and foes explaining to him the various fates that lie before him.
These moments of plot development also nicely tie up with the action. As the fights get more dangerous and the stakes get higher, the costs for losing for both sides become greater. This however does lead to a problem which characterises many a shonen series: the fact that it is amazing that so many of the lead characters have managed to come this far. Obviously, Fairy Tail has a magical setting, but given that we’re nearing the end of the series, it’s amazing that so few characters have died. At the end of the previous collection, it appears that one of the main characters does die, but they appear alive at the start of this collection, partly because of Irene’s Universe One spell. Others do appear to be dead to the rest of the cast, but these are moments of dramatic irony where we as viewers know that the person is alive, but the mistaken anger of the witness drives them to further action.
However, in this collection, we do actually witness a major death. A key figure in Fairy Tail actually dies… seemingly. At the end of the collection, the character is definitely dead, but given the series is all about magic, you can probably expect someone to have a spell to bring someone back from the dead. Mind you, bringing people back to life was one of Zeref’s main motivations in the story, so perhaps it isn’t. Also, the supernatural elements of the series may mean that the person who is dead will appear from beyond the grave, like Mavis.
In this collection, extras include a short feature “For the Love of Fairy Tail”, and four textless opening and closing tracks. The first opening, “No-Limit” by Osaka Shunkashuto is. in my opinion. the weakest. The first ending, “Boku to Kimi no Lullaby” by Miyuna is a more melodic, soothing and pleasant number. The second opening, and indeed the final ever opening for Fairy Tail, “More Than Like” by BiSH, is fitting to the overall mood as we enter the dying moments of the series and is one of the best opening tracks to the series I have heard in a while. Fittingly, the final ending track is “Snow Fairy” by Funkist, the very first opening track ever used on Fairy Tail when the series began in 2009.
With just one collection of 12 episodes left to go, it is not long before we will finally witness the end to the story. Can Zeref and Acnologia be defeated, and the guild fully restored? Well, who wants to read a sad fairy tale?