Fairy Tail crossed a major threshold today by publishing its 601'st scanlated into English chapter. Only Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, Prince of Tennis and Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, among good manga, have more. There's still the chance Fairy Tail will surpass some of these other titles too, we'll just have to wait until the fat lady has sung on all of them to find out.
Unfortunately for Fairy Tail, despite having over 600 chapters, I can't recall anyone actually dying in this story. Lisanna was retconned out of dying in the Edolas arc. Nobody cares about Simon, he's a total nobody. The dragons were already dead before the story even began. Nobody cares about villains dying. Time travel stopped a ton of people from dying in the Grand Magic Games, and future Lucy's world never really existed since the timeline changed, so her death is at this point just a figment of our imagination. Even Ur, who you would think was dead when she used Iced Shell, managed to communicate to Urtear via the ocean, and is presumably still floating out there to this day. Likewise, Mavis never actually died despite Zeref's best attempt to do so. Aquarius came back shortly after her key was broken like it never even happened.
The closest thing we have to a death is Zera from Fairy Tail Zero, though she was just an illusion ceasing to exist, just like the guild members of Cait Shelter. The Zera that actually died was still a villain at the time and as a result there was no reason to sympathize with her when her time came.
With all that taken notice of, does anyone really believe Gajeel died this chapter? First off, he was never actually shown dying. He was sucked into the underworld, a plane of existence 'from which he can never return.' But every spell has a counterspell, so eventually they'll find some answer to it and get Gajeel back. The hopelessness of the situation is just the Spriggan boasting about how overpowered he is, which is what all the Spriggans do before they get trounced. Hiro Mashima doesn't have the guts to actually kill a single one of his characters. The entire Fairy Tail guild has a magical no-death shield permanently in place around even the most minor of members.
But supposing Gajeel did die, who cares? Good riddance. He was a vile person from the start, delighting in sadistically torturing Lucy long after she was already captured and subdued, sexually humiliating Levy and posting her to a tree, and constantly harming his own guildmates in Phantom if they did so much as politely ask him to obey the guild's goals and rules. He had no loyalty to anyone or anything, but simply delighted in torturing others, and would destroy anyone who got in the way of his fun, friend or foe. I will never accept that he was let into Fairy Tail in the first place. If he's finally gone, then it's just a purge that always needed to happen from the start. He besmirched Fairy Tail's name so long as he was ever included among them.
Fairy Tail's villains are better people than Gajeel, on average. Most of them have relatable goals or past histories that would explain how they got to where they are, and though they might be cruel to their opponents they still are kind and caring towards their own. Gajeel has none of that though. There's simply no redeeming trait to this man. He was pure evil, a sadist for sadism's sake, and he treated everyone equally awfully, there was no room in his heart for anything but the joy of causing anyone and everyone else suffering. And his past wasn't nearly tragic enough to explain such a black heart. It's not even close. I'd rather have redeemed anyone else in the series than Gajeel.
Gajeel was never popular, he wasn't even as strong as the other Dragon Slayers, and it felt like his whole existence was superfluous dead weight. He brought nothing to the story as a member of Fairy Tail except a romance with Levy, who was already a great character long before she met Gajeel and would still be a great character long after Gajeel's gone. I just wish they had used all that time on Gajeel on Levy instead, so that we could have learned her as yet untold backstory like we learned Mirajane's.
The best use Gajeel's character could possibly be put to is getting killed off by Zeref's forces, who as of yet haven't won a single fight against a single Fairy Tail mage. If we're going to take these Spriggans seriously, you would think that at some point one of them would have to achieve something, or else all the hype about them is totally empty, meaningless blather. Killing Gajeel would at least mean the Spriggan 12 aren't totally useless, empty threats, and that they might actually be able to win more fights moving forward from here as well. It adds an element of drama and tension to the remaining fights that otherwise would be entirely lacking. If Mashima was saving this trash character all this time to be sacrificed to this moment, I can only congratulate him on his foresight, because nothing else about him ever justified his existence.
In Bleach, Ywach defeated Genryusai, which proved that the Quincies were actually capable of something. It's not yet determined, but they might also have managed to kill Rojuro and Kensei as well. The Quincies still feel a bit dangerous, despite being overall trounced, because at least they won a couple fights. The Spriggans hadn't managed a single victory in the midst of an entire war. Even Sabertooth got right back up and started fighting again like nothing had happened after they were inexplicably 'captured' instead of killed on the northern front. [Zeref's goal is to kill everyone on Earth, so why would he order his troops to 'capture' anyone???]
In Naruto, Neiji, Jiraiya, the 3rd Hokage, the 4th Hokage, Naruto's Mom, Itachi, Asuma, Obito, Rin, and many others really did die. This despite Pain's ability to revive the dead, the Sand Granny's ability to revive the dead, and the endless zombie resurrection jutsus. It was hard to die in Naruto, but some people still found a way. If Gajeel dies, it would be the very first time in Fairy Tail, but I don't believe Mashima will even let this villainous unpopular nobody go. He has a deathgrip on all his characters and will make sure they all win at everything every time rather than add any tension or realism to his story.
Fairy Tail may be the best manga ever, but it's not due to its policy on death. I'd much prefer Naruto or Bleach on that front.
Meanwhile, I finally finished Imouto Paradise. This is the most erotic material I've ever come across, so I definitely give it credit for that, but it's lacking on all other fronts (quite intentionally, it never was trying to be anything else), so I can't give it access to my top ten of played through visual novel rankings.
My remaining visual novel 'to do' list has hardly shrunk, though. It now includes Clannad: Side Stories, as well as Majikoi S, Hoshizora Memoria, Really? Really!, and Daitouryou Fan Disk. Plus, once To Heart 2's final release version comes through, I'll have to play that. Plus, once all the Fate anime ends I'll have to read Ataraxia unless they end up animating it. Plus, Dracu Riot will be finished translated soon. Plus, Da Capo III may be translated soon as well. Plus, there are even rumors of an Aiyouku no Eustia translation in the works. The to do list, as a result, realistically, still stands at ten, just like before. I'm only treading water at this rate.
Speaking of visual novels, I finished rewatching School Days in blu-ray as well. It's a better story than I remember it being, so I'll have to move it up in my rankings at some point. The blu-ray looked great, so watching it for a third time was well worth it.