When Fairy Tail ended this winter I encouraged everybody to rewatch it from the beginning and remember just how great this series has been. Not one to demand of others what I don't demand of myself, I've been rewatching the show ever since. I've finally reached the end of this year long project with as expected positive results.
Fairy Tail has its ups and downs like any long series. The quality is top class at the beginning except for the Tower of Heaven and Oracion Seis arcs. This is followed by the Edolas arc which is probably the best in the series, more than making up for Oracian's flaws.
Following Edolas is the extremely emotional Tenroujima arc, but flaws in the battle scenes and the inclusion of filler right in the middle of canon episodes drag the quality down a bit.
The Grand Magic Games comes next. It's certainly the longest arc, and is also arguably the best. There are so many interesting characters introduced and mysterious swirling factions moving simultaneously in the shadows. (sort of like Bleach's best arc when they just invaded soul society). Wendy vs. Cheria is one of the most beautiful artistic accomplishments in all of anime. Future Lucy's death and afterlife scenes were truly powerful, unlike so many fake outs found elsewhere in the series.
The Tartaros arc felt stretched thin, like too many episodes covered too little actually happening. However, there are still some fantastic scenes interspersed throughout. The emergence of the dragons, Minerva's back story, Levi kissing Gajeel, and Wendy, Wendy, Wendy. Wendy really took the cake during this arc, just like with the Edolas arc, she just made the whole thing shine.
Fairy Tail Zero + Avatar arc beginning, which happened just this winter, is currently the final chapter of the series. This arc was also stretched too thin with too much filler, but the emotional moments are still potent throughout. The artists and the seiyuu performed at heroic levels to deliver some of the strongest moments in the series so far. This may be the best voice acted 13 episodes of any show ever.
It's pretty impressive that Fairy Tail will be near the top anime that aired this year, even with so little material to compete with. Fairy Tail is near the top of every year it airs in, unlike One Piece or Naruto which sometimes is so bad it just falls off a cliff. If Fairy Tail's anime resumes and covers the remainder of the manga, I have to believe it will end up being the greatest anime of all time. It's been so strong for so long, the addition of another 100 episodes or whatever would just be the killing stroke.
Unlike most series, which start strong and then fade away, most of Fairy Tail's best moments have been during the later half. From the Grand Magic Games onwards, for instance, is a better series than everything up until that point. This gives me the confidence that the manga will continue to improve all the way until the ending, and not limp to the finish like Bleach did. I can't wait to see the ending of quite possibly the best story ever told, but I think there's probably years more of material left to cover. We'll just have to be content with watching the finale of Naruto for now.
If anyone can beat Fairy Tail, it would be Naruto, but a lot of that depends on whether the scarlet spring gaiden is animated or not. (Of course, this all presumes Fairy Tail's tv anime will be returning, Naruto beats Fairy Tail decisively as is.) These two shows are competing neck and neck on both the manga and anime front right now.