I think we can all agree that one of the reasons we are all anime fans is because anime does things that live action simply can’t get away with. Moments of such incredible triumph, sorrow, action, adventure, and emotional impact that live action could just never measure up. It’s a lot of what makes anime, anime.
If you aren’t an anime fan, you probably won’t get it, so go watch some anime, then come back when you are one of us.
The best shows all have those moments that hit like a runaway train, leaving us a mess on the floor where once, we were people. People who had hopes and dreams, until anime wrung us out like a dirty dish rag. After those moments, we exist solely to wonder why the show we were watching did that to us, or to drift in the euphoria it has given us, because anime both loves and hates us all.
Pretty much everyone has one of those shows, too. A series that just plain left them emotionally exhausted. Madoka Magica, for example, that annihilates us with Homura’s back story. Or Angel Beats, that stomps us into tears with… everything that happens.
For me, one show that always manages to get to me and leave me a disaster, is Fairy Tail.
Now, I know what the critics are going to say. Mas market garbage. Trite, tired shonen cliches. Mediocre swill that only the mindless masses enjoy.
Yeah. All I can say is, fuck off critics. I didn’t ask your permission to enjoy something.
Yes, Fairy Tail is a typical shonen fighting anime, where friendship overcomes every obstacle, and believing in yourself is the only power up you need. Thing is, I really don’t see what’s so bad about that. Friendship really will get you through the roughest times of your life. Real friends, the ones who are always there for you, no matter what, will help you up when life knocks you down. That’s why they are friends, and that’s one thing shonen stories try really hard to get people to appreciate.
Critics don’t appreciate things, though. Because they are critics, and are incapable of feeling joy.
Same goes for believing in yourself. It really is a power up. Shit, you think I got my novel published by doing anything other than believing in myself? Of course I didn’t. I believed I could do it, and I kept working at it until it happened. That’s literally what shonen stories are telling you to do. Don’t give up, keep working, and keep getting better. If you ask me, that”s a pretty good life lesson right there.
But then again, I’m not a self important critic that only knows how to get clicks by being a whiny little bitch. I was too busy becoming a published author to waste my time on that shit.
I may not have any respect for anime critics. I keep it subtle, but if you read between the lines, you’ll notice it.
Anyway, all that said, Fairy Tail was the shonen series that ended up getting into my brain meats and staying. Naruto was good, but I’m not a big ninja lover. Bleach was decent, expect for all the pointless filler arcs. One Piece was… a thing that was there. Not bad shows, or anything, just stuff that never resonated with me.
For whatever reason, Fairy Tail did. Maybe it was the fantasy veneer it had. Maybe it was the characters. Maybe it was the flying, sarcastic cat. It was definitely the flying sarcastic cat. I’m a sucker for weirdness, and that’s pretty weird.
Early on, I was just watching it to watch something, though I got the feeling this was gonna be a show that did things. By about episode 15, I noticed it was winding up. By the time the Phantom Lord arc was over, I knew it was gonna do big shit.
Then came the Tower of Heaven arc. Nothing was ever the same. Not for Fairy Tail, or for me. This was really where I went from enjoying the show, to loving it. I saw something during this that blew me away.
This, right here, actually.
So, what’s so great about that?
Well, let’s look at it, shall we?
First off, before anyone gets their panties in a bunch about Erza needing to be saved, she’d already been in several fights, and was badly weakened by them. One of those fights had been with the villain there, Jellal, who played on his own past with Erza to get her to let her guard down, so he could hit her with a binding spell that stole what strength she had left. Had Jellal had to fight Erza at her full strength, she would have kicked his ass.
That, and Erza had given up. She had long wished to save Jellal, as he had once saved her, when they were children. Realizing he was beyond her ability to save, Erza lost the will to fight. So, yeah, she needed one of her friends to help her. That’s something that happens in life. None of us are an island, and sometimes, we need help from the people in our lives to keep going.
Help we readily return, as when Erza put herself between Jellal and Natsu. He had risked his life for her, and she was willing to do the same. That’s what friendship is, after all. You go however far it takes. Personally, I pity anyone who has never known that kind of friendship. It really is a special thing.
Simon’s sacrifice, and the effect it has on Erza goes back to what Natsu said when he knocked her out. Erza has always been the strong one. Someone he’s looked up, as a friend, a mentor, and an ideal. Seeing her be broken so completely is more than he can take. It pushes him into a desperate move, one that very well could have killed him. Except, fire tends to burn off impurities. So that’s what he did. He burned off everything except what he needed.
All of that is cool, but it isn’t what makes the whole thing really special, much less what makes it great.
What makes it a great moment is Natsu’s question. You’re willing to take away the rights of everyone else in the world for what you, selfishly, want? Which, of course, Jellal is. Seeing this, Natsu realizes that there’s more going on here than he thought. That Jellal is being used, by either Zeref, or some other evil force. What doesn’t matter. Jellal is as much a victim in this as anyone, and Natsu gets that.
So, he knocks the shit out of him, with two very powerful words.
From pain. From guilt. From anger. From the past.
Natsu is no longer fighting for Erza at that point. He’s fighting for Jellal as well, to save them both.
That’s something. I mean, that’s really something. That’s profound, and meaningful. That option always exists. We always have the choice, and the power, to free ourselves from the things that make us less than who we want to be. That make us a darker version of ourselves.
We can all free ourselves.
I’ll grant, I’m a sucker for Fairy Tail. I love everything about it. Yeah, it’s just your typical shonen fighting anime, but it has these moments of incredible depth, meaning, and significance, that speak to me, and my life experiences. That resonant with me not just on an emotional level, but an intellectual one as well.
Which, when you think about it, is what makes the great moments in anime so memorable. They have that power, to speak to us in a way few other things manage. Each of us have that show that did that, that presented us with a moment so moving, it etched itself into our hearts forever.
A moment that changed how we saw anime, and even ourselves.
This was one of mine, but I know, each of you have your own.
No matter how you look at it, that’s pretty damn special, isn’t it?