Fairy tail and why it FAILS: what happens when you break the rules


Aw yes the ever (in)famous fairy tail. Now I’m no elitist. I’m the last person who should be judging anyone on their taste. However despite fairy tail being quite popular both domestically in Japan and abroad, even bringing some new fans in, many people including myself have come to despise this series. Sure a lot of hate comes from it having a ton of fanservice but shows with more fanservice paired with action have been critically praised (see high school of the dead for just one example). Even many in it’s target audience of males who love shounen battle series (like myself and many reviewers) don’t just dislike it but wish it gone from existence. Why is this?

I myself owe about as much to fairy tail as I do naruto as it got me into watching kingoflighting’s videos on the series and thus introduced me to anime reviews and thus the anime community at large(which in turn introduced me to the greater anime world). Without fairy tail it’s hard to say weather I still be the same person I am today and if I had to guess I’d probably say no. In addition I’m in love with it’s gerne, I thought the animation and music are phenomenal for the most part, and on top off all of this I’m not hard to please in terms of writing quality at ALL (to be fair to myself I do unfortunately feel my taste have refined a little bit but not drastically and certainly not when I dropped fairy tail)

At the start fairy tail seemed to have everything going for it and everyone thought it would be part of the next big 3. Nice looking characters, a great adaptation that knew how to increase the strengths of the source material with it’s aesthetics, cool powers, and a simple easy to communicate premise (the stuff upstart popular media is made of). So again I ask: Where did it go wrong?


Fairy tail never reached super mainstream popularity the likes of AoT or OPM for one very simple reason- It breaks the rules of shounen battle 

If you haven’t seen digibro’s video on the topic go see it right now Here, but as a (too) brief summary of the main point SB series operate by setting up rules at the beginning of an arc/the story and a lot of the tension and thus the unique appeal of battle shounen series is watching the characters work within, around, and even sometimes breaking those rules established in order to achieve their goals.

Now assuming we take this at face value that means that a good writer of battle shounen will create unique rules and circumstances that match well with the characters and their respective roles in the series. Consequently a FAILED attempt at writing battle shounen will have the series have very simplistic rules with simplistic outcomes (what most people would term a “generic shounen”). But the absolute worst offenders will be those series who established rules ONLY TO BREAK THEM IMMEDIATELY AFTER THEY ARE ESTABLISHED AND BREAK THEM FOR THE SAME UNCREATIVE REASON. THAT my friends is exactly what fairy tail does. That is why it fails.

There are many many examples of this in the series. But one can find no better example then the arc that officially marked the divide between those who would leave the series and those who would stay. I’m of course referring to the infamous “magical games arc”. One only has to see one (slight spoiler) quote from it to understand what I mean: “Those who have the ablitity to equip this armor will be able to bend the laws of magic to their whim and have been known to preform miraculous feats

You don’t even need to know who donned the magical armor, how, or why. It’s clear that this is fundementally opposed to the rule system. And I think we can take audience reaction as proof of digibro’s thesis. Indeed I could not continue reading or watching it after that. Despite all it’s done for me and all its good parts, that was the straw that broke many a camels back. It had made similar offenses in the past (for a full list, watch youtuber Kingoflighting’s chapter reviews on the series before he dropped it. They are extremely fun and hilarious) and we would not fall for it again.

So I encourage you all to look at a battle shounen you don’t like and asked yourself “does it break the rules of its own universe?” Towhich you will often find the answer to be yes. But I hate being negative so instead once you realize the flaws let others know and when you see series like My hero academia do it right spread the word and support them. Together we can make and support great series! (With respectable fanservice too 😉 )!



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