Juvia isn’t a stalker
This is an old, very frustrating argument for Gruvia fans that shouldn’t even exist anymore. This post also shouldn’t exist because I am refuting something Juvia didn’t actually do, but this is what it’s come down to, sadly. The bottom line is that Juvia can not redeem herself for an issue that Mashima-sensei, the author, doesn’t believe exists (aka the non-existent stalking).
I. The amount of times Juvia watched Gray and why
Juvia did not stalk Gray EVER, but she did hang in the background. He and the guild had been the enemy. If she had walked right up to Gray and his friends, there would have been a backlash. It’s natural that she was afraid because of the damage she helped inflict. Despite this, she formed an affinity to Gray and Fairy Tail which she carefully approached to the best of her ability.
As it also shows in her memories, Juvia had a well-established history of being shunned because of her rain which further led to her tentative approach. Additionally, given the rejection and shunning of the past, Juvia lacked the developmental opportunity to refine social engagement. There was no malicious intent in her actions. She was afraid of being rejected again, so she kept her distance.
And in fact, Juvia and Gajeel’s presence in Fairy Tail DID cause a backlash. Laxus and the Raijinshuu did get angry when they found out two former Phantom Lord members who had attacked the guild were allowed to join.
Yet, both Juvia and Gajeel made up for their former transgressions already against the specific members they had targeted by protecting them. Juvia protected Gray from Simon, and Gajeel protected Levy from Laxus. That was supposed to be their redemption…IT WAS THEIR REDEMPTION. As stated in the first paragraph, in bold this time: Juvia can not redeem herself for an issue that Mashima-sensei, the author, doesn’t believe exists (aka the non-existent stalking).
Ultimately, Juvia did approach Gray when he was by himself to ask what he thought about her joining Fairy Tail. This was their first direct meeting after they met in Chapter 56. Indirect encounters include chapter 67 where she observed from afar and delivered a bento and chapter 75 where we see her watching Gray and the rest of team Natsu at the resort.
It was at this point that Juvia approached Gray properly when she finally caught him alone, and they went to get drinks together. It’s supported by the manga that Juvia joining Fairy Tail would have caused a backlash, as even Gray was wary of her joining because of the things that they did, but he personally did not mind her joining. Juvia then spent the rest of the arc openly helping Gray and his friends in the Tower Of Heaven.
At the end of the arc, when Erza asked after Juvia, Gray was the one who knew her name, and where she had gone. Once team Natsu returned to FT, Juvia became a member, and Gray was quite happy about it. After chapter 75 Juvia has never in the manga followed Gray without his knowledge again until chapter 416, where she came to apologize for what happened to Gray’s father.
When Gray seemed dismayed that Juvia had followed him to his parents grave, she immediately apologized.
In fact, Juvia has apologized a few times within the series when she thought she upset Gray, including in 413 Days when she apologized for fearing that she ruined Gray’s day of mourning. But, in fact, Gray ended up also apologizing to her, because he thought it was his fault. He profusely apologized to her in chapter 416 as well while sobbing in her arms.
II. Gray’s feelings
If Gray was so uncomfortable and disliked Juvia’s presence, the above scene would not have happened. He appreciates and is grateful for Juvia always being next to him, which by default completely annihilates the claim that he is disgusted by her. This is obvious because we see the change in their relationship throughout the course of the manga, on panel. I repeat, Gray likes the fact that Juvia is always by his side and wants her there.
Furthermore, Juvia’s comedic advances and Gray’s reactions (which have actually become softer/changed) are exaggerated on purpose. Japanese love this type of humor use in their mangas. It’s meant to be lighthearted, not give off an awful message regarding a pairing. As with many shounen, panel space is often limited for character interactions, so “dramatic” presentations are necessary for conveying points. Mashima-sensei has only ever portrayed Juvia’s love as a positive thing for both characters. Her love for Gray has saved not just Gray’s life, but also the lives of others on multiple occasions.
While it’s true Mashima-sensei loves using Juvia for comic relief from time to time, it’s important to not let the jokes outweigh the serious moments. In reality, we are not supposed to put so much stock into comedy. Adding to the fact that Juvia’s fight with Meredy proved her love for Gray to be genuine, there’s another factor some people seem to miss.
In the final chapter of the Tartarus arc, Juvia was about to give up on her love for Gray because she believed she did not have the right to love him anymore. She truly thought it was for his sake, and was prepared to be hated by Gray forever. An obsessive person or crazy stalker would never do this. But Juvia did, expecting this would ruin any chance she had with Gray, and was positive she would be loathed. However she knew confessing what she did was the right thing to do and came clean. Here, Mashima-sensei is showing the difference between an unhealthy obsessed individual and someone who’s love is selfless as they put the other person’s feelings above their own. Above all, Gray didn’t let Juvia give up on him. He embraced her, thanked her, and cried in her arms.
Chapter 499 speaks for itself, so I really don’t see the need to touch upon it other than the fact that the Japanese raw text confirms that Gray does see Juvia as more than a friend, aka, a love interest. As if his actions in the chapter and prior to weren’t enough. Double suicide in Japan is one of the most romantic acts of love based on samurai history.
III. The definition of a stalker
- a person who harasses or persecutes someone with unwanted and obsessive attention.
- a person who harasses another person, as a former lover, a famous person, etc., in an aggressive, often threatening and illegal manner.
Neither of the above definitions describes Juvia’s character. Juvia would be the last person in the world to harass or threaten Gray in any way. The two times she watched him were harmless and there were justified reasons behind them. Back to the definition; Juvia doesn’t need to do any of these things, because she is Gray’s friend, and at this point, so much more than that. She’s a partner, they go on missions together, socialize together, and have even lived together.
Real cases for stalking often involve the stalker having control over their victim, sometimes employing fear in a desperate attempt to maintain control, which Juvia has NEVER done. Admiring someone from afar is not the same as stalking them, especially when you don’t have the courage to talk to them. That’s why Juvia quickly threw the bento in Gray’s hands without trying to be noticed. She wanted to do nice things for him, but couldn’t do them directly out of nervousness. That’s not what stalkers do. And of course, as stated above, Juvia was about to give up on Gray. Stalkers aren’t willing to give up their ties with the person.
Juvia does not need to “stalk” Gray. She stands proudly by his side with no reluctance from him.
And even more importantly Gray has never expressed any adversity to Juvia’s presence. If anything, he has expressed the opposite. Gray of his own accord hangs around her. And Gray had mentioned once in 338 that he would say no to the things he dislikes from then on. Yet he had never said no before, nor after that statement. In fact, he contradicted his own statement later on by eating the bread Juvia offered him, and holding her hand in comfort during the Tartarus arc.
We also have to keep in mind Gray falls under the tsundere character trope, which means his actions often contradict his words, and as stated above, his adverse reactions are often played off comedically, because he is not being honest about his actual feelings. Juvia’s earnest feelings towards Gray usually cause the cool and collected character to lose his composure. That’s the joke.
Juvia is often labeled a stalker while we look past Gajeel crucifying Levy or Jellal trying to murder Erza. All of these things occurred at the beginning, but have ceased to be current habits. That’s character development. It’s one thing to not like a ship because of the dynamic. But it’s a double standard to hail the development of one ship and ignore another. People simply cannot move passed Juvia’s first impression, and that is sad.
Every pairing has its shtick, such as Natsu touching Lucy inappropriately and breaking into her house, and Levy hitting Gajeel often. Humor is completely subjective, that’s true, however it’s obvious what Mashima-sensei intends to fall under the umbrella of humor, and that absolutely includes Juvia’s antics and Gray’s reactions to them. Saying they aren’t meant to be funny is just being purposely oblivious and contrary. You don’t have to think it’s funny to know it’s meant as a joke. Gruvia gets condemned by the fandom the most when it comes to their particular aspect of humor, and that is unfair.
This is a fictional world, they are fictional characters, and they do not have to meet real life standards. Many of the characters within Fairy Tail have quirks or perform actions that are not acceptable in reality. Fairy Tail itself is a fantasy manga. The world and the characters are exaggerated for the purpose of drama and comedy. This fantasy world is also based on Japanese humor and storytelling conventions, and ignoring this fact can lead to misunderstanding characters.
Juvia has not watched Gray from a distance without his knowledge since before she joined Fairy Tail. That was at least 8-9 years ago in both our timeline and the manga time line (counting the 7 year time skip). No one in the Fairy Tail universe, nor Mashima-sensei, seem to think Juvia’s actions from her introduction need to be addressed or redeemed, because it is a non-issue that only certain parts of the fandom can’t let go of. She will not vocally apologize for a problem that doesn’t exist.
Gray, especially, has gone so far passed his initial relationship and dynamic with Juvia. It’s sad that so many fans are concerned on Gray’s behalf, but never truly take Gray’s actual feelings or words into consideration. He cares for Juvia, he almost definitely loves Juvia romantically, and he is grateful she is by his side. He’s willing to go above and beyond, including sacrificing his life for her (twice) just to ensure her safety. Those are not the feelings of someone who is a victim of stalking.