So, we don’t know if Fairy Tail is coming to an end or not - sure seems that way, with Zeref and Acnologia seemingly the last huge hurdles to overcome. But who knows? Maybe Mashima will throw us a curveball and there’ll be another arc with Ankhseram or something completely different.
Setting aside that possibility, FT is quite likely reaching its end. It’s been quite a ride with lots of bumps in the road; no series is perfect. Speaking for me personally, I only started tuning in for the better part of half a year now. You can tell me all your gripes about the series, and I’ll still tell you more than a few things I like about it. Even arcs like GMG.
Buuut this post isn’t about that. With the series coming to a close and shippers clamoring to support their ships, I figured I’d post a little something for Natza shippers who might be feeling down about Nalu and Jerza shippers POSSIBLY 'getting their way’. Just consider this a little reminder of some of the reasons you supported Natza in the first place. Out of respect to other shippers, I’ll try and tone down ‘anti-nalu’ and 'anti-jerza’ talk, but it might still come up in a few places. Kinda unavoidable…
First up, these two have history. And I don’t mean 'slaves trapped constructing a cultist tower’, I simply mean prior to the first chapter/episode, these two had seven years together, working and living together at Fairy Tail. That might not seem like much, since Erza became S-Class in X780 and kinda left Natsu and Gray in the dust, but they most certainly associated with one another. Igneel provided a base for Natsu’s education, but Erza built up on that. Natsu couldn’t read the job request flier he picked out on his own, and Erza made sure he could… Admittedly traumatizing him in the process. You want more than reluctant student and teacher? In a manga chapter we got not too long ago, we got flashbacks of Natsu, Gray, and Erza (as kids) doing stuff together; Erza breaking up fights, Erza teaching them hunting… and yes, even the times they bathed together. You might say, “Well… wait. That’s not Natza!” And I’ll agree. I’m simply pointing out that Natsu and Erza have history - seven years of it. It’s not a case of Natsu being 'scared’ of Erza for all that time; yes, he has those times where Erza intimidates him into behaving, but you know that little Pyro. He’s just gotta challenge Erza and catch up to her. Erza’s not someone unbeatable; she just really… really… strong. And of course Natsu admires that.
So now we’re to current events as the series officially begins. Admittedly, it takes a few episodes before Erza gets her debut, but she shows up, and we get our first impressions of the scarlet knight. She’s a tough disciplinarian, but she knows Natsu and Gray well enough to know they’re capable in their own right. Moreover, Natsu really shows determination here as he makes Erza promise to have a rematch with him after the mission. And that’s how they, Lucy, and Happy wind up going on their first conquest of a Dark Guild. Ah, but Erza comes with her own quirks, just like Natsu and Gray. She totes around a HUGE pile of luggage, and to make the train ride easier on Natsu, she… knocks… him… out. Still by far one of my favorite moments of the series. I can see why some might label Natza as a brotp with this kind of scene, but our time will come.
So they beat Eisenwald and Lullaby, and Natsu and Erza get their rematch. Whoo hoo. But their rematch gets broken up as the Council comes to arrest Erza for the destruction of the Guild Conference meeting hall in Clover Town (at least officially…).Of course Natsu won’t let that stand, and he makes quite a scene in the courtroom as he tries to save the redhead. … Well, instead of that slap on the wrist like they’d initially attended, the Council locks the two Fairy Tail mages in a cell for the night. Understandably, Erza is quite frustrated with Natsu’s lack of perception, but nonetheless, she thanks him for standing up for her.
As we’ll discover throughout the series, there are lots of instances where Natsu and Erza are concerned for one another; but moreover, there are plenty of instances where they strongly believe in one another as well. And it’s not just misplaced trust - they DO get the job done, such as when Natsu beats Gajeel and saves Lucy, and when Erza withstood a blast from the Jupiter Cannon for her Guild and still had the energy to take down Aria a short while later. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a basis for a healthy relationship right there. Worry and trust come in fair shares; as time goes on, these two become less and less worried for one another even in the face of overwhelming odds. They know the other can handle the situation and come out on top; the worry never goes away fully, just decreases in the face of mutual respect and trust.
And then we reach the epitome of our Natza ship… Nalu’s worst nightmare…The Tower of Heaven Arc. I am going to try and sidestep the icky love triangle that Mashima tries to make here - I’ll make it as simple as possible. This arc is where we learn about Erza’s past. Why she is the way she is, why she doesn’t get along with Councilman Siegrain, why she can find it hard to open up to people. Erza tries to keep her Fairy Tail family out of it, but they get dragged into it anyway. She mends bridges with her old friends, thanks to Simon; but on the flipside, Erza acts very much unlike herself here (at least from what we’ve seen up to this point). In this conflict, Erza is ready to throw her life away to protect both of her families. Despite being a seasoned warrior by this point, she can’t summon the same strength that she did when she tried to fight Jose Porla! And she’s in better shape than she was at that time! Perhaps some will argue that this is simply who Erza is - strip away her armor, and she’s a traumatized little girl with a *tragic* past. Ugh. Nope, nope, nope. By no means am I arguing that Erza can’t have her tender side; it’d be hard to like her character if she didn’t have such a side. What I am saying is that when Erza left the Tower of Heaven, she was alone and lost when she wandered to Fairy Tail. But in that time there, she acquired a new family, recovered the strength she once had when Grandpa Rob died and she inspired the slaves to keep on fighting. In fact, you could say she surpassed that strength - she became S-Class, didn’t she? Yet the moment her past comes back to haunt her, Erza horribly reverts; she goes into that fight with Jellal with a defeatist’s mindset. Thankfully, Natsu is up to the task of helping Erza bury her past. He fights Jellal, who is one of the Ten Wizard Saints, who took over the management of the Tower of Heaven, and who killed the mutual friend he and Erza once shared - the guy who made it possible for Erza to reconnect with her old family, Simon. He fights Jellal knowing most if not all of this, even when Erza desperately pleads with him to abandon the fight. Natsu can’t and won’t abandon her, though. In the end, Natsu makes a gutsy move of eating Etherion, and that gives him the strength to beat down Mr. Wizard Saint. Say what you will about that, how the fight 'should’ have gone, but I think it worked very well symbolically. Erza’s past warred with her present and future, and guess which came out on top? The scarlet knight picked herself up yet again and moved on with her life, despite lingering thoughts on Jellal and Simon. We can probably agree that Natsu had similar moments of getting worked up over villains hurting other friends - Lucy (present and Future), Yukino, etc. - but for me personally, I feel like there’s something fundamentally different in how those moments feel compared to the Tower of Heaven. For Lucy, Natsu saving her happens a little too often without Lucy doing the same as much for my tastes (in other words, those hero moments don’t feel as deep and meaningful to me). And for Yukino… well. I think anyone would get worked up over Yukino’s treatment by her Guild (especially her Master). I feel like Erza and the Tower of Heaven is different because Natsu connected with her more deeply than he ever had prior to this; he saw her pain, and wished for nothing more than to end her tears. He panicked after she sacrificed herself to stop the Tower from exploding. And in that dreamlike vision of the future brought about by Etherion, Natsu didn’t believe that Erza had died. Everyone else had given up, but not him. And whose arms does she wake up in, after realizing someone had saved her from being fully absorbed by Etherion? Natsu’s. He even makes her promise not to do such a suicidal move again. On Erza’s side, she recognizes his growth the moment he took down Jellal, and she tried to get him out of the Tower before it exploded. After seeing how affected Natsu would have been with her death, Erza cites that, “You don’t die for your friends. You live for them.” It was a pretty good shippy moment right there, but then the rest of their friends find them and rejoice that they’re all alive.
We can whine about it all we want, but when the Oracion Seis arc hit, that’s when the Jerza ship began to get a little more wind in its sail. After all, the man that brought Erza pain in the past returned, but he had… amnesia. You gotta be sympathetic to a guy like that, right? They had such a tragic past, and now Jellal can’t remember it. What a pity. … Okay, enough bashing. But it is a bit annoying for us Natza shippers; after the high that we got from ToH, we’re suddenly smashed back to earth with Jellal’s return. You can say that Natsu came to forgive Jellal in this arc, but that isn’t the case when you inspect the arc carefully. After all, what’s the first thing Natsu does when he first hears that Wendy revived Jellal? He’s intent on making sure Erza never has to see him again. Not out of jealousy - but out of sympathy for his friend. Natsu doesn’t want to see her cry again, but despite this, Erza finds the blue-haired mage anyway and comes to the dissatisfying conclusion that Jellal really can’t remember all of his past atrocities. Later, Jellal goes off to help Natsu fight Zero, and the Pyro tries to fight him off as well. Sure, Jellal ended up helping Natsu in the end, giving him something equally as potent as Etherion so that he may attain Dragon Force again, but that anger that Natsu holds hasn’t vanished. They’re tentative allies against a greater threat. And when the Rune Knights come to take Jellal and Oracion Seis away, Natsu doesn’t fight for Jellal’s freedom because he’s a swell guy that helped take down Zero; he does it for Erza, because the redhead is conflicted about resisting the Council’s authority. Despite his personal feelings about the blue-haired mage, he tries to resist for Erza’s sake so that the two can resolve their past. Of course, Erza tells him and the others to stand down in the end, and the Dragon Slayer grudgingly complies. Erza goes back to angsting about her past.
I’m not gonna say my interpretation of events is the one, true way to look at the series. I AM saying this is how we Natza fans see the relationships between Natsu, Erza, Jellal, and Lucy. Some of you naysayers will argue Natsu and Erza are siblings; Jellal and Erza have such a tragic and *amazing* past together; Natsu brought Lucy to Fairy Tail and totally fell in love; you’re perfectly fine with believing in any of that. Just don’t shove your theories down our throats. From a Natza fan’s perspective, such as mine, Natsu brings out the best in Erza; he doesn’t make her think about her past every five minutes or force her to be the ever-shining beacon in their relationship. On the flipside, Erza doesn’t require saving all the time; she stands alongside Natsu, and is a pillar for him when he is sad or has doubts. Natza is mutual, and I think there’s something deeper there than sibling love. Heck, there are still Natza moments floating throughout the series, it’s just that whenever Jellal gets involved… yeah. You can tell what Mashima is likely pushing for, just not very convincingly. It’s fine if Erza becomes Jellal’s redemption, but it’s such a shame that a mutual, passionate relationship like Natza goes out the window in favor of giving Jellal a relationship to go with his redemption. Just look at all the various moments they have together…
So yeah! Criticize the Natza ship all you want, but you’ll never stomp us out completely. Even if Mashima cedes to you Nalu and Jerza fans, we’ll still have all these moments and more to look back on - canon, filler, omake, you name it. I think we have reason to be proud of our ship to the very end. We’re not a brotp or a fanon couple - if Nalu can be argued to be semi-canon, when it wasn’t in Mashima’s original plan, then I don’t see why we can’t make a case for it being at least semi-canon. I’ve certainly reflected long and hard on it over the past half year I’ve been into FT. I’m still going to be bummed if Mashima follows the crowd and forces Nalu and Jerza to happen, but I won’t falter in my love for this ship. I encourage other 'unpopular’ ships to do the same. I certainly don’t mind other ships with Natsu involved; Natza is just my OTP.
What is your favorite Jackie moment from every season?
* Season 1 *
In Career Day when she’s working with Red and discovers she likes to fix cars. It’s a shame they didn’t keep that detail for the rest of the show, but it’s still one of my favorite moments. Because it shows a different face of hers for the first time and it makes her more interesting when we see her treat Hyde nicely in Prom Night.
* Season 2 *
Her Zen Lessons with Hyde. Because she is patient enough to listen to him and she starts to know him better as her friend, she also learns that the others care about her in their own different way. She gets accepted in the circle and in their group of friends in general, and she learns to stand up for herself.
* Season 3 *
This may be odd coming from a non-kelsojackie shipper, but when she shows that she feels bad for Kelso’s problem. She approaches him as a friend and supports him even after all the wrong he did to her and that speaks volumes about Jackie’s good heart.
* Season 4 *
Jackie chosing love over money and finding a job for herself. Season 4, without counting season 8, it’s my less favorite characterization for Jackie but I appreciate this season for giving her the chance to grow in a different way. She starts to find out what the real world is about in very different ways and I feel like without that, she wouldn’t be the character I love.
* Season 5 *
When she takes the blame for Hyde’s pot with the Formans, even when she was having a big fight with Hyde. Even when I know she would had done something similar for Kelso, I know she wouldn’t if they had been fighting like Hyde and Jackie were. What makes this moment especial is that she leaves aside her vengative gen of hurting when hurt and instead tries her best to protect Hyde.
* Season 6 *
Standing up to Pam. A very short and underrated moment is Jackie being pretty mad at Pam for disappearing and then re-appearing as if nothing happened. She’s having a bad time because no one seems to realize what Pam did to her and everyone is easy to forgive her mother when she left her homeless, without money and company. I would had liked a better resolution for this, but at least I liked seeing Jackie angry at her shallow mom.
* Season 7 *
The infamous “Steven is perfect” scene, Jackie standing up for Hyde again. The only person she calls perfect in all the show is herself, but for her there’s somoene else who is perfect, too and that’s Hyde. She works hard to make Hyde meet his biological father even without knowing, at first, that WB has money. She knows it’s a big deal for Hyde and she wants him to at least have this and when the guy thinks so low of Hyde, she’s the first one to jump in his defence.
* Season 8 *
Befriending Christine St. George. Jackie’s general treatment of other females is terrible, especially older women. But she gets to be some sort of friends with Christine, even when she made her life miserable for a while. It was a huge step for her to do this, just like it was leaving her house to live with a roommate, get over Hyde, be able to face Samantha, reject a marriage proposal and get another job at what she seemed to be pursuing as a career.
That reunion scene is still one of my favorite moments in the series so far.
I love that these two are bffs, and I’m sat that that fact isn’t used more often. Skulduggery and Valkyrie have a close relationship I wouldn’t trade for anything, but they don’t have the history that war buddies have. Skulduggery was really upset about Ghastly in book1. It said a lot about both of them. In a world where everyone’s out to get you, it’s good to have someone you trust.