So, there are a lot of posts criticizing Fairy Tail thanks to this recent arc. I’m sure there’s someone out there talking about this exact same issue, but I admit I haven’t found that person yet… And in any case, I want to say my own piece about this subject. It’s been awhile since I wrote some sort of analysis here, but this is probably going to be long anyway.
I want to clarify something: I’m trying to be objective here. While my opinions and tastes will show up, what I’m going to focus here is on writing and structure. I want to talk about why Mashima’s writing is so ineffective lately, and why so many people call Natsu a Mary Sue or plainly dislike him. I’m not here to defend Natsu; I love him, sure, but he’s been a victim of terrible, awful writing. I 100% understand why people dislike him or even hate him. They have VERY good reasons to do so. What I want to do is explain why this happens.
Alright, now let’s start.
→ Inability to change.
At the start of the latest time skip I saw the first sign that I should drop any tiny bit of hope that I had for Natsu’s character. I was stupid and I kept that hope alive, sadly, but I really should’ve seen it coming.
Remember when he came back of the one-year-trip he took after Igneel’s death? How he had his long hair, and many people wanted him to keep it that way, but in the next chapter he came back to his usual look?
It may seem silly, but to me this was a sign of a bigger problem. Usually, when there’s a time skip it’s expected that character designs change. Not only because it keeps things interesting, but also because people change with time. A change in design tends to reflect this. And I know it sounds stupid to worry about something so “insignificant”, but remember: manga is a visual medium just as much as it is a written one. Visual elements are as important here to tell the story as any other. For example: Lucy, the character who’s allowed to change the most throughout the story, gets a slight change in her design after this time skip. By contrast, Natsu doesn’t.
Following that small sign, we discover that Natsu’s personality hasn’t changed. Like, at all. A year has passed, and he hasn’t changed. Worse than that: He lost Igneel. And. He. Hasn’t. Changed. At. All.
Natsu’s motivation was established in the beginning of the manga: He wanted to find his adoptive father, Igneel, after he disappeared 7 years prior to the start of the story. That motivation was fulfilled in the Tartaros’ arc, followed by Igneel’s death. In one day, Natsu fulfilled a dream he spent seven years (or fourteen, I guess) pursuing… and then he had to see one of his worst fears come true. This is a pretty big thing for any person, but it’s also the culmination for a character arc. The character is at his lowest point, so he’s forced to grow in some way (whether it’s positive or negative).
But… we don’t see Natsu grow. Sure, we see him grieve for… a couple of panels, but that’s all. The chapter before the time skip, we see Natsu smiling and barely reacting to what happened, besides deciding that he has to become stronger.
We don’t get much insight into him. And after that? A year passes and we don’t get to see Natsu’s struggles or his process of growth. What’s worse: when he comes back, he’s acting like he always acted. And there’s no insight that shows us that no, he changed, he’s just ACTING. We have nothing like that, he just… got better. And we don’t get to see it.
Look, this isn’t about his coping mechanisms or anything. It’s not about whether a person, in real life, can go through a situation like that and appear unchanged by all that happened. No, this is about the writing choices made for a character being utterly ineffective and incompetent. It’s not like we need much, honestly. We don’t need to have Natsu ranting in his thoughts about all the suffering he went through and how he changed. Small changes would’ve been enough. Maybe having Natsu smiling less, or showing sad smiles. Or maybe have him lose some of his will for fighting, at least when it comes to the reckless fights he does for fun. Those things are small, but they are effective.
But, what is Natsu’s character arc anyway? What did Mashima intend for him at the beginning of the story (or what he seemed to intend)? In my opinion, there are two major themes to what should’ve been Natsu’s character arc: Choosing between Igneel and Fairy Tail, and learning to deal with loss. Both of these themes should’ve culminated at the end of the Tartaros arc, but Mashima accidentally destroyed all the moments that lead to this.
During the ackerbowl, it really looked like Levi was in pain knowing that he was the one making Mikasa cry :(
As I said, let’s be grateful for Isayama’s drawing skills improving to the point where we can reliably interpret facial expressions :)
But yes, when you compare the way he reacted to Eren’s and Mikasa’s aggression, the difference is almost startling. When Eren tries to take the serum from him, Levi backhands him so hard Eren is sent flying. But when Mikasa literally jumps him with a sword in hand, he doesn’t defend himself physically but rather tries to talk her into coming to his point of view.
And alright, you could say that from a logical standpoint, Mikasa is the bigger threat. Eren has just fought in his Titan form and Levi is stronger than him even on Eren’s good days. Mikasa is the only one of the people present who comes close to Levi’s level of skill. It’s likely that Levi doesn’t want things to escalate to the full-out fight between the two of them. For one, the serum could be destroyed in their struggle.
But if it was only logic driving Levi’s actions towards Mikasa, he had several opportunities where Mikasa’s attention wasn’t fully on him. He only took action when Mikasa went to attack Floch.
Call me biased but I really believe that Levi didn’t want to hurt Mikasa in the fight, at least not physically.
While sorting out my files the last night, I found a folder of old sketches of “supposedly” Love Live AU. It supposed to be a battle school type of story where girls have psychokenetic abilities and Eri is perceived as the antagonist. She the mysterious powerful fox who’s face was never been seen by anyone.
The lineart of this image was been untouched for several months. I decided to color it today, despite of being physically ill. (lol) I somehow miss love live.