The Flaws Far Outweighed The Potential Here
There’s something really great about starting a new anime and knowing it could go anywhere and be anything. It is fresh and new and yet to make any mistakes. First episodes usually start with a bang and roll out all the bells and whistles to get you onboard and then the show might lose steam as it goes. However, the most important thing is giving the audience a reason to care whether it be compelling characters, an interesting and novel plot line, or just truly spectacular violence and action.
Fairy Gone didn’t really succeed at any of these. It had a potentially interesting story-line bringing us into the narrative after a war that had led to the unification of various states and introducing the idea of fairy soldiers. However, it went about this set up in an exceedingly boring way told through poorly timed and barely interesting flash backs and lengthy expositions delivered in near monotone mumbles. Still, the narrative remained potentially the best part of this anime from start to finish yet it never really felt like it got started. More like we kind of moved from event to event before finally the obvious bad guy did something bad and the various fruit bat war-crazed soldiers went on killing sprees and the ‘heroes’ went about trying to stop them.
With some better pacing and better execution, the plot of Fairy Gone is actually salvageable. The question would be whether it is worth the effort and I’d strongly argue against it. Largely because the plot doesn’t seem to do the characters any favours. The plot exists and the characters react to it but the characters themselves don’t actually feel connected to it.
In episode one we are introduced to Free, a former soldier who now works for Pandora and tracks down illegal use of fairies. Basically he waves around a big sword and occasionally summons a large werewolf type fairy creature that howls real loud. Now through various flashbacks we learn that Free lost a whole bunch of friends and whatnot during the war. We even learn about his former companion Wolfran who is still running about in the present day and generally on the opposite side to Free. There’s so much potential in this character for exploration.
How does he feel about the end of the war? About working for a government who hunts down and controls those who can call on fairies? About finding Wolfran alive? What is his actual goal while working with Pandora?
You know, I don’t know. Free just kind of is resigned to doing stuff, he fights when he has to, he follows his orders, and he defends his coworkers. That’s literally all they do with his character. Admittedly, he does get to fight some war-crazed general and show off some very cool sword skills in an act of kind of vengeance for the death of a colleague earlier in the show, but honestly, I have no idea what this character actually stands for or wants. Or even why Pandora is trying to defend the current government.
Of course, apparently I’m not alone given even members of the government in the show point out that all the people want is for the king to sit on his throne. And all of this leads to the overall feeling that not even the characters are really caring about the outcome or their cause. They mostly seem to defend the organisations they work for out of a lack of imagination rather than any actual loyalty.
The other character we meet is Marlya, who starts out as the most driven character in the show. She’s looking for a girl from her home village and ends up working for the mafia, where she encounters Free. He recruits her for Pandora and for reasons that are never adequately explained or explored other than she has a fairy and so apparently must. And while in the early episodes it does seem like she’s genuinely trying to track down her friend, that plot line kind of evaporates sooner rather than later and it becomes more about Marlya learning about all her new coworkers and being the most sad when the guy she just met dies.
There was kind of some hope that maybe the chemistry between Marlya and Free would carry some of the story as after he recruited her they seemed to be building a rapport. Yet, as the episodes progressed, the two spent less and less time together and more time paired or working with others and any notion that they might have chemistry together kind of dissipated along with any hope that the story might improve at some point.
They did at least stop bombarding us with excessive poorly delivered flash backs by the half-way point.
Now, it isn’t as though there aren’t good points here. As I said, the concepts at play could have been great. And every now and then you’ll get a sequence or scene or even an exchange of dialogue that gives you a glimmer of things coming together or purpose and direction. Marlya and Free could have been great. Again, there are moments, particularly in the earlier episodes where Free is mentoring her where the two actually do have pretty good chemistry and the show kind of flows.
But picking out the occasional competently delivered scene from a sea of dully delivered and reasonably directionless plotting is not exactly a roaring recommendation.
When you partner these issues with the visuals which are dark and murky more often than not and the fairies themselves are somewhat less than impressive and don’t seem to fit within the rest of the visuals then mostly what you have is something that leaves me wondering just how much better this potentially could have been with a different team behind it that had a slightly clearer vision of what they wanted to create and spent a bit more time and effort polishing a final product that would do the premise justice.
It isn’t that there is nothing good about Fairy Gone. It is largely that it never manages to shake off a lot of baggage that it is carrying and it never really manages to get momentum behind it. It feels like too many parts just never became fully realised and they certainly didn’t interconnect the ideas in a way that presented any of them to their best advantage. In short, it was a disappointment and one that became a harder pill to swallow each week until I just stopped reviewing it weekly and waited for the final episodes to play out before binge watching the end just for the sake of completing it.
I know some people did like Fairy Gone and I tried to because I really liked the concepts at play, but for me this one was unsatisfying in more or less every way and I’ll probably not give it much thought now that I’m done with it.
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Images from: Fairy Gone. Dir. K Suzuki. P.A. Works. 2019.