Ugh, someone really needs to teach Mashima Hiro how to write a good twist. I’m referring to the recent chapter of Fairy Tail (Chapter 187), and the absolute abysmal quality of the chapter due to a poor twist, a ridiculous ass pull, and a rather disturbing implication brought on solely for fan service.
The plot twist I speak of related to Erza. Due to the current arc taking place in… Otherworld (I forget the actual name, but I’ve also stopped caring so, works out) everyone here has an awkward counterpart. In most situations it’s just a flip in personality (Lucy is brave and outgoing while Natsu is a ridiculous coward) but for Erza, her counterpart is a member of the enemy and her goal is to hunt down Fairy Tail. When Earthland Erza meets up with Otherworld Erza, the two fight, but the content, and winner of the fight is left as a mystery. Then at the end of Chapter 186 we see Otherworld Erza find and capture Gray and Natsu. Or we’re supposed to believe it’s Otherworld Erza, but anyone with a brain should have been able to instantly recognize this plot twist as soon as it happened.
Since the Tower of Paradise Arc (which was where they story took its iconic nose dive in quality) Erza hasn’t lost. The closest we get was her getting knocked out against the Oracion Seis, but she was outnumbered and distracted by her allies. Oh, and she sorta decided to fight in a jungle thong. I question the logic in being an “Armor Knight” if your armor amounts to a leopard skin bikini. Bet she really wished she had armor on her arm didn’t she? Anyway, that fight can’t really count since Erza wasn’t in a position to win, and she never actually lost. We saw later that pitting her one on one with any of the other guild members would have been a victory, and again confirms that Erza can never lose to anything ever. So knowing this, how could anyone in their right mind honestly believe that Earthland Erza would lose off-screen? It was obvious that it was just Earthland Erza Ex-Quipped into Otherworld Erza’s outfit, and this was the old “hey guys I found the prisoners oh wait psyche I was totally your enemy all along” trick.
Again, no one with a brain was fooled by this, so why bother? Well Hiro really believe he’s a great story teller. He tries to pull emotion out of his audience, but most of the time it’s rather abrupt and poorly handled like the infamous Fantasia Finger Point (ripped straight off from One Piece) and the Wendy’s Guild Good-bye. Hiro does everything with a rather abrupt haste to it that you never have time to dwell on it. Had Hiro used misdirection and a few chapters of suspense to get us to believe that Earthland Erza was actually defeated then I might have doubted the twist. Without it, I’m just ending one chapter saying “that’s Earthland Erza” then starting the next chapter saying “I was fucking right”. Surprise surprise it turned out that it was Earthland Erza all along (shocker) and they are going to try their awesome plan of firing the McGuffin Magic Chain Cannon Thing into the Magic Crystal Friend Island thing. Unfortunately they can’t use the controls correctly, and the original plan of swinging the Magic Crystal Friend Island thing into the Floating Island of Magic Cats begins. No, I’m not insane.
Furthermore, Otherworld Erza arrives to finish the fight! What a twis—hey wait, what the hell is she wearing?! Holy crap, she’s not wearing anything! Sure, she wasn’t wearing much before, but she did have a bra, gloves, boots, and those towel things that people wear as skirts except there’s nothing on the sides, but now she’s wearing just a thong and a cloak to cover her top. This implies one of two things. Either (A) Earthland Erza defeated Otherworld Erza, and after the battle nearly completely stripped her, or (B) during their fight Earthland Erza destroyed all of Otherworld Erza’s clothes.
Now (A) doesn’t make sense because Erza’s magic is designed to let her wear whatever armor she wants. We’ve seen her use it for bullshit fanservice purposes before (bunny girl, gothic Lolita, pajamas, etc.), so she shouldn’t need to strip anyone, and that also implies she knocked Otherworld Erza the fuck out. But (B) isn’t much better. That implies that throughout the fight Earthland Erza managed to slash off this woman’s gloves, boots, skirt, and bra. I mean I’m not a woman, and I don’t do a lot of swordplay, but I figure it’s strange to approach a battle trying to cleave your opponent’s bra off.
Well anyway, it seems like our heroes are trapped when suddenly, help arrives in the form of… a dragon? Wait, what? I forgot something right? I clearly forgot when they said that people from this world can call upon dragons because I refuse to believe Fairy Tail would pull something as stupid as this. This is the very definition of an ass pull. You can’t just say “oh yeah, I’m best friends with the dragons. Let’s go!” You especially can’t do that in Fairy Tail considering how important dragons are to the overall plot. Seriously, it’s like when James Bond was strapped to that metal sheet with the laser beam coming towards him, and instead of freeing himself with ingenuity or clever thinking, his pet lion just smashed into the room and destroyed the machine. Yeah the problem’s solved but it leaves a pretty big question like: “why the fuck does he have a pet lion, and why has no one mentioned this before?!”
Really, someone please tell me they mentioned this before because I really don’t want to suffer brain damage by slamming my face into my monitor. Anyway, Otherworld Erza demands her troops follow and then… cuts her hair? Why? I know you could say she’s doing it to ensure no one mistakes her for Earthland Erza again, but that Erza is currently riding on top of a dragon in plain sight after just performing that trick. I really don’t think she’s in the position to start deceiving people, and even if she were, what’s to stop the other Erza from just cutting her hair? Really, the only reason for this is to appeal to the short hair fetish, but jeez, didn’t we do the exact same thing a few chapters ago when Otherworld Lucy cut her hair so that people could tell her apart from Earthland Lucy (aside from the fact Otherworld Lucy dresses like a dominatrix)? Seriously, why is up with Hiro constantly shoving his fetishes into his story?
I mean throughout this arc alone Lucy has been locked barefoot in stock, then went through a fetish costume marathon, then fought an entire battle in nothing but a bikini (I think she’s still in the bikini too), and 10 year old Lucy was chained up an tortured (but it’s shonen, so it’s the kinky torture, and not the mental torture that never leaves you). Plus this is the same manga that had a guitarist, who turns women into his sex slaves and then orders them to go strip other women, and had Evergreen demand Erza get naked and prostrate herself before her. The amount of bondage in this manga is through the roof (drinking game worthy honestly), so why does Hiro feel the need to include even more fetish fuel? I’m honestly shocked we haven’t seen more furries and gender bending, but I guess those aren’t his thing.
Well anyway, the chapter ends with Natsu and crew riding the Mystical WTF Dragon over towards the Magic Crystal Friend Island thing in the hope of saving their friends, but good God what a shitty chapter. The Erza twist covers nearly the first half of the chapter, and again, it was a stupid twist that no one believed for even a moment. Then you have the weird implications that Erza enjoys stripping herself, and then the ridiculous ass pull that random little girl in this world just happens to have a dragon on her side. Again, please tell me they mentioned this before and I forgot, because I can’t wrap my head around it otherwise.
Fairy Tail has recently been put in my bad manga category with Bleach, Air Gear, and the rest, but I remain optimistic that the series can improve. I think Mashima Hiro does actually possess the ability to tell an engaging story, and I have hope that by the time this is all over, I’ll be able to enjoy the story of Fairy Tail again.
And if not I can take solace in the fact that One Piece, Toriko, Bakuman, and Beezlebub still kick ass.