So with that, Fairy Tail has ended. I remember when I started reading it, it was during the Tenrou Island arc, where I binge read the whole series from the beginning over a course of a week. Its going to be strange, because as weird as it sounds, looking forward to the updates is part of what got me through the week. At least the anime is going to be coming back, so there is still that to look forward. But let's talk about the final chapter for now.
So it opens in what I think was a very fitting scene, with Lucy actually finishing, and publishing the novel she was established to be writing. I think that's a nice callback to something established early in the series, though it would have been nice to see that plot point referenced more. We see a party where Lucy's getting an award, where we get a little "where are they now" segment, and a few of the ships sail; there's no point for the GaLe once since that ship sailed LONG ago, Gruvia gets confirmed in a relatively subtle way, and Jerza, while not overt, is made clear that its happening. We get a few joke references to Elfgreen, the Laxus pairings get made fun of a little, and we even get Kinabra in the end (which I'm sure the anime will expand upon). Hell, we see Mavis and Zeref are essentially reborn to start a new relationship. The only pairing that of course leaves is the big one, NaLu, where we see Lucy hug Natsu, which he returns, where Lucy thanks him for for finding her, as it defined her person so much. Natsu then whisks her away, where the team goes on to begin the 100 Year Quest, where the story comes to a conclusion, ending the series.
Now let me start off by saying, that yes, NaLu is canon. One person pointed out that in Japanese tropes, romance is more subtle opposed to very overt displays of affection that us Westerners envision. Not to mention, it would be out of character for Natsu to give Lucy a Big Damn Kiss or something like that. But considering what we got, I think we can safely say that NaLu can be considered canon. Would I have preferred something more overt, yes I would have, but for what we got, I think it works.
As for the rest of the chapter, for a series that was built almost entirely on action and flare, the ending is really quiet, and is more your "And the adventure continues style of ending"; which makes sense for a story like this. Much of it is dedicated to just wrapping the characters up, and concluding their personal stories. While I would have preferred something along the lines of us seeing the next generation (especially since we know now that at least Gajeel and Levy have kids), again yes I would have. Hopefully Mashima will give us something like that on his Twitter page, or the anime will expand on it. All in all, I think it was a nice, sweet way to end the series, and I'm sad to see it go.
Now I might as well sum up my final thoughts on the series. While I do really like the series on the whole, and it is still my favorite series, I will not deny that in its final stages, it stumbled. I'm going to be optimistic, and say it was partially due to the typical "ending syndrome", that many shounen experience, where the authors are told they have to finish up the series in a certain amount of time, and they may not be able to do all they wanted to do. Also, in regards to the lack of deaths, I'm going to argue that were a number of characters that were supposed to remain dead, most notably Makarov. Let me point out that not only was the death portrayed as very final, but he had essentially no role in the final battle, and one could have cut him from the last scenes completely, and it wouldn't have made any difference. To that end, it is really possible that Mashima wanted him to remain dead, but was essentially told to bring him back; hell, for all we know, perhaps the Japanese readers were unhappy with his death, and pushed for his return.
But all in all, I'm going to choose to have fond memories of the series, rather than negative ones, since its more fun to like things than to dislike. There is still a lot of things to have fun with and enjoy, and to see these characters just sort of play off each other. In the end, maybe that was the real intention of the series, seeing these different characters, all with different distinguishing traits and different powers play off each other, while throwing in some laughs and some action. The series ultimately gives me feelings similar to what I felt with Guardians of the Galaxy, of a fun, dumb series, that's not out to really win any awards or be really deep, but is more out to make people smile, and have a good time.
Now we wait for Hiro Mashima's next work, and hopefully it will be something big. And in the mean time, I guess there's nothing else to do, but to start watching the series from the beginning again.