At the end of the last episode Loke gave Lucy tickets to a beach side resort for her and her team. Episode thirty three picks up right after that point, with the group already at the resort. This is the start of the Tower of Paradise arc, though in this case the episode is name Tower of Heaven, but it’s the same darn thing.
After some swimsuit fun in the first few minutes, the scene shifts to an undisclosed location, where several strangely dressed people are overseeing a construction site of some sort. A construction site manned by slave labor.
Erza’s dream is of her past, so yup, we’ve had Gray, we’ve had Lucy, and we’ve had Loke. Now it’s Erza’s turn. Strangely enough, besides the fact that we know he was raised by a dragon, we know the least about Natsu’s past. Even in the manga.
During this part of the episode we not only learn that something bad happened in her past. But we also learn an interesting fact about Erza’s personality, that she doesn’t just wear the armor for practicality, but that there’s a psychological component to it too.
This is an element that will come up later in this arc, and serves a bit as a character theme for Erza over the course the arc. Really it makes her all the more interesting as a character, she’s established as the strong woman, and by the end of this arc that image will be torn down, and rebuilt. Of course I’m getting ahead of myself.
Lucy comes into Erza’s room and invites her down to the casino, where Gray and Natsu are already playing. In a case of anime changes making the original line not make sense, the first I noticed being from Bleach where Matsumoto getting half her torso ripped off (not as graphic as it sounds) getting replaced with the area just being covered in burn marks in the anime, Lucy’s line that Erza’s dress is a little flashy doesn’t make sense, when in the anime Lucy also happens to be wearing an evening gown.
Erza and her group are attacked by strangers, that are revealed as old friends of Erza. And again in a case of the anime making changes that don’t make sense, Wally is moved from sitting at a slot machine, to randomly sitting on a stool in the middle of nowhere.
Erza’s former companions take out her current team, and kidnap her. Oddly enough, while for a short moment Erza falls into the “Damsel in Distress” that so many anime women fall into, she’s fairly unique in that she doesn’t stay in that role for very long. She’ll be helpless maybe for another episode.
The episode ends with Natsu and the rest going after Erza, while she is being taken by boat to the Tower of Heaven, where the mysterious Jelal waits for her.
I really enjoyed this episode, mostly because it was the start of another major arc, and one that I don’t remember as well from the manga. Granted, the reason I don’t remember it as well is because I skipped over it during one or more of my rereads. Which kind of tells you what I thought of it originally, but I’m hoping for a few surprises at least.
The interesting thing about this arc is that the first time I read it it felt like the climax of the series. And in a way it is, because after this arc several changes happen, new members, a new guild hall, and some other changes that give the series a slightly different feel from what it had before. As such I’ve come to see this arc as the climax of the old, and while it’s really only the beginning for larger storylines to come, I have a sneaking suspicion that the animation studio might use that final feel to this arc as a place to stop the series. I certainly hope not, I’ve been enjoying this and would like to see it go on for a while, but if they were going to stop, after this arc would be one of the better places to stop. This’d put the series at possibly forty episodes. A decent run, but I hope my prediction isn’t true. I don’t know how well the series has been doing in Japan, but if they go past this arc I hope they continue to follow the manga until it ends itself, as after this arc there will be far too much introduced for any other ending to feel satisfying.