Well, with this episode we finally get to find out why Gray betrayed his guild and lured Natsu into Daphne’s trap. Given how much I’ve enjoyed this arc I can only imagine that the writers came up with an especially good reason for the betrayal.
Turns out that Gray heard a rumor about Daphne while on a job, and learned that the Dragonoid was indestructible, except from the inside. Okay, so Gray lured Natsu into a trap so Natsu could destroy the Dragonoid from the inside. Fair enough, then why didn’t he just keep Natsu away from Daphne, since her Dragonoid wouldn’t work if she never caught Natsu?
Gray goes on to elaborate that he would sometimes follow Natsu during his missions. …What? That…doesn’t make any sense… Okay, whatever, it’s odd but I can buy it. So turns out that Gray followed Natsu when he made the promise to the invisible people and then forgot about it…that’s awfully convenient, but okay, I can accept that…sort of…
So it turns out that Gray remembered Natsu making the promise, and was angry at him for forgetting. So he lured Natsu into a trap so that he could destroy the Dragonoid. Except that destroying the Dragonoid wasn’t how to break the spell. All they would have had to do was gang up on Daphne, she really isn’t that powerful, and beat her that way. Spell would be broken, and Natsu wouldn’t be in mortal danger.
This is what killed this filler arc for a lot of people, I still enjoyed it, but it’s vexing to find out that an entire plot would have been rendered useless if a character bothered to act in character. Personally I can forgive the writers for this pretty shoddy bit of writing in favor of the rest of the arc being perfectly entertaining.
What the episode does do well, is that it actually spends a little bit of time going into Daphne’s past and gives her a motivation. That was the one thing I was afraid they weren’t going to do, but they did it. Turns out she saw a dragon when she was a kid, and was so amazed by its power and majesty that she couldn’t stop thinking about it. She became so obsessed that she decided to build her own artificial dragon.
I haven’t seen anyone complain about her back story, mostly they just complain about her constant repetition of “hai, hai, hai” which personally I don’t think is the most annoying character quirk ever. At first I thought that it didn’t make sense for her to see a dragon, since they disappeared a long time ago. But then I thought about it for a bit, and remembered that she was an adult in the flashback when Natsu was still a kid. Natsu was only a little bit older than he’d been when Igneel disappeared, which means that there were still dragons around when Daphne was a kid. So these episodes can fit into the proper timeline.
While the guild are busy fighting the lizardmen, who for some reason are weaker despite being newer models, Grat shows up and tells everyone the master has a plan. He also explains about Natsu forgetting his promise, which everyone seems to accept as a valid reason for leading their friend to his possible death.
At least Gray does something worthwhile in this episode, when he asks Juvia to help him out. They perform unison raid, much to Juvia’s obvious delight, and rain down shards of ice onto all the lizardmen.
The episode takes a turn for the humorous as Natsu goes berserk under the torment of a shoulder angel and devil. Gray starts talking smack to Natsu, and the others join in, realizing that making Natsu angry will send his power levels skyrocketing. They do this and are able to overpower the Dragonoid. Gajeel delivers the final blow, and Natsu absorbs power from those that can use flame magic and finishes off what is left of the ruined Dragonoid.
I’ve heard some complaints about this filler arc, and I can’t really refute any of them. Yes, Gray’s reasoning is out of character, and it’s the only real big flaw for this arc, in my opinion. It would have been nice for him to have a smart reason to act the way he did, but it looked like the writers were trying to be too clever and trick everyone into thinking Gray really had turned evil. To be honest, I was expecting Gray’s reason to be stupid, so when I found out it was stupid, I really wasn’t surprised and was able to enjoy the rest of the episode.
“Little!? He tried to kill me!”
“That’s our Natsu, always the hothead.”
Other than that, this arc was a very entertaining watch for me. For the most part the characters were acting in character, the writers stayed true to the themes of the show, and the characters had a reason to be invested in the conflict. Instead of filler from other series, names will not be named, where some filler character with a problem shows up and for some reason the main characters care about it, but since there’s no reason for them to care the viewers can’t care. In the case of this filler there is a very good reason for the characters to care, Natsu is in danger and needs saving, and at the same time their town is being attacked. The writers knew that they couldn’t use some little kid showing up to give the characters reason to act. For that reason alone I say this filler was well worth it. We weren’t expected to watch the same cliched crap as we’ve come to expect from filler, instead the writers made the effort to give us something interesting to watch, and for that I applaud them.
And for those that can’t enjoy it for what it does well, rather than what it does wrong, I can’t blame you. Your reasons are completely valid, even if I personally was not bothered as much as you were. At the very least it was only four episodes. We didn’t have to suffer through an impossibly long filler arc, as opposed ot other fandoms. So at least be thankful for the brevity, and that the anime has gone on for so long. Chances are we will be going into the Edolas arc soon, and that alone is reason to be glad for filler. This is the longest stretch of filler we’ve gotten, but personally I think we’re better off suffering some filler, and getting the entire series animated, rather than having it cut off too soon.
If you liked my review, Watch the Episode Here!