The most intense match-up in seven years exceeded expectations!
Few words were actually shared in this chapter—rather, characters spoke through their various dragonslayer specialties. It was an intense match-up with Natsu sparring Sting, and Gajeel with Rogue. Much of the screen time was taken by Natsu and Sting, which in a way, was the main attraction. Both characters had been sneaking looks at each other multiple times this arc, with Sting making his next best goal being to challenge and defeat Natsu. Could he do it?
The action looked great this chapter—I had no complaints. Mashima ought to be praised for how he is able to consistently make his fight scenes crisp, clean, and easy to follow. In other serialized manga, when a chapter is devoted to fighting, it is difficult to make out that which is happening on-screen. Sometimes debris covers large portions of the screen and obscures the action that’s going on. This is a major flaw, as one of the aspects of visual narration is to make comprehension more fluid and easier for the reader. Sure we would like to see environmental damage going on as it adds a layer to the immersion of the panel; but, too much detail is bit too overpowering and distracting. Fortunately, this chapter serves as an excellent exemplar for other manga with regard to how to do fight scenes.
This chapter revealed the might of Sting and Rogue. Rogue excelled in Shadow dragonslaying magic, while Sting, showed-off his holy light and laser-based dragon-slaying magic. All things considered, both were pretty impressive. Unfortunately, their seven years of training didn’t seem to pay off as Natsu and Gajeel managed to resist and counter every single one of their attacks.
Disappointment was not something seen in the eyes of either new dragonslayer. Mashima introduced a new mechanic for the third generation dragonslayers into his battle system this arc: Dragonforce. What does it do and how will it power up these characters? Unfortunately he ended the chapter on that note. It will be impressive to see if this is enough to put pressure on both Natsu and Gajeel. Could they actually lose now that Sting and Rogue have resorted to their ultimate abilities? This was a really good chapter and one that gives me great hope for the things to come in the rest of this arc as we uncover more information about the dragonslayers, dragons, and hopefully new guild members.
GO Rating: 4/5