Mashima seems willing to keep this pace for a while, as this chapter is strikingly similar to the previous one, with minor progressions in each story. That is the inherent problem. Despite having four things running at once, the pace does not make up for it, and as a result it feels as if things aren’t moving at all.
One thing that still remains consistent is that the part of the chapter involving Elfman and the Fairy Tail guild is the most interesting of the other segments. Although the internal bickering, by way of Cana, feels rather forced, the air of desperation in the team feels natural. One thing that is rather strange, though, is Elfman himself. It is understood at this time that Sayla is using her Macro to control Elfman to do her bidding, but now it almost seems like Elfman is fully conscious of his decision, thus turning the situation into a moral dilemma. It seems like a weird choice to make on Sayla’s part if she is actually blackmailing Elfman rather than fully controlling him, so hopefully this gets cleared up soon.
The in-between scenes with Natsu and Lisanna again proved somewhat fruitless minus Silver’s intrusion. He’s still an enigma in a group of enigmas, but he has the most potential considering his supposed connection to Gray. He certainly seems to know of Natsu as well, enough to make a passing comment about about him, so it stands to be seen how this all fits together. While this seemingly benign segment proved to have something, the next one detracted rather greatly. Mashima’s choices have always been rather questionable when it came to treatment of some of his characters, but the constant torture of Erza seems to go rather overboard as it really seems to serve no purpose at this point but plain fanservice. Nothing new was garnered from the scene, and it seems like a rather cheap and easy way to make Kyouka seem like a ruthless character. Granted, subtlety is not Mashima’s forte, but scenes like this make Mashima’s true intentions way more obvious than they should be.
Jellal’s scuffle, while mildly interesting, suffers due to the way these segments have been laid out. For example, it would read much smoother had last week’s segment of their battle been tacked on before this part. That said, because these segments have few connecting transitions, they seem standalone and could feasible be collected in proper order to make more sense. It almost feels like the proper sequence was cut up and mixed in with other segments to make what we have as a chapter here. As for the actual segment itself, despite Jellal’s current situation, he is unlikely to die at this point in the story, though what seems more important would be Tartarus having located him. The story does show signs of moving forward, but its current pace is not helping it.
Final Flash: The story is slowing moving forward despite what all these segments would have the audience believe. This current pace needs to stop.