A Review of 413 Days
Fairy Tail Month: 10 for 10 – 7 for 10 (4,000th post)
So a while back, I said that if I wanted to explain my thoughts on Gruvia, all I have to do is talk about the omake 413 Days. That’s an interesting claim to make.
Not so much for me, if you already know how I feel about Gruvia.
However, the claim being made by anyone could raise eyebrows. 413 Days is, in my opinion, one of the most controversial things about Fairy Tail as a series. People are on different ends of the spectrum when it comes to this one. Like I said almost a year ago, you either think it helps Gruvia or hurts it. I think you can guess where I am.
However, I personally haven’t seen anyone talk about this chapter as a whole. People talk about bits and pieces on either side of the debate. I talked about when I wrote about Juvia. However, no one seems currently interested in tackling this chapter.
They probably knows what they’re doing. At any rate, I’ve stalled long enough. Let’s do this!
The cover for this chapter is Juvia who is drawn in a really uncomfortable looking position. Looking back, I feel like this could be a clue to what happens next for the reader. Then again, Mashima has tons of fan-servicey covers, so no technical biggie. At the very least, you can guess this chapter is going to be about Juvia just from the cover. If you couldn’t, the next page literally says “Juvia in the leading role”.
There is a little known fact that is important to keep in mind as I tell you what happens next. This chapter was a part of a special promotion with other magazines to hype up FT, along with the omakes Welcome Home, Frosch, She’s Erza and Natsu and Asuka, which I talked about a while back. It is very likely that this chapter may have been many people’s first and only exposure to Juvia as a character.
Mashima uses this opportunity to portray Juvia’s best character traits in a way that respects her as a character…
Is what I desperately want to be able to tell you happens. I want to be able to say we get a better character intro than Lucy seducing an old man into lowering Plue’s key price. I want to tell you we get a better story intro than the beginning of Morning of a New Adventure.
The chapter opens and, with little warning, we see Juvia showering.
I will spare you the hackneyed arguments about why this is bad and distasteful and how this is a terrible way to introduce one of your characters. You don’t need me to tell you any of that or how this incredibly unnecessary. I will say I am working on another rant about this that you can see another day. (That looks incredibly awkward but we’re going to keep it.)
What we can talk about is the fact that she is washing herself with. A Gray sponge.
No, I don’t mean a gray colored sponge. I mean a sponge in the image and likeness of Gray Fullbuster. Whose image is also plastered on the towel she uses and made into several dolls of various sizes.
Forget for a moment that (spoilers) we don’t see Gray until more than halfway through the omake. If this is your first time seeing Juvia, this is a terrible way to find out that she really likes Gray. It’s to the point that it’s disturbingly unrealistic how she shows that love. Some would even argue unhealthy. (Like me) That’s not a good way to introduce a character. Especially in a special chapter devoted to a day in their life.
This intro has been used to argue against Gruvia more times than I can remember. Most people don’t even take it from the angle of someone seeing this for the first time. They just bring it up and say something akin to “This isn’t a good”. I won’t even explain why. It should be pretty obvious.
I also won’t touch the counter arguments against people hating on this moment in a post like this, because this is about me. Just know they exist, and I don’t buy them.
Today is a special day for Juvia. This marks the 413th day since she met Gray. The number itself means nothing to Juvia, but the day itself is special to her because… reasons.
This kind of makes everything in this chapter feel weird. There is no real reason for anything here to happen. This could have been any day. Mashima could have done 1143 days and make the apparent Rave reference everyone points to. He could have chosen a round number like 400. Or he could have just made it a year. Even Carla comments on how weird a number to celebrate 413 is.
Why did he choose 413? I have a theory about this, but I’ve been going on a tangent.
Erza suggests that Juvia gives Gray a gift because it’s such a special day. I used to wonder why she did this. Honestly though, I don’t now see this as such a crazy thing anymore. It’s the anniversary of the day you met someone important. Why not let the other person know it’s important? Seems innocent enough.
You know how to ruin a decent idea? Do it so the person will want to marry you. Like Juvia seems to want to.
Keep in mind that, no matter how you count 413 Days, this chapter released after fans of the series saw the rejection during the Grand Magic Games. If you want to argue that his answer would change later on or wasn’t the truth, you’re missing the point. His answer was no. The fact that Juvia can’t respect a rejection or that the rejection was, more or less, swept under the rug isn’t a good point for the ship.
Simply put, no means no. If the roles were reversed, Gruvia wouldn’t be anywhere near as popular as it is. Look at how many people don’t like Fraxus or Lyvia for similar reasons and I don’t think either ship is near as bad as Gruvia.
Juvia decides to go from making a cake for Gray to making a scarf for him. When this was inevitably animated, there was a long process of asking people what she should make for him. I am purposely ignoring the animated version because I don’t want to think that after over a year of knowing Gray, she wouldn’t know what to give him without help.
That said, maybe I shouldn’t have because she decided to make him a scarf. Why a scarf? Again, she knew Gray for 413 days and thought a scarf was a good gift? Forget the fact that he’s used to cold weather. Why is clothes a good gift idea for Gray?
Because one of his character quirks isn’t unconscious stripping and Juvia wouldn’t know that after 59 weeks, am I right?
It’s not like we were introduced to his stripping habit around the same time we were introduced to him.
Or that Juvia knew that Gray strips on his own from the day that apparently means so much to her.
Forget that people have been going crazy recently over the fact that Juvia has also taken Gray’s’stripping habit. A fact that is also being used on both sides of the Gruvia argument.
I want to say this is Mashima doing it for the benefit of the people who don’t know Gray, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t stupid. It would be stupid if Natsu got oven mitts for his birthday from Lucy. This is basically the same thing.
I feel like this, maybe even more than her reaction to the rejection, shows Juvia doesn’t actually care about Gray’s interests. Sure, this may not be canon. However this should show us that Mashima believes this is how his characters should interact in these circumstances.
What happens next has nothing to do with Gruvia. I just want to take a moment to note that Mashima put two of his most popular ships in fake romantic moments. I’m conflicted because one was Nalu and the other was Gajevy. I like Gajevy but not Nalu. Seeing the sole Nalu moment of the chapter was a joke was the best part of the chapter for me. And the we see a fake Gajevy kiss…
I’m just going to leave it at that.
Back to Gruvia, Juvia is about to give Gray the scarf but he doesn’t want it. Why should he? He shouldn’t need it. I can’t even necessarily fault him for calling the celebration of 413 days of meeting someone stupid. Like I said, it’s a pretty out there number.
This is where the chapter takes an interesting shift. Juvia (and therefore, the audience) learns that today is also the anniversary of the death of his master. Even if this is your first exposure to Fairy Tail, you can understand why Gray might have acted the way he did. Regardless of your opinion on the “Gray liking Juvia” issue, this makes his actions seem to be less about Juvia and more about his own personal demons. (I didn’t mean this pun)
With this revelation, Juvia feels bad about how she potentially hurt Gray. This is Juvia showing that she actually cares about Gray’s feelings. This is her realizing that there may be something wrong with how she is interacting with Gray.
Recently, I’ve seen some people argue that the Gruvia moment at chapter 416 happened because Juvia apologized to Gray out of her own selfishness. I’m not willing to entirely willing to throw out that possibility, but I want to believe she did it because she actually cared about the person whose father she’s responsible for dying. Here, she’s showing genuine concern for Gray’s feelings.
After Erza comforts her with some genuinely profound words, Gray ultimately ends up taking the scarf because the cold and snow reminds him of his dead master. While the cynical Graytear in me finds it interesting no one points out that Gray basically only went back to get this gift because of Ur, the rest of me finds this kind of cute.
And Juvia apologizes to Gray the next day. And Gray accepts and admits he was “sorta out of it”. This is amazing! It doesn’t necessarily make everything else that happened earlier on okay. However, this could be the start of a new chapter in Juvia and Gray’s relationship. Nothing could possibly ruin th-
And she’s shoving a body pillow into his face. And Gray’s not happy.
End of chapter…
It’s at this point that I should answer a question I’ve been avoiding up to this point. Why can I give my honest thoughts on Gruvia by talking about 413 Days?
The terrible beginning? No, that’s only part of it.
It being the worst thing to happen for Gruvia? Even if you want to forget OVA 7 exists, I think there have been worse ship-killing incidents for Gruvia in canon. The rejection, the whole “he didn’t want to sleep with me” thing, Juvia getting sick and flooding the town during Avatar arc, and another thing I’m getting to soon are worse than the stuff that happened in that chapter, in my opinion.
How it portrays Juvia? You’d think.
Actually I think this chapter kind of gives me some reason to like Juvia. She’s able to crochet a scarf in one day. Even though her motives are off and she even admits it might not have been good, the fact that she’s able to do that is amazing. And judging by the rest of the Gray matter (I’m sorry) in her room, it’s clear she can do some amazing things with her hands. It doesn’t excuse everything that happened in this chapter, but it’s something for me to like Juvia for.
No, the reason I can say that is this ending. After you think that this will mark some important change in the dynamic of Gruvia, we get more of the same. More bad “comedy”. More uncomfortable Gray.
I’d rather the chapter ends a page early without an apology than getting the last page we got. That would be a stronger ending. We could tell Gray is important to Juvia and Juvia recognizes she can hurt Gray with her actions. That all we need from the ship. There was no reason the chapter needed to end on that note unless Mashima wanted to destroy the chance that Juvia would change for the better.
And here’s a funny thing. I stopped shipping Gruvia because we got something like that.
I stopped shipping Gruvia because the same thing happened in canon. Remember that scene in 416 I talked about? When I saw that scene, I had the same reaction. I reasoned Gray actually liked Juvia because of this moment. And Juvia took a step back from her crazy antics to do something for Gray’s benefit. It was great.
Then we found out they were living together during the timeskip. At the time, I blamed Gray for Juvia’s depression, up until their plan was revealed. Then I started realizing something was wrong with the situation.
And then we got chapter 438. We learned Juvia invited herself into Gray’s house and that’s why they were living together. Long story short, I stopped shipping Gruvia then.
Someone actually had the nerve to argue this was just him lying then because he’s a tsundere. Especially considering what he said in chapter 453. (Normally I’d link the post, but that would require me to go find the argument, so…)
Congratulations! You made a Gruvia argument that’s almost as worse as “it’s only comedic relief” when it comes to ignoring Gray and belittling fans for being legitimately uncomfortable because of Juvia’s disturbing actions, even though you can still argue that he likes her in spite of those actions.
I hope that, one day, I’ll be able to look at Gruvia and like it again. Juvia and Gray are both individuals that I like to see. I think that there are reasons to ship them. It wouldn’t be random if we found out that Gray does like Juvia and/or they end up together. (I feel like those two don’t need to be seen together depending on how things play out.)
Who knows? If Mashima does it right, maybe I can stand to like it again. Maybe, the next time I make a milestone post, it can be about how I’ve come to like Gruvia again.
However, I just can’t do it now. I can’t stand Gruvia arguments more than any other fandom arguments, which is part of the reason I talk so much about the arguments. I get physically uncomfortable reading Gruvia arguments. I wish I was joking.
The weird thing is this was close to my perspective of Nalu about a year ago, and they became my NOTP. The same thing better not happen for these two…
413 Days doesn’t help me ship Gruvia. Lots of people read this and think of how great the ship is. When I read it, it reminds me why I don’t like the ship and why I stopped shipping it over a year ago.