The Early and the Fairy (伯爵と妖精) follows a fairy doctor, Lydia, residing in Ireland, whose sole occupation is helping fairies in need, alongside her bow-tie wearing, whisky-drinking feline friend, Nico. One day as she gets ready to help a client that is seemingly an old friend of her father’s, Lydia ends up tumbling into a mysterious yet devilishly handsome young man that sweeps her off her feet and introduces himself as an Earl and long lost king of an ancient fairy kingdom. He wants to utilise Lydia’s special skills to find a long forgotten and misplaced powerful treasure that can help him reclaim his right to rule.
I read the manga adaptation of the original light novel series quite a few years ago and I remember how charming it was in its simplicity. I even have a supremely newbie review of it laying around the blog somewhere. So, when I was browsing the HIDIVE catalogue and came upon the anime (which I didn’t even know existed!), I knew I had to watch it as soon as felinely possible. The first episode didn’t WOW me into ear-bleeding excitement, but it did give me some floofy and happy vibes, which makes me eager to continue onwards.
One of the things that I always liked about the series, aside from the handsomest and wittiest kitty around, was Lydia’s personality. While in many respects she’s very much the typical shōjo heroine, there is also something quite sweet about her. It could be her sass and unwillingness to be manipulated by a handsome scoundrel of an Earl, her passion for helping a group of beings that the rest of the world doesn’t even realise (or believe) exists, or her enigmatic Irish roots. Whatever the case, having a protagonist that is equal parts entertaining and likeable is a good way to make me want to keep watching (or reading) a series.
Then we have the Earl. He’s a total and complete rascal. I love it. I love characters that are ostensibly just blatant bastards yet underneath all of that brawny bravado and bullshite there is a compassionate soul or, better yet, a very dark history. We only get a tiny morsel of the Earl’s true intentions in the pilot episode, but it creates a wonderfully intriguing element to his character that makes you want to learn more about him. Is he truly the long, lost ruler of an ancient fairy kingdom? Is he some asshole trying to usurp its power? Or is he some other monster entirely?
Couple his attractively brutish nature with Lydia’s kind-hearted yet brazen views on being toyed with, then we have some chemistry that is amusing and adorable. Their banter is quite hilarious to me, I ain’t going to lie, folx.
The anime released in 2008 and even for a series that’s about twelve to thirteen years old, I feel like the animation makes it seem even older. It’s not as tacky as 1970s serials, for example, but it does have the vintage vibes I would associate with something from the 1980 or 90ss, to an extent. This isn’t necessarily a flaw considering the tale is set in a historical time period, but I can see it being a visual deterrent to some watchers who prefer the novelties of modern-day animation techniques. Personally, I feel it fits the story, the characters, and the initial manga style quite well. Yes, it’s older. But that doesn’t make it less charming in my book; perhaps more so (but I love older anime, so there is that).
Overall, my first impressions of The Earl and the Fairy are rather great and pleasant thus far. It’s not a mind-blowing feat of masterful anime production, but it’s enjoyable and entertaining and it doesn’t make me feel depressed or emotionally exhausted (something I desperately need at the moment). It’s a very simple and cute shōjo series that doesn’t seem to require too hefty an intellectual or heartfelt investment; just very chill and adorable. I am looking forward to checking out the rest of the eleven episodes and I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that the ending in the anime will match the satisfying finale we got in the manga. The Earl and the Fairy is currently streaming on numerous platforms (linked below). I’m watching it on HIDIVE.
Source: Light Novel by Mizue Tani & Asako Takaboshi (illustrator)
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Season: Fall 2008
Director: Kōichirō Sōtome
Content Warnings: Kidnapping. Mild violence. Alcohol consumption (by people and a cat). Depiction and consumption of food. Cigar smoking.
AniList: Hakushaku to Yōsei
Streaming: HIDIVE, CrunchyRoll, VRV, CONtv, Tubi TV, Amazon