Critics could probably be forgiven for calling Fairy Tail another One Piece. With cartoony animation, a very powerful but very silly make protagonist and an attractive but sly female lead, and its easy to see why this comparison would crop up in more than one review.
In fact, Eiichiro Oda and Hiro Mashima, manga-ka of One Piece and Fairy Tail, respectively, were both heavily influenced by Akira Toriyama, and the styles of both artists look strikingly similar.
So yeah, Fairy Tail is a lot like One Piece.
One Piece will likely go down as one of the most popular manga of all time, with the anime right behind it. When I ask my Japanese friends which manga they like, One Piece is almost always first on the list, and even those that say they don’t like manga later admit they have read One Piece and cried their eyes out in places. So even if Fairy Tail is One Piece with magic, it could find worse anime/manga to imitate.
That being said, Fairy Tail is not simply a One Piece clone. While the styles are similar, Fairy Tail is a fantasy/adventure with great characters. While Natsu is a bit like Luffy, he’s definitely a lot more self-cognizant. Lucy isn’t quite the sly money grubber that Nami was; in fact, her ambitions are more centered, toward earning a spot in the Fairy Tail magic guild. And Happy? Well, I suppose flying cats are anime cliches, but sometimes these things just go with the territory.
As an anime adaptation, Fairy Tail works. The tone feels very similar to the manga, light-hearted comedy mixed with action/adventure sequences and magic battles that set the screen ablaze with color. The animation is adequate, cartoony (which fits the tone of the show) and colorful, bright.
The latter of which is a lot like One Piece. Luffy and Co. were tagged as Saturday morning cartoon fare for that very reason, and it will be interesting to how Fairy Tail is received in the states when it is licensed.
All in all, Fairy Tail isn’t the biggest, show-stopping new series fans continue to search for — but it is a solid adaptation of Mashima’s wonderful manga series, and worth it for fans looking for a good action/adventure series.