For a different opinion, check out Biblionyan’s review of this series.
#1 A good premise that ends too soon
Earl and Fairy is a 2008 fantasy anime set in Victorian-era England, Scotland, and Wales, and which draws heavily from Albion folklore. Protagonist Lydia Carlton is a fairy doctor, a human born with the rare gift of seeing all manner of fairies. Sadly, humanity is quickly forgetting about fairykind and her insistence that she can interact and help out with fairy-related problems has ruined her reputation among the locals.
This changes when she meets Edgar Ashenbert, a young man who claims to have a right to the “Blue Knight Earl” title; an English vassal who reins over the British lands where fairies reside. However, his claim lacks legitimacy and, furthermore, Edgar is a wanted man due to allegations of mass murder and other crimes. He desperately needs Lydia’s help to trace down the legendary Merrow’s Sword, which would prove his claim in the eyes of the queen.
This starts out as a fun adventure story with good intrigue to it. I was especially fond of how suspicious Edgar was, as you never get the impression that he is being entirely truthful. However, this story is rushed through in a handful of episodes and completely resolved, after which the remainder of the show is just Lydia and Edgar hanging around while a new story arc is slowly set up. And just when that new story is about to kick off, the anime just ends without much fanfare or pay off.
Everything after episode 5 is just kinda boring to sit through and never recaptures the mystery and tension of the first few episodes. Since all that build-up then leads straight into a cop-out ending, you honestly might as well not bother or read the actual light novels if you actually care.
#2 Frustrating romance
Lydia is a humble Scottish girl from the countryside, but it doesn’t take long before she has handsome men fighting each other for her attention. Duels for love are all well and good, yet while these men fight each other, they also seem to be actively plotting against Lydia’s well-being and agency. Something is always too easily glossed over.
Edgar especially came off as something of a scumbag, whose reaction to Lydia’s initial rejection of his advances is to just tell people they are together. He frequently attempts to trick or pressure her into accepting a romance, on top of quite literally betraying her several times throughout the story. He even at one point attempts to rape Lydia in a drunken stupor but falls asleep while undressing her, then acts surprised about her being angry over it. Sounds pretty extreme, doesn’t it? Well, Lydia just lets it go every time after (optionally) being mad for a few minutes.
Other suitors don’t fare much better, which left me as a whole feeling mostly annoyed with the anime’s romantic aspect. I had certainly expected more from a shoujo series.
#3 No dub
Perhaps not a relevant complaint depending on how you feel about dubbed anime versus subbed. I personally decide which audio track to go with on a case-by-case basis, but one preference I do have is that I prefer series set in Europe to be spoken in English. Earl and Fairy is clearly set in the British Isles, which makes the lack of an English dub particularly annoying.
Granted, The Japanese cast is by no means short on talent. Nana Mizuki and Hikaru Midorikawa take the star roles and are backed up by the likes Tomokazu Sugita, Miyuki Sawashiro, and even Rie Kugimiya in the supporting cast. There’s a lot of talent, but the end result never really sounds right. Both because I have a biased expectation of how English people should sound and also because the performances are just honestly a bit underwhelming.
Edgar and Lydia especially sound very generic; serviceable for a show intended for a younger audience, but wholly unmemorable and unable to hit the right peaks when the story wants to get emotional.