From the Super Mario Wiki, the Mario encyclopedia
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The Fairy is a recovery item. Upon being used, it will remove all bad conditions from the user's kart, such as square tires, burst tires, or Thunder Cloud. In addition, the Fairy provides a shield for approximately half a second upon being used. With good timing, this can be used to block incoming items or be immune to the explosion of a Time Bomb.
In Mario Kart Arcade GP, a variant of the Fairy known as the Fairy+ can be unlocked. This variant greatly increases the duration of the shield the item provides.
The Fairy is the only recovery item in the Mario Kart Arcade GP series to have a unique animation upon being used - it circles around the user's kart as it rises upwards, leaving sparkles behind.
Like the Petit Monster, the Fairy originates from the game Pac-Land. The Fairy also makes an appearance in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, on the stage based on Pac-Land. In addition, the Fairy appears during one of Pac-Man's victory animations in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.