What They Say:
Across the Fiore kingdom, wizards join guilds and make their pay by filling magical needs – but one guild has a reputation as the roughest, rowdiest, most dangerous of all: Fairy Tail!
In the midst of a mission to break the curse over Galuna Island, Natsu and the gang face a band of deranged mages trying to resurrect the monstrous demon Deliora. Gray’s determined to put the freeze on the sinister plan in a frigid battle with a rival from his past – even if it takes his own life!
Back in Magnolia, the city becomes a warzone after sorcerers known as Element 4 destroy Fairy Tail headquarters and kidnap their beloved rookie, Lucy. A bone-crunching, skin-charring fight between fire and iron erupts when Natsu squares off against another Dragon Slayer wizard!
Contains episodes 13-24.
Please note: This review covers only the Blu-ray portion of the discs technical elements from this combo release.
The audio presentation for this release is pretty good as it contains a bilingual show with the original Japanese language track in stereo using Dolby TrueHD while the English track gets the bump to 5.1 using Dolby TrueHD. The show has a straightforward approach with its audio design in its original form where it uses the forward soundstage well by covering it when the action hits with plenty of sound effects, both from the magic and the physical action, while the dialogue tends to be more center channel based. The English presentation ramps that up a few notches in volume and overall warmth while expanding it a bit with some greater clarity in placement for the dialogue. Neither track is a huge standout since it is standard television fare, but it works well and covers the bases right while avoiding any problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2009, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes for this set are spread across two discs with eight on the first and four on the second. The show is one with a lot of bright, vibrant colors that really do look great here overall and stand out well. There’s a healthy amount of action and activity in each episode and the bitrate goes high (hello, PS3 bitrate silliness as it reached 49.8 at one point) but it also has a lot of still and quiet scenes where it drops down to the 5mbps range. There’s a slight layer of fuzziness to it at times with the noise but from a standard seating distance and on a big screen, it’s pretty negligible. The show in general looks very good because of its bold colors and approach while avoiding significant problems like macroblocking, line noise and cross coloration. It’s a very good looking TV show in general and the transfer here captures it well.
FUNimation did things up interestingly with this release as the slipcover is a die-cut one that has a large portion of the front of it open. The logo along the bottom helps to give it more definition while the artwork on the keepcase itself shows through very well. The back of the slipcover is the same as the keepcase cover, though darker, as it shows off Gray as the main character here with a brief but decent little concept summary that sells the show fairly well. A few shots from the show are included as well below it as well as the breakdown of technical information. It’s all laid out clearly here though the text is a bit too soft of a white against the darker background. The keepcase itself has a good piece of artwork along the front of Natsu with a serious look while the Phantom side slides in behind him to give it a little more menace. It uses a lighter brown for the background that makes it all feel much lighter in atmosphere. The back of the keepcase is the same as the slipcover but again it uses the lighter tone which really works well. Both have their advantage though and each works. The release does have a reversible cover where the left side features a breakdown of episode numbers and titles included in the set while the right side has a full cast shot of the primary characters all together that’s really appealing. No show related inserts are included.
The menu design for this release is pretty nice as it uses the overall framing theme that we saw from the cover, with some bright colors, and wraps it around the whole menu while using clips from action and character sequences throughout the majority of it. The bottom has the navigation strip which comes up during the pop-up sequence and it uses larger characters that are done in similar manner to the logo, tying it all together rather well. While I’m not a fan of full clips being used as menus, this one at least brings in some good elements from the logo and series design to work it. The layout is quick and easy to navigate and submenus load quickly, though the discs did not read our players language presets.
The extras for this release are a bit slim, but I’m enjoying the resurgence in commentary tracks from FUNimation these days as we get more here for the show in addition to the clean opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The opening set of the series with its first twelve episodes definitely showed a good bit of what Fairy Tail is like but it also just felt a bit off in its own way. A lot of that came down to the way that the show spent a good part of those twelve episodes just kind of doing small standalone stories and nothing else. So when it did get to the main story that carries over into this veolume, it didn’t have the kind of normal feel that you get from a lot of shonen style series. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes the whole dynamic kind of odd in its own way that can take a bit to get into. This set spends its time working through a couple of different stories but it also just continues to feel like we’re getting some odd slices of things.
That carryover storyline isn’t a bad one either, but it feels strangely drawn out in a way that’s hard to pin down. Having the younger group attempting an S-Class mission when they shouldn’t have is one way to send them into a more difficult situation early on and allow them to show off a bit once they get rolling. But this one decided to spend a lot of its time in the past by making connections for the characters that are useful, as we get a good look at Gray’s past, but it almost feels too soon to do so. The struggle he has to face in trying to stop Lyon from awakening Deliora is a good one since he views it as both something he has to do out of respect for his former master but also just because he understands the larger problem that will come from that awakening happening. Lyon is just so focused on surpassing his mentor, Ur, that he doesn’t care what the fallout will be.
The show does go fairly big here in how it presents Deliora and that has some appeal, at least up until he’s freed and we see the reality of the situation. But it opts to spend a lot of its time in the past, showing us how Lyon and Gray were as young kids when they sought out Ur to become their teacher and some of the motivations for it. It’s easy to cringe when Lyon goes on about how she doesn’t need to take on Gray as he’s more than enough of a substitute for the daughter that she lost. Lyon’s background and where we see him in the present shows him as a real problem person in general, one that you can see them softening over time, but the story as a whole does a good job of making Gray far more sympathetic and interesting to watch than he was before. While I didn’t care for the approach of the storyline or the length of it, especially cross-set, it does achieve its goals.
The show does at least smartly take some down time between arcs since it can have a bit of fun. After finishing out the real reason they were originally called to the island, which is comical enough in itself, the gang has to deal with the fallout from taking on a mission they weren’t allowed to do. But things go to hell before they can even be reprimanded as a massive amount of body and magic swapping starts going on through a cursed piece of parchment. It’s hilarious watching everyone in different situations and bodies, especially Gray in Lucy’s body as he naturally tries to strip whenever he gets stressed. While that runs with big comedic moments, we also get a cute and sweeter side episode that shows Happy’s origins from when Natsu was younger and ended up going through the hatching process with Lisanna. Getting to see the main cast, sans Lucy, when they were younger kids that were even more distilled versions of their personalities that we see now, it all just hits the right notes and helps to make us understand more of the relationship between Natsu and Happy.
The next arc that kicks off here is a good deal of fun as well since it starts to expand the world a bit more. While we’ve known of rival groups for a bit, Phantom is one that steps in to cause a lot of problems here as they stage an attack on Fairy Tail and essentially demolish the building. Their objective may be simple when you get down to it, but there’s the hidden one mixed into it where they’re after Lucy because of the truth about who she is. That’s a nice little twist that will get explored more, but the primary focus becomes on how the guild gets taken down hard over the course of the attacks and it puts everyone in a real bind. It lets us see more of the ties that bind the guild together but it also lets us see through Lucy just how intent she is on staying with the guild and how much it means to it, which with her background takes on an even moreimportant meaning as the storyline progresses.
Fairy Tail carries through on the previous set fairly well and works a similar feeling for much of this one. The closure of the S-Class story from the previous set is pretty well handled as it deals more with Gray’s past than anything else. The standalone stories here are cute and it does help toe expand the overall view of the guild and some of the characters in a simple but fun way. The start of the next big storyline has a lot of potential here as we get to see the Phantom guild, but the real fun will be in seeing how the Fairy Tail guild handles being thrown into such disarray and getting more information about who Lucy really is, since this can change perceptions of her pretty well. I’m continuing to like the show, but it’s still not one that I really feel vested in at this point or really connected to when it comes to any of the characters. It’s fun, but I feel a little distant still.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary Tracks, Clean Openings, Clean Closings
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Readers Rating: [ratings]
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: December 27th, 2011
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.