What They Say:
The guild-on-guild mayhem continues as Fairy Tail struggles to fend off Phantom Lord – whose Element 4 must be defeated in order to disable a massive magic cannon aimed at guild headquarters! With a never-surrender attitude, Natsu and his friends push their powers to the limit to protect Lucy and save Magnolia from total annihilation!
Then, Erza’s tortured past returns to haunt her when estranged friends ambush a well-deserved vacation. Her team tracks them down to a looming tower where a possessed wizard close to Erza’s heart puts them in a sinister game of life or death!
Contains episodes 25-36.
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 continues to do 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 Lucy 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 and Jallel where Natsu is quite serious and Jallel has an ominous look in the background. 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 Lucy looking all bright and cheerful 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 two more here for the show in addition to the clean opening and closing sequences that covers both the ongoing ones and the new ones that shows up in the final episode here.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the third set of Fairy Tail, it now feels like I’m finally getting into the groove of the show. Part of what’s made it a little less fun is that with each of the sets, the big storyline that’s going on is broken across each of them. So with this set, we get the conclusion to the storyline that began in the second half of the last one and the new story that starts towards the end here will continue into the fourth set. They do throw in some fun standalone stories between them which is nice, but I have to admit that the gap (which is small) between sets throws off the rhythm of things after it happens three times. Still, once the show gets going and it all comes back, it makes for some good fun.
The concluding portion of the storyline here is a whole lot of fun as it works through more of the Phantom Lord versus Fairy Tail fight that went on. While Lucy is largely sidelined here even though she is the root cause, or at the least the catalyst since it all comes down to her father trying to get her back, there’s a lot of action going on here as the Element 4 do battle with the Fairy Tail folks. It’s straightforward stuff in that it’s kind of all over the place with the variety of powers that are employed and those of the Element 4 themselves. Natsu has a lot to deal with when it comes to his opponent in Gajeel since he was trained under a dragon and that gives him quite an edge when it comes to his ability to generate weapons as well as armor himself up.
The real fun for me involved Gray and his fight against Juvia. Gray’s powers are pretty well used when it comes to the fights since he’s able to change things up a bit but Juvia with her water abilities actually gives him a challenge whereas you’d think it would be very easy to deal with. Juvia’s personality is amusing with the way she reacts to things but we get a good understanding of why as the flashbacks show how her powers have kept her from getting close to people. While she has something of the rain girl personality to her, she’s pretty easy to feel sympathetic for and watching her latch onto Gray to a degree, and to see that expanded upon over the course of the set made her pretty much my favorite character of the cast so far.
While the fight between Phantom Lord and Fairy Tail plays out in ways that you would expect, the epilogue to it is a lot of fun since both guilds caused a lot of trouble and there’s the whole destroyed guild building thing as well. This portion has some cute moments to it as the guild rebuilds while waiting on the judgment of the council and even Makarov’s past gets explored a bit, showing us why he’s still running the guild when he should have retired at this point. It lays some unsurprising foundations for future stories as we see his grandson and understand the reasoning but the time spent with the past, short as it is, gives us a good look at how the power structure of today exists and the connections that they have.
We do get a few episodes of standalone style material, one that deals well with Lucy’s past and another that dabbles in hot springs, the show does move into its next arc quickly enough and it’s a good one. While we’ve focused on a couple of characters so far, this one decides to give us a look at Erza’s back story, where we discover she was once a slave along with many others that were all part of a project to build a way to revive Zeref and gain his power. Seeing her as a small child and watching how her friends dealt with the situation is pretty well done, simple as it is, and the change that goes through when one of them named Jallel ends up gaining power and putting himself into the overlord position. That’s what draws things into the present as he’s kidnapped Erza back to the island where the project was and starts a whole new game among those there, since it draws in a number of Fairy Tail members as well since Erza is actually part of a team now. It sets up some good stuff here while keeping Jallel to the side for a lot of it before he can come out and really dominate it. The use of Erza’s friends from the past now on the opposite side and bringing in Juvia in a surprise move
Fairy Tail has hits its groove fairly well, though you could say it hit it earlier and I’m just finding my place with it now. The show has some fun arcs going on here, both in the concluding one and the new starting one, and it fills the time between with some good stories. Lucy’s time in getting her life settled with her father is a bit too abrupt for my tastes, but you know they’ll revisit that down the line sometime. While the show is ostensibly about the leads in general with a focus on Natsu and Lucy, I keep finding myself more interested in Gray and even more so now with Juvia starting to become more involved in things. Fairy Tail has a good bit of fun to it but it’s still lacking that extra little bit to really be something more, but it’s having a good time right now and that counts for a lot.
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: January 31st, 2012
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.