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!
The feature is presented with two audio tracks- a 5.1 English track and a Stereo Japanese one. For the purpose of this review the Japanese track was used and it is a mostly solid, though not quite inspiring, one. The audio track free from dropouts or other distortions and it gets its point across as dialogue is delivered clear so it accomplishes a fair amount for what seems to be such an audio shortcoming in terms of presentation.
Originally starting to air in October of 2009 Fairy Tail is presented in its original 1.78:1 ratio. The encode for the discs is a decent one though not flawless due to the medium with some minor noise, and a little ghosting as well as some color banding present at points. Fairy Tail makes use of a good deal of color and uses more broad than intricate designs which helps minimize the chances for issues to become a large problem. It is in these broad designs that Fairy Tail helps create its atmosphere of making thing appear to be from a simpler time and the video encode does a fair job of carrying its assigned load.
This review is of the DVDs only but the packaging was covered in Chris Beveridge’s review of the Blu Ray portion of the releases review.
As for the DVDs themselves, they use colorful images of Lucy and Plue on the first disc while the second uses Natsu and an enemy who is introduced in these set of episodes.
The main menus for both discs use larger and fuller images of the ones present on their corresponding discs. The sub menus use a job or wanted poster type look with individual images from different episodes or character art. When choosing an option the highlighted one is indicated by being in a bolder black color which switches to red when selected. Each of the menus uses a different instrumental theme as its background piece. The menus are quick to respond to changes in selections as well as implementing selections when chosen.
There are the (almost) standard extras of clean opens and closings here, which are actually doubled since Fairy Tail brings in a new set during the episodes contained on these discs. The real treasure here is for fans of the English dub as FUNimation includes not just one but two episodes with audio commentary by the English dub cast.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The battle of Fairy Tail versus Phantom reaches its zenith as Lucy is captured by Phantom members (again) and the stone giant/guild threatens to wipe out not only the Fairy Tail guild members but also the very town it is located in with the massive forbidden spell it is casting. With the only way to stop the spell being to defeat Phantom’s immensely powerful Element Four some of Fairy Tail’s strongest members (who are present at any rate) set out to take on the quest of beating those whose reputation should have them trembling in their boots if they were sensible- which luckily isn’t exactly what Fairy Tail’s members are most famous for.
As other individual battles are settled, Natsu will have to face off with a fellow Dragon Slayer who is intent on drawing him into a fight and to do so is using Lucy as bait. The problem that the other Fairy Tail guild members storming the castle face is that they are fighting what is almost a war of attrition. Despite the fact that they are successfully pruning Phantom’s fighting force that guild’s master is the most powerful member and their guild master, Makarov, is absent. Makarov was left with an old friend in the hope he could somehow live through the spell currently leaving him bed ridden and on the verge of death. As the members of Fairy Tail fall the limits to this young new group of members will be shown but when things look their darkest there is nowhere to go but up, and a brilliant beam of light may show them their way to victory.
While surviving the assault of Phantom is a major victory the members of Fairy Tail are certainly not out of the woods as the level of the fight has caught the attention of the Magic Council and there may still be hell to pay. While waiting to find out their punishment the guild goes about its business of rebuilding their home while some other members have to come face to face with their previous actions. For Lucy it is making sure that the events with Phantom are never repeated and she travels to its source to confront the man who set things in motion. She will also find during this lull the reason that Loke has been avoiding her and the sins that he is trying to atone for and the price that atonement will cost. Strength comes in many forms and Lucy will get her chance to display what she is made of when she has to protect her fellow guild members as well as stand up for herself and just how her time in Fairy Tail has shaped her.
With so much settled a grateful Loke gives Lucy and friends tickets to a resort so they can recover from their trials but this respite turns out to be momentary when Erza’s past comes looking for her and is loaded for bear. What secrets lay at the heart of the person whose reputation has spread throughout the land and what happens when she has to confront what she fears? Luckily for her she won’t be facing them alone as there are a few things her friends can’t stand, and being ambushed and having their teammates abducted happen to rate near the top of the list. Will the secrets of Erza’s past drown them all though when a shadow from it reveals his machinations and revels that he has some insanely powerful trump cards of his own? Will so many battles and so many revelations of their friend’s pasts finally be the focal point that shatters this group or will their mettle prove to be up to facing the task before them?
Fairy Tail is a series that likes to mix in emotion with its fighting and this set of episodes is no different in that regard. Initially it starts off finishing a major arc which might be enough for most series. It then takes a couple of episodes to strengthen some of its characters as Lucy has to come to terms with the havoc her father put into motion which could be a major arc of its own. Given that, at least on a strength scale, she is the weakest member of her team it is a nice treat to watch her get to display her strengths both there and in the episodes that revolve around fellow guild member Loke.
And if this wasn’t enough, the series breathlessly launches itself into a new arc where one of Fairy Tail’s strongest members has to come face to face with her greatest weakness and the past she has been haunted by most of her life. I loved seeing a vulnerable Erza and watching as she proceeds through her past and its weight as she faces the realization that she may not be strong enough to change things on her own is a rather interesting new facet of her character.
With the addition of a new character who looks to be stalking Gray the series answers all my favorite things that a shonen action series can bring to the table, though one of the least favored ones also appears when a new set of opponents is thrown at the team late in the series with almost no build up. That their introduction is rather shallow and seems to fall into the genera staple of substituting character development for splashy visuals is a bit worrisome but there is always the chance some further episodes will negate this somewhat. Still, it is a rather uninspiring place to run out of episodes considering the emotional power continued in many of the other episodes on this set and it does drag the overall grade down a bit.
With this collection of episodes that carried the series past its first half year of airing in Japan it continues to charge forward with an emotional and physical pace that many series fail to match even when they are planned for just a half year run. The trials, triumphs and tragedies of the characters add depth to some already likeable characters and really provide for some fantastic episodes. That the series never becomes afraid to take some mocking shots at itself helps it avoid falling into a trap of self importance that can also plague some lesser series. While the last episodes add a not terribly welcome twist at the moment there is nothing here to prevent a great deal of enjoyment and there is always the chance that the characters introduced will be redeemed in the next set.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 26 Commentary, Episode 32 Commentary, Textless Songs
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: A-
Readers Rating: [ratings]
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: January 31st, 2012
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Samsung 50″ Plasma HDTV, Denon AVR-790 Receiver with 5.1 Sony Surround Sound Speakers, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080.