Some fun gets things underway, but the show turns pretty serious. Well, as serious as a show like this can get.
What They Say:
Hot-headed fire wizard Natsu and his team of high-powered pals are back! Harnessing the forces of dragon fire, ice, weaponry, and the zodiac, four young wizards from the infamous magical guild Fairy Tail team up. In season two the friends unite with other guilds to take on one of the darkest guilds in the wizarding world!
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 2010, 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 bit rate goes high t) 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. There are some scenes where things really come across badly, such as some of Jellal’s episodes where his back is just pure noise, and there are gradients to be had here because of the style of the animation. 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, but there are some bad moments as well that do stand out. 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 Wendy 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 Laxus together as the two of them go at it. 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 length shot of Wendy in with a big smile and bright look about her that’s appealing.
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 set mirror what we got on previous editions where there were a couple of episode commentary tracks by the English language production team that are fun to listen to as well as the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first forty-eight episodes of Fairy Tail, things finally started to feel like they were settling into place. I liked the show from the beginning, but I wasn’t head over heels about it as it felt just a bit too light, too loose with what it does, for me to really get behind it. But as it progressed and we got to know the characters more, it definitely proved to be more enjoyable. Of course, there’s an eighteen month gap between the previous release and this one and that has reduced some of the energy and enthusiasm for me since there is a need to reconnect with the cast after that time. And while I did have fun with this set overall and the way it goes big as it goes on, it does take some time to really get going again, though at least it has a little individual bit of fun first.
Like most shows before they get into their bigger arc, Fairy Tail opts for some simple standalone adventures that are all about just being silly and fun. These definitely can work well and it allows the stories to be silly and without any deeper meaning, which is useful on a long running show because you don’t want it to be constant drama and action. My favorite of the first few episodes that delve into this involves Lucy having to deal with her father, who has now come to her doorstep to ask for some money. After all that happened before, it is pretty bold and in-character for him, but he’s suffered a lot since those early episodes and is now penniless and having to start from scratch again after some bad deals. His goal is to return to a guild he used to belong to, some small one most people never hear about, but he needs a large sum of money to get going again. It’s pennies to him because of his background, but it’s a lot of money to Lucy and he does it in such a demanding way that it really is a bad approach.
There’s some decent character material here for Lucy as she does stand up to him and puts him in his place, but she also has a heart about him even after she kicks him out and on his way without any help. As it turns out, the guild he’s going to is under siege, so she’s afraid for his life and goes to help. Since she’s part of such a well known guild, it gets a bit comical at times and there’s some decent action to it as she uses her various celestial abilities, but she just goes all out to help the guild and primarily her father since there’s a lot of low level but problematic opponents to deal with. The gags are obvious as it plays out towards the finale, but the episode really did a lot for me in dealing with the father/daughter relationship and how both of them had to reconnect and view each other in different ways since each had changed a lot.
While we do have some fun episodes, the show also wants to start getting into it with the next big storyline, which involves the guilds in a big way. In an interesting bit of realization, it turns out that the dark guids are working towards a mysterious goal of their own and have co-opted a lot of smaller ones along the way, working them as fronts and more towards their objectives. This gets the Fairy Tail crew to start investigating more and coming up against some very powerful generals that are working the other side of the equation. As is the case with a show like Fairy Tail, and it’s a problem for me, it starts introducing a number of other characters – on both sides – and introduces an array of new magical abilities and tools that continually come across as all powerful until the crew figures out how to deal with it. It’s admittedly standard fare, but sometimes it bugs me more than others, especially in a show like this where it has so many characters and what feels like some very, very loose rules on how magic and interactions work.
With this arc, it throws a lot of things out there but mostly starts with all sorts of fighting as we get brief introductions of the new powerful generals and their abilities. While that’s all really standard boilerplate stuff and I couldn’t find a character worth latching onto in order to really get behind them, it does provide for some interesting angles as it progresses. One of them is that Erza gets taken out with a poison early on that starts eating away at her arm and takes her out of commission, having the others working to try and safeguard and save her. The other is that it seemingly brings back a villain we thought gone and dead with Jellal, who has apparently been revived by someone that came to help Fairy Tail, a twelve year old girl named Wendy. She’s shocked that he’s running on the bad side, working with this group that’s trying to use the spell called Nirvana which can turn specific people or groups into the opposite of their “alignment”, thereby making a good guild into a dark guild. There’s a lot of power involved in it and a lot needed, including a sacrifice or two, and it provides for some drama for the newly introduced Wendy and plenty of initial confusion for the fans who thought Jellal was pretty much a done story. That weakened it for me a lot as it really felt like it was too soon to bring him back and use him as he really needed more time off screen before doing something like this.
The return of Fairy Tail is a very good thing and there’s plenty to like here after an eighteen month absence. With this being the start of the second season, it’s at a pretty decent starting point as we get some standalone fun to reconnect with most of the main cast and then a launch into a multi-episode storyline that puts the group in a big, difficult and dangerous place with some powerful opponents. Like most of Fairy Tail though, it has a certain lightness of spirit and depth about it so it’s not overly complicated or too dramatic, but it does have fun with things and infuses the right amount of drama to make the action scenes stick well and for the characters to have something legitimate to rally against and work towards. The smaller stories are what won me over more here overall though, but there’s plenty of standard and enjoyable Fairy Tail material in the main arc with what it deals with.
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: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: July 23rd, 2013
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.