When a world threatening artifact surfaces, the Fairy Tail gang is intimately involved.
What They Say:
Follow Fairy Tail’s dream team – Natsu, Gray, Erza, Lucy, Wendy, Happy, and Carla – as they lend a helping hand to a girl with little memory and a grudge against wizards. As they uncover clues about her mysterious past, a lunatic prince hatches a half-baked plan to sacrifice her in exchange for immortality. When the fool unleashes an ancient force, a raging war becomes the fiercest inferno Fairy Tail has ever faced. Can the guild with a heart of gold save the planet from a fiery finish?
The audio presentation for this release is quite good as we get the original Japanese language in 5.1 since it was a theatrical release as well as the English language dub, which gets the same treatment, both of which are encoded in Dolby TrueHD. The feature has a good mix overall as it works through the material as the action aspects of it is what really stands out. When the final battle for example plays out, there’s a lot of movement around the surround speakers. The bass even picks up nicely in these areas which is a nice change of pace. Dialogue is pretty well placed throughout as well which gives it some good depth at times since there are a few people on screen at any given time. The mix in general is a solid one for a film, though it may not stand out compared to some others, but it does it well and comes across clean and clear throughout without any dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally in theaters in 2012, the transfer for this feature film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. While it holds to what we’ve seen in the TV series in terms of designs, the film bumps it up nicely here with detail, color quality and the level of fluid animation that definitely makes it higher quality. The look of the transfer captures it all very well here as the colors are rich and solid throughout, the level of detail in the designs and backgrounds is spot on and the very fluid and active areas come across beautifully. It’s a smooth looking and solid transfer that definitely makes it an engaging viewing experience. With just the feature and a handful of extras, there’s plenty of space to work with and it looks great.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that’s a bit uncommon in that it’s a black case, which looks quite good here with the artwork. The case comes with a slipcover that replicates the case artwork but it’s done with some foil to it that brings the flame colors in the background out in a great way. The front cover features a lot of character artwork that comes together well with a good bit of detail even if it is a bit predictable with the layout. It’s what you’d get with a feature like this that works with a good bit of the cast. The back cover uses the same design as the TV series releases with the logo along the top, a brief bit of the premise and a few shots from the show. There’s also some good character artwork of Eclair and Lucy together which gets a bit of the foil treatment with Natsu. The extras are fairly clearly listed and we get a good technical grid that breaks down everything well with the two formats included. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
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 pretty good across the board as we get a little something for everyone. The release comes with the prequel special that runs about twelve minutes that focuses on Eclair’s past a bit and we also get the clean opening and closing sequences for the film.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having enjoyed a good chunk of the TV series so far, I was looking forward to the Phoenix Princess movie to see what they’d do here. Movies coming off of long running properties tend to focus on standalone tales and this one is no exception, though it does work pretty well overall. Like most of these kinds of features, it brings in a new character or two to deal with and wraps it all up in the end. While that could make things a bit bland in a way, the story here manages to work well and it also manages to look fantastic thanks to the work A-1 Pictures puts into it as the designs are strong, the big action sequences definitely stand out and the overall depth and detail of the film allows it to stand strong against other films while still feeling like it’s firmly a part of the TV series continuity.
The premise of the film is pretty simple overall as we get introduced to a young woman named Eclair who has lost her memory. This all comes after the initial bout of fun in seeing Fairy Tail members screwing up a job of course, providing us some lightness before things get serious. With Lucy feeling bad for having failed at the job, helping a young woman she stumbles across helps to give her focus, but it also pushes her towards the big adventure. All Eclair knows is that she has to take the mysterious Phoenix Stone half that she has to a wizard named Kalard, which is deep in the dark and dangerous Boundary Forest. She doesn’t know what the stone is for, though that changes as time progresses, but she knows that it’s something that she absolutely has to do based on what happened in the past to her village, which was destroyed because of it. Something that we see in the prologue but that she discovers as her memories surface across the film.
While there’s the mission side of it that gets underway, it’s compounded by the fact that someone wants the Phoenix Stone that Eclair has. It turns out that she has half of the stone and the ruler of Victoria has the other half. And he wants it since if he brings it together at the right time with the right ceremony, he’ll be able to revive the phoenix and grant himself immortality. So with a group out there trying to hunt her down, it gets Fairy Tail drawn in all the more easily since the attackers essentially trash the Fairy Tail guild. Which, sadly, seems to happen all too often as the place gets turned into junk more than you’d expect. But it does make for some good if easy motivation and seeing the small group that rallies around her with some but not all of the regulars is good. Even if it does keep with a small side story about Ezra and wedding dresses which is pretty cute in the couple of stages it hits.
Because of the nature of the film, it’s pretty predictable about where it’s going to go and how it’s going to get there. There really aren’t any surprises, though I liked the small twist we get when it comes to Eclair’s past that helps to make her overall role a bit more interesting and I didn’t expect it. But beyond this, you can plot out the film early enough once you get past the initial prologue pieces for both Eclair and the Fairy Tail group themselves. With the Fairy Tail group themselves, the only big bit of material that really comes with it is the way that Lucy just so completely bonds with Eclair that she takes it very emotionally with what’s involved in helping her and the situation overall. It’s not out of character for Lucy when you get down to it and even though it’s a bit dramatic, it does fit with her and her experiences as we’ve seen in the series so far.
Movies for long running properties don’t exactly make me nervous, but they do generally leave me with a feeling where I know it’s not going to do a heck of a lot in terms of impact. Phoenix Princess pretty much follows that pattern here with what it does as we get a fun adventure where everything is wrapped up neatly, though not in an entirely positive way. We get a bit of an expansion on how the Council deals with a large threat, which we’ve gotten a taste of in the series as well, but it has a good sense of urgency here that definitely hits some good notes. I like the concept of the Phoenix Stone and what they do with it and Eclair definitely manages to pull the role off well here, particularly when tied to Lucy. It’s a fun movie that doesn’t impact things as you’d expect, but it certainly entertains.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Prologue movie, Clean opening, Clean closing
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: December 10th, 2013
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 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.