What They Say:
The masters of magic have converged on a remote island, where Natsu and his teammates go head-to-head with Grimoire Heart, a dark guild led by one of Fairy Tail’s former masters. Revelations from the past and long-buried secrets continue to come to light as Cana is granted a sacred new spell, and an excommunicated guildmate makes an unexpected return.
If Fairy Tail has any hope of defeating their diabolical opponents, they’re going to have to combine all their powers and work together like never before. But as curses start to fly between wizards, the real danger might come from Zeref, a legendary dealer of death whose devilish plans for the future could bring an end to this golden age of magic.
Contains episodes 109-120.
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 2012, 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, 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 as we get a split that shows off Gray on the top and Ultear on the bottom, both of which are very serious in nature. The back of the slipcover is the same as the keepcase cover, though darker, as it shows off the core cast of the series together in a bright piece 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. 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 left side has a really cute shot of Charle while the right has Juvia in action.
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. We also get an interesting new extra this time around that’s about the marketing of the series, which brings in some of the FUNimation marketing/brand management side to talk about it. While it has a number of clips within, it clocks in at twenty minutes and is a fun listen.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the way a Fairy Tail arc works, it’s pretty easy to figure out how things are going to go. The previous installment had its fluff and then it moved firmly into the Grimoire Heart material, which took us to an island so that things could be handled out of the way a bit, but still being observed by some of those that consider themselves the watchkeepers of the world. Pitting the two guilds against each other is a pretty solid thing to work with, especially since there’s some hidden connections that are unearthed a bit in this part of the storyline, as it all comes together with a lot of action and plenty of character fun. So much so in fact that the twelve episodes contained in this set is pretty much all action and all related to this storyline. The final moments just set up for the next arc itself, so we get a lot of material here that does what Fairy Tail does best.
And lots of it. With the two guilds going at it, things are spread across the island as various pairings have formed up to go against each other. Most of it is pretty standard stuff with only a few hints at other things, such as Ezra’s opponent claiming to be of the same race as her. But that’s pretty mild an uninteresting, especially when we see a lot of time spent with Ezra thinking about all her other “combat uniforms” that may work better in a fight, which are all pretty much fetish driven. Her character has always been a little off but that’s even more so these days as she’s sillier and not quite so serious when it comes to how she views things. That’s made her a lot of fun at the same time, particularly since she doesn’t realize she’s being silly and it’s often done outside of the view of the other Fairy Tail guild members.
Similarly, we get some good time with Lucy and her opponent, an oversized guy who has his own goals of going up in ranking in power. With his ability to transform his body into different substances while also having a voodoo doll that he can use to take down his opponents, it’s all comedy with him in a kind of goofy way that’s just slightly past borderline obnoxious. But that obnoxious behavior works because it really gets to Lucy, who has to use all of her astrological magical aspects to try and take him down but fails repeatedly. There’s a lot of physical comedy with this that goes into play and it gets even worse when Natsu eventually shows up and we see him not quite understanding the situation, which works to poor effect for both him and Lucy. Lucy in particular continues to be a favorite for me because she’s just so upbeat and always trying while failing regularly that I can’t help but to root for her and situations like this just reinforce that all the more.
The show does play to some serious material as well, since they are involved in a pretty serious fight between guilds. There are a couple of areas it plays out, but my favorite works with Ultear herself as she goes up against Gray with a whole lot of anger and hate in her heart over her mother, Ur, and what happened between them. Admittedly, this does go into flashback material to Young Ultear as we see how she had been placed with a group of magical researchers that were trying to understand her significant abilities and that kind of isolation, pain and hardship she suffered there over her mother abandoning her to them. Which was made even worse when she escaped for awhile and actually found her mother, only to see that she had taken in a couple of young boys to raise. It’s easy to imagine that turning the wheels in her mind to “I’ll show her,”, which is a huge part of her motivation here. I really came to like Ultear more as it went on and as we got the truth of the past that a child couldn’t know or realize since some bad things went down and she actually becomes a character that I’d really like to see more of.
Naturally, things have to go big since one of the aspects of what Grimoire Heart is doing here is towards bringing Zeref back and introducing a true Grand Magical World that will fix “everything” that they want fixed. That sets the guild, as they deal with their smaller fights, towards going after Hades. Hades gets some decent time towards the end of the arc that reveals more of his past and its connection to the Fairy Tail guild, which actually works nicely, but it also leads to some powerful fights. What drives it well for me is that it uses Gildarts very well – with a subplot involving Cana that was adorable – as well as bringing in Laxus to participate in it. He actually stands out really well here as he intends to push Hades down, but not out, because he knows it’s a Fairy Tail issue and that the guild, either through Natsu or as a whole, must deal with. And that leads to some of the big and expected fights towards the end when the stakes are suitably raised, even though you know nobody will end up really hurt.
Predictable Fairy Tail is Predictable Fairy Tail but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work. Having missed the ninth installment (and getting this one late), I was a bit out of the loop going into it. But the show works its accessibility factor so well that you can ease into the middle of an arc and figure it out quickly, enjoy it and see the bigger picture of what’s going on here. With the Zeref angle working more in the background but it’s importance not understated, it hits some good seed planting there that Fairy Tail usually doesn’t do. With the main fights, which is what dominates this set, it does it well. It’s bright, colorful, fun and dangerous at the same time and it works the characters abilities and personalities in a great way. It continues to be a thoroughly enjoyable show, even if just a little more superficial than it needs to be, and it makes no real bones about what it is. It’s a classic kind of fantasy/magic adventure romp and it delights me set after set.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary Tracks, Clean Openings, Clean Closings, Marketing Fairy Tail
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: May 20th, 2014
Running Time: 300 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.