Silliness and sadness abounds.
What They Say:
When a mighty dragon attacks, Fairy Tail’s most powerful members go missing for seven years. Once they finally return, they find that much about the Fiore Kingdom – and their guildmates – has changed. With the guild’s headquarters and reputation in shambles, it’s up to Natsu and the others to get Fairy Tail back to its former glory by accepting any jobs that come their way – like being dancing guards at a fancy magic ball and taking on the infamous Butt Jiggle Gang.
Meanwhile, a mysterious girl appears with a strange item from Lucy’s father – a relic that a secret order of wizards will stop at nothing to obtain. Will this artifact ultimately prove to be Fairy Tail’s undoing?
Contains episodes 121-131
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 eleven episodes for this set are spread across two discs with nine on the first and two 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 5 mbps 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 the pairing of Lucy and her sister together which has some admitted fanservice to it but has such an appealing design that you have to smile at it. 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 as well as a really cute shot of Charle while the right has a full panel image of Natsu and Happy together.
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 fun of being a voice actor with a twelve minute piece focusing on Todd Haberkorn both hard at work and at Otakon.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Fairy Tail in its previous set spent pretty much all of its time on action. And while that is a problem with some shows, I have to admit that it works for me. There’s a devil may care aspect to the show when it comes to its internal logic where while there are rules, they’re easily bent, ignored and just plain abused if it will make for some cool scenes. There’s a very nonsensical nature to the realm of magic here and that, surprisingly enough, makes it more enjoyable than I would have guessed. I’m still not heavily invested in the cast, and this set kind of reinforces why, but I do find myself continually looking forward to their adventures. They find a decent balance between the big arcs and the standalone material while also building the overall narrative, so even knowing going into this set of just eleven episodes that it would be kind of minimal, there’s still a whole lot to enjoy.
The battle on Tenrou Island has two main fallout pieces to it. The first, and larger looming impact aspect, is that Zeref has finally gotten all of himself together and is rather displeased by all that had happened in the attempts to resurrect him. Which is really amusing since he basically says that all those stories of what to do were just lies and fallacies others threw up over the years rather than anything grounded in reality itself. We only get a little time with him and those that survived against Fairy Tail on the island, but it’s done as a way to set up his larger plans now that he’s back and fully on track once again. You do get a good sense of power out of him – as well as control – and that he’s essentially a no nonsense kind of guy. I’m hopeful that we’ll see some of his plans come to fruition in a good way, though I’ll admit that I’d rather it be later rather than sooner.
The other main fallout piece to the story involves the Fairy Tail group themselves. Through the nature of the battle and what happened at the end with the island itself, the First Master of Fairy Tail used all of her magic from beyond to save everyone. But saving everyone meant putting them all into a form of stasis for seven years until they could be found, awakened and rescued. So, for them, hardly any time at all has passed. In the rest of the world, seven years has gone by. That’s an angle that can work in some really neat ways, but outside of one or two main focuses, it’s pretty weak. And that’s unfortunate since it has so much potential to give the characters something meaty to chew on. The weaker of the two aspects is that without all the high powered guild members, the place has fallen significantly over the years and is now outside of the city and being roughed up and shaken down by a group of punks from another guild. It’s all settled quickly, but we get to see how the guild has fallen and scraped by with a bit of hope that Markov and all the others would return some day. It could have delved into things a lot more, but the main takeaway for me is that they easily aged up Romeo for it so he can be a bit more involved now. Beyond that… so many missed opportunities.
Where the show deals well with the time gap problem is with Lucy. While most everyone else just kind of shrugs and goes on with their lives, we see her going back to her apartment and discovering that it’s been well maintained, though the landlady has absconded with all her clothes and wears them – badly. There’s also presents there from the past seven years as delivered by her father as he continues to try and make amends for his ways. What makes all of this hard is that with the arrival of her sister as well with a peculiar gift that factors in later, she learns that her father died a month ago. And that really hits her hard as she was hopeful of finding a way to really mend things and have a good relationship with him. Natsu and Happy get caught up in it a bit as well, but they can be only so empathetic about it. For Lucy, we see some decent closure put into play here and a little bit of growing up for her. But it’s also the only character from the group that feels like she really suffered a loss here.
Naturally, a set like this focuses a lot on the single episode stories as it gets past all the drama and there’s fun to be had here. I really enjoyed the simplicity of the episodes focusing on Lucy being invisible and then discovering that the longer she’s invisible, the more likely she’s going to disappear permanently and people will forget about her. There’s also a really fun episode focusing on ballroom dancing that the guild as a whole seems to get involved with for a job and watching Erza totally get into it is a hoot, never mind a chance for everyone to get all dressed up and really strut and enjoy themselves. We also get a really, really awkward episode where Natsu, Lucy and Wendy take a job guarding stuff on a train only to be assaulted by the Butt Jiggle Group criminals. And yes, it’s as awful as it sounds. And even more awful in that the highlight was Wendy wearing a skintight catsuit with some mildly cringe inducing fanservice angles.
I continue to enjoy Fairy Tail but I’ll still easily admit that it’s a very superficial show. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. When it does focus a little more seriously it can do some good things, much as we see here with Lucy realizing what she’s lost following the time leap, but for the most part this set is focused on the fun. There’s a number of standalone stories in the middle of all of this where the initial focus is on the closure of what happened before while the end starts hinting at the larger fight to come that will be very personal for Lucy. It handles the three main areas it wants to work with well and I had a lot of fun with the standalone stories once again. It’s light, fun and very enjoyable with a very brisk and engaging pace.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary Tracks, Clean Openings, Clean Closings, Todd Haberkorn at Otakon
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: July 15th, 2014
Running Time: 275 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.