What They Say:
Oración Seis has kidnapped Lucy and is using her to power a clock capable of spreading catastrophic magic cross the world. If Fairy Tail doesn’t stop the dark guild, the entire Fiore Kingdom will fall into a waking nightmare and their teammate will merge with the enchanted timepiece forever. But Oración Seis isn’t the only group of wizards standing in their way: the Legion Platoon has decided that to save the world, they’ll destroy the magic clock—and Lucy. While Fairy Tail fights with all their power to rescue their teammate, the truth about Michelle comes to light and a devastating deception is exposed. When the clock begins to chime reality descends into chaos, and in the end Natsu and his fellow wizards might be too late.
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. 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 two of the characters from the Sabertooth guild here. It’s a surprising choice since they’re barely in the last couple of episodes whereas most of the set focuses on others. The back of the slipcover is the same as the keepcase cover, though darker, as it shows off additional character artwork 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 some additional character artwork on the other side.
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. The other extra included here is a twelve minute piece with Fairy Tail Feud: With Todd Haberkorn and Newton Pittman. It essentially just lets the two of them sit down and riff on the show and characters and have some fun with it, including a little arm wrestling along the way. For fans of the voice actor, it’s definitely a fun if odd little piece.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Over three sets, Fairy Tail has worked the Infinity Clock storyline in different phases. We got the initial piece in coping with the guild coming out of seven years of being stuck in time and having Lucy discover that her father had died. That in turn got her to see the Key to the Starry Heavens book which lead her to thinking about the clock pieces in it which they then started going after. That had the Legion Platoon going after them to get it for Cardinal Lapointe at Zentropia. And then we get the big fight over it as the pieces are brought together, the truths revealed and a whole lot of chaos coming out of it. It’s worked a lot of episodes, but it’s also mostly done it in a way that works to the shows strength of the action and wacky magic continuity.
For better or worse, depending on what you want out of Fairy Tail, the bulk of this set of eleven episodes focuses on the final act of the Infinity Clock arc. We saw before a lot of the encounters between the guild and Legion Platoon that has helped to reinforce that neither side is truly bad and that’s helped a few of them to start to come together as they realize the real danger of the clock itself. Some are more open to helping, like Coco, while others like Byro are adamant that the Cardinal’s instructions must be followed as they’re indebted to him and the church for so many years. It’s a decent mix of characters and interactions that follow, especially as you get some built up fights that come to the forefront, such as with Natsu and Byro and a few other quirks as well. The dynamic that we get is certainly familiar in just about all of the main arcs of the series that involves a large chunk of the cast.
What’s also not a surprise, but rather fun, is that the Infinity Clock itself is brought together with all of its pieces. That transformation of the clock into its final mode is kind of comical as it’s a giant floating steampunk-ish fish that’s flying in the sky. But what it does is what messes things up in a fun way too as it causes reality to get mixed up. The idea behind its creation of chaos is that it scrambles the order of peoples memories so they’re not growing in the right way. When people lose some of their key growth memories, the things that shaped them, they become all out of whack. There are some weird bits that come into play with it, especially when some of them change their look and form a lot, but it’s the kind of event that really reinforces the threat of the Clock and that helps to get more of the Legion Platoon on their side. As well as some of those in the church, once that realize that Cardinal Lapointe is deceiving them.
This arc also brings out a bit of material that was touched upon in the past set of episodes with regards to Neville in the past and what he was doing there in relation to the Clock and why he hid its pieces. There are some neat bits of back story here, not that Fairy Tail really delves into it in a deep way, but working with a generational aspect where descendants are trying to finish and fix things that he had started works well to give it a bit of a grander scale, especially with those that were put into stasis for many years. Additionally, this helps to expand the role that Lucy’s father had in all of this as we see how one of Neville’s direct descendants got involved with him in hiding one of the key pieces of the Clock all these years. It helps to ease some of Lucy’s issues in regards to her father and her loss of him in general and to reinforce that he did do a lot of very good things over the years, even if she didn’t realize it until now.
Lucy also gets a pretty good arc across this volume. While she spends part of the time attached to the liquid side of the Clock and starting into a coma of sorts, she also gets to work through some of her past when it comes to Michelle. There’s an odd story here about it as we see it play out, partially since we see early in this set the real Michelle Lobster being freed after being held in secret by Lapointe. That the Michelle we’ve been with isn’t the real Michelle isn’t too much of a surprise, but who she really is definitely provides for an interesting angle. Taking it back to the past, and cementing things with Jude and even Layla a bit, we see how she was a favorite doll of Lucy’s that was discarded over the years after her mother died. Taking the form of Imitatia in the present, she’s a conflicted character that adds a little more chaos to the arc. There’s a lot of back and forth until the real character underneath surfaces and we see some of the foundation aspects, but when looked at it in full it definitely works quite well. It mostly left me wondering where the real Michelle will end up though. But I liked seeing the closure for Imitatia’s arc and how Lucy comes to terms with it.
The show also spends some time with a couple of episodes afterwards that has the gang dealing with their new reality. With the Guild being the lowest ranked in Fiore after being away for seven years and having a lot of low rung wizards there, the Sabertooth guild is now the tops and they’re looking to reinforce that at the upcoming Magic Games coming up in three months. With some comical musical chairs as to who will lead the guild, we end up going into the idea of heavy training and then hitting the games so they can come out on top themselves. Naturally, some of that training is at the beach and we get a lot of really fun fanservice and silliness, which also leads into some good stuff with her celestial magic by spending some time there. There are cute bits and quirks along the way, but I like the way the guild continues to show their bonds well and work hard towards getting back on top.
The series brings the Infinity Clock arc to a close with a lot of chaos, silliness and magical action that should please most fans. The arc went on surprisingly long when you look at the big picture aspect of it, but the end results are pretty good. We get most of our focus on Lucy, which again is no surprise, and that helps to at least provide a little emotional and character weight to the seven year gap and what’s happened during it. The guest characters for the arc are decent but largely forgettable, but they served it well and had their moments. The next arc gets underway here and it’s certainly looking like the Sabertooth guild will be a darker one to work with, and there’s also the issues waiting in the wings when it comes to the Council that’s not terribly pleased that this guild and these particular people are back in action. Getting both this and the previous set together at the same time definitely helped to make the arc a lot more enjoyable as the flow of it really worked and kept me wanting to see more. But I’m pretty sure that this is a show that I could just work through easily set after set after set from start to finish for its first series.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary Tracks, Clean Openings, Clean Closings, Fairy Tail Feud: With Todd Haberkorn and Newton Pittman
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: October 28th, 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.