What They Say:
The Grand Magic Games is a yearly competition that pits guild against guild in a weeklong battle for the honor of being called the most powerful wizards in the Fiore Kingdom. Fairy Tail may have come in last place for the past seven tournaments, but now that all their strongest members are back in action – and leveled-up – they’re determined to take the number one spot and rebuild their reputation!
Winning the games won’t be easy, though, as Natsu and his selected teammates are forced to navigate enchanted labyrinths, battle wizard saints, and go head-to-head with a host of familiar faces. But with more than one guild targeting Fairy Tail before the competition even begins, the guildmates will be lucky if they even make it out of the opening ceremonies alive.
Contains episodes 154-164.
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 Laxus for this cover, with lots of crackling energy around him that definitely makes it feel alive. The back of the slipcover is the same as the keepcase cover 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, this one doing a nice pairing of Erza and Jellal.
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 continue to be pretty nicely done overall, particularly for English language fans, as we get a couple more cast commentary pieces for select episodes. There’s also the include of the clean opening and closing sequences where appropriate. This one also gives us something else original as we get a bit of time with Cherami Leigh as she talks about her role as Lucy and what’s involved there, which is always fun to see since there’s plenty of material for the character after this many episodes.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As I’ve noted a few times over the course of this series, Fairy Tail has its structure and it definitely likes to work it. That’s not a bad thing once you accept it and work with it because what you get is something that’s familiar but fun and it allows for incremental growth alongside the silliness and weirdness of the fights that it puts together. After the seven year absence, getting the Fairy Tail crew back on top once again is a natural focus, though I do admit to wishing they spent a lot more time dealing with the fallout of being gone so long. Seeing them deal with some of it worked well, though everything eventually turned towards the Magic Games, which was made more difficult by being in the other dimension for a day that turned into three months on the outside.
That’s left the crew without the ability to really train well, making them fearful that they’ll get their butts handed to them when the games do start. What’s nicely done though is that they end up mixing things up with a mysterious group known as Crime Sorcerie. It turns out that they’re a bit known by the Fairy Tail gang as it’s actually something that Jellal has put together in order to right the wrongs he’s done over the years. With them being an unofficial guild of three, they’re not aligned with light or dark and they can pursue the dark ones without crossing the rules, attempting to put a stop to the evil before it gets to be too much. Its a good bit of evolution for Jellal and it makes sense, though there’s a little complication with Erza as the potential for a relationship is there but he’s intent, foolishly enough, in focusing on just his task with this group. What he also brings to the table is a quick way for them to boost their level and train, but that’s all just the cheap trick to move things along ahead of he Magic Games themselves.
That event, held in Crocus, becomes the focus of ten of the eleven episodes on this set. Which, again, is no surprise. The team’s arrival there is one that lets them enjoy the sounds and sights of the city a bit, spend some fun hanging out together and mostly just getting ready before the trick of it all begins. With Wendy and Charle off missing, the gang can’t look for them as they need to be in a certain location at midnight, and that forces the team to have Elfman as their backup member in the forefront. With over a hundred guilds participating, the fear of a sprawling contest is quickly put to rest as the organization running the games has a creative solution to whittling it down to eight teams. The preliminary round has a massive free for all of sorts with minor goals involved that has them searching for objects, opponents and more in a topsy turvy sphere world. It’s surprisingly quick overall how they whittle it down, but it shows off the levels of magic involved with the other teams and it settles us to our expected leaders, including a few smaller ones getting their due. Naturally, Fairy Tail kind of kicks the rules around and ends up with two teams making it past the preliminaries.
And this, for better or worse, is what this set is all about. While we get a mild tease of some other group in the midst of things that’s searching for certain members of Fairy Tail, that’s maybe five minutes out of nine episodes of material. The rest of it is the various pairings and fight sequences as the competitors are put up against each other over the first two days of the Games. Some of it is definitely interesting, such as the Hidden round which has players mixed into a sea of copies where taking out opponents gets you points, but you lose points if attacked yourself. A lot of what we get as it goes on is just showing off various guilds that are involved and some side bets along the way. Sabertooth shows off its ability well, which is why it’s earned the best of the best title that it has, but others are doing fairly well too and have their own moments. Naturally, both Fairy Tail teams continue to suck throughout the matches and barely have any points, especially in comparison to the other teams, by the end of this set.
The matches aren’t anything out of this world, but the pairings are decent and the use of magic gets fairly creative at times. There’s a good segment where there’s another Zodiac member and Lucy gets intrigued over their use of a mysterious thirteenth key that nobody has seen before. We also get an extended episode involving Mira, who goes up against another woman that has taken over the title of the sexiest wizard. The two actually engage in a glamor battle where the loser will appear naked for a pictorial in Sorcerer’s Weekly. That has everyone conflicted about who should win, but it also ups the fanservice ante significantly as we get other women from the various teams participating in order to prove that they’re sexy too. Suffice to say, it’s a massive fanservice mindshare grab that most fans aren’t either surprised by nor displeased by in the end.
With one more set after this bringing us to the end of the first series, the Magic Games moves right along here overall and it’s a fair bit of fun. There’s nothing mindblowing or game changing when you get down to it, but we get to work with a wide range of characters that are playing in it. The opening material with Jellal was pretty much my favorite of the set because it shows a change and evolution in the character. But I also like the simple fun and enjoyment that you get from the fighting arcs of the series. Especially ones like this where there’s not huge world-ending event at play that makes it more serious than it needs to be. While Fairy Tail wants to come out on top, they’re also having fun along the way and that makes all the difference here.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Being Lucy: with Cherami Leigh, Episode Commentary (157, 163), Textless Opening and Closing
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: December 2nd, 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.