What They Say:
After Fairy Tail makes a triumphant return to Magnolia, it’s back to business as usual. The guild starts taking on some seriously odd jobs and gets a sneak peek into the daily goings-on of the Sabertooth Guild – but when something strange starts happening to one of their own, it’s a sure sign that things are about to get serious.
Lucy begins having trouble summoning her celestial spirits, and when they finally appear, they’ve transformed into opposite versions of themselves with no memories of her. When the angry spirits demand their freedom at any cost – even death – it’s up to the guild to enter a series of unusual battles to seal them away until the mystery of what’s gone wrong in the Celestial Spirit World can be sorted out. From an epic dance battle between Gray and Cancer, to Lucy trying to escape a sadistic Virgo – it’s up to Fairy Tail to save the celestial world from itself.
Part 18 contains episodes 200-212 of Fairy Tail on Blu-ray and DVD.
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 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes for this set are spread across two discs with nine 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. While character designs have changed slightly due to a studio change, the end result is a show that generally looks good but also manages its budget well. 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.
FUNimation continues to do things up well 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 good image of LAxus in his usual attire looking all serious with the crackling of electricity about him. It’s not a huge investment piece, but I’m glad to see the character get his due. 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 and the black text on the gray background works pretty well. 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 which almost looks photorealistic at first glance with how utterly beautiful it is.
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 a 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 another cast commentary pieces for two episodes. There’s also the inclusion of the clean opening and closing sequences where appropriate, which this time around accounts for something like seven different sequences overall. This one also gives us something else original as we get a new a couple minute clip look at the Quatro Cerberus guild. It’s not a bad thing per se, but it lacks something to really make it feel like its own piece.
Fairy Tail brought the Grand Magic Games to a close the last time around and after a whole lot of big action, it was no surprise to get a simple epilogue episode to wrap things up. As is fairly standard with this series, that means what we get now is a shift to some shorter standalone tales before digging into the next big arc, which is one that really does feel a bit weak and simplistic as opposed to the kind of expansive and rich stories we’ve had recently. That said, there’s still a lot of fun to be had because the core idea behind this series is that it’s just a fighting show with some crazy characters, abilities, and interactions that helps to bind it all together. And in a few cute critters along the way with the Exceeds and it’s like printing money for everyone.
The time after the Games is one that has our characters making their way back home to the Guild though they don’t all return together. In fact, there’s a lot of splits that happen here as most go in very different directions to pursue own goals. That allows us to narrow down the cast a bit with just a smaller group taking the carriage back home, which of course means that the trip to Magnolia is a true pain for Natsu since he can’t handle travel. This inability is a surprisingly recurring gag in this set and it’s one that does allow for some nice if predictable humor along the way. Natsu’s consistency is one of its stronger points at times because you know how he’s going to act and its reassuring. That, in fact, is something that most of the characters have going for them. It may limit their growth, but we’ve already seen – especially after the time jump element – that character growth isn’t a thing to be dealt with here.
While the Guild was in poor shape prior to the Games, their win has certainly elevated their status – back to where it was years ago before the time leap. The mayor has now had their guildhall rebuilt and it even has a pool, which provides for some far too brief swimsuit scenes and fun. If there’s a show that needed to spend a full episode on such antics, it’s Fairy Tail. But, of course, they don’t. We do get to reconnect with everyone through this and it also allows us to get a little montage material as Lucy learns where so many of their fellow members are, having taken all sorts of jobs and headed off to deal with it. They’re cute and fun, from Erza’s massive digging mission to see Gray and Juvia using their ice abilities to help cool down a small town that has been reduced to swimsuits all the time because of the heightened heat levels.
The show even spends nearly an entire episode dealing with Frosch, who has wandered off and gotten lost. This is actually a cuter episode than I expected as I’m really, really, hit or miss when it comes to the Exceeds outside of Happy and sometimes Charle. Frosch, in her pink frog costume, doesn’t click for me for the most part yet I liked seeing how everyone was trying to quietly help her find her way back all while she just enjoys her time out there in the world. It’s a cute tale that lets the Saber Tooth gang get a bit more time in the spotlight and it actually made me like Frosch for a bit.
Where the show wants to go in its second half with its larger storyline that continues into the next set is one that involves Lucy and the Zodiac spirits again. With some weather problems cropping up more and more in the area, it makes sense for Lucy to try and figure it out with the Celestials since they’re tightly attuned to it all. What ends up happening is that they discover that they’re not responding to her at all and others connected to the celestial world are finding the same thing. This gets them to journey there to figure out what’s going on, only to discover that Loke has orchestrated an event to try and secure the celestial’s freedom from the wizards so they can live their lives as they see fit. It’s not a bad concept, but it’s the standard drawn out piece here that gets underway all while never really connecting with Loke. The Zodiac spirits certainly have their own reasons to want this, but it’s made worse by their minds being altered and personalities twisted so they don’t know Lucy and are just acting out. Removing that connection to her weakens it though since they’re not actively acting on their own.
What we end up with is, for better or worse, standard Fairy Tail material and shenanigans. The cast involved gets split a few different ways to deal with Loke and the various Zodiac’s that are now “working” for him. Some of it really doesn’t work, such as Levy being in a ten question quiz show trap for far too many episodes that just slows the narrative down, to something a bit better with a battle-card game that Cana gets to operate. This mostly works because she’s not a fully fleshed out character and I liked seeing how she handled the situation with the various cards and what they present, especially when she gets to summer a version of her father in small-form. The dynamic between the two of them certainly made me laugh and I actually liked the action dynamics of it as well. Natsu and Lucy have their moments throughout this as well though I just felt like their roles were reduced and without a clear and present vision of what they needed to do, especially since so much of it revolves around Lucy’s celestials.
At this stage of the game, Fairy Tail fans know the drill. I certainly know it even though I keep waffling on where I stand with the property. I find myself mostly enjoying the standalone material more than the arcs, but it’s simply because the arcs continue to lack any real weight that feels like it carries through to anything. This set has some very fun standalone pieces while it seeds some of what’s to come and the celestial arc that kicks off – but does not complete – with this set lets some of the supporting cast get their time in the spotlight to good effect. I just found myself wanting more Lucy material, however. At least we get some tickle-torture scenes and strange material with her being covered by watermelon seeds. It… uh, makes sense. I promise.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Audio Commentary, Guild Pride: Quatro Cerberus, Textless Openings and Closings
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: December 1st, 2015
Running Time: 325 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.