What They Say:
The most powerful wizards in Fairy Tail travel to a remote island rich in magic—and history. There, they compete against one another to see who among them deserves to be given the title of “S-Class.” But where these wizards go, chaos is sure to follow. Their trials are interrupted when the most powerful of the dark guilds—Grimoire Heart—shows up in search of a legendary wielder of black magic. Once they find him, they’ll use his skills to bring death to every corner of the world.
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, an infamous dealer of death whose devilish plans for the future could bring an end to this golden age of magic.
The glorious action of this collection’s soundtrack on the DVD are transmitted via Dolby Stereo 2.0 for the Japanese with a subtitle track encoded at 192 kbps and Dolby Surround Sound 5.1 for English encoded at 448kbps. On the Blu-ray, they use Dolby TrueHD 2.0 for the Japanese subtitle track and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 for the English version. Either way is optimized for the Japanese language versions so that you can truly enjoy every magical explosion, grunt and crash during the battles when Natsu gets carried away in his enthusiasm. However, when you try to listen to the English versions, this is when you encounter problems.
Since the series is originally broadcast in Dolby Stereo 2.0, this also means that all of the special effects and music are in this same format. FUNimation uses these same tracks for their 5.1 English versions, but they were not remastered for the higher audio standard. As such, while the language track is recorded in a better quality, the background sounds and musical overlays are still in the lower tonal ranges. While they tried to compensate for this discrepancy by increasing the volume of those tracks, if you compare the languages by switching settings, you can clearly hear that the former is better since the 5.1 versions’ sound effects, music and sometimes even the voices are muffled. This is a shame if you wish to watch the series in English, but if you are an audiophile, the original Japanese is a better choice in this venue since everything is more equally balanced.
The video quality of this series is what makes it a step above the rest. The full range of the widescreen format is effectively used to display the dynamic fight scenes ranging from the wide open spaces of Earthland to the floating islands of Edolas. Every aspect of the visual display area is used to animate the characters as they zip from one side of the screen to the other with the aid of Happy and Charle’s wings and then crash down into a frenetic frenzy with Natsu’s fiery attacks. While they are amazing in the DVD media MPEG-1/2 video format and 720×480 resolution, for some reason, FUNimation decided to use a SD remaster for the Blu-ray (as they clearly state on the back of the case).
This is very strange since the studio broadcasts in 1080i video format and thus episodes should at least be available in that standard. And since the Blu-ray can store five times more than the DVD, storage should have not been a problem; however, the number of disks for each version is the same at four a piece with an average of seven episodes per disk. This could have been a plausible excuse for smaller set releases, but this is a collection set, so they should have had plenty of time to obtain the high definition formats. While there is not much of a noticeable difference with the pseudo HD, but it would have been nice to see the real thing. Why waste time in remastering inferior versions when FUNimation could have just as easily used the better quality?
This disk combination is enclosed within a standard Blu-ray case, then sheathed within a slipcover with Natsu and the black wizard Zeref prominently displayed on the front. But they diverted from the norm by designing both covers to appear as a grimoire, with a decorative book binding and spine. The disks are then leafed within the box to appear as pages: the DVDs have the Fairy Tail guild seal emblazed on the disks in orange while the same design repeated on the Blu-rays. Everything within the package reflects on the wizard theme of the series which just adds to the fun of the series.
The menus are a plain stone background with one of the characters colorfully displayed on the left and the regular selections on the right. Although FUNimation may have tried to make it more fanciful by using the Fairy Tail guild seal as the cursor, it really doesn’t add much to the design.
The extras of the collection is pretty standard for a FUNimation collection with textless opening songs The Rock City Boy, I Wish and Towa no Kizuna featuring Another Infinity & closing songs Don’t Think. Feel!!!, Kono Te Nobashite and Boys Be Ambitious!!, select episode commentaries by the English voice actors, U. S. trailer for the series and trailers for their other acquisitions. But the most interesting part was the mini documentary called Marketing Fairy Tail – a behind the scenes look of how the FUNimation staff uses current trends to promote the series to American audiences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
(This collection revolves around the Tenrou Island story arc, which is enclosed within episodes 97-120.)
The day has finally come, the one which all of the guild members have anticipated – the S-Class Mage Promotion Trials. Everyone has been on their best behavior, working on as many quests as they can and trying not to destroy as much property so that they will be picked for the test. And now the day has arrived for Master Makarov to announce who will be the eight participants: Natsu, Gray, Juvia, Elfman, Levy, Cana, Fried and Mest. The select group will have seven days to prepare for the trail and within that time, each is to choose a partner who would assist them during the test. When the week is over, they are to meet at the docks so they can be taken to the testing grounds, Tenrou Island, the holy ground of Fairy Tail and burial site and of the first Master – Mavis Vermilion.
Once they arrive, Makarov explains that the trials are composed of a variety of contests, set to test both mind and body and the winner must pass everything to be promoted. But it will not be easy and they will need the help of their assistant to clear the way to the next contest. However, they should not look ahead before the first trial is complete – they must navigate through the tunnels that run beneath the island; it is not as simple as it sounds for only one path is clear and the rest must be overcome before the contestant can find the exit. They will need luck as well as their skill since three of those routes are guarded by Gildarts, Erza and Mira and the others pit the groups against each other. It is now understandable why most contenders never make it to the end.
Though this time, it appears that some will make it to the next trial, but it seems that there are more than a few bumps in the road. If Tenrou Island is supposed to be a hidden location, known only by the members of Fairy Tail, then how is there a mysterious airship flying overhead? When members of Grimoire Heart start appearing all over the place and announce they are looking for someone named Zeref, everyone starts to let loose. No one will desecrate their holy land, especially when so much is on the line for the promotion trials: no supremely powerful dark wizard, no overconfident dark guild or even the Magic Council. Everyone has their own reasons for passing and some have a passion so overpowering that they go to any lengths to conquer the tests, even if it means doing what they would never imagine coming to pass – betraying a friend.
Tenrou Island is an essential keystone in the Fairy Tail mythology and this story arc introduces many plot themes which are important to the current storyline, most importantly – Zeref. Although we have heard his name sprinkled throughout since the beginning of the series, this is the first time we have seen him in the flesh. This unassuming character is supposed to be the most powerful black mage in all of Fiore, and perhaps all of Earth Land, and yet he does not project that same aura as other corrupt beings who we have seen in the series. Perhaps this is to allow others to underestimate him, but his calm demeanor is what makes him so appealing later on in the show.
However as the arc proceeds, we are given meaning of the vital role which underlies all of Fairy Tail’s philosophy: all of the members are considered family. This primary theme which is the foundation of the series becomes magnified by the conclusion of this collection, but the repercussions will still be felt until the present. Everyone has their place and though they may quibble like siblings, a parent to child or grandparent to his progeny, they are all loved by each other, not matter what happens. This is the main motif of Fairy Tail: although they may fight each other, to the cusp of wanting to attack someone anytime they may see them, it is all in the name of competition or protecting the family. There are no grudges held against the winner, even if they are the enemy, in the end they will attempt to make amends and bring them to justice or even better, let them join the guild. After all, you only fight the ones you love and if that’s the case, then the more you fight them, the more you love them! How can you not love this series with such a premise?
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Textless Songs The Rock City Boy, I Wish and Towa no Kizuna featuring Another Infinity & Closing Songs Don’t Think. Feel!!!, Kono Te Nobashite and Boys Be Ambitious!!, select episode commentaries, U. S. trailer, trailers and Marketing Fairy Tail
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: November 11th, 2015
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i mpeg-1/2 video codec/1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sharp LC-42LB261U 42” LED HDTV and Sony BDPS3200 Blu-ray player connected by HDMI