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Fairy Tail Collection 4 Anime DVD/BD Review

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Fairy Tail Collection 4 CoverBe careful when flying through strange portals … you never know what you’ll find on the other side!

What They Say:
When an unstoppable force descends upon Magnolia and Fairy Tail, the entire town is transported to Edolas, a world where magic is in short supply. There, a power-hungry kingdom plans on draining the captured guild’s magic. As Natsu and company search for their friends, they discover a parallel plane where a tough-as-nails Lucy runs a bizarro version of Fairy Tail and Erza is a ruthless enemy.

Then Edolas power-hungry monarch harnesses the power of the Dragon Slayers, igniting all-out war. But his ambition doesn’t stop there: once Natsu and his teammates are out of the picture, he’s heading to Fiore to steal all of its magic as well. Fairy Tail’s actions will decide the future of two worlds, but they’ll be lucky if they can save even one

The Review:
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 an 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 flexing his muscles and Happy perched on his forearm. 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 are pretty standard for a FUNimation collection with textless opening song Evidence – The Rock City Boy & closing song Hitori Samishiku – Don’t think. Feel!!!, select episode commentaries by the English voice actors, U. S. trailer for the series and trailers for their other acquisitions.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
(This collection of Fairy Tail episodes revolves around the Edolas story arc, which is enclosed within episodes 73-96.)

After leaving Cait Shelter for Fairy Tail, Wendy and Charle are still feeling isolated from the rest of their new guild. Although they are trying their best to fit in, her feline companion does have times when she loses her temper from the inane behavior of the other members; either their wild antics or the sheer silliness of the actions can set her off, and this is one of those times. Storming off into the afternoon rain, Wendy is hesitant on to whether to chase her down or let her cool off but finally decides on the latter. When she does find her best friend, the two try to reconcile, but are interrupted by a long lost friend, the mysterious Mystogan, but they know him by another name, Jellal.

However, this is not a happy reunion, for he has come with a dire warning: they must leave Magnolia at once. He cannot elaborate any further, aside to state that they must run away as far as possible. When they try to question him on the matter, as if in answer their plea, an ominous vortex erupts in the sky, slowly sucking in all around them and converting it to energy which is absorbed to the other side. Panic sets in and they plea to the wizard to help, but all he can do is repeat himself and tell them to flee. While the buildings disintegrate and impending doom seems all but certain, a flash of light engulfs everything and they are blinded by the brilliance. Once their eyes recover, all that can be seen now is a layer of ash, nothing is left of the city or guild they once knew. It is too late for anything now.

As sorrow begins to set in, a familiar voice is heard behind them, followed by another gasping for breath – Happy and Natsu survived. When the two dragon slayers try to determine what just happened, Charle chimes in and begin to unravel the conundrum: it was Anima. Anima is a spell that the king of Edolas created to drain all of the magic from its target so that it could be used in that parallel dimension; Edolas is a land in another realm which used to be rich in magic like Earthland, but now its inhabitants must strip it from other places to support their own devices. Puzzled by her knowledge, they try to ask her more too but all she can say is that they must enter the rift to solve all of the questions. Forced to do as Charle stated, the cats and their friends rip through the quickly closing portal into parts and lands unknown.

When they arrive on the other side, everyone quickly begins to fall and plummet to certain almost death. However, due to a soft landing on the wild terrain, the group survive and begin to survey their surroundings. Nothing is as it was at home in this odd place called Edolas – all of the land is composed of floating islands and the rivers curve their way through the air. And if that wasn’t strange enough, no one can use or has any more magic! While they wander and try to get over their stunned state, they arrive at a strange building, with a familiar symbol emblazed on a banner – Fairy Tail. Charle reminds them that this is not Earthland and to remember that whoever they meet, they might not be like those whom they know. As the door opens, the shock as to the characters inside become the least of their worries.

In Summary:
This story arc is one of my favorite in the series – the gang’s adventures in the land of Edolas! As if the show isn’t funny enough with all of Natsu’s wild, over the top antics, but to add the premise that everyone in Fairy Tail has their own doppelganger in this parallel dimension makes it even more hilarious. Seeing a timid Natsu being harassed by an obnoxious Lucy, Elfman is a crybaby instead of the intense man’s man and worst of all, Erza is now on the side of the enemy, relentlessly hunting down any renegade wizards. This juxtaposition of characters we have grown to love over the years is now replaced by people who look familiar, but the flip in their personalities makes us want to watch the show even more.

And to give us another bonus, we finally get to learn more about Happy and Charle’s background. The condition that we assumed they both were born in Earthland and is now replaced by the shock of their race originated in this foreign land. Then to amplify the effect that their people are the ones who actually rule over Edolas makes everything fall into place once they are introduced. This plot twist makes some of the injustices more manageable, but to see it all in action gives the arc more emotional emphasis than the normal Fairy Tail story. Then to give us one more gift, series creator Hiro Mashima pushes our feelings even more with the return of an old friend. Who could ask for anything more in an anime than laughter, overwhelming battle scenes and tears aplenty? This is what makes this show such a pleasure and joy to watch.

Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Episode commentaries, textless opening song Evidence – The Rock City Boy & closing song Hitori Samishiku – Don’t think. Feel!!!, U.S. Trailer and Trailers

Content Grade: A+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: June 6th, 2015
MSRP: $54.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i mpeg-1/2 video codec/1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 16:9

Review Equipment:
Sharp LC-42LB261U 42” LED HDTV and Sony BDPS3200 Blu-ray player connected by HDMI

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