What They Say:
The Grand Magic Games come to an explosive end as the Eclipse Gate opens and the unthinkable happens. Dragons emerge from the gate bent on destroying everything in their path. Dragon slayers will be tested to their very limits and the guilds must band together to fight the most difficult battle they’ve ever faced – unexpected allies appear, and one mage makes the ultimate sacrifice to turn the tide for the mages. Who is behind the rampaging dragons and what is the dire message he brings? Will what was fated come to pass, or will Natsu burn the terrible prediction to ashes?
Contains episodes 188-199 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 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. 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 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 a decent image of Erza in a ninja-style kimono here to make sure we get a look at her through the fanservice prism. 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, this one going for a lavishly painted visual design.
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 one episode. 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 new a six-minute clip look at the Mermaid Heel guild. It’s not a bad thing per se, but it lacks something to really make it feel like its own piece.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having missed the previous set that was where the “Second Series” for Fairy Tail got underway, I was curious as to how this one would work. And then I remembered that with Fairy Tail they work the extended arcs pretty well and catching up is easy to do. The new series, which is continued here in episode number and volume numbering from the first rather than restarting, brought in a new animation studio to work on it while still adhering to the overall designs. What we get is something that your casual fan won’t notice that much at all and just chalk up to a natural evolution in style more than anything else. But do casual fans buy seventeen collections of a series? Probably not. That said, the stylistic changes aren’t anything that I find to be problematic and, if anything, I like the slightly smoother and rounder approach that we get with them.
When I last left Fairy Tail, the show was deep in the midst of the Magic Games. With this set… we’re still in the Magic Games. This is actually a bit amusing in a way yet it works because there’s always a lot of smaller pieces moving through it. Thankfully, the Games themselves actually come to a close within the first couple of episodes here where our intrepid Fairy Tail has done the impossible. Considering that they were split into two separate teams early on that competed against each other, had to deal with members being whittled away, and then a whole host of other tournament related issues, getting as far as they did just cement their reputation all the more. The Games themselves are decent enough and with it mostly being wrapped up here there’s not a lot of real meat to it. But it’s good to see our guys come out on top again since that’s how they usually roll.
Where this set really wants to go is someplace bigger and more impressive, yet still mired in the usual Fairy Tail stylings. Where things have gotten complicated along the way is that we’ve got a couple of time travelers that have come to the past here (though more sideways from their own timeline future than the series main cast future) where the world has been overrun by dragons, and then just one dragon that has taken control of everything. It’s turned the place into a truly bad world because the wizards have all been eliminated and most of the problematic people as well. The result is that we get a world with a whole lot of subservient humans scurrying around to either do the dragon’s bidding or just trying to lay low and now be on his radar. So it makes sense that someone would try to come back to change the past. That we get that in the form of a seven years old Lucy and a man named Rogue is certainly not unexpected. Doubling up on Lucy is almost a given for a show like this.
The focus of their return is around the Gate that’s in the city that has been accruing power these last seven years to deal with dragons that were prophesied to attack in the future. It’s a piece where it makes sense to build up the power and use the apparent magical cannon that exists within it, but future Lucy is trying to impart knowledge that there is no cannon inside, at least until she gets whacked and out of the picture for the most part. Rogue, on the other hand, wants it open as he works through his manipulations. It’s not exactly confusing, but in Fairy Tail style it’s kind of just messy until it all comes together from the various subplots and misunderstandings that exist about the two Lucy’s. So when the gate does open up, with Lucy in favor of it initially, it turns to some great chaos as we get seven massive dragons that make their way out. The point of it all is that it’s Rogue’s desire to use them to change the past so that his future doesn’t exist. Essentially, he’s going to be the one in charge of things now by doing it rather than someone else in the future. When your world is in ruins, well, it screws up your thinking I guess. The sight of the dragons, creatures almost of myth at this point as they haven’t really been around for hundreds of years, sets the city into chaos at its busiest time with the Games having just ended.
What it shifts into isn’t exactly a surprise as after the minor exposition and the like about What Must Be Done, the guilds all bond together for the moment to deal with the threat of the Dragons and that of Rogue himself. Rogue, of course, ends up engaged in a prolonged nearly set-long fight with Natsu since they’ve had a few encounters now. The rest of the guilds have to step up to deal with everything else. What’s mighty convenient is that across the spectrum here there are seven dragon slayers in the mix though not every guild has one. This actually makes for a good inspirational moment from Natsu as he talks about the fact that it’s fate that there are seven of each and that they were all born for this day and to fight in this event. It’s something that most of them get caught up in pretty easily and even Sabertooth begins to view this as his chance to change his approach with his guild and those within it, becoming a better person in the heat of combat.
As any fan of the franchise can tell you, the bulk of this set is a series of extended fights with smaller sequences in between. Because it takes place after the Games are over, it’s filled with a slew of characters. So many that it’s almost silly, especially since the show doesn’t remind us of names along the way. So it’s admittedly easier to go with the flow and just enjoy the sequences. And they are fun, from Markov using his embiggening ability to go after one of the Dragons to seeing some other creative approaches – and a sacrifice with a bit of a look into the future for everyone. We even get a really comical bit – twice – about a certain someone touching Juvia’s behind. It’s those light moments in the middle of it all that helps to keep it humming along nicely with what it wants to do, balancing out the serious action material.
Naturally, the show has a decent epilogue episode as well where things are hashed out a bit and a lot of time is spent on making sure that most of the character arcs are reset to zero. Providing for some downtime after saving the world is good and I actually really enjoy these episodes because it’s all about the fun of the moment as opposed to these extended world ending sequences. There’s some sadness mingled into this because of what Lucy has experienced of course, and the view of the larger threats that they faced from the past into the present that impacts some other future, but it’s the silliness that wins out. From Juvia’s talk about having bonded in a new way to Natsu taking on the role of king for having won the games, it’s all good stuff. Putting everyone in pumpkin helmets just makes it all the more enjoyable, though.
Fairy Tail brings its Magic Games arc to a close here, an arc that had a bigger meaning behind it and a lot of fun. It works well to tell a larger story with a whole lot being threatened, yet that threat being in the future in a sense. Of course, throwing seven dragons into the present day doesn’t exactly make for a good time for your average citizen either. This set brings us a lot of main story arc material and little else outside of the epilogue, so it’s full of action and a whole lot going on. Because it keeps to the Games segment there are a lot of characters involved here and a lot of variety to the magic and attacks. It does narrow its focus often and Natsu really takes a good chunk of it, something he doesn’t always get to do. The result is a strong arc overall that lets everyone grow a little bit but remain enough the same so as to not alter the dynamic much.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Audio Commentary, Guild Pride: Mermaid Heel, 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: October 6th, 2015
Running Time: 300 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.