Review for Fairy Tail: Part 12
The gap was two years between subsequent instalments of Fairy Tail; now it’s two weeks, thanks to a last minute release delay for Part 11. I told you last time that Funimation were speeding things up some. It’s also good for my sanity to get the filler out of the way quickly, as we kicked off a pretty lengthy filler arc in Part 11, and I always find the filler in Fairy Tail to be exceptionally poor. Then again, a lot of early Naruto filler was dismal, but by the time they got to Shippuden, filler arcs started becoming tolerable, if not wholly adequate. Now that Fairy Tail’s filler has commenced a lengthy storyline instead of the one-off episodes, maybe it will settle into something watchable too.
The Kingdom of Fiore is a rather special place, a nation of some 17 million where magic exists, is commonplace, and is a commodity to be bought and sold. Those who become proficient in magic are the wizards, and together they form guilds to serve the community, or serve themselves. The most famous, and indeed the most infamous guild of them all is Fairy Tail. 17-year-old Lucy Heartfilia is a wizard, or rather she wants to be a wizard. She’s already skilled in a Celestial magic, able to summon spirits to do her bidding using Gatekeys. Her dream is to be in Fairy Tail, and when she meets a travelsick young wizard named Natsu, and his talking cat companion Happy, it seems like destiny has brought them together. Now Lucy has joined the Fairy Tail Guild, and with its unique roster of wizards, including Natsu, the ice wizard Gray Fullbuster, and the armour wizard Erza Scarlet, and the flying cat Happy, they undertake the toughest, the most challenging, and the weirdest of missions.
Funimation release the next eleven episodes of Fairy Tail across two discs. Having come back from Tenrou Island after having been frozen in time for seven years, it was hard for some members of Fairy Tail to settle back into the flow of things, especially Lucy, who had to deal with tragedy when it came to her family. And then a barely remembered childhood friend named Michelle Lobster showed up with a memento of Lucy’s father. It wasn’t long before the mysterious Legion Platoon arrived to steal the enigmatic clock hand, dealing Fairy Tail a bit of a bloody nose into the bargain. As this collection begins, prior to getting some payback (according to Natsu), Lucy and the others decide to find out more about this clock hand, and just what the Legion Platoon are planning, and what it has to do with the attacks on the Zentopia churches.
132. Key of the Starry Heavens
133. Travel Companions
134. Labyrinth Cappriccio
135. Footprints of the Myth
136. True Scoundrels, Once Again
137. Defying Calculation
138. The Course of the Holy War
139. Time Begin to Tick
140. Enter the Neo-Oración Seis!
141. Get the Infinity Clock
142. Dissonance of Battle
Fairy Tail gets a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer, progressively coded NTSC on these Funimation discs. The image is clear and sharp throughout, free of any obvious compression signs, and generally very pleasant too watch. It’s a bright, lively anime, and given that it’s a long running series, the character designs are understandably simplistic, the world design not overly complex. It’s full of primary colours, and the animation itself is energetic, especially through the various spell sequences. Given the number of characters, and the broader nature of the story, the repetitive nature of those spell sequences from the early episodes is a long and distant memory now. It all looks like original animation from beginning to end.
You have the choice between DD 5.1 Surround English, and DD 2.0 Stereo Japanese, with optional translated subtitles and a signs only track. I sampled the English dub, and found it to be a typical anime comedy dub, high pitched female voices, and loudness and manic intensity substituting for humour. My preference as always was for the Japanese audio track with the subtitles. It too is adequate, although one slight point of annoyance for some may be the lead character of Lucy played by Aya Hirano, who simply supplies another variation of her stock Haruhi Suzumiya tsundere voice. Otherwise it’s a fairly run of the mill audio track, playing the show for laughs, with little yet to stretch the characters. More impressive is the show’s music, which with a pop Celtic theme supplements the show’s magical themes very well, although it is boosted by a wholesale plundering of the classical music archives. The subtitles are clear, well timed, and free of error throughout.
The discs present their content with static menus and jacket pictures.
Disc 1 autoplays with a trailer for One Piece Film Z, and the only extra is a commentary on episode 137, featuring ADR Director Tyler Walker, with Heather Walker (Mary Hughes), Aaron Roberts (Samuel), and Christopher Cassarino (Dan Straight).
Disc 2 autoplays with a trailer for Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods
There is a video commentary for episode 140, featuring Tyler Walker, Micah Solusod (Midnight), Jarrod Greene (Cobra), and Lindsay Seidel (Angel/Romeo). You get to see the actors as well as hear them this time, as the episode unfolds in a small box in the corner of the screen.
The episode 142 commentary is a conventional audio one, with Tyler Walker and ADR Engineer Kyle Phillips answering a few fan questions about the dubbing process.
You get the US trailer for this volume, and further trailers for Hal, Toriko, Baka & Test, Steins;Gate, A Certain Magical Index II, Attack on Titan, and Dragon Ball Z. You also get two textless openings and two textless closings.
I’ve literally got nothing! I’ve been sitting here for half an hour, staring at this blinking cursor trying to figure out what I’m going to say about Fairy Tail Part 12, and I really don’t have any enthusiasm for these eleven episodes. That’s zero enthusiasm to laud them, and none whatsoever to criticise. They are wholly lukewarm, entirely watchable, but not at all memorable. The characters are there, doing things that stay true to their characters, and the story advances and unfolds during this release’s runtime, and all I can say is that it’s entertaining enough to not make you eject the disc, but uninspiring enough to not make you jot down Fairy Tail Part 13 as a day 1 must buy.
You know exactly what I’m going to say at this point. It’s all down to the fact that we are in a filler arc. This anime original storyline is wholly incomparable to the manga adapted stories that we usually see. The writers just can’t match the narrative brilliance of Hiro Mashima’s manga, and they are also hamstrung by not being able to develop the characters, or change the state of play between the start and the end of the arc. But even within these constraints, what they give us is pedestrian and predictable, with the odd stab at evoking emotion coming across as deliberately manipulative and contrived compared to the genuine pathos of Mashima’s manga. On top of that, the balance between comedy, action, and drama all seem skewed, out of joint, with laughs where there should be thrills, thrills where there should be emotion, and so on.
This story is all about the Infinity Clock, with Lucy having been delivered one of the clock hands from her father, and then having lost it to the Legion Platoon group. So unfolds a mystery as the Fairy Tail Guild track down the various clock parts, hidden away in various locations, confronting and doing battle with the Legion Platoon. Along the way there is the inevitable mystery of just what the clock actually is, who the Legion Platoon are (Earth Land versions of characters from the Edolas arc), and exactly how they are connected to the Church of Zentopia, a scheme that does enough to hold the attention and add some interest to the plot.
There comes a point where the pieces of the Infinity Clock are recovered, and it is reassembled, and everyone finds out that they have been played, that its reassembly was halted by hiding the pieces, and by it coming together, the world itself is now in jeopardy. And it’s here that the story takes a twist, bringing back the Oración Seis group with a slightly altered line-up, still on their mission of ending the world, seven years after they last showed up. They take the clock and vanish, leaving Fairy Tail back at square one, and the Legion Platoon having to regroup as well. For me this was a misstep, an added complication that the story just didn’t need, although having the touchstones of familiar characters encountered previously in the canon, might be considered as giving the filler arc more weight. But the mysteries and conspiracies in the Zentopia church and the Legion Platoon are more than enough to carry the story, pedestrian though it may be. The Oración Seis just muddy the waters at this point.
This filler arc of Fairy Tail threatened to be silly. But although the flatulent Butt Jiggle Gang do make a reappearance in this set of episodes, this Infinity Clock arc keeps things relatively restrained in that respect. It never once grabs the audience the way the canon material constantly does, and as a result these episodes do feel tepid, however watchable they may be. On the bright side, the filler arc is heading towards a conclusion; just eight more episodes. It might just be worth jotting down the release date of Fairy Tail Part 13 in your diary after all.