Review for Fairy Tail: Part 21
Just one more part to go and we’ll be at the end of Fairy Tail. Only it turns out that it’s not the end. Funimation released Part 22 in the US back in December of 2016, and that takes us right to the end of the Tartaros Chapter. Only it turns out that there are twelve more episodes to Fairy Tail, episodes 266-277, the Fairy Tail Zero prequel anime which haven’t yet seen a home video release. They are dubbed and on Funimation’s US portal, which does beg the question as to why they haven’t been released to the same schedule as the rest of the series. Then again, this isn’t the whole story. While there is the Dragon’s Cry movie coming to the UK soon on home video, recently creator Hiro Mashima announced that there will be a final Fairy Tail anime series in 2018. Maybe Funimation are waiting to get a few more episodes in the ‘bank’ before resuming the home video release. So, while my glee at the prospect of completing a Shonen Jump anime series might be unjustified, it’s still just one more volume to go until the end of the Tartaros Chapter!
EDIT: Typical! In between my writing the review and posting it, Funimation announce the release of Fairy Tail Zero early next year in the US. We’ll probably get it a little while later...
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.
When we last saw the Fairy Tail guild, they were in a whole heap of trouble, as the dark guild Tartaros had unleashed their plan to destroy all magic, and bring the power of demonic curses to the land. The Magical Council had been destroyed, Natsu, Mirajane, Lisanna, and Erza had been captured, and unbeknownst to the guild, someone had smuggled a destructive lacrima into the guild house, a scheme to take down the Fairy Tail in one swift shot. At the same time, Jellal was confronting the escaped Oracion Seis guild, trying to redefine their perception of freedom...
Funimation release the next thirteen episodes of Fairy Tail across two discs.
240. Tartaros Chapter – A Place Reached By Prayer
241. Tartaros Chapter – The Demon’s Rebirth
242. Tartaros Chapter – To Let Live or Die
243. Tartaros Chapter – Wendy vs. Ezel
244. Tartaros Chapter – Friends Forever
245. Tartaros Chapter – Hell’s Core
246. Tartaros Chapter – Underworld King
247. Tartaros Chapter – Alegria
248. Tartaros Chapter – A Strike from the Stars
249. Tartaros Chapter – Celestial Spirit King vs. Underworld King
250. Tartaros Chapter – Erza vs. Minerva
251. Tartaros Chapter – The Boy’s Tale
252. Tartaros Chapter – Gray vs. Silver
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 Funimation NOW.
You get a commentary here on episode 243 from ADR Director Tyler Walker, writer Aaron Dismuke, and Jeremy Schwartz (Franmalth).
Disc 2 autoplays with a trailer for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Blu-ray.
The episode 248 commentary features Tyler Walker, Cherami Leigh (Lucy), and Jessica Cavanaugh (Aquarius).
There is a Katsucon with Cherami Leigh featurette running to 7:38.
You get the textless credits, the U.S. Trailer for this volume, and further Funimation trailers for The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, The Rolling Girls, Barakamon, and Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign.
We’re back to normal Fairy Tail service with this collection of episodes, a process begun in the previous collection following a stretch of filler, but which really comes to fruition here, as we embrace the canon material, and Fairy Tail delivers its usual combination of action, comedy, drama, and heart in full measure. The one complaint I had about the previous collection of episodes was the length of the recaps at the start of each episode, as if the animators were doing their best to stretch the story out. As the episodes in this collection kick off, the long recaps are there, but as the episodes continue into the second disc, the recaps gets shorter and shorter, until by the second disc, you barely get ten seconds of old footage before the opening credits start. There is a whole lot of story to relate in this collection.
When we ended the previous volume, Natsu, Erza, Lisanna and Mirajane were captives of the Tartaros guild, and the Fairy Tail guild HQ was about to be destroyed. It isn’t long before our heroes are free, and the rest of the guild joins Natsu’s group on the floating Tartaros cube/island to pick up the battle. A whole lot of one-on-one battles ensue between the notable Fairy Tail characters and members of the Tartaros guild, and there is the usual one-upmanship, levelling up, and magical action.
Some inkling of the Tartaros plan is unveiled here, with the use of the FACE ultimate weapon to erase magic completely from the land of Fiore. It falls to Wendy of all people to fight one on one with one of the strongest of Tartaros in order to stop their plan. And this isn’t the first time in this collection that you’ll get a little something in the eye.
There comes a point where Lucy is left alone to fight against Tartaros (usually the characters like Wendy and Lucy get to be the damsels that Gray and Natsu have to rescue, so it makes a nice change to see them do the heavy lifting for once. Shame that we never saw the same for Sakura in Naruto, or Rukia in Bleach, and the less said about Orihime the better) and she too comes to a point where she has to make a sacrifice to save her friends. If you’ve been glued to Fairy Tail for the duration, this is another scene that will just break your heart.
And finally there is the confrontation between Gray and Silver, which takes a page from The Empire Strikes Back’s script, and it’s Gray that’s put through the emotional wringer when his tragic past is raked over once more. While the fight plays out to its conclusion here, it’s still a cliff-hanger moment, as there is some serious exposition yet to come. There is plenty more going on besides, as Fairy Tail battles Tartaros on more than just these fronts. There’s even space for a redemptive battle between Erza and Minerva, the Sabertooth wizard who gave Fairy Tail such a torturous time in the Magical Games tournament. And the usual light-hearted moments are here as well, once again courtesy of the Exceeds. Happy grows a mushroom from his head... again...
Fairy Tail is back to its best in this collection of episodes, which bodes well for the next, and to date final instalment. It’s rare for a long running shonen show to go out on a high note, and it will be good if Fairy Tail can leave us eager for its eventual return.