Case Number 22808: Small Claims Court


Funimation // 2009 // 300 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Roman Martel (Retired) // November 27th, 2011

The Charge

It's time for another anime sporting a comedy-fantasy-adventure mix. Will this series start out with a bang or leave a moldy lima bean flavor in my mouth.

The Case

Anime series keep drawing from this well, and I have yet to see one with solid entrainment results. I found Slayers to be an endless repetition of the same six jokes with some mildly interesting adventures. Yet creators of anime series seem to use that as their benchmark. The most recent foray into this genre for me was Sacred Blacksmith and I found that one so bland that I forgot I reviewed it. So Fairy Tail didn't have a lot to live up to.

The story begins with a junior sorceress named Lucy (Cherami Leigh, Birdy the Mighty) looking to join the super famous magic guild: Fairy Tail. A misadventure brings her in contact with the fire wizard Natsu (Tood Haberkorn, Eden of the East). Natsu is enthusiastic but has a problem with incurring massive property damage with his spells. His companion is named Happy: a talking blue cat that can fly (Tia Ballard, Rideback). Lucy eventually joins the famous guild and meets other sorcerers. Gray (Newton Pittman, Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom) is an ice wizard and Natsu's sworn rival. Then there's the tough gal, Erza (Colleen Clinkenbeard, Summer Wars), who uses magic to change her armor and weapons to suit any battle.

Together these heroes engage in adventures, from simply retrieving a book to removing a curse from an island. Along the way, Lucy will hide inside a talking grandfather clock, Happy will have a mushroom growing out of his head, Natsu will get violently motion sick, Gray will end up naked multiple times, and everyone will cower in terror before Erza's fearsome temper. Will all these shenanigans bring glory to the name of the Fairy Tail guild?

Based off an exceedingly popular manga series, this first volume of Fairy Tail crams a bunch of adventures into the first twelve episodes. You essentially get three story arcs here, with the beginning of a fourth one. This allows the plot moves along briskly with barley any filler episodes. Even episodes that appear to be filler end up providing information or a character that is involved later in the series. This sharp focus on plot carries the momentum of the show, and keeps it entertaining.

Yes, the adventures and set up of the world are typical of most Japanese anime and video games. In many cases there aren't too many surprises plot-wise. You can spot the villains based on character design a mile away. But the pacing is so well handled, and the spirit of fun is so pervasive, you can't help but have a good time.

The humor works pretty well too. Most of it is of the over the top anime style variety. While there are some running gags (Natsu and Happy are always hungry, Gray ends up only wearing boxers at least once an episode), the series doesn't rely on them for the only laughs. Monica Rial's English script adaptation manages to work in some clever word play and funny (and punny) one-liners for each episode. The English voice actors are up to the task, bringing plenty of energy to the roles.

I have few complaints The final arc starts out a bit rough, with a lot of repetition in dialogue dealing with the plot. It ends this disc with a bit of a flag in momentum. The violence is strictly of the Loony Tunes variety. This means that people get blown up, frozen and sliced with blades, but end up simply knocked down or unconscious. There's massive property distraction and characters threaten each other with death, but so far all the violence is less than lethal. This makes me think that the target audience is on the younger side (even though the series has its share of cleavage shots and fan service). And finally, this show gets really silly at times (the whole mushroom sequence was completely absurd). Anyone thinking they'll find something serious and deep in a show with a talking blue cat with wings is in for a surprise (at least at this point).

Funimation provides Fairy Tail with a solid release. The twelve episodes are spread over two discs. The picture quality is sharp, and the sound is will balanced between Yasuharu Takanashi's epic score and the voiceovers. The subtitles are well timed and easy to read. For extras you get two commentary tracks featuring the English cast and crew. One covers the first episode and features the ADR Director Tyler Walker and the three lead voice actors (Haberkorn, Ballard, Leigh). The second commentary covers episode nine. The crew comes back for more, with Clinkenbeard joining the team. These are light hearted commentaries, with a mix of behind the scenes info and joking around.

This was a fun show, and these first 12 episodes represent a good start for the series. I'm curious to see where the adventures lead this cast of goofballs and I'm interested to see just where the more serious elements of the plot lead viewers to.

The Verdict

Not Guilty. Looking forward to some more!

Review content copyright © 2011 Roman Martel; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 83

Perp Profile
Studio: Funimation
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)

Audio Formats:
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (Japanese)

* English

Running Time: 300 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Episode Commentaries

* IMDb

* Official Site