Funimation // 2009 // 300 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Roman Martel (Retired) // February 5th, 2012
Anime fans, hold on to your hats. We've achieved anime cat girl status with this installment of Fairy Tail.
Picking up where the last storyline left off, the Fairy Tail guild is under assault by the devious powers of the Phantom Lord guild. Their goal is to capture Lucy (Cherami Leigh Birdy the Mighty) and bring her back to her domineering father, but the rest of Fairy Tail is not about to let that happen. They fight back with everything they've got. Gray (Newton Pittman, Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom) comes face to face with a water sorceress who's powers render his ice magic useless. Erza (Colleen Clinkenbeard, Summer Wars) battles the head of the Phantom Lord guild, even though she was critically wounded early in the conflict. That leaves Natsu (Todd Haberkorn, Eden of the East) and Happy (Tia Ballard, Rideback) facing a aggressive and powerful Iron Dragon wizard who loves punching Natsu in the face as much as casting spells.
The storyline concludes, but not without some serious collateral damage. Then we get a couple of episodes for pure comedy and character moments, before diving into a new story arc. This one focuses on Erza, as her mysterious past is revealed. As a child, she was enslaved by evil wizards bent on building a huge tower to resurrect a demon god. But even as a little tyke, Erza kicked ass. She ends up leading a slave rebellion and escaping the island. Unfortunately, not all the freed slaves continued on with happy lives. Some of these old friends capture Erza, with the goal of using her as the main sacrifice in the now completed tower. Can Natsu and the gang rescue Erza before she is sacrificed, or the the tower is destroyed by the wizard council?
Yep, still lots of stuff going on in Fairy Tail. I have to give the creators credit for balancing the action, fun, and character backstories. Getting to know more about Lucy and Erza's history explains a lot. Even characters with smaller roles like Loke (Eric Vale, Sekirei) get interesting stories that end up affecting other characters and events.
But the end of the Phantom Lord story arc did provide the first misgiving I have about the series, which is a typical problem with fantasy anime. You have characters with such super-powered abilities that the finales all end up feeling the same. It basically comes down to a lot of trash talking and glowing bodies. Then the fighters hurtle full speed at each other. Massive collateral damage results and everyone collapses, slightly singed and exhausted -- but the hero is still conscious. Fairy Tail plays this card quite often, and while I do give it a pass, I'm hoping each story arc doesn't end like Dragon Ball Z.
And yet, even when I start to wonder if Fairy Tail is losing some of the fun, the humor surfaces and makes me laugh out loud. The water sorceress, Juvia (Brina Palencia, Black Butler), generates a lot of humor when she falls head over heels for her mortal enemy. You get an episode that revolves around the main cast trying to put on a play with destructive results. Happy gets a huge fan in the form of a cat girl! There's even a heaping helping of fan service, with hot springs and the beach as featured locales. Even when the story gets dark -- dealing with child slavery and human sacrifice -- the writers manage to work in some hilarious moments. My favorite of the series is when Natsu gets a ridiculous cat mask stuck on his head and then tries to bluff his way past some enemies...pretending to be a cat.
Funimation doesn't drop the quality ball here. We still get a clear 1.78:1/1080p high definition widescreen image, a well-balanced 5.1 TrueHD audio mix and easy to read (not to mention well-timed) subtitles. For bonus features, we get two episode-specific commentary tracks by the English voice cast. These are still a great mix of information and humor sure to keep fans happy, but not actually blue and feline like Happy the cat. We also get copies of these episodes in DVD format.
Another 12 episodes of solid anime entertainment. Keep it coming, because I'm looking forward to more.
The mix of adventure and comedy continues to deliver. Not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* TrueHD 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentaries
* DVD Copy