Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
BD+DVD - Parts 12 & 13
The members of Fairy Tail are racing against time to get all of the pieces of the Infinity Clock before their rivals, the Legion Platoon, can, but there are horrible revelations in store that will quickly change their agenda...among them a disastrous plan by the Neo Oración Seis involving Celestial Wizards. With the fate of the world at stake, it becomes a literal race against time to complete the tale of the powerful clock. Then it's back to the guild (and manga timeline) as things start to settle down. Fairy Tail has lost its reputation during the seven years its most powerful members were asleep, and with the Grand Magic Games coming up, Natsu, Gray, Lucy, and the others will need to do some serious training if they want to be able to not only compete, but raise the guild's status. And what better place to train than the beach? Maybe the Celestial Spirit World...
For all that the Infinity Clock arc wasn't in Hiro Mashima's original manga, it pulls itself together quite nicely. While the early episodes of it (part 11 and some of part 12) aren't particularly great, with a lot of clearly filler-feeling escapades, by about the middle of part 12, the story has become more interesting and cohesive, and it is obvious what the anime is trying to do: lead us into both the Grand Magic Games and Tartarus arcs while also spending more time on the very serious situation Lucy returned from her seven years' sleep to – when she left, she had a father. When she woke up, she was an orphan.
Lucy's family relationships have always been at the center of her character, from the fact that she inherited her skill as a Celestial Wizard from her deceased mother to her rocky relationship with her father. With her father's death, there is no real way for her to fully make peace with him, and thus the Infinity Clock storyline actually proves useful in that it gives her that chance. Elements of it can be either dull or unbearably corny, but at the end of the day it does give Lucy more closure than she got in the manga, and that certainly gives an otherwise kind of lame arc a valid reason to exist. The end does handle things quite well, particularly with regards to Michelle, and it earns points for actually explaining why she looks like she's a fan of Little Bo Peep's fashion sense.
Not that there aren't other good parts of the Infinity Clock story. Tiny Natsu is really entertaining (and tiny Lucy isn't bad either), while Dan Strait can be a lot of fun as well in a vaguely annoying way. (His English voice, Christopher Cassarino, really sells it.) It's also nice to get a chance to see other members of Fairy Tail in action, like Warren, Max, or Laki, who generally don't get much screen time during stories that directly follow the manga. Adding in some more scenes for Doranbolt, who is convinced that Wendy perished on the island, gives the character a little more depth, and anything that allows Monica Rial to show off her range as Mirajane is always welcome. All of this doesn't quite excuse off-model characters or half-assed animation, both of which are present in this arc, or the fact that Imitatia looks like a poor man's Poison Ivy, but there's enough to make these episodes worth it and not just a waste of time.
Speaking of asses, Funimation is in desperate need of a synonym or two for “butt.” Given that the Jiggle Butt Gang is a fairly large part of the action, the word gets tossed around a lot, and after a while it starts to feel like we're in a room full of fourth graders. Given the plethora of words for the human posterior, it seems that both the sub and dub scriptwriters could have come up with something else. Other than that, both sub and dub sound very good, with differences being fairly minimal – such Wendy's cat companion being “Carla” in the dub and “Charle” in Japanese or Cancer saying “ebi” in the sub and “baby” in English – and both sets of voices doing a very good job. Japanese Erza sounds a bit too sweet while I tend to prefer Juvia's higher Japanese voice to her English one, but this differences are really minimal and listening to either track should be simply a matter of preference rather than one being superior to the other.
Once the plot begins the Grand Magic Games arc, the story does feel like it tightens right up, with events staying very close to the books. There is substantially less fanservice than in the manga, however, with angles being adjusted to show less boob or crotch and a hot springs scene being eliminated entirely. The anime depiction of the Celestial World, on the other hand, is breathtaking, almost psychedelic in its colors and designs. There's still a lingering urge to burst into the story and buy all of the girls bras that fit, but generally speaking the art is attractive and more stable once we move back into Mashima-invented territory, and new(ly grown up) characters Sting and Rogue sound very good in both languages.
Extras for these sets are a combination of the tried and true – episode commentaries led by Tyler Walker – and bizarre, with a “trivia match” between Todd Haberkorn and Newton Pittman that is basically the two of them sniping at each other about whose character is better, ending with an epic arm wrestling match. It's very funny – and you get to see Todd Haberkorn's Fairy Tail tattoo – as well as a welcome break from the usual extras. In all fairness, one of those is a video commentary, so you do get to see some of the actors' faces.
While these are not the strongest episodes of Fairy Tail, comprising an anime-only arc and the very beginning of a new one, they are still fun to watch, especially once you hit the latter half of set 12. Infinity Clock wraps up better than you might expect and voices are strong in both languages, making this an action-filled adventure that, even when it's at its worst, still manages to pull you in and care about what's going on, no matter how weird or silly it may be.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B-
Animation : C
Art : B
Music : B
+ Infinity Clock pulls itself together well at the end, giving Lucy and Doranbolt time to process their respective traumas is a good addition. Natsu and Gray's voice actors laid-back dissing of each other as an extra is fun.
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