by Carlo Santos,

Fairy Tail

Blu-Ray + DVD - Part 4

Fairy Tail Blu-Ray + DVD 4
The dark wizard Jellal has finished building his Tower of Heaven, a structure designed to summon an all-powerful demon. Only the wizards of the Fairy Tail guild can stop him—and no one is better equipped than weapons specialist Erza, who has known Jellal since childhood. But will their ties to the past become Erza's weakness? After that mission, more troubles await the guild back home. Powerful lightning wizard Laxus feels that Fairy Tail has become soft, and so he turns against guild leader (and his grandfather) Makarov! Using various enchantments, Laxus pits fellow magic-users against each other in the "Battle of Fairy Tail" to see who is the strongest. Fire wizard Natsu and his allies step into the fray, hoping to stop the rebellion before anyone else gets hurt ... and also hoping to teach Laxus a lesson about the true meaning of being in a guild.

The world of Fairy Tail is a world of limitless possibilities: dozens of characters, layers upon layers of back-story, and magical powers that can be used for good or for evil in any number of combinations. So why, then, does the series insist on using the same formula over and over? Viewers who have watched every episode of Fairy Tail so far can easily guess how the Tower of Heaven arc will turn out: Natsu, Erza and company must first finish off Jellal's lieutenants, followed by a one-on-one showdown with the big boss himself, and then someone inevitably makes a dramatic self-sacrifice. As an added bonus cliché, this one even throws in an "exploding building" escape scenario, because fantasy villains are too dumb to build safety features into their maniacal plans.

The "Battle of Fairy Tail" storyline, which takes up seven of the twelve episodes in this set, fares no better when it comes to predictability. It may have the unique twist of Fairy Tail's wizards turning against each other, but the overall structure holds no surprises at all. First the no-name grunts take each other out, then the first- and second-tier characters battle against Laxus's higher-ranked goons, then comes the final confrontation between Natsu and Laxus. No wonder, then, that wild plot twists keep popping up in a desperate attempt to add excitement: One of Fairy Tail's newly-joined members may be a traitor! Here's the shocking source of Laxus's powers! Oh, and he knows a spell that could kill everyone! But these "twists" really do nothing to change the course of the story: they're just road bumps along the heroes' inevitable path to victory.

Which isn't to say that these episodes lack entertainment value. The fights, predictable as they may be, are still fun to watch while they're happening. Erza reveals some never-before-seen suits of armor; astrological summoner Lucy brings back some sorely missed celestial warriors; and every now and then the spirit of friendship wins a battle rather than brute force. What's more, fans who like rooting for underdogs will find even the most obscure characters getting a chance to shine here. The series also continues to fill out back-stories so that each character has a sense of purpose: Laxus, for example, has some serious family issues to go along with the sneering bad-guy attitude. However, such flashbacks only last for a couple of a minutes before jumping right back into battle mode. Other times, there are tantalizing hints of future story arcs to come ... but these promising moments remain exactly that, just moments. So instead of capitalizing on its great storytelling potential, Fairy Tail takes the safe route with its endless escalator of good-versus-evil battle.

The animation in this show is another case of wasted potential, as Hiro Mashima's dynamic manga art gets watered down by cheap production values. While some of the individual poses are quite effective—most likely because they were referenced straight from the comic panels—trying to put them into motion just doesn't work. What passes for "movement" in this series is often characters floating across the background, or even a choppy transition from regular animation to more detailed still frames. Only during top-tier battles, like Natsu vs. Jellal, does the visual quality really step up. Despite these technical shortcomings, however, the series' fantastical sense of design still shines through: wild outfits and neon-bright colors, elaborately designed locales (more so with the Tower of Heaven than the guild's generic town setting), and a cast of wizardly foes ranging from a hair-metal rock guitarist to a visor-clad puppet master. With such striking differences in design, at least none of the fights look the same—even if the outcomes are highly predictable.

The theme music, on the other hand, shows far less creativity, with a typical rock opener and ballad closer rounding out each episode. The soundtrack adds emotional heft to flashbacks and dramatic scenes with full-orchestra scoring, but as soon as it's time for battle, the same old shredding guitars kick in again, just like in every other episode. If the fight scenes feel like a tired old routine repeating over and over, maybe it's because of the constantly recycled music.

Even with the storyline stuck in a formulaic pattern, the voice actors on the English dub are clearly still having fun working on the show. This recording comes with lots of enthusiasm, touches of humor in the right places, and not a single weak performance (which is to be expected after 40-plus episodes of practice). A couple of episodes also feature English-speaking commentary with the director and cast—this time focused more on discussing the series itself, rather than the details of the recording process. Other extras in this multi-disc set include the usual clean opening and ending clips, plus a cardboard slipcase and reversible cover featuring Erza.

In the heat of battle, it's easy to believe that Fairy Tail is a top-notch show—after all, what's not to like about flamboyant wizards, mix-and-match magical powers, and fighting for the sake of friendship? But after stepping back and looking at the big picture, it's clear that the series fails to live up to its potential. The story arcs in this set contain subplots that never get fully explored, while the standard ladder format of fighting one's way to the boss villain leaves no room for surprises. It also doesn't help that the fights are often presented in barely-adequate animation quality. These episodes of Fairy Tail are fun for what they are, but there'll always be that feeling of what could have been.

Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : C
Story : C
Animation : D
Art : B
Music : C

+ Energetic fight scenes, sympathetic characters, and hints of what lies ahead provide plenty of reasons to keep on following this adventure.
A predictable tough-tougher-toughest battle formula and cheap animation provide plenty of reasons to just give up already.

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Production Info:
Director: Shinji Ishihira
Series Composition: Masashi Sogo
Fumihiko Shimo
Masashi Sogo
Atsuhiro Tomioka
Shoji Yonemura
Masaomi Andō
Yoshiyuki Asai
Mamoru Enomoto
Hiroyuki Fukushima
Tsuyoshi Hida
Hirokazu Hisayuki
Kyōhei Ishiguro
Shinji Ishihira
Mashu Itō
Yasuo Iwamoto
Takahiko Kyōgoku
Lee Kan Min
Susumu Nishizawa
Noriaki Saito
Yoshiyuki Sanami
Yusaku Saotome
Touma Shirakawa
Jun'ichi Wada
Naomichi Yamato
Kenji Yasuda
Episode Director:
Masaomi Andō
Yoshiyuki Asai
Hitomi Efuku
Mamoru Enomoto
Hiroyuki Fukushima
Yasuyuki Fuse
Kazunobu Fuseki
Eisuke Hayashi
Tsuyoshi Hida
Shigetaka Ikeda
Kyōhei Ishiguro
Yasuo Iwamoto
Hiroshi Kimura
Takahiko Kyōgoku
Takahiro Majima
Yoshitaka Makino
Yoshihisa Matsumoto
Lee Kan Min
Hazuki Mizumoto
Yasushi Muroya
Yūsuke Onoda
Masayuki Oozeki
Noriaki Saito
Yusaku Saotome
Nanako Sasaki
Kazunobu Shimizu
Satoshi Shimizu
Kiichi Suzuno
Nobuhiro Takamoto
Hiroshi Tamada
Daisuke Tsukushi
Jun'ichi Wada
Tetsuya Watanabe
Hirokazu Yamada
Naomichi Yamato
Shigeru Yamazaki
Takeyuki Yanase
Mitsuhiro Yoneda
Shunichi Yoshizawa
Unit Director:
Hiroyuki Fukushima
Kazunobu Fuseki
Eisuke Hayashi
Hiroshi Ishiodori
Hazuki Mizumoto
Yuu Nobuta
Naomichi Yamato
Kenji Yasuda
Music: Yasuharu Takanashi
Original creator: Hiro Mashima
Character Design: Aoi Yamamoto
Art Director: Junko Shimizu
Chief Animation Director: Takao Sano
Animation Director:
Atsushi Aono
Erika Arakawa
Tomoaki Chishima
Mikio Fujiwara
Jiemon Futsuzawa
Ryo Haga
Jun Hanzawa
Satoshi Hata
Noritomo Hattori
Jo Won Hee
Futoshi Higashide
Hirokazu Hisayuki
Emi Honda
Seok Pyo Hong
Takahisa Ichikawa
Kazuyuki Igai
Masanori Iizuka
Hiroki Ikeshita
Masaki Inada
Asako Inayoshi
Tomoshige Inayoshi
Nobuharu Ishido
Mariko Ito
Kiryou Iwamoto
Hyun Woo Ju
Yousuke Kabashima
Hidenori Kane
Nobuhiko Kawakami
Katsunori Kikuchi
Kang Won Kim
Yeong Beom Kim
Satoshi Kimura
Seiji Kishimoto
Miyuki Koga
Sayaka Koiso
Emi Kouno
Tomohiro Koyama
Hiroko Kuurube
Akiko Matsuo
Shiori Mikuni
Lee Kan Min
Satoru Minowa
Hitoshi Miyajima
Tomoki Mizuno
Shunji Murata
Aki Nishizaki
Masato Numazu
Noriko Ogura
Osamu Ohkubo
Shinya Ojiri
Shinako Okayama
Seong Ho Park
Sadahiko Sakamaki
Hiromi Sakamoto
Tatsunori Sakamoto
Konomi Sakurai
Toshiko Sasaki
Masahiro Sekiguchi
Jung-Duk Seo
Michinori Shiga
Hyung Woo Shin
Kenji Shinohara
Atsushi Soga
Suk Pyo Song
Karuta Sorashima
Kanta Suzuki
Kenichiro Suzuki
Yūya Takahashi
Yuka Takashina
Masayuki Tanaka
Shigenori Taniguchi
Eiichi Tokukura
Takashi Uchida
Yuji Ushijima
Masakazu Yamagishi
Aoi Yamamoto
Masaaki Yamamoto
Masatsugu Yamamoto
Teruhiko Yamazaki
Jouji Yanase
Kosuke Yoshida
Naomi Yoshida
Art design:
Hiroshi Izumi
Yohei Kodama
Sound Director: Shōji Hata
Director of Photography:
Atsushi Iwasaki
Youichirou Satou
Yoshikazu Kuretani
Tomonori Ochikoshi
Taihei Yamanishi

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Fairy Tail (TV)

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Fairy Tail - Part 4 (BD+DVD)

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