One of the biggest names in manga is Hiro Mashima, whose big hit Rave (called Rave Master in North America) put him on the map, so to speak, in the early 2000s. His next big project was about yet another fantasy world with lots of spiky haired men with swords and busty beauties except with a little more politics thrown in this time. Some claim this series is better, perhaps even more successful than his previous endeavor. Are they right?
Let’s take a look at episodes 25-48 of Fairy Tail in the Collection 2 Box Set.
A review copy was provided by FUNimation Entertainment.
Fairy Tail is about Natsu and Lucy, two wizards who are members of a guild called Fairy Tail. Together they form a team with a talking blue cat named Happy. See, in the world of Fairy Tail there are lots of different races living with humans and those who are wizards each have their own specific powers. Natsu has the power of a dragon, Lucy can summon spirits, and Happy has powers of flight. Eventually, more members enter their team, like Erza Scarlet and Gray Fullbuster, though those two are the only permanent ones. In this world, there are lots of other guilds too, with their own defining traits and personalities.
Within the guild, members and teams can do specific missions, sometimes ending in success, others is hilarious or crushing failure. Missions can range from catching fish to fighting members from opposing guilds. These missions are usually the main focus of episodes or arcs (at least thus far) but keep filler episodes from feeling absolutely pointless.
This box set start in the middle of the Phantom Lord arc, which I think is a little weird because there’s no clear marker for separation. To catch up those of you haven’t seen it, Team Natsu goes after a rival guild called Phantom Lord because they burned the Fairy Tail guild headquarters down. After defeating them, we learn more about a spirit name Loke, then spend time in the Tower of Heaven dealing with Erza’s past, and the final arc deals with an inner struggle for power in the newly rebuilt Fairy Tail.
The plots themselves have great moments and weak ones, though being fairly early in the series they are genuinely strong throughout, especially since a lot of it is getting to know characters better. They try to make the backstories real tear jerkers but it has varying effects. It has all the humor I expected from a Mashima creation, though I’m not sure what effect it has on me now that I’m older.
The music is amazing, very epic with strong orchestration for the battle music. The opening and ending theme, which changes pretty frequently, are all good, though my favorite is the ending theme Kimi ga Iru Kara. The animation is pretty great — if there is any laziness, it isn’t immediately noticeable. It has the typical simple character designs that allow for a lot of movement but has good detail in the slower, more intricate scenes. It looks like a big budget anime from a strong studio.
In terms of the dubbing, it really can go either way. I like Lucy’s voice better in English (Cherami Leigh) more so than the Japanese (Aya Hirano) cause she sounds more adult. On the other hand, I can’t stand the English version of Gray (Newton Pittman) in comparison to the Japanese (Yuichi Nakamura). The translation can come off a little wooden at time but it actually holds up pretty well overall, especially since the Japanese has its fair share of awkward moments. Of course, Happy’s voice is shrill and annoying no matter what version you choose, so don’t let that be the deciding factor.
Some of the special features include the standard cast commentary, general trailers for other shows, and text-less openings and endings. In terms of the extras, there really isn’t much to report but if you like commentary, you should have plenty to enjoy.
Overall, Fairy Tail is a good show but I still hesitate to call it great. It has all the elements of a great Mashima work and yet for some reason I find myself not falling into it like I usually do. It could be because I’m not much for an “adventure-of-the-week” kind of fan, but I can still respect it as a formula. I am still looking forward to watching more episodes and seeing where the plot evolves.
– Strong characters.
– Good plot/writing.
– Good music.
– Some issues with voice acting.
– Only standard extras.