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Fairy Tail Vol. 4 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Review)

March 2, 2012 by  



The most intense, action-packed volume of “Fairy Tail” yet, volume 4 of this awesome series is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Fairy Tail Vol. 4

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2009

DURATION: (Episodes 37-48) 300 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

Release Date: March 20, 2012

Originally created by Hiro Mashima

Directed by Shinji Ishihara

Script by Atsuhiro Tomikoa, Fumihiko Shimo, Masashi Sogo, Shoji Yonemura

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Character Design by Aoi Yamamoto

Art Director: Junko Shimizu

Chief Animation Director: Takao Sano

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures, Satelight

Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hirano/Cherami Leigh as Lucy Heartfilia

Tetsuya Kakihara/Todd Haberkorn as Natsu Dragneel

Rie Kugimiya/Tia Ballard as Happy

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Erza Scarlet

Yūichi Nakamura/Newton Pittman as Gray Fullbuster

Shinichi Kotani/R. Bruce Elliot as Makarov

Akira Ishida as Zeref

Daisuke Kishio/Eric Vale as Loki/Loke

Daisuke Namikawa as Jeral/Mystogan

Eri Kitamura/Jamie Marchi as Kana Alberona

Hiroki Touchi as Pantherlily

Hiroki Yasumoto as Elfman

Kazuhiko Inoue as Gildarts Clive

Mai Nakahara as Juvia Loxar

Mariya Ise as Levi Macgarden

Miyuki Sawashiro/Lydia Mackay as Ultear Milkovich

Ryoko Ono/Monica Rial as Mirajane

Satomi Satou as Wendy

Sayaka Narita as Aries

Wataru Hatano as Gajeel Redfox

Yui Horie as Charle

 

Forced to face her demons at the Tower of Heaven, Erza is in real danger of becoming a live sacrifice in Jellal’s demented plan – which spells disaster for Fairy Tail’s strongest team! As the Council prepares to wipe out the island with the Etherion beam, Erza’s allies endure a heart-wrenching battle to get her back!

Big surprises await the comrades as they return for Magnolia’s annual Harvest Festival. But the celebrations are cut short when Master Makarov’s grandson hotwires a contest to determine who’s the fiercest wizard in a supercharged scheme to take over the guild!

The past of Erza Scarlet revealed and what happens when several members of Fairy Tail try to assemble a coup in order for Makarov’s grandson, Laxus Dreyar to become the new leader of the Fairy Tail guild?

Plenty of action and kick ass battles await you in the latest volume 4 of  the popular anime series “Fairy Tail”!

For those who are not familiar with “Fairy Tail”, let’s just say that it’s one of the most exciting, long running anime magic/adventure series to be released in the U.S. on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.

In Japan, “Fairy Tail” is a manga series which began in 2006 and was created by mangaka Hiro Mashima (known for his manga series “Rave Master”). Featured in Weekly Shonen Magazine, the manga series is still ongoing, meanwhile an anime adaptation of the manga series was created in 2009 produced by A-Pictures and Satelight. And similar to the manga series, is also ongoing!

With the fourth Blu-ray release of “Fairy Tail”, this latest volume features episodes 37-48.

The anime series is directed by Shinji Ishihara (“Aoi Kokuhaku”, “Tenbatsu Angel Rabbie”, “Tokyo Majin” and is written by Masashi Sogo (“Bleach”, “Yukikaze”, “Hunter x Hunter”). The anime series features character design by Aoi Yamamoto, art direction by Junko Shimizu (“Midori Days, “Blue Dragon”, “Trinity Blood”) and music by Yasuharu Takanashi (“Naruto Shippuden”, “Hell Girl”, “Gantz”, Ikki Tosen”).

A Quick Summary of what has taken place in “Fairy Tail” thus far:

“Fairy Tail” revolves around a 17-year-old celestial wizard named Lucy Heartfilia who dreams of joining a sorcerer guild known as Fairy Tail, a group known and feared for the destruction they cause. One day, she runs into Natsu Dragneel, a guy who is traveling to the land of Fiore along with his partner Happy (a talking blue cat with wings) who is searching for his foster parent, a dragon named Igneel who has disappeared.

While traveling to Fiore, both Lucy and Natsu encounter a sorcerer claiming to be the famous Salamander of Fairy Tail. Natsu is the first to object that the man is a phony but the fans of Salamander are dismayed by Natsu’s comments and beat him up, meanwhile Lucy finds out that this fake Salamander is using his sorcerer abilities to make young women fall for him.

As Lucy tries to show her gratitude to Natsu for breaking the spell that would have otherwise have hypnotized Lucy, the two become friends.

But when the fake Salamander tells Lucy that he would get her into Fairy Tail, she knows he is a fake but any chance of getting to join the guild would make her dream come true, so she decides to visit him.

But it’s all a ruse and the fake Salamander is just trying to find female slaves and because he is so powerful, Lucy does not have the magic necessary to beat him. But coming to Lucy’s rescue is Natsu, who is revealed to be a true member of Fairy Tail and also revealed to be the true “Salamander”. And he easily beats the fake Salamander up.

When Natsu discovers that Lucy’s dream is to become a Fairy Tail member, he asks her to join him and he can help her get into the guild and from that moment on, Lucy becomes Natsu’s partner in various Fairy Tail guild missions and for each mission they beat, the more income they make.

And more money means more keys to gain more powers, which would help Lucy become a powerful celestial wizard!

In “Fairy Tail Vol. 4”, the storyline of Erza’s past continues as the revolt against Jellal continues.  Siegrain plans to resurrect Zeref in order to gain the Magic Council’s support in firing Etherion.  But can Erza stop him?  Meanwhile, Juvia has been possessed by Vidaldus and is being controlled against her will to fight against Lucy.  Meanwhile, did the Fairy Tail guild lose a major member through tragic circumstances?

For the final storyline arc for season one of “Fairy Tail”, as the group is celebrating Magnolia’s annual harvest festival, the festival is interrupted by Laxus and his bodyguards of the Raijin Tribe.  This pits members of Fairy Tail who support Laxus becoming the new leader of Fairy Tail versus those who are still loyal to their longtime leader Makarov (the grandfather of Laxus).

In the end, who shall be victorious?

“Fairy Tail” Vol. 4 features the following characters:

  • Natsu Dragneel – Also known as “Salamander”, Natsu is a kindhearted, always hungry wizard who travels with his partner Happy in search of Igneel, a dragon who raised Natsu but is now missing. Natsu is a dragon slayer and a wizard who can perform “Lost Magic and can have physical properties of a dragon. He specializes in Fire Dragon Slayer Magic which allows him to breath fire and ingest fire as a form of nourishment. He is also gifted with other powers not yet revealed in the first volume of “Fairy Tail”.
  • Lucy Heartfilia – A celestial wizard who can summon contracted spirits (with special abilities) through a set of keys known as Gatekeys. She treats these spirits as friends. Her dream is to join Fairy Tail and through meeting Natsu, now her dream can come true.
  • Happy – A blue cat with wings and a best friend to Natsu. He can fly and can carry a person while flying. He is also known to irritate Lucy.
  • Gray Fullbuster – A powerful wizard of Fairy Tail and the opposite of Natsu, in that he has control of ice. Gray has the power of Ice Make which can make him create weapons or anything out of ice. He was raised by the wizard Ur. He also has a bad habit of taking of all his clothes without realizing it.
  • Erza Scarlet – An S-Class wizard (high-ranked) and is the most powerful member of the Fairy Tail guild. She has magic known as “The Knight” which allows her to summon and equip weapons and armor and also has the ability to resist magic attacks. She is feared by others because of her lack of compassion.
  • Mirajane – A 19-year-old S-Class wizard who is the cover girl of Sorcerer’s Weekly magazine and helps Lucy understand what is happening with the members of the Fairy Tail guild. She has the ability to change her appearance to something she previously encountered.
  • Cana Alberona – A short-tempered heaving drinking woman. She uses card magic to cast her spells.
  • Elfman – Mirajane’s younger brother who is known for his physical strength. He can absorb the power of any monster he defeats.
  • Loke – A flirtatious wizard who is often seen in the company of many women.
  • Makarov Dreyer – The elder master of Fairy Tail. He is constantly busy because of his guild members becoming too violent.
  • Juvia Lockser – Originally a member of the Phantom Lord Guild and now a member of Fairy Tail and is obsessed with Gray.  She becomes great friends of Lucy but also her rival (thinking that Lucy is interested in Gray).
  • Gajeel Redfox – Originally a member of the Phantom Lord Guild, Gajeel is similar to Natsu in the fact that he is a Dragon Slayer raised by the dragon Metalicana.  He can transform his body into metal weapons.

VIDEO:

“Fairy Tail” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1). It’s important to note that this is a anime TV series, not a film or an OVA and is a weekly anime series. What that means is A-1 Pictures and Satelight, have their hands full, especially if they have other TV series to work on that week. Typically a lot of anime series are quickly done in order to make it by their weekly deadline and sometimes, they are done the day of deadline. So, production values for TV series are typically not that high if they are working on multiple series.

Fortunately A-1 Pictures has become one of the newer studios that have been doing production for quite a number of popular hit series such as “Blue Exorcist” and “Big Windup!” and Satelight does a lot of the in-between animation. So, while they are a smaller, growing company, they are not overburdened as other studios and that means, more time dedicated to the anime series.

“Fairy Tail” features cool production value. A lot of detailed artwork, because of the many adventures, you get so many locations and not the typical regurgitated scenery.

There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Colors are absolutely vibrant, black levels are deep. I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release. If anything, the Blu-ray really brings out the details and colors of the series and looks fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fairy Tail” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Dialogue and music is clear through the front channels for the lossless stereo soundtrack but because the English is 5.1, there is better use of the surround channels.

In fact, I found myself listening to the English dub track for “Fairy Tail” much more than the Japanese soundtrack because of the 5.1 but also, FUNimation did a magnificent job with the casting of this series. I was very pleased especially with the casting of Lucy, Natsu, Happy, Grey and Erza and for the most part, I think whichever you prefer, you will be pleased with Japanese and English audio tracks.

But for the most part, for a TV series, lossless audio is crystal clear and while not the most immersive soundtrack (which I typically don’t expect TV series to boast incredible immersive lossless soundtracks, unlike a film or OVA series), “Fairy Tail” does sound very good on Blu-ray!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fairy Tail Vol. 4” features the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • Episode 39 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Rob McCollum (voice of Seagrain, Jalal and Mystigen).

DISC 2:

  • Episode 45 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (ADR Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with John Burgmeier (head writer/voice actor) and Monica Rial (lead writer/voice actress).
  • Textless Opening Songs: “R.P.G. ~Rockin’ Playing Game”
  • Textless Closing Songs: “Kimi Ga Iru Kara”
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

“Fairy Tail” vol. 4 Blu-ray also comes with the DVD version.

The most intense and action-packed volume of “Fairy Tail” yet!

For those who have invested their time in watching this anime series, the series has been building its character development around Lucy, Grey and now Erza.  But Erza’s past is still a mystery and with this latest volume, we learn about her past and what kind of woman and person she was before she became a member of Fairy Tail.

Suffice to say, there are some major surprises in store for viewers because there were situations where, you just don’t know who will live and who will survive.

The latest volume also features the addition of former Phantom Lord members Juvia Lockser and Gajeel Redfox, who are now becoming part of the core group that the series is focusing on.  Juvia as the girl who never had friends, discovering new friends who believe in her in Fairy Tail and the same can be said about the hardened Dragon Slayer Gajeel Redfox.  Who like Gray is somewhat a friend/rival to Natsu, and the same can be said about Juvia and Lucy.  So, their differences tend to be a bit hilarious at times, but with the addition of these two members, Fairy Tail no doubt has added two powerhouse characters to the guild.

And they are definitely going to need it as the final storyline arc for the first season concludes with a coup attempt by Fairy Tail guild members loyal to Laxus Dreyar, the arrogant grandson of current leader Makarov.    And like his grandfather, for a 23-year-old guy, he’s very powerful and together with the other members of Fairy Tail loyal to him, will Natsu, Erza, Gray and friends be able to defeat them and prevent the coup attempt?

And despite the guild’s members going at each other, this battle is intense!  There is no taking it easy just because they were friends now rivals.

“Fairy Tail” is an anime series that manages to have a lot of fun through the adventures of Natsu and Lucy and it has similarities to the action/adventure anime series “One Piece” and “The Slayers”.

For one, the adventure and action is big part of this series as the characters take on various rival wizard guilds, the problem is that they tend to get into so much trouble that they end up creating a lot of damage. And the object of these adventures are working guild jobs as the characters have bills to pay and each time they destroy something, it comes out of their paycheck.

With this fourth volume, you really get to see how these characters have grown since the first episode but also how dedicate they are to each other and think of each other as family members.  In fact, this is probably one of the more dramatic episodes featured in a volume as one of the major members of Fairy Tail may or may not have died?  You’ll have to watch and see for yourself.

With that being said, this series has over 100 episodes and is still ongoing in Japan. Next to “Dragon Ball Z” and “Yu Yu Hakusho” (which are older anime series), “Fairy Tail” is the most recent, longer anime series from Japan to be released on Blu-ray by FUNimation Entertainment. So, if you want a series to watch for the long haul, “Fairy Tail” is a series worth considering.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good for a TV series and features a good solid lossless soundtrack. It’s important to emphasize that this is a TV series and not a film or OVA, thus the production quality of animated TV shows tend to be lower (and created in a short time) than a film/OVA, so there is a bit of softness and shadowing and detail are not utilized a lot for this series.

As for special features, you do get the English voice actors providing commentary for two episodes and the opening and ending theme song.

Overall, the fourth volume of “Fairy Tail” was intense, exciting and this series just continues to get  better and better.  If you are looking for a series on Blu-ray for watching in the long-run, definitely give “Fairy Tail” a try.  Highly recommended!

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