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Fairy Tail: Part 1(TV) (2009)
In the Kingdom of Fiore, powerful wizards make their living by joining magical guilds and contracting out their services to become "wizards for hire". Harnessing the forces of Dragon Fire, Ice, Weaponry, and the Zodiac, four young wizards of the infamous guild Fairy Tail team up to seek their fortunes. Growing stronger with every mission, they travel the countryside helping people and battling rival guilds, but with personalities as different as their magic skills, this team may end up doing more damage than good.
For more about Fairy Tail: Part 1 and the Fairy Tail: Part 1 Blu-ray release, see Fairy Tail: Part 1 Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on November 18, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Tetsuya Kakihara, Aya Hirano, Rie Kugimiya, Yuichi Nakamura, Sayaka Oohara, Satomi Sato
» See full cast & crew
Fairy Tail: Part 1 Blu-ray Review
Once upon a shonen. . .
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, November 18, 2011
Television runs in cycles, as even a quick review of any given decade's Top 10 shows will prove. In the fifties, television was overrun with family sitcoms, variety shows and most especially Westerns. The sixties, while continuing with those genres, added such fare as fantasy laden shows like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie as well as spy series like The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Secret Agent Man and I Spy, medical series like Ben Casey and Dr. Kildare and tons of cop and lawyer shows, always a regular staple of the broadcast networks back in those days. The seventies and eighties saw the rise of nighttime soaps like Dallas, Dynasty and Falcon Crest. And that's where the story gets a good deal more interesting, if fractured, for with the rise of cable and satellite television, suddenly instead of networks offering competing versions of the same idea (think ABC's The Addams Family versus CBS' The Munsters), we suddenly had whole individual channels devoted to singular sorts of fare. But still occasional trends seem to be poking their heads out even to this day, albeit in perhaps more subtle ways than in days of yore. This particular season has seen two new series have strong openings out of the starting gate, both with at least tangential relationships to fairy tales. While Grimm and Once Upon a Time don't necessarily have a lot in common other than that link to folklore, myth and legend of yore, the fact that both made air in the same season is probably not a mere coincidence. But the world of fairy tales has filtered into both television and film for decades, of course, and even has been part and parcel of anime for a long time as well. Some might look at Fairy Tail, not noticing the different spelling of the second word in the series' title, and assume it may be part of this same trend, despite the fact the series aired a couple of years ago. The interesting thing about Fairy Tail, a homonymically named anime series based on a manga by Hiro Mashima is that it actually doesn't evoke fairy tales as much as it may remind some of the Harry Potter franchise. Though there are actually spirits and sprites involved (maybe even actual faeries), the series is kind of a hybrid outing blending the idea of magical guilds which are awfully close to the various houses of Hogwarts with spirit and/or power summoning ideas that are redolent of everything from Yu-Gi-Oh to Yu Yu Hakusho, wrapped up in what some anime fans might consider a traditional "shonen" structure.
The two main characters of Fairy Tail are Lucy, a young girl wizard (wizardess?) with ambitions to join the best known of the wizards' guilds, Fairy Tail, and Natsu, a young traveler with a talking blue cat named Happy who initially seems to be just a sort of nerdy hanger-on, but who by the end of the series' first episode reveals himself to be a legendary member of the Fairy Tail Guild who guys by the nickname Salamander. Lucy gets herself into a dangerous scrape from which Natsu rescues her, revealing his true identity, at which point he invites her to join his famous Guild, an invitation Lucy giddily accepts. The rest of this first part of the series plays out as a series of quests that Lucy and Natsu, along with Happy and some other supporting characters, take part in, meeting and vanquishing some villainous magicians, some of whom are aligned, Harry Potter Voldemort style, with a dark guild known as Eisenwald.
Fairy Tail is an often sweet natured show that benefits from some very appealing animation styles. While a lot of the series falls into a fairly traditional, albeit incredibly colorful, anime style, there are a number of interstitials that are like still frames and almost resemble the evocative illustrations of Maurice Sendak. Scattered throughout the series are moments of similar still frames, which almost approach graphical elements at times, giving this series a lot of visual flair and panache. Fairy Tail has a number of fun characters as well, and the interplay between Lucy and Natsu provides a solid anchor around which the larger cast of supporting characters can revolve.
The series does have some problems with a fairly standard storytelling style which is only partially ameliorated by the invigorating animation. Anyone who's been a fan of similarly structured fantasy franchises is going to feel a twinge of "same old, same old" when Lucy repeatedly summons various spirits or powerful magical properties to aid her in various quests. That said, the series has a great sense of humor and obviously doesn't take itself very seriously, something that tends to weigh down other "summoning" franchises like Yu-Gi-Oh. The comedic elements, while frequently pretty silly, do aid an air of nonchalance and informality that help move individual episodes along rather nicely.
Lovers of young magicians forging a team to defeat the powers of darkness will probably love most if not all of Fairy Tail, despite what will be obvious comparisons to Harry Potter and other similar enterprises. Highlighted by some great looking animation and some very fun (and often funny) characters, Fairy Tail may well end up leading fans to their own happily ever after.
Fairy Tail: Part 1 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Fairy Tail: Part 1 arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. This is a bright an appealing looking series which pops very nicely on this Blu-ray presentation. Colors throughout this series are astoundingly bright and well saturated, and line detail is sharp and well defined. There's some very nice dimensionality added to this series by virtue of its use of various planes of animation which help to give depth to many of the scenes. While character design isn't especially innovative, the beautifully illustrated still frames alluded to above in the main body of the review boast exceptional detail, seeming to have sprung from colored pencils. There appears to be some minimal use of CGI here as well in such scenes as magical circles which erupt around various participants, and those also look fine.
Fairy Tail: Part 1 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Fairy Tail: Part 1 features two lossless audio options, the original Japanese language track offered in a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 stereo mix, and a fanciful English dub offered in a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround mix. The basic elements of both of these tracks are virtually identical, aside from the obvious difference of language, with similar fidelity, dynamic range and overall mix. The 5.1 mix does add a variety of great discrete channelization in several effects sequences, notably when Lucy or Natsu summon magical powers. The music, which is a major part of this production, is also repurposed very nicely for the 5.1 mix. The English voice cast, most of them FUNimation regulars, are appealing, if often squealing and high- pitched, as seems to be the case with so many English dubs.
Fairy Tail: Part 1 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Fairy Tail: Part 1 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
While it's understandable how some might see Fairy Tail as just another "shonen," essaying the trials and tribulations of teens engaged in creating new relationships while engaging in a series of battles, the fantasy-magical aspect of the series may in fact remind viewers more of Harry Potter, though Fairy Tail is a good deal sillier (even goofier) than the Rowling enterprise. The series is a bit clichÚ-ridden at times, and traverses territory any number of other animes have previously, but it's helped by some great animation and that just plain silly sense of humor. This Blu-ray looks and sounds great, and the title comes Recommended.
Fairy Tail: Other Seasons
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