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Fairy Tail: Part 4(TV) (2010)
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!
For more about Fairy Tail: Part 4 and the Fairy Tail: Part 4 Blu-ray release, see Fairy Tail: Part 4 Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on March 9, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Tetsuya Kakihara, Aya Hirano, Cherami Leigh, Eric Vale
» See full cast & crew
Fairy Tail: Part 4 Blu-ray Review
Is magic still in the air?
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, March 9, 2012
Virtually every television series in any genre that's lasted any considerable length of time—and even some that have barely managed to eke out thirteen weeks before being canceled—has recognized the dangerous dance that's necessary, one that pits the routine and comfortable (the "sit", i.e., situation of "sitcom", for example) against not falling into a rut and trying to introduce something new. Back in the fifties series routinely cranked out 39 episodes per season, with just twelve to thirteen weeks therefore given over either to reruns or summer replacement shows. The number of first run episodes per season has dwindled through the years, first to 32, then to what seems like the most logical number, 26, then 24, and now season orders of 20 to 22 can be the norm. Even with fewer and fewer original episodes per season, it's a rare series that can avoid rehashing some of the same material over and over again. But in the world of animation and anime, "seasons" can routinely offer even more episodes than what was the norm when television was consigned to tiny screens, wavering broadcast signals and rabbit ear antennas. Take the case of Fairy Tail, for example. Its first season totals 48 episodes, which have been released over the past year or so by FUNimation Entertainment in several volumes which we reviewed here:
Fairy Tail: Part 1 Blu-ray review
Fairy Tail: Part 2 Blu-ray review
Fairy Tail: Part 3 Blu-ray review
As is the case with so many animes that crank out episodes at patently insane levels, the series started out strongly, with a promising premise based upon a popular manga by Hiro Mashima that saw erstwhile wizardess Lucy Heartfilia coming to the magical kingdom of Fiore where she meets up with Natsu Dragneel, one of the most legendary wizards in the most raucous magical guild in the land, Fairy Tail. Quite quickly (from the first episode, in fact), Lucy tended to get herself in dilemma after dilemma (kind of like the old serial The Perils of Pauline), which forced Natsu and other Fairy Tail guild members to come racing to her rescue. That proclivity had become fairly tired by the middle arc of the first season, even with some appealing supporting characters having been added and at least a couple of similarly interesting subplots added into the mix.
The good news is that in this final set of episodes from Season One Lucy is at the very least not the only one in regular peril, and in fact it's Natsu who has his hands full with one problem after another. If the series still tends to often seem like a high tech Yu-Gi-Oh, with combatants summoning special powers and then engaging in fairly interminable battles, Fairy Tail has perhaps a minimally more noticeable attempt at character delineation and depth, as well as an often very appealing if goofy sense of humor.
One of the recurring motifs of this final arc is that of family, whether it be actual blood relations or the more loosely knit colloquial kind, as in the guild members of Fairy Tail. There are a couple of fairly interesting developments in this regard along the way, including a well done subplot involving Jellal and his twin Siegrain, which ends up having an unexpected twist. Later in the season, a simmering conflict between Laxus and Natsu comes to a boil, revealing some hidden aspects about the supposedly nefarious Laxus, as well as some perhaps expected ambitions on the part of Natsu and his future with Fairy Tail.
As I've mentioned in my reviews of the previous volumes of Season One of Fairy Tail, it's virtually impossible to see this anime outside of the formidable prism of the Harry Potter franchise, despite the two being as different as night and day. An amalgamation of young witches and wizards bound together in various clans is bound to create echoes of J.K. Rowling's epic masterpiece, and it's just as bound not to ultimately measure up. Fairy Tail is best approached, though, as its own unique—albeit somewhat derivative—creation that has some great characters, effective humor and a very appealing animation style. If the magic isn't quite as prevalent as it was in the opening few episodes, the considerable downturn in interest in Volume Three of the first season has been at least somewhat ameliorated as the series wends its way to the conclusion of its freshman year, and with a little luck, Fairy Tail can really flower in its second season.
Fairy Tail: Part 4 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Fairy Tail: Part 4 is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. The video presentation here is right in line with that of the previous volumes, Fairy Tail: Part 1 , Fairy Tail: Part 2 and Fairy Tail: Part 3. This is a bright, vivid and extremely colorful high definition presentation that benefits from exceptionally sharp line detail and really beautifully saturated colors. Character designs aren't especially innovative, but they're fun and appealing to watch, and as with the previous volumes, some nice CGI elements are very well woven into the more traditionally animated fare.
Fairy Tail: Part 4 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
My comments on the audio options of the previous volumes of this first season hold equally true here. This release features two lossless audio options, the original Japanese language track delivered via a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 stereo mix, and an English dub delivered via a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround mix. Both tracks feature sterling fidelity and excellent dynamic range, and while purists will find nothing to complain about with regard to the Japanese language track, they still may want to at least sample the English dub, which features above average character voicing by a cast of FUNimation regulars while significantly opening up the soundfield in the series' many magic summoning elements (there's also some noticeably increased reverb in some of these sequences, notably on Natsu's voice). Music is also substantially more spacious sounding in the surround track, and a couple of the more action heavy episodes benefit from the greater levels of LFE on the 5.1 track.
Fairy Tail: Part 4 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Fairy Tail: Part 4 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Looking back over the entire first season of Fairy Tail, a couple of sweeping generalizations hold true. The series gets off to a fantastic start, introducing Lucy and Natsu and its general premise, but it then quickly gets stuck in a quagmire of Lucy falling prey to one precarious situation after another. That element is partially offset by the introduction of several interesting supporting characters, other guilds and some nice subplots, notably the one(s) dealing with Jellal. But by the third volume, it's a lot of been there, seen that and some fans may not have the patience to stick with the series. The good news is things take at least a minor uptick in this fourth volume, with an emphasis on the interrelationships between several of the characters and at least one or two surprising revelations. The stage is set for the second season now, but it remains to be seen if Fairy Tail is able to craft some real magic or will just end up feeling like Yu-Gi-Oh: The Next Generation. Taken as a whole, though, the first season, and this fourth volume, comes Recommended.
Fairy Tail: Other Seasons
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