English Dolby Digital 5.1
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
Episodes 1-24 of the anime series following the adventures of a young girl who is determined to join an organisation of wizards. Membership of the organisation, known as 'Fairy Tail', is Lucy Heartfilia (voice of Aya Hirano)'s goal when she runs away from home, but she will have to face many challenges if she is to realise her dream.
The Fairy Tail series has become one of my favourite shows of the last five years. Now, before I go further, I'm overly picky as to what shows I watch. So for me, most shows pass me by and I don't lose sleep over not being part of the fan base for something like YuriYuri. I likes what I likes and I like Fairy Tail. Its blend of comedy, risque humour, action, camaraderie and eternal optimism come together to prove good shows are built on perseverance not flashiness (though there are good flashy shows out there). Watching it, you get a sense that you're along for the ride, sharing in the adventure and also have to help clean up after the heroes. Because Natsu is a walking disaster area. And his guild would be the more virtuous except they are themselves a bunch of unemployables that I wouldn't trust to watch paint dry.
Set in the land of Fiore where wizards are real and the fragile between guild peace is kept by an odd bunch of misfits and fruitcakes who happen to be good at magic. The show takes it's time building up the characters and world. We meet Gray, an ice wizard with the heart of a bear, the temperament of a hipster and the clothing ethics of a nudist. Erza Scarlet is an overbearing but kind natured big sister who is easily one of the most powerful wizards in the Fairy Tail guild. Natsu is a fire wizard, specifically Dragon Fire, and he in turn ropes Lucy into the guild when she tags along and asks to join. Along the way, we learn that not every guild is nice and not all the guilds play nicely.
Where the show might falter with new viewers is a lot of the first two seasons can be repetitive in terms of the challenges our heroes face. The villains from Eisenwald are not much different from Phantom Lord in their construction. There's an evil head of the guild, there's a psycho super powered lieutenant, a woman of questionable action and a weasley bootlick. This doesn't really change in the episodes within this first set. What stops this from becoming trite is that Fairy Tail prides itself in using all the tropes of anime, especially within the Shonen fighting genre the show is set, and simply slamming you in the senses with colourful dialogue, gravity defying fights and eclectic characters. When the show flags, the showrunners tease out a bit of information for one of the four main characters and then uses it to set up a brutal fight between said character and a person from their past.
The two strongest uses of that are Gray's Galuna Island arc where we learn a lot of who he is as a character and why he's a silent type. The show uses this arc to glue some of the cracks in Natsu and Gray's constant belittling of each other as this kind of sniping is replaced with a respect for what each person means to the other. If Gray's arc was a movie it would be Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. On the other hand, Erza's Tower of Heaven arc is definatively Saving Private Ryan. Having to assault an island with only three of the team while Erza is being made to relive the horrific early years of her life makes for some great moments and shows some of the story's future arcs with some of the characters in the background having massive importance later on.
The blu ray's that are finally here for the series left the show from being another good looking show to a great looking show. While the blu ray's have been available from FUNimation for a while in the US, over here we finally have a better looking show with an upgrade to the audio as well. Now, while the video might look good, the audio on first viewing doesn't sound (no pun intended) all that amazing. However, watching the previous DVD release against it shows that dialogue (which is crucial in the fight scenes) and music (which usually gets forgotten about in fighting shows) got a boost. I would have prefered a 5.1 Japanese language track on this new release but hey, you can't have everything.
Fairy Tail sits apart from other fighting shows because of the magical aspect it uses, the pace it moves at (when compared to monsters like One Piece and Naruto) and how it treats the highs and lows of its cast. I would say this high def set is a perfect way of getting into the show and hope it goes from strength to strength and that I'm here again soon to review set 2.
For a more detailed view on the Fairy Tail show, please see my reviews on Otaku News.