Review by: Eduardo Zacarias
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $54.98 US (Blu-ray + DVD)
Running Time: 300 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
There’s never a dull moment in this guild.
Ah, you can always count on Fairy Tail to do to the world of wizards what One Piece does for the pirate’s life so you can almost always come to expect that highly energetic and take-no-prisoners fun that makes this series a guaranteed good time. So it’s certainly no surprise that Part 4 of Fairy Tail will give us more of its already addictive brand of edge-of-your-seat fun and that’s exactly what it delivers as the Tower of Heaven story arc comes to a smashing conclusion.
In the final episodes of Part 3, we make a sad discovery about Erza Scarlet’s past as we find out that she was but one of many child slaves building the Tower of Heaven for their captors. Having thought that this unfortunate part of her life was put behind her now that she’s a member of Fairy Tail, a group captures her only for Erza to realize that her captors happened to have been her friends among the child slaves. They have brought her to the Tower of Heaven to help their leader, Jellal, unleash the power of the R-System within the tower for a sinister purpose.
What Erza’s captors weren’t expecting, however, is that Erza has Natsu, Gray, Lucy, Juvia (ex-Phantom wizard) and Happy carry out a rescue mission. It’s a success and, to top things off, Erza’s four captors turn to her side in hopes that the armor-clad wizard could help them stop Jellal from carrying out his plan. Sure, Erza and her friends are powerful but Jellal has companions of his own that come in the form of three powerful warriors that form the deadly Trinity Raven group. Jellal decides to pit Erza’s team against his trio in a deadly game before the Magic Council – having overheard Jellal’s true intentions – unleashes a destructive Etherion blast that will destroy the tower and anything near it.
And so the game begins as Erza and her companions take on the Trinity Raven trio in battle and believe me the members of Trinity Raven are so bizarre that they make the battles a blast to watch. For instance, Natsu and Erza’s friend, Simon, take on Fukuro who happens to have the torso of a bodybuilder and the head of an owl. Their battle is so insane you really do have to see it for yourself. Meanwhile, Lucy and Juvia go up against Vidaldus who looks like he belongs in a hair metal band. Vidaldus has some unusual abilities, one of which turns Juvia into a sexy metal groupie! Finally, there’s Ikaruga, a seemingly normal samurai babe who crosses blades with Erza.
While the crazy battles against Trinity Raven make for some interesting twists, it is the final confrontation with Jellal that makes this story arc all the more intense. Despite her strong feelings for a person she had seen as a friend, Erza realizes – after Jellal reveals his true intentions – that she has no choice but to take him out. This isn’t going to be an easy fight since Jellal is a powerful wizard but when Natsu and Simon arrive it evens up the odds a bit. Unfortunately, it is Jellal who truly has the upper hand in this battle and as the Magic Council fires the Etherion blast things go from bad to worst.
I won’t go into details about what happens next but I will say that Jellal shares a most interesting bond with a member of the Magic Council that we have seen since Part 1. Just who really is Siegrain and what is his connection with Jellal? It’s all revealed here as Erza does what we would expect from this noble wizard. Throughout the battle we also see more about younger Erza when she first came to Fairy Tail and her interesting relationship with Gray. We come to understand Erza Scarlet and where she comes from and the sacrifices she is willing to make for the Fairy Tail guild and her friends.
With the unpleasantness of the Tower of Heaven behind them, Erza and the others return to Magnolia where they find that the guild’s headquarters has not only been repaired (having been nearly demolished in the battle against the Phantom guild) but completely renovated. It’s ready just in time for the annual Harvest Festival where Fairy Tail guild members go on parade. On top of that, Master Makarov announced that there are two new Fairy Tail members – Juvia (who proved herself and befriended Lucy) and another ex-member of Phantom, Black Steel Gajeel.
While Juvia is welcomed with open arms, Gajeel isn’t, especially by Levy McGarden and her two companions who still remember the horrifying torture that Gajeel made them endure. However, another Fairy Tail member, Laxus, gets his revenge on Gajeel who takes the beating without fighting back. Laxus, who also happens to be Master Makarov’s grandson, is disgusted with his grandfather for allowing Gajeel to join them.
As it turns out, though, Laxus has had enough with his grandfather’s rule and the direction he is taking the guild. He stages a coup d’état of the most unusual kind … a dangerous game that will put all Fairy Tail wizards in harms way as well as the entire town of Magnolia. Along with his personal bodyguards, a trio known as the Thunder Legion, they start the game while interrupting a beauty pageant that had Fairy Tail’s hottest girls competing.
Using the powers of the Thunder Legion member, Fried, who sets up a barrier as well as Evergreen who turns all the girls on the beauty pageant stage to stone, the game begins and it is a dirty game indeed. Laxus has the Fairy Tail wizards going up against each another in order to save the girls who have been turned to stone. It gets bad enough that even the cute Mirajane is forced to unleash a side of her that is quite ugly in order to save her brother. Oh, and Natsu and Gajeel join forces to try and stop Laxus.
If you thought the Tower of Heaven story arc was intense this one is equally exciting and action-packed as well. Laxus not only makes an interesting foe but so do his three bodyguards that go up against Fairy Tail’s best. In the middle of all this is another mystery that comes in the form of Fairy Tail member, Mystogan, whose identity is something of a shocker. Here’s hoping we find out more about him in Part 5.
There’s certainly a lot to like about the series and these two story arcs shake things up enough to make us realize that the series loves to keep things lively and filled with the right amount of craziness and action to make it a completely fun experience. Also, the characters aren’t just cardboard cutouts either so you are bound to have a favorite or three among the bunch.
Part 4 of Fairy Tail contains the perfect close to a great story arc and the beginning and conclusion of another one that is equally exciting. There’s certainly a lot to absorb in these collection of episodes and that is a really good thing as the series just keeps getting better and better. As I said before, Fairy Tail is a fan favorite for a reason and that reason will be very clear if you give it a chance.
BLU-RAY REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Now that Erza managed to convince her old friends to join her, the next biggest threat in the Tower of Heaven is Jellal who reveals his true plan for the tower. In a final battle to save her friends, Erza makes a very difficult decision. After that, a return to the Fairy Tail guild has Natsu and the others arriving in time for Magnolia’s annual Harvest Festival. Unfortunately, the festivities are interrupted by Laxus – Master Makarov’s grandson who stages a coup in the form of a deadly game involving all the Fairy Tail wizards.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
Fairy Tail is one of those anime series that is not only visually faithful to the source material but it also looks even better in action. You better believe this series is best seen on Blu-ray and even if you don’t the DVDs look great.
AUDIO QUALITY: A+
The voice acting in Part 4, whether it’s the stellar original Japanese cast or even more brilliant English dub cast, is one of the highlights of these episodes. Colleen Clinkenbeard outdoes herself in these episodes and Rob McCollum is simply magnificent. The new opening and closing theme songs are not bad at all with the closing theme song, “Kimi Ga Iru Kara” by Mikuni Shimokawa being a good way to close an episode.
You’ll find a few FUNimation trailers as well as the clean opening and closing theme songs but the extras that make these Fairy Tail releases fun are the audio commentary tracks. You’ll find commentary for Episode 39 with Tyler Walker (ADR) and Rob McCollum (voice of Jellal/Seigrain/Mystogan) that’s worth a listen. Then there’s the commentary for Episode 45 with Walker plus John Burgmeier (head writer and voice of Fried) and Monica Rial (writer and voice of Mirajane) as they talk about reading the manga as well the writing process.
Part 4 of Fairy Tail not only wraps up a somewhat serious and very exciting story arc but it also quickly jumps into another one that is equally engaging to make this yet another thoroughly entertaining collection of episodes. Fairy Tail is definitely one of those series that will make a fan out of you immediately and the proof is in this collection.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment