DVD Review: Fairy Tail – The Movie: Phoenix Priestess

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The Fairy Tail Guild makes its debut appearence in a feature length film but is it any good? and more importantly how well is this DVD Release by  Manga Entertainment? Well let’s find out in our DVD Review of Fairy Tail – The Movie: Phoenix Priestess.

Synopsis:

Follow Fairy Tail’s dream team Natsu, Gray, Erza, Lucy, Wendy, Happy, and Carla as they lend a helping hand to a girl with little memory and a grudge against wizards. As they uncover clues about her mysterious past, a lunatic prince hatches a half-baked plan to sacrifice her in exchange for immortality. When the fool unleashes an ancient force, a raging war becomes the fiercest inferno Fairy Tail has ever faced. Can the guild with a heart of gold save the planet from a fiery finish

Our View:

Feature-length instalments to TV series can always be problematic; some may offer an interesting storyline but fall through on the entertainment while others may offer plenty of action but no entertaining merits. Fortunately for Fairy Tail: Phoenix Priestess this isn’t the case as it takes inspiration from the series and mixes it with new content to provide a stand-a-lone story that can be enjoyed by newcomers and fans alike.

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This success could be down to the fact that Hiro Mashima, the manga’s original creator, had a hand in the film production or it could simply be down to great writing. Whatever the case Fairy Tail: Phoenix Priestess feels right at home within the Fairy Tail franchise; however that being said there is some notable differences. For starters the animation style of the film closely mimics that of the original manga (and the more newer anime series) so fans of the current animation style may find it hard to adjust. The second major difference is that the Fairy Tail Movie is more mature with its content; for example not only do characters swear but blood is drawn when characters are hit by swords and such, both of which never occurred within the TV Series.

It’s not just swearing or blood that’s included either as there is more ‘sexualised’ content within the film than what you would have expected. Fairy Tail has always been littered with sexualised jokes, most of which are disguised, but within Fairy Tail: Phoenix Priestess the tone has been lifted quite heavily. For example when Urza performs her re-quipping magic you can see all the curves on her body, the same can be said for lucy in her more casual ‘revealing’ outfit. It’s completely opposite to the traditional Fairy Tail and while this may seem like a ‘bad thing’ it actually opens the door up for more ‘in your face’ sexualised jokes, including a rather amusing scene which sees Lucy naked in front of Natsu, Gray and Happy.

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As you can probably tell Fairy Tail: Phoenix Priestess is quite different from its TV counter-part, but the elements that make the franchise popular are still there; such as the comical banter, progressive storyline and explosive magical fist fights – all of which get equal amounts of screen time. In regards to the films story it focuses on Éclair, a mysterious woman with Amnesia, who after surviving an attack in her homeland collapses in front of Lucy on the streets of Magnolia. Concerned Lucy takes Éclair back to the Fairy Tail guild whereby she explains her reason for travelling. It’s revealed that Éclair’s is wanting to destroy the Phoenix Stone, a powerful stone which once combained with the other half will grant the user any one wish but at the same time bring unspeakable destruction.

In a bid to stop this ‘unspeakable destruction’ Fairy Tail’s strongest team, which consists of Natsu, Lucy, Gray, Urza, Wendy, Happy and Carla venture out with Éclair and her friend Monmon in order to help her destroy the Phoenix Stone. Meanwhile a more sinister plot is afoot when Duke Cream, the king of Veronica, sends the dark guild Carbuncle out to retrieve the story from Éclair; but unbeknownst to him the leader of Carbuncle has his own agenda for retrieving the stone.

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It’s a story that unfolds as time progresses; but more amusingly each part of the story unfolds at around the 30 minute mark. For instance the first 30 minutes introduce the characters and depict the story, the 60 minute mark sees the Carbuncle Dark Guild make it’s move on retriving the story while the 90 minute mark sees the conclusion to the entire film with an explosive battle that involves the entire fairy tail guild. Like I said the story moves swiftly but at a steady pace with each segment offering a natural balance of story, action and comical entertainment – which in hindsight is what you expect from a Fairy Tail product.

Extras:

Most cinematic releases tend to have a ‘justifiable’ amount of bonus content and luckily for Fairy Tail fans this DVD Release of Fairy Tail: Phoenix Priestess contains a variety of content ranging from Trailers to OVA styled specials.

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When it comes to cinematic releases I tend to stay away from the bonus content until the main feature has ended; however with Fairy Tail: Phoenix Priestess this isn’t the case as the Prologue feature can be watched before the main film. The First Morning, also known as The Fairy Tail Movie Prologue, is a short animated special that depicts how Éclair became friends with Momon but more importantly it explains what happened to her between the siege on her homeland, which occurs at the start of the film, and when she met Lucy.

What’s interesting is that this animated short was originally released as a Manga (Graphic Novel) before the film hit Japanese cinemas and then it was animated into this short episode as a bonus feature for the Japanese DVD and Blu-ray release. Disappointingly this extra is only available in Japanese with English subtitles, but it’s nice to have it included as it fills-in some of the gaps left behind within the movie – especially as when watching the film it feels like Éclair was just placed their for no reason but to progress the story, but obviously after watching the animated short this was not the case.

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This ‘Prologue’ isn’t the only bonus feature included on the disc either; as also included is the original Japanese and English trailer for the film as well as the textless opening and closing songs. Textless songs on a movie release aren’t always that impressive but when it comes to Fairy Tail its actually quit entertaining; not just because the songs are good but because it contains spoilers from the film itself. You don’t nessacrily see it while watching the film (as the text covers it up) but upon watching the textless form you can see scenes taken from the movie; this is another ‘trait’ from the TV series openings as all Fairy Tail openings depict what will happen in that Story Arc before it actually happens.

Specs:

Media: DVD 9
Region: 2
Running Time: Dolby Digital 5.1 448kps (English & Japanese)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 448kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

Fairy Tail: Phoenix Priestess is everything you’d come to expect from the Fairy Tail franchise neatly wrapped up into an 86 minute long film; it has beautiful animation, a cast of lovable characters, comical banter, explosive battles and a story that’s enjoyable from start to finish. Despite this the film does come with an ‘interesting’ warning; and a rather big one at that, as you must not watch the film if you haven’t seen Fairy Tail up to episode 89, which is the final episode of Fairy Tail – Part 8. The reason for this warning is simply; spoilers. Fortunately these spoilers are not ‘on-screen’ for lengthy periods of time and can easily be overlooked, but if you are like me and want to watch a franchise in sequence then you’ll most likely get frustrated.

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Mind you there is more on offer than just a film; as the inclusion of “The First Morning”, which is an anime adaptation of a prequel manga, sees how Éclair become acquainted with her feathered friend Momon, a character which travels with Éclair in the film. It’s a 20 minute side story that acts as a prequel to the movie but don’t get too excited as it is only available in Japanese with English Subtitles.

Speaking of audio options both English and Japanese audio tracks are presented clearly and those with a 5.1 Surround Sound kit will be glad to hear it does offer a more ‘authentic’ cinematic experience. There is a potential flaw though; the audio (especially on the English Dub) is relatively low and as such the volume needs to be turned up higher than usual. This might not seem like bad news but once the fight starts the background noises (and subwoofer) creaks up, this annoying neighbours if you have it on too loud. Fortunately this ‘potential’ issue is only for those who prefer to watch their films via surround sound kits; otherwise via TV Speakers it’s perfectly fine. Speaking of volume options the first five minutes of the film, which sees a raid on a tribe, features nothing but music and even though character lips move their is no voices coming out of them; this isn’t a issue with the audio this is how this part of the film was intended, but it did catch us out at first.

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Fans of Fairy Tail will no doubt love it while newcomers to the franchise can easily become accustomed due to the films independent storyline and focus on the main characters. Overall from start to finish Fairy Tail: Phoenix Priestess is a top-quality film; and the same can be said for this DVD release by Manga Entertainment UK.

Score: review-stars-5

Fairy Tail – The Movie: Phoenix Priestess will be available on DVD and  Blu-ray & DVD Combo Pack from the 28th July 2014.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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