DVD Review: Fairy Tail – Part 9
23/02/2015 2 Comments
The wait is finally over, as the ninth instalment into Fairy Tail is finally upon us; but was it worth the wait? Well that’s a difficult question to answer and it all revolves around the issues discovered in this DVD; Confused? Well find out more in our review of Fairy Tail – Part 9.
The most powerful wizards in Fairy Tail travel to a remote island rich in magic – and history. There, they compete against one another to see who among them deserves to be given the title of “S-Class.” But where these wizards go, chaos is sure to follow. Their trials are interrupted when the most powerful of the dark guilds – Grimoire Heart – shows up in search of a legendary wielder of black magic. Once they find him, they’ll use his skills to bring death to every corner of the world.
As magic forces converge on the island, one of Fairy Tail’s former masters makes an unexpected appearance. If the guild is going to stop Grimoire Heart’s devious plans, they’ll first have to face their own past.
Another instalment, another story arc; this is the first impression left after watching a few episodes of Fairy Tail – Part 9 and while you’d expect the story to become stale and boring, such as that with other long-running shonen shows, the fact is its still as entertaining and refreshing as ever. However this refereshing experience does come at a cost and that’s solely down to the way Manga Entertainment UK have handled this DVD disc; but more on that later.
Featuring episodes 97 to 108 over two DVD discs Fairy Tail – Part 9 sees the members of Fairy Tail, namely Natsu, Gray, Juvia, Elfman, Cana, Fried, Levy and Mest, venture off onto Tenrou Island in order to take part in the yearly S-Class trials; a selection of trials which see guild members attempt to prove their worth as an S-Class Wizard. The whole purpose of the S-Class trials is to test each wizards ability and to see if they are worthy of taking S-Class quests; which are rumoured to be notoriously difficult.
Of course this being Fairy Tail the S-Class trials are not going to be easy, a fact proven when Gildarts and Erza are unveiled as the two main opponents for the first trial – with Natsu happily getting Gildarts as his opponent. While Natsu is overcome with joy he is soon brought to despair but Gildarts immense power, so much so that it sees Natsu learning a harsh lesson; Interestingly these battles are not the biggest threat for this story arc as thats to the arrival of Grimoire Heart and the the Seven Kin of Purgatory who arrive on island to locate the incredibly dangerous master Zeref. This is where the episodic content of Fairy Tail begins to change from ‘happy’ to ‘desperate’ as each passing episode is another fight between guilds; with Fairy Tail suffering the brutal end of the stick with Natsu fight against Zancroew as well as Mirajane and Lisanna’s fight against Azuma taking-up some of this instalments highlights.
There is more to just good and evil battling it out for the sake of saving the world; as not only do we get a closer look at some of the, what I’d call, support or background characters (such as Cana and Elfman) but the Magic Council has its own plans for Fairy Tail – a plan which sees the whole guild in serious trouble. In retrospect the episodes contained within this ninth instalment are just one-long-thrill-ride that doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon; its fast, its furious and it’s a lot of fun from start to finish.
As with all Fairy Tail instalments the extras included can be considered minimalistic, with only textless songs and English cast commentaries being included, and it’s the same here in this ninth instalment; however things have been spiced-up a bit with the inclusion of a video commentary.
The video commentary, which is for Episode 99, sees the main voice actors of the series discussing their role within the show and what they liked about that character – its pretty much exactly the same as an audio commentary, which another two of these are included, however in this video commentary you actually get to see the voice actors while the episode itself plays in a little square box. If you’ve ever used picture-in-picture on your TV (or watched a live-stream of videogames) then this is pretty much what to expect.
In regards to the commentary tracks they are just as bland and as boring as previous instalments; sure they provide a few insights, and a few laughs, from time to time; but they are not very informative and instead offer long arkward silences in-between discussions. I guess in hindsight when it comes to long-running shows such as this there isn’t much really to talk about; but with so many characters and voice actors available there should be a lot to talk about – either way we should be greatful that commentaries are being included as at least it offers something different to the norm.
The final selection of content, as always, is the inclusion of textless songs; now the ninth instalment of Fairy Tail uses four pieces of music – which as a result means we receive all four pieces of opening and closing songs; so the extras menu can seem a little cluttered. Speaking of the disc menu as the discs have been authored by Manga UK themselves, presumably via their Anchor Bay studio, its completely different to previous releases – I actually prefer this menu, as it seems more interactive than your traditional DVD with flames appearing between transistions, but with the text being the same as the background (and text bunched-up together in the extras) it can become difficult to read.
Media: DVD 9 x2
Running Time: 2:26.43 (Disc 1), 2:27:02 (Disc 2)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 448kbps (English) & Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps
When all is said and done the episodic content found within Fairy Tail – Part 9 moves at a fast and furious rate with fists flying and magic being wielded at every angle; its one of those “binge” sets whereby you find yourself sitting through an entire disc in an attempt for the fights to be uninterrupted. These fights aren’t like Naruto, Dragon Ball or One Piece either; as they are usually wrapped-up within a a few episodes as opposed to a whole disc.
In regards to the story then the the focus is split into four segments; as first its Cana’s doubts about passing the S-Class trial which ultimately blends into the S-Class trial itself then when the heavy fighting begins Grimoire Heart appears on the scene and disrupts the trials and as a result all attention is focused on them. You’d be forgiven if you missed any of these storyline elements as they really do blend together (quite naturally I might add) which is what makes this instalment so much fun and easy to watch; it’s fast, its fun and it gets right to the point – almost. Of course while this ninth instalment might be one of the most action-packed of the franchise so far it does come with an extremely long-list of defects thanks to the new authoring mechanics of Manga Entertainment UK.
For starters MangaUK have opted to use their in-house authoring studio at Anchor Bay; which means that the chapter markings are all-over the place thus making skipping openings/closings segments a nightmare. Interestingly that’s not the biggest issue; as during this authoring process the video has been transcoded from NTSC to PAL (very poorly) which results in pixelation / distortion and weird visual effects on the video, as well as the occasional interlacing error when watching on certain setups – especially a computer. The final disappointments lay with the subtitles as not only are song translations not included during the opening and closing segments but in early episodes the subtitles are mistimed (or go out of sync) and as a result appear at the wrong time; which of course is something you don’t want when watching the Japanese version.
It’s disappointing to report but this ninth instalment of Fairy Tail is basically defective before its even reached your player; which is a real shame as the content itself is top quality. In short it’s great content, but yet again poorly handled – which begs the question? What are the boffins at Staz/Anchor Bay thinking and how can we change it? As this type of botched release is still unacceptable when they have proven in the past that it is perfectly possible to release a high-quality product.
Fairy Tail – Part 9 is now available on DVD.