Packed with magic, destruction, comedy, and epic battles galore, Hiro Mashima’s Fairy Tail has been a series that I personally have followed closely ever since I read the first chapter of the manga. So you can imagine how excited I was to hear that the animated series, which has over 120 episodes aired in Japan, was being licensed and released in North America. Fairy Tail Part Three was released for English speaking audiences by the lovely folks at FUNimation earlier this year.
Part Three continues right from where the last release left off: Natsu and the rest of the Fairy Tail guild find themselves in the middle of a guild vs. guild battle royale against Phantom Lord. With the fate of the guild in their hands, various Fairy Tail members go on the offensive in order to stop Phantom Lord’s full-scale assault. Ice-wielding wizard Gray goes head to head with the water magic user Juvia. In another part of Phantom Lord’s base, the Fire Dragonslayer Natsu duels with Black Steel Gajeel who happens to be the Iron Dragon Slayer! Even Erza returns to battle Aria the air user of Element Four. With Makarov and other guild members entering the fray for the final push, this multi-episode conclusion continues to treat viewers to another dosage of the heavy action scenes seen during the end of Part Two.
But that isn’t the entire story that this twelve episode release covers. There is a minor arc that takes place between the two major arcs present in Part Three. Focusing on the Fairy Tail member Loke, we finally learn about his mysterious past and figure out why he is so fearful of Celestial Wizards. Last but not least, Erza Scarlet, one of Fairy Tail’s strongest wizards, finds herself visited, and kidnapped, by a few of her childhood friends in the starting episodes. Natsu and friends make their way to the elusive Tower of Heaven to help their friend in peril, where they will also uncover Erza’s hidden past.
Compared to the previous two installments, Fairy Tail Part Three packs a hefty punch in the character development department and has a rather serious tone this time around. As stated earlier, guild members Loke and Erza get more than their fair share of the drama this release. Even though it lasted only a couple of episodes, I found Loke’s arc to be fairly enjoyable. This brief reprieve from the previous arc gives us a glimpse into Loke’s mysterious past, teaches us a thing or two about how Celestial Magic works, and manages to pull off an emotionally touching ending. However, what I found to be a plus to this arc in particular was the fact that not only did it feature a minor guild member as the central character, but Lucy Heartfillia gets a chance to show off her strengths.
Erza’s personal story arc is one of my favorite arcs to date, as it takes one of Fairy Tail’s strongest wizards and makes them come face to face with her greatest weakness and her haunting past. It was interesting watching such a strong character come to grips with the realization that she might not be strong enough to take on this challenge alone. Seeing such a vulnerable side of her gives a rather interesting view to her character.
Location backgrounds are varied and nicely rendered, usually providing the perfect backdrop for exciting battles or comedic bantering. From a suave gunman made of blocks to an owl-headed assassin, the unique and fun character designs found in Fairy Tail never cease to amaze me. Unfortunately, the series recently has gotten into the habit of over utilizing the same loops and CGI created spell circles over and over again in combat. In addition, some of the animation quality drops off when looking at wide shots such as crowds and multiple characters in one frame where the animation becomes a little stiff or sloppy. With this said, the rest of the animation was of fairly good quality, especially during close-ups.
Music wise, Fairy Tail’s tracks are decent in this set. Frantic guitar riffs mixed with a celtic/folk melody provide an awesome setting for a wizard vs. wizard duel. However, I noticed that some tracks get repeated during parts of certain episodes. It’s either that or it’s very hard for me to differentiate between them. On another note, viewers will get treated to not one, but two sets of OP and ED song changes. Fairy Tail Part 3’s main opening song is called “FT.” by Funkist, while the main ending is “I’m Sorry” by Shiho Nanba. In the final episode of the release, the main opening switches gears to a rocking number called “R.PG. ~Rockin’Playing Game” by Sug. “I’m Sorry” is replaced by Mikuni Shimokawa’s “Kimi Ga Iru Kara” for the main ending.
Even though I prefer watching anime with subtitles instead of English dubs, I found that the English cast of Fairy Tail did quite an excellent job of portraying their characters. The voices fit and the translations were surprisingly pretty solid.
Like the previous releases, Fairy Tail Part Three features twelve episodes in both Blu-Ray and DVD. The Blu-ray edition is an upscaled 1080p transfer that has excellent quality considering that this series was originally animated to be presented in standard definition. The bonus materials are the standard videos that have come with previous releases of Fairy Tail: staff and cast commentaries (which I personally always find fun to watch), two text-less opening/ending songs (for the arc changes), and trailers promoting other anime series released by FUNimation.
Overall, Fairy Tail Part Three is an action-packed release that has a promising setup for the upcoming Tower of Heaven arc. I’d highly recommend fans of the manga to pick this up. If you’re new to the series, you’ll find that Fairy Tail is a great casual anime series to get hooked on. For those of you who are looking to continue this epic comedy-fantasy saga, never fear! FUNimaton will release Fairy Tail Part 4 (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) on March 20. Huzzah!
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the distributor
Images copyrighted:FUNimation/A-1 Pictures, Satelight