If you're a anime fan and you have not heard of Fairy Tail, you might just be living under a rock. Fairy Tail is one of the most popular serialized Shonen anime in recent memory, It's a series that mixes fantasy elements with action adventures, comedy and tons of great characters. After (shockingly) six years, we are finally given the first film, Phoenix Priestess. So needless to say, the film has a lot of hype, does it live up to the high expectations?
Phoenix Priestess' opening is a bit different from what we're accustomed to with Fairy Tail. The film starts off with a ritual being performed in a village, where the two halves of a mysterious magical artifact called the Phoenix Stone is being protected. During the ritual, the village is swiftly and brutally massacred by an unknown legion of soldiers. The only survivor, a Priestess named Eclair, is given half of the stone by her tribes chief before being murdered as she escapes.
Enter the Fairy Tail team, we pick up with Natsu, Gray, Lucy, Erza, Happy, Carla and Wendy as they are failing miserably with their most recent job. After their loss, they decide to concede and head back to the guild and receive their due punishment, but on the way Lucy encounters a noticeably weak woman(who is accompanied by a talking bird named Momon) whom passes out in front of her. Lucy decides to bring her back with the group to the guild hall.
The woman turns out to be Eclair, who now claims to be suffering from amnesia, and Momon explains that she accompanies Eclair to take care of her. Once a part of Eclair's memory clears and she rediscovers her mission and purpose with the Phoenix stone, the Fairy Tail Guild offer to help in any way possible. She must track down her father Kalard, whom she finds out is long dead. Through a holographic message he tells her of a way to dispel all of the power from the stone, but she needs both halves.
The only problem is a a neighboring country called Veronica (who's ruler has the other half of the stone) has hired an evil guild called Carbunkle to get the stone at all costs. Soon the Fairy Tail guild hall is besieged and Eclair is taken. It's up to Natsu and his friends to travel to Veronica to save Eclair, destroy the stone and defeat the Carbunkle guild. The question is if the Fairy Tail team is up to the task? The great buildup of the film leads to a fantastic 20 minute emotional final battle that is outstanding.
The film has a lot of heart, which is probably it's strongest aspect. Eclair's (and Lucy's) emotional development in this film is fantastic and their relationship really climaxes with a bittersweet and touching ending. While this film does favor Lucy and Eclair, just about every lead character in Phoenix Priestess has balanced out screen time and each gets their own time to shine on screen, we even get to see some of our other favorite characters who typically aren't around like Loke, Gajeel, Laxus and Fried.
- Excellent dub cast. The standout for me in particular is Jessica Cavello, who handles the role of Eclair. She is able to convey every emotion that Eclair uses perfectly and nails the role. Todd Haberkorn is another standout, he always brings so much excitement and energy to the series as Natsu and his performance in the film was no exception.
- Not a typical Shonen film. Shonen movies usually fall under a bunch of cliched tropes. Bad guy shows up, heroes dispatch them in timely fashion with little real development. Like the recent One Piece Film: Strong World movie, it breaks that mold and delivers a well developed storyline.
- Well developed and executed story.
- Negatives: None. Fairy Tail: Phoenix Priestess is an enjoyable film through and through.
Video and Audio:
The visuals of Fairy Tail have always looked very good. The film is animated a bit differently with softer colors and the character designs are a bit...off, but that shouldn't detract, since the film still looks better than your standard episode from the series. The action sequences in particular are beautifully done, with the color palette really popping when the team uses their magic.
As for audio we are given 2 different tracks. The first is a TrueHD English 5.1, and the second is a TrueHD Japanese Stereo. I watched this in the English 5.1 as I really enjoy the dub FUNimation has put together for Fairy Tail, and the film is no exception. As for the score, The film uses many of the same soundtracks that the series uses, so it won't be any different than that.
We get our standard FUNimation bonus features here, with the exception being a twelve minute prologue to the film (which has NOT been dubbed, don't know why but it's an odd choice.)
- Fairy Tail: Phoenix Priestess Prologue: "The First Morning" The 12 minute English subtitled feature essentially explains how Eclair and her traveling companion Bird, Momon, met.
- Textless opening and closing.
- U.S. trailer.
- Original trailer.
- FUNimation trailers.
While this isn't Fairy Tail at it's best, It certainly is a hell of a lot of fun. Phoenix Priestess has a great one off story that is well developed and fantastically executed. This is definitely one that Fairy Tail fans will not want to miss.Highly Recommeded.