To those who are not familiar with Fairy Tail (If you're watching Part 8 you should be up to date with it), I'll clue you in. Fairy Tail is easily one of the most popular anime/manga currently available... It's a series that revolves around the lives of a Fairy Tail guild wizard. The show has a plethora of great characters, fun story arcs and not a whole lot of filler with solid writing. Fairy Tail balances humor, fantasy, and action flawlessly. This set wraps up the series best arc thus far featured in these first 8 collections and showcases exactly why the series has won over so many!
Part 8: Episodes 85-96
Where my Fairy Tail: Part 7 review left off, we were left right in the middle of the Edolas arc. Where we resume the set, we are in the midst of some heavy battles... Natsu & Wendy have just escaped King Faust's (voice of R. Bruce Elliot) grip with the help of real world Gray and Erza. While Erza Scarlet (our Erza) stays behind to face off with Edolas' Erza, Erza Knightwalker, Natsu and Gray take on Faust's underlings, Sugarboy (voice of Duncan Brannen) and Hughes (voice of Josh Grelle.) Gajeel begins battling Faust's right hand man (er... Cat) Pantherlilly (voice of Rick Keeling.) All of these fights set the tone for the entire set, besides the final episode and a half, the entirety of Part 8 is one giant brawl.
While all of this happens, Coco (voice of Felicia Angelle), an innocent young girl who acts as Faust's assistant and Pantherlilly's only true friend, learns of Faust's true intentions. Faust wants to use the anima's that have been in place all around the real world to destroy Magnolia (where our characters are from) and Extalia (where the Exceeds live in Edolas) to sap the their magical energy for themselves, killing all of the humans and exceeds (including his own right hand cat, Pantherlilly.) Coco, who won't be able to live with herself if innocent people are killed and not wanting to lose Pantherlilly, decides to steal the key to the cannon Faust will use.
In the middle of all of the battles, Mystogan arrives in Edolas. My favorite thing about this set (other than how awesome Gajeel is) was Mystogan's inclusion. We learn exactly why Mystogan was doing what he was doing on earth with the Anima. Mystogan is Edolas' counterpart to Jellal (Erza's childhood friend from part 3.) He has come back to Edolas and brings with him troubling and shocking news. Mystogan, who has a past connection with Faust, steps in to end this war once and for all.
With the first 10 episodes of the set being pretty much nothing but action, at the tail end of the set, we get some nice character moments with Gajeel befriending the lonely Pantherlilly, and demanding Lilly to be his cat (which leads to some hilarious interactions between him, Natsu and Happy), while at the same time the Fairy Tail guild are shocked to say goodbye to one of their own... Mystogan, who decides to stay behind in Edolas to give exceeds a chance at a happy future.
As they're leaving, a new dynamic is introduced that rocks Natsu and the Fairy Tail guild to it's core when Lisanna (voice of Carrie Savage), Natsu's childhood friend who was once thought dead shows up seemingly alive and well. But the question on everyone's mind is if this the Edolas' version? or Magnolia's version that Natsu has felt so much guilt for losing that we know? Part 8 ends on an emotional note with Lisanna answering that question along with the introduction of our next villains. It's a nice segue into Part 9.
One of my very favorite things about Fairy Tail is how well the characters are balanced out. While you do have your core cast of Natsu, Lucy, Gray and Erza that the show tends to primarily focus on, sometimes the show decides to put them in the backseat and focus on the secondary characters like Gajeel, Happy, Wendy, Carla, Mystogan, and Pantherlilly in this set. Usually a show like this keeps it's focus on the main cast, but it's a nice change of pace that makes Fairy Tail a special show, and Part 8 (& 7) presents that phenomenally. With my favorite story so far in Fairy Tail wrapped, and a past character coming back, I can't wait to see what this show has in store next. Bring on Part 9!
+ Best storyline of the first 96 episodes.
+ Mystogan's storyline.
+ Gajeel is officially the best character to ever happen to Fairy Tail. I love his interactions with both Pantherlilly and Natsu.
+ Great character development for Mystogan, Happy, Carla, Gajeel and new character, Pantherlilly.
+ Dub work.
- None. This is yet another terrific set of Fairy Tail episodes.
Video and Audio
Fairy Tail always has a lot of bright, vibrant colors that look great and stand out well, so this set is no different. I did notice some banding issues at some points in this set, but they're almost non existent to really take away from the overall look. The series were not meant to be viewed in High Definition due to the limitation of Standard Definition. FUNimation's upscale is solid though.
As for Audio... Again, no different from previous sets. We're given 2 audio tracks, the TrueHD English 5.1 and the TrueHD Japanese 2.0 Stereo track. As usual, I watched the English dub, and as I already stated they deliver great work. The English 5.1 track works well while avoiding any problems such as dropouts or distortions during playback.
- Episode 89 commentary with Tyler Walker, the ADR director for the series. David Wald, the fantastic voice behind Gajeel. Lastly, R. Bruce Elliot, the voice of Fairy Tail's guild master, Makarov. Elliot also voices the lead villain, Faust, the King of Edolas in Parts 7 & 8.
- Episode 96 commentary with Todd Haberkorn, the voice of the lead character, Natsu. Along with Todd is Tyler Walker, the ADR director.
- Textless opening and closing themes.
- U.S. Trailer.
- FUNimation trailers.
With Part 8, Fairy Tail continues to be one of the best ongoing anime currently on the market. This collection is great throughout, it wrapped up the best storyline to date for the English dub, and is easily some of the best episodes of the series. Any fan of this show needs to pick this set up. Highly Recommended.