Fairy Tail really should be a lot more popular than it is, both in Japan and in other countries. Fairy Tail really has no qualms with being exactly what it needs to be – a hot blooded comic about fighting, friendship and being funny. Fairy Tail embraces this part of itself so completely it has a kind of endearing charm not matched by similar shows.
The 4th collection of Fairy Tail covers episodes 73 to 96, which contain the entire Edolas arc. The wizard guild of Fairy Tail and the entire surrounding city are abducted by a parallel world, Edolas, where magic is scarce. It then falls to Natsu, Happy, Wendy and Charle to travel to Edolas and save their comrades from being used to fuel the demands of the corrupt monarchy.
This is a parallel world story, so the fun here is seeing the Edolas versions of all our favorite characters and how they are different. The MVP of this gag has to go to Gajeel. While everyone else is creeped out or shocked at the differences between themselves and their double, Gajeel and Gajeel both get along famously right off the bat, thinking that their other selves are actually pretty cool.
While it is cool to see everyone play opposite personality versions of themselves, the real award for voice acting in this arc goes to Rie Kugimiya and Yui Horie, who voice Happy and Charle respectively. Every major character revelation in this arc is about them and both actresses really bring their ‘A’ game to roles that really were just mascot characters before this arc. Kugimiya in particular actually changed my whole opinion on Happy as a character by the end of this collection, and it was entirely due to the strength of line delivery and pathos that Kugimiya seemed to just pull from nowhere like a magician.
As Fairy Tail is an anime adaptation of a long running weekly manga the long period on air and the tight deadlines that go with it can often lead to the animation lacking polish as the series goes on. Fairy Tail‘s main animation failure seems to be running, whenever a character runs it seems terribly off with really odd motions that just seem too jagged. This is only made worse when a whole episode is centered around a race and we end up seeing everyone’s odd running animation over the entire episode.
There are even a few episode commentaries with some of the English voice-over staff. These are always interesting, even if the commentators occasionally just outright ignore the episode happening on screen as they are interesting people all by themselves. Hearing little stories and trivia from your favorite voice actors, directors or sound engineers is a nice extra to have and it puts the production into a very interesting real-life perspective that it would be easy to forget about otherwise.
Fairy Tail collection four is a great collection for a long running series. It contains a whole story arc that you can pick up and watch straight away, provided you are familiar with Fairy Tail. Sadly there is nothing special about this story arc that would grab any new viewers but for someone who likes Fairy Tail this arc reveals a great deal about several central characters and is required viewing.