Warning: Review contains episode spoilers
“People hardly ever make use of the freedom they have, for example, freedom of thought; instead they demand freedom of speech as compensation.” – Søren Kierkegaard.
While the latest arc in Fairy Tail does feel good, you do worry that it’s repeating ideas from earlier on in the series.
The first few episodes are a bit of filler, but not too bad as fillers go. The highlights include Gray and Jellal learning of the fate of Ultear, and back story featuring Erza which also happens to tell the origins of one of the minor members of the guild. However, this latter story has one clear oddity: namely that it begins with the guild now having a pool table and clearly playing a game of nine-ball pool, but all the way through they refer to the game as “billiards”, even though in a flashback much of the action takes place in a building with a massive sign outside saying “POOL HALL”. The last filler episode sees Lucy and Yukino trying to spend time with their Zodiac spirits as a way of thanking them during the Eclipse Project – and it is the Zodiac spirits who serve as the main focus of the next arc.
Across the world the weather is going wrong, resulting in nearly all of the Fairy Tail wizards going off to fulfil job requests. Natsu, Happy and Lucy take up a mission in a remote village, but when they arrive they find the village doesn’t exist. The only thing in the area are massive sea slugs. Lucy tries using her Zodiac spirits to stop the slugs, but no spirits emerge when she uses her keys and only Natsu can stop them.
Afterwards, Lucy uses one of her silver keys to contact one of the minor celestial spirits, but soon afterward Lucy and co are attacked by someone they weren’t expecting: Virgo – and she has undergone a drastic change in personality, from her normal masochist maid self into a whip-wielding sadist. Lucy cannot bring herself to hurt her celestial spirit and so Virgo ends up on top in a fight, after which all of Lucy’s Zodiac spirits appear, utterly changed: womanising Leo is completely uninterested in ladies; scary Aquarius has become a cute, little girl; apologetic Aries is a rebellious badass and so on. Lucy’s Zodiac spirits have rebelled against her, claim have no memory of Lucy and want “total freedom” from humans.
Lucy later learns that Yukino’s Zodiac spirits have also rebelled, and that the Zodiacs plan to cast a spell that will free them, but it will also mean that each spirit will only live for 12 more days. Lucy, Natsu and Happy work together with Yukino and Levy in order to return the spirits to normal. In their travels they meet Princess Hisui and Arcadios, the people behind the Eclipse Project, with Hisui saying that she is partly to blame for the chaos as the destruction of the project resulted in the abnormal weather. However, she has been able to create some special keys that can seal away the spirits.
Eventually Natsu, and plenty other wizards from Fairy Tail track down the Zodiac spirits. Soon the spirits split up and are pursued by a different wizard, each armed with a key to seal them away.
The last bunch of episodes, and those in the next collection focus on these (mostly) one-on-one battles, namely; Natsu and Happy against Leo; Lucy against Virgo; Erza against Sagittarius; Yukino against Libra; Cana against Scorpio; Gray against Cancer; Juvia against Aries; Levy against Capricorn; Wendy and Charle against Aquarius; Mirajane against Pisces; Gajeel and Pantherlily against Gemini; and Elfman against Taurus.
As you can gather, there are two main features in this collection: the transformation of the Zodiac spirits, and the battles between them and the wizards. There are certainly some odd conflicts. Because of Cana’s card magic, Scorpio challenges her to a Yu-Gi-Oh!-style trading card game battle. Meanwhile Cancer challengers Gray to a rather embarrassing dance-off.
While the change in personality does make for a fun change, with the sadistic Virgo and the way she bullies and punishes Lucy a personal favourite, you do worry that this is a repetition of the “Edolas” arc, in which the Fairy Tail wizards encountered the opposite versions of themselves. It seems like they are just repeating ideas they have used before.
Given the way the collection has unfolded, you can tell that the next bunch of episodes are going to follow in the same pattern, mostly focusing on the battles. There is however one point of interest, in the arrival of a new character to cause more chaos: the nurse-like Ophiuchus the snake charmer – the 13th Zodiac spirit.
Looking at the extras, this collection includes commentaries, textless opening and closing, trailers, and a profile of the Quarto Cerberus guild – which is somewhat perplexing given that they don’t appear in any episodes in this collection. Given that guild profiles have appeared in the past couple of collections, you can expect this to repeated in the next few sets as well. Out of the two new tracks uses, the opening, “Mysterious Magic” by Do as Infinity, sounds better than the ending “Kimi no Mirai” by Root Five. One plus point on the production side though is that this collection is a bit longer, containing 13 episodes rather 12, split into seven and six episodes across the two discs.