WARNING: Contains spoilers to previous collections.
In terms of how best to sum up this particular edition of Fairy Tail, I suspect the phrase that comes to mind is: “Don’t panic! Don’t panic! The wizards are invading, don’t panic!”
At the end of the previous collection, we witnessed the Fairy Tail guild preparing for an invasion from the Alvarez Empire, led by Zeref and his most trusted generals, the Spriggan 12. With Mavis controlling everything from the guild, the rest of the wizards are trying their hardest to protect not just themselves, not just their hometown, but the entire continent from invasion.
It is hard, therefore, to write about the actual plot of this collection, because mostly these 13 episodes just consist of battles between the various wizards, the most interesting being one in which Natsu decides to go it alone (unless you count Happy who flies him over) and take on Zeref himself. Natsu has managed to strengthen himself to such a state that even Zeref believes that Natsu might finally kill him, but he doesn’t. Following this, Zeref finally tells Natsu about his origins: that Natsu is actually E.N.D., but he refuses to believe it. He attempts to attack Zeref again, but Happy gets him out of danger.
Perhaps the best thing to be said for this collection then is that just about everyone plays a significant role at some point. Obviously the likes of Natsu, Lucy, Gray, Erza and Wendy all have major roles, but many of the side character play an important part in the story. For example: in the first episode Fried is using his barriers to protect the entire town whilst being supported by the rest of the Thunder Legion, while Bisca is using her shooting magic to power up a gigantic cannon to shoot down a navy of flying ships. Later episodes see just about every other major guild that appears in the series join the fight to support Fairy Tail. Meanwhile, one of the Spriggan 12 is a wizard whose magic allows him to see into people’s memories and thus recreate what appear to be duplications of people they love, meaning the wizards end up battling versions of characters from much earlier in the series, some of whom are dead. One of these fights sees Gray and Lyon having to battle a version of their long-dead master Ur.
The series has some big sequences, and several characters are willing to sacrifice everything to protect everyone. However, things become even more complicated when Acnologia ends up in all this, hunting down the Dragon Slayers during the chaotic war. Another dramatic moment comes when Acnologia approaches a wizard who is all-powerful, but the dragon is able to defeat him in an instant. The quality of the fights is certainly good, as the strongest magical abilities come into force as the battles get harder for everyone. It is all fast-paced and gripping.
If plot is what you want, you will probably be disappointed in this collection. Plot development is certainly there as is evidenced by the revelations in the fight between Natsu and Zeref, but this collection appears to be mainly about the build-up to something greater.
Extras in the collection include a short feature entitled “Finding Light in the Darkness”, as well as textless opening and closing. The songs used, “Down by Law” by The Rampage from Exile Tribe, and “Pierce” by EMPiRE respectively are both decent tracks.
All of these battles are shaping up into something even bigger, so the last two collections will hopefully deliver. I think the best way to end this review is with the following picture of Levy. Remember, if she can wear one, you can wear one.