Fairy Tail the Movie: Phoenix Priestess (Blu-ray) Review

The first Fairy Tail movie on Blu-Ray. Is it any good?

Fairy Tail the Movie: Phoenix Priestess (Blu-Ray)
Fairy Tail the Movie: Phoenix Priestess (Blu-Ray). © Hiro Mashima• KODANSHA/FAIRY TAIL Movie Production Guild. Licensed by Kodansha through FUNimation® Productions, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

What they say

A feature length Fairy Tail adventure!

The mightiest team of mages from the magic kingdom's most infamous guild faces evil rising from the embers in this action-packed feature length adventure. Follow Fairy Tail's dream team—Natsu, Gray, Erza, Lucy, Wendy, Happy, and Carla—as they lend a helping hand to a girl with little memory and a grudge against wizards. As they uncover clues about her mysterious past, a lunatic prince hatches a half-baked plan to sacrifice her in exchange for immortality. When the fool unleashes an ancient force, a raging war becomes the fiercest inferno Fairy Tail has ever faced. Can the guild with a heart of gold save the planet from a fiery finish.

The Movie

Despite ranking as one of the biggest anime hits in recent years, I had never really watched an episode of the Fairy Tail anime or checked out the manga from which it’s based. Even though I find the main character designs really appealing and am a big fan of what little music I’ve heard, with almost 200 episodes of the anime to watch and over 45 volumes of the manga to catch up on, much like Naruto and Bleach, I found the series to be too intimidating having not watched it since the beginning.

With this new stand-alone movie though, I saw an opportunity to sample the franchise without having to worry about any long-running subplots and character arcs that would be present in the main series and in this respect the film succeeds.

Fairy Tail the Movie: Phoenix Priestess does a pretty decent job of introducing first-time viewers to all the main characters. Within the first ten minutes the main group of characters find themselves in a rather fun fight sequence that highlights each character’s abilities and personalities while also providing a great example of how the world the series is set in draws from both traditional Western fantasy (i.e. fire and ice magic powers) and bizarre Japanese animation tropes (i.e. a busty blond girl who can summon a randy bull-man one second and a trendy Japanese host the next).

I was particularly impressed with just how established the Fairy Tail world felt. With a mix of modern technology and fashion and traditional wizardry logic and subtle uses of magic, this movie left me genuinely wanting to stay longer in this world and explore more aspects of it. The same can be said for both the main group of characters and their many supporting characters from the main Fairy Tail anime series.

From their abilities and style to their personalities and character designs, every character offered something unique and quite a few surprised me with their depth. Juvia Lockser is one such example. At first she appeared to be a typical anime cliché of a woman screaming hysterically over a good looking male character but when pushed against a wall, she instantly straightened up and proved that she was a pro with her mastery over water magic and her ability to work completely professionally with the guy she had previously been swooning over.

Where Phoenix Priestess fails though is with the new characters introduced in this movie and the overall plot which seems to be drawing elements from other films where they made sense but uses them here with very little rhyme or reason.

The new character, Eclair seems to suffer from some sort of memory loss though it’s never really made clear how she got it and just how much she remembers. She seems to remember her name and entire details of the people she comes from and why she has to protect the magic stone but conveniently forget key details that only serve to delay plot progression until she randomly remembers them 20 minutes later. At one point it seems as if she has her memory back, only to quickly appear as if she remembers nothing about herself at all and then she sees an image of her father who apparently she remembered this whole time… It’s very inconsistent and ultimately a rather useless plot device.

Something else that doesn't work was Eclair’s belief that magic only brings pain which is never really explained and seems a bit hypocritical considering her best friend was created with magic. What seems even more random is that one of the main characters, Lucy grabs onto this belief which makes absolutely no sense for the character considering how much she uses magic herself and how many of her friends use it just makes the entire concept seem forced, especially after magic saves the day and is such a big part of her life and the world she lives in.

While called a movie, Fairy Tail the Movie: Phoenix Priestess is very much a direct to video film that received a very limited theatrical run in Japan. The animation isn’t bad but there are plenty of animation short cuts used in enough scenes to make the budget apparent such as motionless background crowds, super simplistic character designs and the increasingly common trick of having the camera shake or pan on a single frame of animation to give the illusion of movement.

None of these really detract from the movie but it does become apparent very quickly that this is more of an extended episode of the series rather than a big budget release. The opening credits though, look incredibly cheap and rushed and should have been cut completely.

Blu-ray and Special Features

Being a very new production, Fairy Tail the Movie: Phoenix Priestess comes with both 5.1 surround tracks in English and the original Japanese. I had no issues at all with the image quality which looked super crisp with zero artifacts.

The extras are pretty minimal in this release with the typical trailers and textless opening and closing credits included. A nice bonus is the Fairy Tail the Movie, Prologue: “The First Morning” which features the character Eclair and her life before the movie. Strangely, this short is only available with Japanese audio and English subtitles though it’s not something I could see watching more than once so is not really an issue for me.

It’s a shame that there was no mini-feature about the Fairy Tail franchise in general as not only would that have been useful for first-timers but would have been very smart marketing on the sales side of things.

Who Should Watch?

Fairy Tail is a very quirky fun series however some of its imagery and themes (i.e. brief nudity, sexual innuendos and death) may make it inappropriate for young children. People who have never seen Japanese animation before may find it a bit too strange however male and female anime fans in their late teens onwards are sure to get a kick out of it.


Fairy Tail the Movie: Phoenix Priestess may not be the big budget theatrical release that many hoped it would be but it offers a great look into the Fairy Tail world for first timers that makes it accessible in a way that was previously impossible and genuinely piqued my curiosity to invest more in the main series. For long time Fairy Tale fans, Phoenix Priestess is a fun stand-alone story that showcases all the main cast and a huge number of fan-favorite supporting characters. The plot may have faults but I thoroughly enjoyed my time in this world and look forward to returning to it soon.

CONNECT WITH BRAD: Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | YouTube | Instagram | Vine | Ello

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by Madman. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy. The Blu-ray featured in this review was the Australian Region A/B Blu-Ray release by Madman of the practically identical North American FUNimation release.