I remember being so excited when I realised there was a newly released Fairy Tail film – for the first time, I could watch Natsu & co. for over an hour uninterrupted instead of having to watch episode after episode (not that that’s a bad thing!). Perhaps even more importantly, I would be buying it on DVD so I could watch it on a bigger screen than my computer; that was a very exciting realisation for me. Of course, there was also the worry that they might not manage to pull off an hour and 20-minute long Fairy Tail story which was entirely unrelated to the rest of the series (so far, of course), but why I had such doubts I’m not quite sure. The film was brilliant.
I personally think that part of the reason for Fairy Tail’s success is not only the characters, but also the humour throughout it. Whether it’s due to a quick one–liner, or a whole scene, this anime is undoubtedly the funniest I’ve seen. I was slightly concerned that the humour in the film wouldn’t be as good as it is in the anime, but I ended up laughing out loud more times than I can count. It’s been a while since I’ve genuinely laughed at a Fairy Tail episode (that’s not to say they’ve not been funny, they’ve just been too busy breaking my heart for me to do much else than cry), but Fairy Tail: Phoenix Priestess has some utterly brilliant moments in it. Sure, there are a few predictable moments – one scene in particular springs to mind – but they’re still pretty funny. Although there are some recurring jokes and things from the episodes, they’re not over–used, and nor do they spoil anything for anyone who may not have seen all the current episodes, which is good – I had waited until I caught up with the series before I watched the film, because I didn’t want to risk spoiling anything for myself, but I don’t think there’s anything that would ruin it (at least, nothing obvious or important).
My intention had been to watch the film with the subtitles, because the site I use for watching the anime hasn’t yet dubbed all the episodes so I’m now more used to the original voices than I am to the English voices. When I first watched the trailer for the film, I genuinely recoiled hearing the English voices because they just didn’t sound right at all – I hadn’t heard the characters sound like that in such a long time, and I was totally convinced I wouldn’t watch the dubbed version of the film. However, when the film first started, it was the dubbed version, so I turned up my nose at it and was just about to try and change it to the subbed one, when Gray spoke. Ever since I started Fairy Tail, Gray has been my favourite character, and when he first spoke in the film I was immediately brought back to when I first started it about 5 months ago, and so I thought “Hey, I could get used to this again!” and decided to keep the dubbed version going. And honestly, the voices are nowhere near as bad as I was expecting them; it didn’t take too long for me to get used to them again and it was nice just being able to concentrate on what was going on without having to quickly read the subtitles too.
I must admit, I was a little unsure of Éclair at first; a character just introduced in the film. She was quite stand–offish, though to be fair that was part of her character, and I just didn’t like the way she treated Lucy and the others – but again, that was part of her character. It took me a wee while until I found myself liking her, but in the end I did like her a lot more, and I certainly felt sorry for her too – that’s the thing with Fairy Tail; no matter what, they can just tug on your heart–strings in an instant and leave you a crying wreck, mere seconds after you’ve been laughing your head off. It’s brilliantly done, as I’ve yet to see another anime – or indeed, see anything – so good at playing with your emotions.
I only have one very slight complaint about the film, and that’s the music. Normally I love the music of Fairy Tail, and I could listen to it for hours, but the score for the film just wasn’t quite as up to scratch as some of the other pieces. Don’t get me wrong, it was good and it did tie in with the film, but having tried to listen to it whilst writing this, I found I wasn’t interested and each piece just blended together. With the “regular” Fairy Tail soundtracks, each piece is beautiful and great to listen to – they also accurately represent the anime. Some pieces you listen to and can picture the battles unfolding in your mind, others make you want to cry with how emotive they are. The music in Phoenix Priestess is just lacking something, and it’s unlikely I’ll listen to it again other than when watching the film.
As a whole, however, the film was great, and I imagine it’s something I’ll watch a lot as I wait for new episodes to be released each week! The characters are just as good in this as they are in the anime, and the longer running time than that of an ordinary episode don’t have any negative effects on them. It was entirely possible that they may be a little duller or not as funny in something that’s at least 3 times longer than an episode, but that didn’t happen; if anything they were almost better, though I’m probably only saying that because I got to see them for so much longer!
Although I do recommend watching Fairy Tail: Phoenix Priestess, I would say that you at least watch some of the anime – or read the manga! – first, as that way you’ll get a better feel for the characters and more things will make sense.