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10:00 AM on 05.27.2014

Review: World End Economica Episode 1

[Originally posted at Destructoid.] Visual novels are a finicky medium. It's difficult enough to drum up interest because of their exotic origins, and harder still to find an audience due to their nature -- it's a bunch of re...

Brittany Vincent




Review: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle photo
Review: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle
by Brittany Vincent

[As originally posted at Destructoid.]

How do you like your fighting games? Personally, I like mine with a sizable dose of pop culture references and eye-melting color palettes infused with a healthy dose of humor that's hilariously self-aware. That's what you get with JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle, the most gleefully insane anime-inspired fighter the genre has seen in some time.

Distilling a good 25 years' worth of story arcs from the wildly popular JoJo's Bizarre Adventure into an accessible fighter that anyone can enjoy is no easy feat, and yet developer CyberConnect2 has done an admirable job that should be praised. Even if your heart is as black as professional jerk Dio Brando's.

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Review: Princess Nine photo
Review: Princess Nine
by Karen Mead

At the beginning, I loved Princess Nine. It may be a cliche to say "I laughed, I cried!", but the fact is, I really did laugh and cry. The show seemed to be capable of doing something nigh-impossible: present a story unabashedly about girl power, without demonizing the male characters and rehashing the war between the sexes. Instead of getting bogged down in just dealing with sexism, the show transcends the gender gap and becomes about universal human struggles that apply to everyone: wisdom versus ignorance, passion versus apathy, and fear of the unknown versus the courage to try something new and dangerous. There's an awful lot going on in Princess Nine, and for a little while there, I was in anime heaven.

Then I saw the final third of the series -- and suddenly, I wanted to break all the discs over my knee and throw the pieces into an industrial wood chipper. However, a cooler head prevailed, as I eventually realized that despite my disappointment with the final arc, this is a quality release that deserves a place on many fans' shelves.

Besides, I have no idea where to find a wood chipper.

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Review: Nekomonogatari Black photo
Review: Nekomonogatari Black
by LB Bryant

I've been a fan of the Monogatari series since Bakemonogatari and have followed the entire franchise since the start. Nekomonogatari: Black came out in late 2012 and was widely accepted by fans as a very pleasant addition to the franchise that returned to the roots that had been established in the first series but mostly abandoned in Nisemonogatari

Serving as a prequel to the first series, Nekomonogatari: Black tells the story of that fateful Golden Week when Araragi discovers that he might have feelings for the class president Tsubasa Hanekawa. Before he can truly explore those feelings though he learns of her troubled home life. That issue has to be pushed aside however because Hanekawa has also been possessed by a ghost known as the Sawari Neko which is causing her to attack random people around the city. 

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Review: Ranma 1/2 Set 1 photo
Review: Ranma 1/2 Set 1
by Karen Mead

The wacky ensemble comedy of Ranma 1/2 occupies an interesting niche in Western anime fandom. The show wasn't likely to be someone's "first anime," in the way that contemporaries Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z generally were, but it was very likely to be someone's second, or third anime. Since it was one of the first anime TV series made widely available on VHS in the '90s, a lot of us have fond memories of it that may not be necessarily earned; after all, when a lot of us first saw it, we had almost nothing to compare it to.

I was a typical anime fan in this regard, since my local Blockbuster had a few Ranma 1/2 tapes among its meager anime offerings somewhere around 1997. The store only had the first two volumes of the TV series and a handful of OVAs, but I remember watching them to death back in the day -- especially the TV series episodes. Needless to say, just hearing the original theme song is enough to bring on crashing tidal waves of nostalgia. Going back to watch it in 2014, for the first time in well over a decade, I had to wonder if the show would seem anywhere near as appealing to me now that I'm older and supposedly wiser.

The answer? Imagine a picture of a slightly disgruntled Panda holding up a wooden sign that says "Yup!" This was good stuff then, and it's good stuff now.

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Review: Nyaruko: Crawling With Love! Blu-ray Season 1 Set Premium Edition photo
Review: Nyaruko: Crawling With Love! Blu-ray Season 1 Set Premium Edition
by LB Bryant

Originally released in 2012, Nyaruko: Crawling With Love is a bizarre little romantic comedy which takes a typical harem anime set up and inserts tons of references to Lovecraft into the mix. The end result is a weird series that will make some people laugh and some people run for cover. 

The story is pretty simple; while out and about one day, the hero Mahiro is attacked by a monster only to be saved by a Nyarlathotep who goes by the name Nyaruko. After being saved, Mahiro learns that his life is in danger and Nyaruko moves in to protect him at all costs. Along the way he meets more aliens including a Cthugha named Kuko (who is in love with Nyaruko despite the fact that they're supposed to be enemies) and the wind deity Hastur. 

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Review: Demon Gaze photo
Review: Demon Gaze
by Dae Lee

There's something comforting and satisfying about Japanese turn-based RPGs, growing your party and exploring the unknown in the name of loot and power. Every progressive inch forward is one step closer to realizing your ultimate demolition team, and along the way are formidable opponents that continually challenge you to step up your game. I'm admittedly a little picky with my RPGs, but when I find one I enjoy, it's just like curling up with a good book -- and Demon Gaze is undoubtedly one of them.

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Review: Blast of Tempest S2 photo
Review: Blast of Tempest S2
by Karen Mead

There's something inscrutable about Blast of Tempest. Even now that I've had a few days to digest everything and figure out the answers to most of my lingering story questions, I still feel that there's something about the show that I don't quite get. And it's not that I don't "get" it in some artistic sense, where I don't understand the themes or whatnot; I mean, I'm not sure I completely understand what even happened. Or why it happened.

Or, as Shakespeare once wrote:

What seest thou else
In the dark backward and abysm of time?

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Review: Hal photo
Review: Hal
by Dae Lee

Wit Studio is probably best known for their work on the hit anime Attack on Titan, but in stark contrast with high octane action and drama we might associate with Wit, they released a quiet yet ambitious short film OVA, Hal. Being a relatively new studio with some real production chops, Hal feels like a showcase that displays what the studio is capable of, pulling out all the stops and putting their best foot forward.

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Review: Wagnaria!!2 Blu-ray Complete Box Set Premium Edition photo
Review: Wagnaria!!2 Blu-ray Complete Box Set Premium Edition
by LB Bryant

Before I was a professional writer, my primary source of income was working in the customer service industry. Every single day I would deal with customers face to face and while most of them were perfectly fine, there were some that were less than pleasant. The same could be said for my co-workers. While some of them were great, some of them could be classified as difficult or just plain strange. This is why Wagnaria has always spoken to me in a way that very few other anime ever have. While I might not have ever worked in a restaurant, I can still identify with the characters of the series who are dealing with their own issues, hassles and oddities. 

When the first season was released in 2010, I was absolutely floored by just how good it was. Always quirky and hilarious, I connected with it very quickly and when it disappeared I was very sad. Then the second season came along and it was like meeting an old flame and falling in love all over again. Once again though, the series eventually ended and my heart was broken.

Now, the series is back in a special premium NIS America release and is ready to be served up just like a tasty entree. Does it stand the test of time? Join me after the jump to find out!

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Review: Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day photo
Review: Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day
by Chris Walden

As far as bundles go, this is a bit of a strange one. Part-movie collection, part-video game, Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day is something that could only be pulled off on a home console. I suppose it's not surprising to see that Bandai Namco is the company publishing it, as it wasn't too long ago that they were offering a similar package with Tekken Hybrid, which included Tekken Tag Tournament HD and the Tekken: Blood Vengeance movie. 

Interestingly, the four films that the 'Short Peace' refers to were actually released in Japan in the middle of last year. These short films were animated by Sunrise, combined and released in theaters as a single showing. Crispy's Inc and Grasshopper Manufacture collaborated to create a game based on the Short Peace films, titled Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day, which was later released in Japan in a bundle with the four films. It only took three months to hit our shelves after the Japanese release, which is pretty impressive. 

But is this media mash-up worth a place in your game collection? 

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Review: Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic Volume 2 photo
Review: Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic Volume 2
by Jeff Chuang

The second volume of Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic Volume 2 completes what is better known as the first season of the Magi anime. These next 13 episodes wrap up the Balbadd arc and bring the story to the end of the second dungeon for Aladdin and Alibaba. In that sense, it completes a story. In another sense, given Magi's ongoing manga, the first season of the anime is only just the beginning.

Watching the series through the second time, it gave me time to focus on some of the little things that I either didn't notice or didn't pay much attention to the first time around. The visuals are better; the animation got a bump compared to the TV airing as, presumably, the production team went back and made minor fixes. The famed Morgiana dance scene looks better than ever on home video.

Unmistakably, the first and second volumes of Magi go hand in hand. And now that we have the whole season, we can talk about the bigger picture: the way Magi the anime is trying to tell its story.

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Review: Steins;Gate photo
Review: Steins;Gate
by Brittany Vincent

[As originally posted at Destructoid.]

Time travel is infinitely more interesting once you leave the trappings of the TARDIS or any one of those familiar (some would say hackneyed) science fiction mainstays behind. Steins;Gate, the visual novel that inspired a 24-episode anime series, film, and several other spinoffs, has woven a masterful tale that explores the trope in a manner not unlike the popular deconstruction of magical girl series, Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

We're all familiar with the philosophy that altering even the smallest detail from a past event could alter the future drastically, but how much damage could a text message do? Could it destroy the hopes and dreams of everyone you love? How far could you go to make things right again?

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Review: Smuggler photo
Review: Smuggler
by Dae Lee

When I saw the trailer, Smuggler gave me mixed impressions. As a live action adaptation of a manga by Shohei Manabe, I approached this title cautiously; I've seen more than enough manga and anime adaptations to know that many of them, even ones with lavish production, tend to rely too much on star power and lack the unique vision, writing, and flair to stand on their own. Luckily this wasn't the case with Smuggler, as it delivers a complete film that succeeds at capturing what makes the pulp action genre so fun.

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Review: Space Adventure Cobra Part One photo
Review: Space Adventure Cobra Part One
by Pedro Cortes

'80s anime had a fondness for cribbing from classic sci-fi. You can see the influences of authors like Issac Asimov and Philip K. Dick and movies like Terminator and Alien in multiple shows from the era. Hell, the influence of Blade Runner alone can be seen in tons of series and OVAs of the era. Taking these ideas and mixing them up in the unrestrained minds of creators from that time and you can get some great stuff.

Space Adventure Cobra is interesting in that it takes a shard of an idea from a classic and then spins it out into its own epic. The familiar idea ends up going to places that you might not expect. Besides, even if you do expect it, you'll probably find yourself having a pretty good time.

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Review: Strider photo
Review: Strider
by Elliot Gay

I have a confession to make.

I really love the original NES Strider. Yes, it's glitchy, unpolished, and generally a confusing oddity. I understand all of that. But for every strange design decision that didn't work, there are flashes of greatness. The almost-Metroid style sense of adventure, the power-ups, the nonsensical story; I find the original Strider to be a fascinating experiment and product of its time.

One can imagine then that the announcement of a new exploration-focused Strider game got me more than a bit excited. I had zero confidence in Double Helix Games to create a good follow-up to the long dormant series, but the participation of Capcom's Osaka Studio kept me hopeful.

While Strider 2014 isn't quite the legendary game that some of its predecessors were, I think Double Helix is off to a good start.

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Review: Deadman Wonderland Vol. 1 photo
Review: Deadman Wonderland Vol. 1
by Brittany Vincent

When the anime adaptation of Deadman Wonderland began airing on Toonami, I was intrigued -- not because I thought I'd ever be able to catch it when it came on, or that I'd remember to hit the record button on my DVR, but because I thought it might be genuinely grotesque. When I finally had the chance to catch it on Blu-ray for Japanator, I was thrilled. The series delivered, mostly -- except for the part where it came to a screeching halt in what felt like the first half of a series with no second half in sight. Just as the events of the series came to a head, it was over as quickly as it had begun. What next? I did what every Berserk fan knows to do: I started reading the manga.

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Review: K DVD/Blu-ray Complete Series photo
Review: K DVD/Blu-ray Complete Series
by LB Bryant

Sometimes you come across a series that looks amazing and impresses you with its style from the first moments. Those series are few and far between but when you find them, they tend to stick with you. Sometimes though, you get into the middle of one of these shows and find that they are all flash with no meat; style over substance, as it were. Sadly, K is one of those series. 

While high-school student Shiro is running an errand for his classmates one day, he's forced to go on the run when multiple people show up on the scene intent on taking his life. Apparently there's a video of him out there murdering a "king" in cold blood. Shiro's sure that he didn't do it and convinces one of the people after his life, Kuroh, to spare him long enough to prove his innocence.

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Review: The Witch and the Hundred Knight photo
Review: The Witch and the Hundred Knight
by Chris Walden

Diablo 3 was disappointing. That might be an odd way to start a review on a game from Nippon Ichi Software, but while I and many others await the Reaper of Souls expansion to complete the many Diablo 3 renovations, the urge to dive into a good dungeon crawler is only rising. I had no idea what The Witch and the Hundred Knight was a week ago, but after hearing that it might just satiate my hunger for hoarding loot, I had to get in on that.

What awaited was an interesting take on a tried and tested genre, with many new mechanics that seek to innovate. However, for every positive this game has on offer, there's an unfortunate negative. 

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Review: Tiger & Bunny: The Rising photo
Review: Tiger & Bunny: The Rising
by Pedro Cortes

Tiger & Bunny turned out to be a surprise hit for Sunrise. It had well-animated action scenes, an interesting story across both seasons and a set of main characters that had some great arcs. Not only that, but the show ended up being a hit across genders lines. In general, guys loved the super hero action and ladies loved the rather attractive heroes -- I mean, the Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Barnaby Brooks Jr. slash paring is one of the most popular ones I've seen.[Editor's Note: which certainly is not to say that plenty of ladies didn't also enjoy this show for the action as well!] It’s the kind of cross-over hit that only happens once every couple of years.

This being a Sunrise property, there was bound to be some sort of compilation film. The first movie, titled Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning, spent most of its time re-telling the opening few episodes of the show, ending with a new adventure involving a thief that can change his location at will. A year and a half later, we finally get the second film, Tiger & Bunny: The Rising. Instead of a ton of recaps, we get an entirely new film with a new hero and a new antagonist.

How do these new elements fit into the established world?

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Review: Blessing of the Campanella photo
Review: Blessing of the Campanella
by LB Bryant

In 2010, Funimation simulcasted a fantasy series called Blessing of the Campanella and then, once concluded, it quietly went away. For months no one brought it up again until 2013 when Right Stuf revealed at a summer convention that they had licensed the series and planned on releasing it. Fast forward a few months and now you can find the series on store shelves, but is it worth the trip to pick it up? 

Taking place in the city of Ert'Aria, the story follows an adventuring clan named Oasis who are much beloved by the populace and take on odd jobs or quests for people. One night, the clan is watching a meteor shower when one particular burst of energy hits a nearby tower. When one of the members, Leicester, investigates he finds a young girl named Minette who declares him to be her father. 

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Review: Insufficient Direction photo
Review: Insufficient Direction
by Brad Rice

Being an otaku isn't easy. But when you've fallen in love with someone who's king of the otaku? Well, that means you've got a long way to go to up your nerd game.

That's the struggle Rompers faces in Moyoco Anno's autobiographical manga, detailing the adventures she has in living with and marrying Hideaki Anno -- one of Japan's biggest otaku. They struggle with everything from the music in the car to decorating their house. Will Rompers survive the struggles of being a true otaku?

If you're a fan of any of Moyoco Anno's other works (Sakuran, Hataraki Man, Sugar Sugar Rune), then Insufficient Direction will provide a peek behind the curtain and see what her private life is like.

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Review: Maria Holic photo
Review: Maria Holic
by LB Bryant

Released by Sentai Filmworks, Maria Holic is a Shaft series from way back in 2008. The series takes place at the all girls Ame no Kisaki academy where Kanoko has just transferred in hopes of finding her one true love. Yes, she is a lesbian. A very perverted one at that, but we'll get to that later. 

Upon entering the school grounds, Kanako meets a variety of other students including a beautiful new first-year named Maria. At first the two get along great and Kanako believes that she may have found her true love right away... until she finds out Maria's big secret: she is actually a guy crossdressing as a female and Maria will do anything to make sure that this secret doesn't get out, including moving into the same dorm room as Kanako to keep a close eye on her.

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A Look @: Oh My Goddess!, Volume 45 photo
A Look @: Oh My Goddess!, Volume 45
by Karen Mead

As long as Kosuke Fujishima's most celebrated manga has been running, it wasn't actually around during Benjamin Franklin's time. We can discern this because if it had been, his famous quotation would have stated that the only certainties in life were "death, taxes and Oh My Goddess!" That's how inevitable each new volume feels.

The series has been slogging along for something like 25 years, and though there have been some plot twists here and there, the fundamentals seem set in stone: Keichi and Belldandy love each other, but Bell's two meddling sisters make trouble for them. Keichi and Belldandy love each other, but their relationship will never advance beyond the hand-holding, kindergarten level for some reason; presumably because Fujishima is a pretty classy fellow and has no interest in sullying his premiere series with dirty Goddess/human sex. Keichi and Belldandy love each other, but the plot will never really progress, and so on and so forth.

Or at least, that's what we thought. The last few volumes of OMG! have turned what we thought we knew about this series on its head, and I'm honestly not sure how I feel about it yet.

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Review: Kamisama Kiss photo
Review: Kamisama Kiss
by Karen Mead

When I dream of becoming God, these fantasies usually don't involve a white-haired pretty boy with fox ears who follows me around and does my bidding; clearly, I've been doing it wrong. Now that Kamisama Kiss has taught me the error of my ways, my visions of deity will probably contain more sexy fox men and less sending other drivers to burn in eternal hellfire when they forget to use their blinkers. It's probably healthier this way.

Have your own delusions of Godhood been too full of wrath and too light on supernatural boyfriends lately? Then you too could probably use some Kamisama Kiss in your life.

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Review: Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic Volume 1 photo
Review: Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic Volume 1
by Jeff Chuang

Magi is an interesting fantasy work in that familiar, if comfortable context of shounen manga adaptations. The story takes on a  One Thousand and One Nights motif, as protagonists Alibaba, Aladdin and Morgiana find their way out of poverty and slavery in a world disturbed by magic and conspiracy. This TV anime adaptation is now on its fourth cour, second season, currently airing in Winter 2014.

To me, the unusual setting is already a big selling point. Much can be said about ninjas or samurais, but what about plain, old fashion fantasy but inspired by mixes of far-East and near-East motifs and concepts, as themes cross between typical character development and international politics and nation-building? Magi is not something you find everyday. 

However, strengths aside, Magi is a very long series. So really, the question is, will this series be worth the capital investment both in time and money? 

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Review: One Piece: Romance Dawn photo
Review: One Piece: Romance Dawn
by Pedro Cortes

I've got some major love for One Piece. On top of keeping up with it on a weekly basis for about eight years, I've spent a good amount of money on merch. Figures, manga, art: I've sunk a lot of hours into getting all that stuff into my room. The only thing that I haven't really been satisfied with are the One Piece games. In general, they've been sub-par experiences that seem quickly pushed out to make a quick buck on the backs of fans.

The only one I've enjoyed at all was Unlimited Adventure for the Wii. It was a straightforward action game with a stand-alone story that was fun for a while. Unfortunately, it eventually outstayed its welcome with boring level design and little else to do besides run around, switch characters, get lost and punch things.

With some hesitation, I was looking forward to the release of Romance Dawn, an RPG for the 3DS. Hey, I love One Piece and I love RPGs. That's sure to be a great combination, right? Uh, well, let's just say that it leaves a lot to be desired. Hit the jump to find out why.

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Review: Fate/Zero Blu-ray Box Set 2 photo
Review: Fate/Zero Blu-ray Box Set 2
by LB Bryant

When Fate/Zero Set 2 starts off, we're thrown right in the middle of a major battle. Caster has created a huge monster and it's up to Saber, Lancer, Rider and Archer to defeat it before it can cause major damage to the general populace. After he is dispatched, it's back to the Grail War and tons of talking, plotting, planning and backstabbing.

To make it clear, I enjoyed the second half of Fate/Zero but there are flaws within it which the audience should be aware of before picking it up. Just how big are the flaws? Join me after the jump to find out. 

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Review: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc photo
Review: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
by Chris Walden

I'll be honest with you. Before playing Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc for the first time, I had to dust off my PS Vita, charge it up for a few hours and install a stack of updates. Unfortunately, this isn't the first time I've gone through these motions in order to play a game on this handheld, as the software library just hasn't been that appealing to me. To give you some perspective, the last game I played was Persona 4: The Golden. According to my Backloggery page, I finished it on April 5th, 2013. 

Of course, this is just how I've fared, and I'm sure there are loads of games out there that many others have had a good time with. Saying that, there are a fair few titles coming out soon that have my interest, including Mind Zero, Project Diva F 2nd and of course, Danganronpa

But would this odd-looking bear and his devilish personality ultimately win me over, or would my Vita find itself banished back to a dark corner to patiently await the next game? You're just going to have to read on and find out.

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A Look @ Fairy Tail Volume 33 & 34 photo
A Look @ Fairy Tail Volume 33 & 34
by Pedro Cortes

Before we take a look at the latest volumes of Fairy Tail, let’s take a look at where we’re at in the story. The members of Fairy Tail are in the midst of the Grand Magic Games. Held to determine which guild is the strongest, Fairy Tail has been at the bottom of the rankings for the last several years due to all of the strongest members being shifted through time in prior volumes. In order to restore their reputation, the time-displaced members gather together and challenge the world, though things are quite a bit different from when they last were around.

After barely squeaking by the first portion of the competition, the members of Fairy Tail have not been performing well in the one-on-one fights. Lucy and Mystogan both lost their matches, leaving both Fairy Tail teams dead last. They’re going to have to make some points quick or they risk falling too far behind to catch up. However, if there’s one thing you can bet on, it’s that Fairy Tail will find some way to come out on top.

Hit the jump to find out how!

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