Fairy Tail Vol 1 & 2 by Hiro Mashima Manga Review

Title:  Fairy Tail Vol 1 & Vol 2

Author:  Hiro Mashima

Publisher:  Del Rey

ISBN: 9780345501332 &  9780345503305

May Contain Spoilers

Fairy Tail is your typical beat ’em up shounen adventure yarn, filled with sinister villains, really bad puns, and an engaging trio of heroes.  That said, I enjoyed the first two books in the series, but as I’ve stated before, I am a sucker for these kinds of stories.  I find the somewhat simple formula of the good guys overcoming all obstacles to defeat the bad guys comforting, and wonder why it only seems to happens in books.  Honest, hard-working people finishing first should be the rule rather than the exception, but that’s not the case in real life.  *Sniff*  I like the way it works out in manga better.

Lucy is a celestial wizard, and her dream is to join the Fairy Tail Wizard Guild.  Why? They are the coolest one around, duh!  Its members are often featured in the Weekly Sorcerer and are the talk of the town.  In truth, usually after they destroy a part of it, or cause other random acts of havoc as they fulfill their current missions.  Like in RPGs, the Guilds operate as a meeting place for its members, and more importantly, it’s where the open jobs are posted.  Just like in an RPG, the characters can accept jobs to earn some grand jewels, the hard currency in world of Fairy Tail.  But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself…

Lucy just wants to join the Fairy Tail Guild, but she doesn’t know how.  She meets Natsu and his talking cat Happy by accident, when he breaks a charm spell that had been cast over her.  She learns that he’s also a wizard, and more importantly, he’s a member of the Fairy Tail Guild!  Yeah!  Suddenly she can see a membership card in her future!  The trio team up, and off they head to Magnolia, where the Fairy Tail Guild is headquartered.

I like quirky Natsu, and hope that we get a little more background information on him in upcoming volumes.  He has a weakness that I can relate to: he suffers from extreme motion-sickness. The mere thought of traveling by boat or train is enough to have him hurling up his breakfast.  He is incapacitated when trapped on moving vehicles, which makes the timing of some of his fights a little sticky.  Get attacked while riding on the train and he’s utterly defenseless.  Have the same train stop, and he’s back in the ball game – at least until it gets moving again.  I guess the easy solution to that is to stop picking fights on the train.  Natsu is looking for Igneel, the dragon that raised him.  One day, Igneel spread his wings and flew off, never to return.  Devastated, it’s Natsu’s goal to find him again.

Happy is a talking cat.  He can also fly, but as his wings disappear sporadically, it’s not a particularly reliable mode of travel.  Too bad, because Natsu’s bouts of motion-sickness aren’t triggered when he’s flying with Happy.  Happy’s favorite phrase seems to be “Aye!” and he’s usually good for a few laughs, both due his wisecracks and his super expressive features.  I’m not usually a cat person, but I’ll make an exception for Happy.  He may have some competition, though, because Plue, the weird dog-like critter from Rave Master, puts in a special guest appearance. 

Fairy Tail’s characters and blistering pacing make it a lot of fun.  Nobody gets to ever stop and catch their breath as they race from one adventure to the next.  Even during downtimes, resting at the Guild, the members spend more time fighting and tearing the place up than relaxing.  There’s nothing earth-shattering about the missions, but they are filled with goofy bad guys, including one who obviously needs glasses because his maids were definitely not cute, unless you are into cows, and humorous jams that our heroes must extract themselves from.  It’s all pretty standard stuff, but it’s presented in such a manner that is engaging and makes you want to keep turning the pages.

The art reminds me a lot of Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece, which at one time I would have thought extremely ugly.  As I have been exposed to different art styles, I’ve come to appreciate more than just the Yuu Watase’s of the world.  Hiro Mashima’s illustrations have a campy energy and playful slant that makes the confrontations entertaining.  His characters are also very expressive and you never have to guess what’s going on in their minds.

Del Rey is releasing the first two volumes of Fairy Tail simultaneously, which I think is a great idea.  I usually give a new series two volumes to grab my attention, and if they don’t accomplish that, I move on to something else.  I would like other series, especially long ones, to be presently similarly, though I can see myself eating more ramen noodles due to a lack of funds if that’s the case. 

Grade: B

Rated for Teen

Review copies provided by Del Rey

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