FAIRY TAIL: VOLUME 1 – MANGA REVIEW

 Cover of Fairy Tail vol 1

Review by: Edward Zacharias

Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Author: Hiro Mashima
Genre: Graphic Novel (Fantasy/Adventure)
MSRP: $10.95 US
Rating: T (Ages 13+)
Release Date: March 25, 2008

Those who know Hiro Mashima know his work well and saying he has a loyal following would be the understatement of the year. He is, after all, the gifted author of Rave Master and if you missed that series then you really must pick up more manga. In 2006, Mashima started a new series in Japan and thankfully Del Rey Manga has brought the first and second volume to our shores and releasing them simultaneously. Fairy Tail Volume 1 is not just a great story but it’s also the start of a truly delightful new series.

The series revolves around a gorgeous young girl named Lucy who also happens to be what the magic user community calls a Celestial Wizard. At 17-years old, she has already mastered her craft, which involves summoning Celestial Spirits (many of whom are creatures tied to the Zodiac) to aid her. Lucy is the type of young girl who dreams big and her biggest ambition is to one day join the Fairy Tail guild of powerful wizards. So one day when she’s shopping for magical Gatekeys (used by Celestial Wizards to summon Celestial Spirits) she hears that a powerful wizard nicknamed Salamander has arrived into town.

Curious to meet this Salamander, Lucy discovers that this wizard already has a flock of female admirers and suddenly she isn’t able to resist his charms. It isn’t until the arrival of a young man named Natsu and his traveling companion, a talking cat named Happy (I know, not the most original of names), arrive in search of a Salamander wizard that Lucy discovers that she was under a charm spell. Out of gratitude, Lucy invites Natsu and Happy to lunch and discovers that they are both wizards as well.

It isn’t until they part ways that Lucy is ambushed by the Salamander wizard who invites her to his yacht for a party. Accepting his invitation, Lucy soon comes to realize that this wizard is nothing more than a pirate charming women to come aboard his ship to be sold into slavery. Luckily for her, Natsu storms into the ship to take out the wizard he reveals as an imposter because the real Salamander is him. Oh, and he’s also a part of the Fairy Tail guild … a guild known for leaving a path of destruction during missions. In the end, the trio put an end to the pirates in the most destructive way possible.

And so begins a friendship between Natsu, Happy and Lucy as they head to the Fairy Tail guild. There, Lucy comes to discover a number of interesting wizards who – to her – our really out of their minds and start bar room brawls at the drop of a hat. The only one who seems sane to her is Mirajane who is wizard/barmaid and also moonlights as the cheesecake pinup model in the pages of the Weekly Sorcerer magazine. She is quickly accepted into the guild by the diminutive Master of Fairy Tail and feels she must pull her own weight now so she decides to tag along with Natsu and Happy who are taking on a mission to locate a lost Fairy Tail wizard whose young son is worried about him.

In the course of the mission, Lucy comes to make a number of discoveries. Natsu, it seems, was raised by a talking dragon who decided to leave out of the blue and thus the reason she met him in the harbor town. She also discovers that she’s way out of her league as she comically relies on her two favorite Celestial Spirits … a clock named Horologium and a humanoid, axe-wielding bull named Taurus. Fighting a number of monsters, they soon find out the fate of the lost wizard. The first volume ends with them accepting a mission to retrieve a book from a Duke Everlue who just so happens to be looking for a new blond maid.

Volume 1 of Fairy Tail is, overall, a wonderfully-written story that reveals quite a lot about the characters but in the most endearing way. We learn early in the manga that Natsu suffers from motion sickness and eats fire since he is the Salamander wizard (a type of wizard that uses fire magic). We learn that Happy can fly for short bursts of time and – as seen in the extra short story “Happy’s Little Job” – takes on a mission to sample a new type of fish. You also have to love Del Rey Manga for including extras such as the handy translation notes that is akin to a director’s commentary on DVDs. It’s basic stuff but it’s great to see included in the volume and it would be great to see more of it in future volumes.

An enjoyable read from start to finish, Fairy Tail’s first volume is – to quote the silver screen classic Casablanca – the start of a beautiful friendship. Then again, what can we expect from a brilliant writer and artist that has brought us a fan favorite like Rave Master? Thankfully, we didn’t even have to wait for the second volume and I can safely say that this series is not just required reading but it will also make a fan out of you. Really, I’m placing this one in the Must Read category.

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: 9 ½ /10
We’ve read about wizards before but Fairy Tail manages to offer a fresh new take on the magic guild theme to bring us a story filled with likeable characters, high adventure and Mashima-sama’s brand of charming humor. By the end of the first volume you won’t be able to help but love Lucy.

ART: 10/10
This has got to be Hiro Mashima’s best work yet and we’ve seen some great art from him in Rave Master so that’s saying a lot. Everything from his backgrounds to the character design just comes together wonderfully in the pages of this manga.

OVERALL: 10/10
If this first volume is any indication of what we can come to expect from future volumes of Fairy Tail then be prepared to be hooked by this series. With a colorful cast of characters, excellent writing and gorgeous artwork, Fairy Tail is one of those enjoyably rare gems you must absolutely read.

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