Saturday, July 11, 2009
Fairy Tail, vol. 1
The story: Lucy is a teenage wizard and wants nothing more than to join the guild of Fairy Tail. Unfortunately, she gets caught up with some nasty pirates, one of who is impersonating a Fairy Tail wizard. Thankfully, Natsu, a boy she had met earlier that day comes to her rescue, saving her from being sold into slavery. But, Natsu's role as Lucy's hero is only the beginning of this tale, as he's also a member of Fairy Tail. Eventually, Natsu teams up with Lucy for adventures she'd only dreamed of!
Reaction: Wow, this is a fast-paced and goofy story! The characters are pure caricatures and have about as much depth to them as a puddle. Not to say that it's a bad thing -- this is pure and simple entertainment. While Lucy thinks she has hit the jackpot, she soon learns that the Fairy Tail wizard guild isn't everything it's cracked up to be. But, it seems that they're all good friends in one way or another (despite the magical fights they frequently get into), and support each other as a family of sorts. By the end of this volume, I found myself truly enjoying my immersion into the world of Fairy Tail.
Deep thoughts: In one chapter, a Fairy Tail wizard is possessed by a Vulcan, an ape-like creature. Spirit possessions aren't just things made up in fairy tales, though. Throughout the world, possession exists in most of the world's religions, even those outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition. And, just like in The Exorcist and the film Constantine, based on the Hellblazer comic books, many religions have specially trained people designated to deal with exorcisms, whether they're priests, shamans, witch doctors or voodoo queens. In the world of Fairy Tail, however, it seems wizards can act as exorcists, too.
Artwork: The artwork here is as loose and ridiculous as the story itself. The character designs may seem overly simplistic -- Lucy is all boobs and no brain, while Natsu is a muscle-bound boy -- but that belies its cleverness as a shortcut to understanding their personalities. Lucy is a somewhat selfish celestial wizard who always keeps a promise, and Natsu, a dragon slayer, has the appearance and appetite of a dragon. But, outside of its characters, Hiro Mashima, has created a captivating world and gives it an Old World feel, with cobblestone streets and brick buildings. His panel design keeps the reader going on a fast-paced traipse through the world he created, and includes some cool perspectives along the way.
The verdict: Highly recommended. I liked Fairy Tail a lot more than I thought I would. While, on its face, it's a funny adventure tale, there's some heart to it, too, just lurking beneath the surface. While the main characters don't seem to have much to them, there seems to be some hinting that there's more than meets the eye here. And, honestly, I can't wait to see what Lucy and Natsu get themselves into next! Fairy Tail is available in the U.S. from Del Rey.
To learn more about Fairy Tail, watch the Del Rey manga trailer below.