Spanking new from Del Rey comes ‘Fairy Tail’, the eagerly anticipated new manga by Hiro Mashima (www.delreymanga.com) . Mashima is already known in the west as the mangaka of ‘Rave Master’ an extraordinary off-the-wall shonen fantasy adventure, crammed full of weird characters and just the right mix of comedy and danger. Getting such a volatile cocktail of manga ingredients right is a tricky matter and there have been countless series that have failed to pull it off (no names mentioned here!) However, having devoured the first volume, I’m delighted to report that ‘Fairy Tale’ is a fun read, genuinely funny, and brimming with promise for the adventures to come. It should be a winner, especially for fans of Eiichiro Oda’s classic pirate manga ‘One Piece’ (Mashima’s character design is very reminiscent of Oda’s; I can only imagine this to be an affectionate homage to a master of the genre).
It all starts when Lucy, a seventeen-year-old Celestial Wizard, goes looking for a Guild of wizards known as ‘Fairy Tail’. She bumps into Natsu, an ‘unusual’ young man with a talking blue cat (who can fly) called Happy. Natsu claims to be searching for a Salamander, or fire wizard, named Igneel. One disaster leads to another, resulting in Lucy being captured by pirates and threatened with being sold as a slave. When her magic fails her, Natsu and Happy come to the rescue – with unexpected and startling results.
Lucy’s main aim in life is to join Fairy Tail but when she eventually crosses the guild’s threshold, she is taken aback by its many rowdy and colourful members, from Gray (who keeps forgetting to get dressed) through skirt-chasing Loke (“One of the top-ranking men in ‘The Wizard I’d Like To Be My Boyfriend’,” sighs the smitten Lucy) to the shapely, beer-guzzling Cana Alberona. It seems that Fairy Tail’s reputation for wreaking havoc when they go to carry out a mission may be well deserved, especially when Lucy learns that Natsu is also a member. But she joins up anyway and is soon off on her very first mission – with Natsu and Happy. As Natsu suffers badly from motion sickness, any journey undertaken with him is not a pleasant experience. But Lucy comes to acknowledge that she’s very glad that he came along when she finds herself confronted by monster-sized monkeys called Vulcans.
Lucy makes a feisty, yet sympathetic viewpoint heroine, and the magic she wields is one of Mashima’s funniest inventions. Lucy has made a contract with certain celestial spirits; unfortunately this means that they only come to her aid according to the times specified in their agreement. But alongside the humour and the groan-worthy puns, ‘Fairy Tail’ exudes lots of heart; Natsu, for all his faults, of standing by your friends, no matter what the danger.
‘Rave Master’ aficionados will be pleased to spot a few old friends, including the sudden appearance of a certain carrot-nosed dog…
‘Fairy Tail’ is a fantasy where the magic systems work and the fights come fast and furious. And how can anyone resist a story that begins with a note like this from the author?
‘This is a classic story of the
friendship between humans
I got in a lie right from the start!’
‘Fairy Tail’ gets the full Del Rey manga treatment, with copious and fascinating notes from translator William Flanagan at the back. A fun, exciting read, overspilling with colourful characters, humour and magical fights. I’m really looking forward to the next volume.