Fairy Tail 7

October 22, 2009

Hiro Mashima – Del Rey – 2009 – 17+ volumes

It’s been forever since I read this series!  I like it, but it’s got a lot of annoying qualities that makes reading it a little off-putting.  The breast jokes are my main problem… they are frequent and very out-of-place.  It’s also kinda… derivative.  Just a little.  There’s not a lot wrong with that, and it’s definitely less noticeable in the current storyline, which is awesome, but save for the ending of the last one, that whole ice battle in the last couple volumes was a little hard to sit through.

But yes, the current storyline is awesome, and even though it’s about Lucy, she’s not in it so much, so the breast jokes are a bit more scarce.  This is made up for in other ways, like an inexplicable Erza shower scene, but with the introduction of Elfman, a character who runs around yelling about manliness, things got a little less fanservice-y.

The main story is still about the attack on Fairy Tail by the Phantom Lord guild.  Bad things happen when they head over to the Phantom Lord guild proper, so the Phantom Lord comes to them when they retreat.  The… conveyance they use looks like the gigantic metal spider from Wild Wild West, and then transforms into something called “Phantom MKII.”  The characters linger on this long enough to make me think it’s a joke I’m not getting.  Probably something having to do with Gundam.  Oh well.

The fights are all pretty awesome and varied in ways that they usually aren’t, since we’ve primarily been following the same set of characters with the same powers around.  We also learn more about a few side characters, which also helps break routine a little.  I also like that more and more of the world of Fairy Tail is being revealed, and although it’s pretty clear where this storyline is going to wind up, there’s still a few unanswered questions.  How will they take out the Phantom Lord leader?  Where are Lucy’s keys?  What about the one that started this whole crazy business?  It does make me look forward to the future.

Also, I want Juvia to cross the lines and join Fairy Tail.  She’s just awesome.  Steady and gentle.

Fairy Tail 6

July 15, 2009

Hiro Mashima – Del Rey – 2009 – 14+ volumes

I figured I ought to read this volume since volume 7 arrived in the mail today.  I like this series a lot, but I just can’t seem to convince myself to read the volumes as they come.

This volume was mostly the resolution to the Deliora story.  All the actual fights go down exactly as you would imagine, except for the ultimate fate of Deliora (which was unexpected as well as hilarious) and the fact that “lost magic” was introduced, Natsu’s magic apparently falling in that category.  Admittedly, I wasn’t all that interested in this story arc, save for the weird village that turns into creatures because of the moon drop ceremony.

The resolution to the villager’s problems was actually worth sitting through that long Deliora story for.  Their actual problem was completely different than what it seemed, and I liked pretty much everything about their situation from beginning to end.

Afterwards, the main characters go back to Fairy Tail to accept their punishment and find it vandalized by a rival guild.  They take the insults to avoid starting a horrible war until their members are mercilessly attacked by more powerful wizards, and then the entirety of Fairy Tail shows up at the other guild to basically assault them.  This part is pretty cool, but unfortunately I’m not all that fond of the “conspiracy” direction that the plot seems to be heading (ie more powerful wizards orchestrated the attack using the rival guild in order to capture/provoke some of the wizards of Fairy Tail).

I do like this story better than the Deliora one so far, though, so I’m a bit more eager to read the next volume.

Fairy Tail 5

June 2, 2009

Hiro Mashima – Del Rey – 2009 – 14+ volumes

The ice monster story goes on.  I don’t actually have a lot to say about this volume, since it was mostly fight scenes and not a lot of story or exposition.  The fights were about what you would expect from this series, in particular Natsu’s scenes.  While he does tip over an entire stone temple, the rest of his fights are just… you know, him throwing fire with varying degrees of success.  Lucy’s fight was only slightly more notable because she opened her golden celestial gate, but not much comes of that.

Erza reappears and is not happy with the trio, but it looks like the story will march on to completion with her along for the ride.

There’s some more background info revealed for Gray.  It’s pretty typical shounen manga stuff, with motivation, love, betrayal, giant monsters destroying towns, sacrifices… you know how that goes.

The one thing I love about this series is its sense of humor.  The jokes are stupid, but somehow they are very, very funny.  It’s hard not to laugh when Natsu tricks an opponent into knocking himself out with his own poisonous claws by telling him he has something on his forehead.  There’s just lots of little jokes crammed in that make reading it a pleasure.  This volume wasn’t all that notable or special, but it was worth reading for its sense of humor alone.

Fairy Tail 4

January 16, 2009

Hiro Mashima – Del Rey – 2008 – 14+ volumes

I’m not totally taken in by this yet, but I like that it seems to be a far-above-average shounen action series, and there’s a bunch of pretty unique things about it.

Well, maybe not a bunch.  Mostly I’m thinking of the magic system, which I still love reading about.  Lucy’s keys are my favorite, and I always look forward to seeing her use them.  There’s nothing brand new per se in this volume as far as her magic goes, but we do get introduced to one of her older contracts.

I also really like most of the characters.  Happy and Natsu especially, but Gray too, and maybe Erza sometimes.  Erza I can take or leave, and Gray hasn’t left much of an impression except for the nudity, which will never get old.  I think I like Happy and Natsu most because of their boundless enthusiasm, which always attracts me to characters.  There’s still not a lot of depth to any of the characters at this point, though Gray gets the beginnings of a backstory in this volume, but I wouldn’t be too upset if Happy and Natsu stayed how they were.  Unfortunately, I think it would take a miracle for me to like Lucy, who is perhaps one of the shallowest characters in the history of manga.  She does cool things sometimes, which makes the series readable, and the stupid gags that make me hate her aren’t really her fault… I know what I hate is just fanservice.  But she and I… we’ll never be friends.

This volume starts off another story arc where the main group takes on a difficult mission to uncurse an island.  The mission is an S-rank mission, so their pride as guild members is at stake (as well as their membership, most likely), but I’m not exactly sure what to think of it at the end of this volume.  I like it well enough, but I think I’ll have to read the ending before I form a real opinion of it.

The sense of humor is still a little too wacky for me, and again, I hate the fanservice we get through Lucy.  But Fairy Tale is probably one of the only series I read where most the jokes fall flat and it still manages to be really funny.  I mean, it’s cracking a thousand jokes, so some are going to be funny on accident, but most anything Happy says makes me laugh, and I’m sure that’s worth something.

Fairy Tail 3

August 19, 2008

Hiro Mashima – Del Rey – 2008 – 14+ volumes

I was actually very surprised that the story arc from the end of the last volume lasted through this entire volume.  I’m not sure why, especially since I associate this series with One Piece, and One Piece has story arcs that last ten volumes sometimes.

The battle with the dark guild really is the coolest thing ever, though.  As you would expect, most of the volume is battles between Natsu and an opponent, Gray and an opponent, and Erza and an opponent.  I’m fine with that at this point, because all of them still have really fresh and unique fighting styles.

It starts off with the four splitting off into girl/boy pairs to find the guy with the lullaby spell.  Obviously, Lucy isn’t a good match for Erza since the latter is fantastically strong.  You know she’s strong because very strong characters are afraid of her, but to see her in action in a fight is AMAZING.  Lucy is starting to become more and more useless as the story goes on, which is unfortunate because she’s too annoying to keep around if she’s not actually serving a purpose in a fight.  I like her summon magic, but she literally serves almost no purpose here except to help out at a very key moment.  Even Happy gets to help more.

After dispatching the entire dark guild, the members still have not successfully stopped Lullaby.  The guild’s true intention was hidden from them, so they wind up on another wild chase to catch one lone member.  The lone member winds up squaring off with Natsu, which turns out to be a pretty good fight since the rogue member is a wind user and Natsu uses fire, which is inherently ineffective against wind here.  We get to see more of Natsu’s strengths, and I’m really hoping Natsu winds up with a great role in the story somewhere down the line.

What actually happens to Lullaby is very good.  I should mention, as corny as the constant jokes inevitably are, I like this series’ sense of humor a lot.  It’s got a bit of “throw out 500 jokes to see which ones stick” syndrome, but it’s also got a really bizarre and unique sense of humor that you don’t see that often.  It’s kind of like Law of Ueki in that way, except Fairy Tail’s sense of humor is slightly more refined.  The art is also good, mostly because it looks just like something Eiichiro Oda would draw, and One Piece will always be my favorite.

No plot has emerged as of yet, but at this point the ride is still fun enough that I can see myself following along with the flow of events for at least a while longer, even if there is no immediate destination.  It’s funny, it looks good, the battles are awesome, the characters are good… and that’s just about everything you can get right in a series, so I have no complaints.

Fairy Tail 2

July 6, 2008

Hiro Mashima – Del Rey – 2008 – 14+ volumes

I was reading a little bit about the third volume of this series coming out, and I realized I hadn’t read the second volume.  Somehow, this escaped my “to be read” pile and wound up on an open windowsill getting rained on.  Luckily none of the pages were damaged or moldy, just a little dusty from the soot blowing in.

I like this more and more every time I read a chapter.  I can’t help but compare it to One Piece since it’s sort of about these weird underdog/very famous guild of great eccentric magic users, and it’s drawn in exactly the same style.  This series worries me only because the author admits to not having a direction, whereas One Piece has the most sprawling, cohesive manga plot EVER.  It’s probably not fair to compare it to One Piece though, because OP is… well, one of the best series out there, plus the two are very different aside from their visual style and quirky characters.  This is still great, probably one of the best action series I’m reading right now, and I like it a lot without the OP connection.

Lucy and Natsu head out to take a job worth two million… jewels, or whatever their currency is there.  The catch is that they have to break into the heavily guarded mansion of a local mayor figure and destroy a book in his library.  The mansion is guarded by… maids, bodyguards from a rival guild, and the mayor himself.  There’s lots of funny stuff going on, including an attempt by Lucy to be hired on as a maid, and some awesome magic battles.  My favorite part of the series so far is seeing all the unique ways magic is used by the various characters.  It’s sort of an anything goes kind of thing at this point, which is something that can be ugly if used incorrectly, but so far it’s very cool.

After that mission, a new character, apparently the strongest member of the guild, takes Natsu and another strong wizard with her to stop a dangerous assassin.  The other strong wizard was someone introduced earlier with some sort of exhibitionist impulse (he frequently disrobes or forgets to put pants on in the morning), and so far it’s turning out great.  The strong guild member is entertaining since she rules with terror and an iron fist, and lots of humorous opportunities are exploited.

The humor, along with the awesome magic, also makes this series great.  Natsu and Happy are constantly bantering back and forth in weird ways, and most of the characters aside from Lucy have some truly bizarre traits.  It’s really great, I promise.

The one thing I don’t like about it is the fanservice.  It’s not nearly as frequent as it could be (I just read Enchanter, which makes this series look tame), but I hate that it feels it has to stoop to fanservice to be enjoyable.  It doesn’t.  I feel embarrassed for it whenever Lucy flashes a little cleavage and makes a joke.

Now I’m ready for volume 3.  I can’t say I could go on enjoying this series indefinitely, but at this point I know it’ll be many more volumes before I tire on it.  As long as fanservice is kept to a minimum, I’ll be a happy camper for a long time to come.

Fairy Tail 1

May 14, 2008

Hiro Mashima – Del Rey – 2008 – 14+ volumes

I love anything automatically that bears a strong resemblance to One Piece, hence my inordinate fondness for Law of Ueki.  This series isn’t ripping off the plot so much as the art looks exactly the same, but apparently Hiro Mashima used to be Oda’s assistant, so I suppose that’s all right.  It makes me think of One Piece while I’m reading it, which is never a bad thing.

I also love fantasy series a lot, especially light fantasy series, hence my inordinate fondness for things like Sorcerer Hunters.  This does fantasy quite well, and one thing that the first volume does is lay out ALL the rules for the fantasy world.  Types of magic are defined, a guild system is set up for the characters, we learn that there are magical laws, and even better, we get to see the main character’s magic, which is a key summoning system the likes of which I’ve never seen outside a video game.  I like the fantasy elements A LOT.  It also doesn’t seem overly serious or epic about its magic or fantasy bits yet, which can turn me off in fiction quite a bit.

I can’t say too much about the characters just yet.  The main character is a bit dopey and out there in the same way as… well, Goku, Luffy, Ueki, and scores of other main characters who are out of it and also insanely strong.  He was taught by a dragon how to handle fire magic, and is apparently one of the better magicians of this type.  He meets up with Lucy, and after a brief battle to introduce their magic skills, Lucy is taken back to his magical guild, Fairy Tail, which she had been dreaming of joining.  Lucy is the serious female lead similar to… Nami, who she also resembles, unfortunately.  She’s the one that explains most of what’s going on to the reader.  There’s also a cat named Happy who is a shape-shifter and hangs out with Natsu, the fire magician.  We really don’t get a feel for any of their characters since so much of the rules and background are laid out first, but I feel pretty confident the details will fill themselves in later.

Based on the strength of its setting, I’m pretty excited about this series so far.  Plot and character details haven’t been filled in yet, but with the way things are going, even if they turn out to be medicore, I have a feeling that I’ll still enjoy this series quite a bit.