I first encountered Fairy Tail by Hiro Mashima a few years ago by way of a blog called Hot Fictional Guys. One day, the blog had a post featuring a ad for the anime. I was struck by Gray Fullbuster and his penchant to be shirtless more often than not. A few more posts on the seires followed, I think, each one increasing my interest in the series.
So, one day while I was in Barnes and Noble, I happened to be perusing the manga shelves when I saw Fairy Tail volumes available. Curious about it, I picked up the first volume(along with some Naruto).
And damn, but I was impressed. I have to say that, aside from One Piece, Inu Yasha, and Pluto this is the first volume of a work that I’ve really liked. Usually, I really dislike first volumes of manga (like Naruto and Fullmetal Alchemist).
From that first volume, I was hooked. Though I only possess four of the nineteen released volumes (1, 7, 13 and 14), I am incredibly lucky that my local library has a standing order on the series. I have read the entire series (as its been officially released in English) twice so far. And I’m looking forward to rereading the series again when either 20 or 21 is released.
So, what has me so passionate about the series, even as I’m falling out with most of the manga I’ve read? I think it is because Fairy Tail has been consistently excellent from its beginning. And the series is getting better with each new arc.
Mind you, there is a fair bit of formula in Fairy Tail, but it is a winning formula, if you ask me. Each chapter, each volume leaves me excited and satisfied. And that, I think, is a sign of a good series.
Are there deeper meanings, too? Yes. The role of friendship in making characters stronger. And there is much to the argument that Fairy Tail Guild acts as an alternative family. There are also questions of redemption and motivation. Can Jellal be redeemed? Why does Laxus act the way he does? And Master Jose?
Outside of these deeper themes, the series is also highly imaginative in its presentation of magic. Magic is rather like a learned mutant or metahuman power. Personally, I like this usage of magic. Perhaps, some look into this series as an example of dungeon punk is in order.
Moving on to the characters, I enjoy so many of them that it is hard to pick a favorite. Even the villains and minor characters are extremely well done. The interplay with the characters, how they complement and bounce off each other is, oftentimes, very well done. Hell, who really is the primary protagonist? The secondary protagonist? And, what exactly is Lucy’s role? I’ve blogged before about the difficulty of figuring out Lucy’s role. As the story progresses, it gets even harder. Is she “just” the effective narrator? Or does she have a larger role to play?
Now, a lot of these questions will be answered when the series finally reaches a conclusion. As it stands, it is likely to go beyond Mashima’s first series, Rave Master. But how much longer is the question. Could this series extend into the forty or even fifty volume range?
Whatever the answer is, I look forward to the journey. I first came to this series because of images of Grey Fullbuster shirtless. In the years that followed, I have come to love this series for the great story telling and art. So, maybe the lesson should be, you never know what will lead to gems. It could be anything. Even a hot shirtless character.