Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review: Fairy Tail Vol. 1 by Hiro Mashima

Fairy Tail Volume 1 by Hiro Mashima, translated and adapted by William Flanagan

Young aspiring wizard Lucy wants to join Fairy Tail, a famous guild with top-notch magic users and a bit of a bad reputation for going overboard when working on assignments. Lucy runs into Natsu, a young wizard with a talking cat for a companion. He has come to Hargeon searching for a fire dragon named Salamander. He's found a blowhard wizard who calls himself Salamander and is the idol of all the young women. Lucy almost falls under his spell until she realizes he is in fact using a charm spell to convince women to come to his leisure yacht for a party. Salamander's purposes are much more nefarious than wanting to party with pretty women. Luckily for Lucy, Natsu sticks around to help out and is from Fairy Tail. He's her ticket to the big leagues.

The story is quite imaginative and has a good blend of humor and action. Different wizards have different abilities--Natsu has dragon-based magic with lots of fire-related results. Lucy uses celestial keys to access various zodiac characters (Taurus is a goofy axe-wielding bull). She doesn't have a complete set of keys and has to negotiate contracts with the characters (what days she can access them, how much she can get from them, etc.). When they get to Fairy Tail, Lucy meets a huge assortment of wizards. They wind up in a big barroom brawl (as if the story is an American western and not a Japanese manga) that's broken up by the arrival of their master.

The book ends with Lucy and Natsu (and Happy the cat) going off on a job to recover a book in Duke Everlue's possession. So there's a cliffhanger ending pulling readers into volume 2.

The book also has some handy explanations from the author in the front and the back.* The most fascinating bits are the cultural translations. For example, "master" is a word the Japanese have borrowed but it mostly means "someone who runs a business." The notions of "having expertise or skill (e.g. mastery of cooking)" or "being a slave owner" are completely absent in the Japanese use of the word. 

I was also watching the anime version of this story through Netflix, which no longer has the first season available. So far, the plots are exactly the same. Both are equally enjoyable, though the manga has a bit more fan service, i.e. the female characters are chestier than their TV counterparts. There's no nudity but skimpy outfits are everywhere.

*The front and back of the book are opposite because one reads manga with the book's binding on the right, not the left, resulting in a "backward" paperback book. It's surprisingly easy to get used to reading right to left after a couple of pages.

No comments:

Post a Comment