There’s something about collected editions of manga that make them even more special than comic book hardcovers. It’s the fact that they’re oversized, but also because you get many volumes of a single manga in one book. Topping out at 992 pages collecting the first five volumes of Fairy Tail, I break down 6 reasons why this is must read manga.
Fairy Tail: Master’s Edition Vol. 1 (Kodansha Comics)
1. Fairy Tail is a magic guild that’s instantly charming.
The Fairy Tail guild is pretty much a tavern with tables set up for wizards to chat and drink. This creates a sense of camaraderie and allows for Hiro Mashima to play around with different wizard types even if he’s not using them. Just take a look at the background and you’ll see all sorts of wizards. As this book progresses the main characters take missions on with other wizards, mostly because they mill about the Fairy Tail tavern. There’s also a wizard not unlike Yoda who’s tiny but very powerful, and many other secrets and compelling characters milling about too.
You’ll meet some weird Fairy Tail guild members.
2. Fairy Tail has a vivid fantasy world ready for you to explore.
Fairy Tail is set in the Kingdom of Fiore which looks similar to the Spain with many different areas throughout it. Hiro Mashima is not shy to send his characters to many locations, from a snow topped mountain to an ancient jungle. The land encompasses many different locales you’ll find familiar if you’re a fan of fantasy. With that comes many different magic rules and customs. Guilds are made up of many different wizards with varying magical abilities and their main source of income is paid job requests on a billboard. They take these jobs not dissimilar to a cowboy taking a job to capture a criminal. The jobs vary though and that makes for an intriguing setup for stories. This volume only touches on the world–there are over 50 volumes now and this is only the first 5–and yet you get a sense that it’s huge and many secrets still await.
3. The protagonists are fun, funny and a great trio.
By all accounts Lucy is the main protagonist. The book opens with her attempting to get into the Fairy Tail guild. She’s enamored with the guild and is a wizard in her own right as she carries Gatekeys that summon celestial spirits. This ability allows for some rather comical and strange interactions with spirits based on horoscope signs. She soon meets Natsu who can control fire and his cat-like companion Happy who can fly. Natsu is an odd duck who gets motion sickness easily and is generally a boy at heart. Happy meanwhile is a cute animal character who always reflects and jokes about what is going on. Lucy, as you might suspect, is very serious, so all three combined means for some rather comedic situations.
4. The ecchi is subdued (and there’s much less than in the anime).
For those of you who don’t know, Ecchi is a Japanese slang term for playfully sexual actions. While Lucy does have a lot of cleavage and sometimes is posed sexually it’s not as bad as most manga can get. Most importantly she’s a strong character who’s not some cliche nor is she used for sex appeal alone. She has her own powers, goals and desires, and shapes the narrative rather than stands in the background looking pretty. This of course is only my observation after reading this volume. It could very well get worse!
5. There’s an eclectic bunch of villains.
This book has so many different types of villains it’s actually kind of amazing. From pirates, to a rich aristocrat and his goons, to an evil assassin’s guild, there’s plenty of variety when it comes to bad guys to kick butt. This makes it more interesting for Natsu Happy and Lucy to take them on as they must figure out ways to win. The variety of villain also has makes the world that much more interesting since it contains so many different bad guys.
Some of these monsters are pretty flipping cool.
6. The story never recaps endlessly and the characters actually change and grow over time.
Let’s face it, most manga is written in an episodic nature so that every chapter must recap where we left off, but when you’re reading it in one sitting it gets old to have to read a summary of something you literally just finished reading. On top of this many mangas stick to a formula that works and keep doing it endlessly volume after volume with characters never really growing or changing. Not so with Fairy Tail–each chapter is an episode sure, but when the next chapter starts you’re usually getting a single panel recap or, even better, the story begins at a logical place with no recap needed. It’s a relief every time a chapter begins because it’s one of my manga pet peeves!
Fairy Tail: Master’s Edition Vol. 1 is long, but well worth the many nights it’ll take to read it. It’s thick with stories and is never boring. It’s a page turner for sure with great art that deserves an oversized edition such as this.