The Wizard and the Fairy Vol. 1, published by Kodansha Comics, contains the series’ first five chapters and introduces all its main characters. Nebelhaut is a selfish but powerful wizard living in the mystical Tower of Mists. He loves collecting all manner of strange magical objects and creatures, and one day he captures a fairy, Sti, and forces her to live in his tower. Much of the story is told from the perspective of Kerze, Nebelhaut’s servant, as he watches a relationship develop between the titular wizard and fairy. Does the series’ debut volume make a good first impression?
The main thing this manga has going for it is its artwork. Nesumi’s line-work is thin and has an airy quality to it befitting the mystical subject matter. The shading throughout is also lovely, full of lots of light grays and visually pleasing patterns. The page compositions are also quite good; events never feel too busy or cluttered. On the downside, Nesumi’s work doesn’t look all that different from other artists with similar styles. There’s little about this volume that feels particularly distinct, despite the competent draftsmanship. It’s also worth noting that some of the drawings of Sti seem to be intended as fan service, but this can get very creepy given both her young appearance and the lack of agency she has throughout the story.
Speaking of Sti’s lack of agency, this series’ most glaring flaw is with the relationships between its main characters. Nebelhaut captures Sti, forcing her to reside in his tower against her will. She rebels for a couple of chapters, but by the volume’s end she has largely stopped and is even developing romantic feelings for her captor. None of this is earned at any point, nor is the unlikelihood of the events commented upon. Nebelhaut grants Sti comparatively more freedom so that she can walk about the tower unattended (as opposed to being literally caged all day) and suddenly it’s as if the kidnapping has been forgiven and any potential resentment goes unacknowledged.
There’s a chapter where a love potion is hinted at as a potential cause for the crush, but this ends up being a fake out. The resultant revelation that Sti’s emotions are her own only serves to make this plot development even more unsettling. The rest of the characters also have a baffling amount of affection for Nebelhaut, despite his never acting in anyone’s best interests but his own. One could theorize that Kerze’s pleasant attitude toward his master is a self-preservation strategy, but no indication is ever given that his fond declarations aren’t genuine. All in all, the characters’ actions throughout are frustratingly unbelievable.
The story also disappoints in its utilization of magic. There’s not much of anything to differentiate this manga’s magic from that of any other fantasy series. There’s not much of any world-building to speak of, either. It’s revealed that local villagers are afraid of Nebelhaut’s tower, but otherwise there’s very little interaction between the core cast and the outside world. The mystical elements don’t contribute much that the story couldn’t do without while still retaining the same themes. Nebelhaut and Sti, for instance, could be a human kidnapper and his victim and there wouldn’t be any meaningful change to their relationship.
Overall, The Wizard and His Fairy Vol. 1 is a mostly forgettable read that only stands out when it’s at its most frustrating. None of the characters’ actions make sense, and there’s an ever present sense of discomfort caused by the romantic framing around a man who has forced a younger woman to become his property. The artwork is good at least, but it’s not unique or impressive enough to make the series worth checking out in spite of its skeevy premise. This is a manga to pass on.