It’s time to look at another Fairy Tail spinoff. They’ve definitely been a mixed bag over the years as some manage to rival the main series in how terrible they are while others are surprisingly classy. The Ice Trails manga and Fairy Tail Zero are good examples of solid spinoffs after all. They had good action, a solid plot, and good artwork. Then on the other hand you’ve got a title like Fairy Girls which was so bad that you can tell the author wasn’t even trying. That one still makes me cringe. Well, this one’s not quite as great as the first two and does suffer from some of the usual Fairy Tail moments, but at least there’s some effort here and some reasonable stories.
The first volume is about Sting and Rogue as they go on some adventures. In one case, someone sends a letter asking for help from Sting and Rogue to go take down this powerful rock monster. Unfortunately, the two friends are on the outs after Sting accidentally makes Rogue’s animal friend Froze cry. Sting figures he can handle this on his own, but naturally, it is a trap so that won’t be as easy as he believes. This is an example of a pretty solid story. You’ve got a good challenge that Sting has to work to overcome and while the conflict with him and Rogue is admittedly pretty forced, it’s still a good action story in its own right.
The other Sting story is the weak link and definitely the one that keeps this series from getting an extra star. One of his teammates is kinapped and man does she have bad luck. This isn’t the first time things have gotten dicey for her which led to Natsu’s best series of moments in the franchise. Well, fortunately Sting is here to help and we get to see him beat up the entire guild pretty easily. It’s a fun fight, but the whole situation is really just here to try and squeeze in some fanservice which was definitely not needed. Sting makes for a fun alternate main character to Natsu and while he is a lot more weak willed in general he tends to be the better character.
Next up is Gajeel’s volume and he reminds us why he isn’t always the most trustworthy fellow around. One story has him disappear for a while without telling anyone and he seems to have re-joined the villains. He is now re-taking over the town that Gajeel used to rule over with an iron hand and his friend is here to help. That’s pretty believable but of course there is a twist here. The problem is that even once the twist happens it’s hard to see why Gajeel had to make the choices that he did. The guy is definitely a solo act, but not even telling Levy is a bit tricky. Fortunately, Gray was around to help solve the mystery and I appreciated the cameo. He didn’t really get to fight this time, but you could tell that he was in control right from the start.
Then you have the final volume which is all about Laxus. The annoying part of his volumes is dealing with the Blue Pegasus group since those guys definitely aren’t very epic. They run a host club and the leader is definitely not the most reliable guy, but the moral is that he’s actually tougher than he looks. I’m not sure that I can really buy into that, but at the very least I’ll acknowledge that he isn’t a total weakling. One story has him getting kidnapped so Laxus heads out to save him. Along the way he learns that friendship can take many different forms and that you shouldn’t judge a person right away. It’s a nice moral, but the leader does his best to take away from the epic fights.
One reason why Laxus has the best volume is aside from avoiding fanservice entirely we actually get some fights. Laxus has a good fight against the guild master here. Yes, there is a plot twist about how powerful she really is involving illusions, but at least it looked like an epic fight which is what counts. The other story has Laxus and his team head to a village where there is a powerful mirror that can’t be broken. Their mission is simply to break it, but the owner of the mirror attempts to stop them. This guy’s pretty powerful since he is able to combat Laxus on even ground. There are also some mind games that get played on Laxus’ trio of teammates.
Laxus has always been portrayed as one of the strongest Fairy Tail heroes. While I would definitely say that Gray and Natsu have long since surpassed him, he’s definitely still top 5 in the guild. That gives a lot of hype to this new opponent which is why the ending isn’t too satisfying for that guy’s fans. It’s always a shame when you know that someone is never going to get to fight again. I doubt he’ll ever even appear again though so I suppose that’s the least of my worries.
The art is definitely pretty good. It looks like the main series and there’s a good amount of detail here. Actually, it may even be the main artist, I forget but either way it’s very good. You won’t be disappointed here. It’s easy to read and get engaged. The idea of each volume being about a different character who will get 2-3 stories is pretty nice. There are a lot of other characters who could get that treatment so hopefully the author does more spinoffs like this. One thing I can definitely say about Fairy Tail is the author is very passionate about the series. It’s cool to see how much it has expanded.
Overall, Fairy Tail Gaiden is pretty good for the most part. Really there’s just one story that really felt like a Fairy Tail adventure with the unfortunate fanservice and the others were pretty mild. As far as trilogies go it may not be top tier, but it’s an enjoyable read. The power levels get a little tricky at times, but the characters never lose to someone they shouldn’t. Even if it’s a little closer than you may expect, they clutch it out and that’s the important thing. If you’re going to get into Fairy Tail it’s always better to go with the spinoffs. This one isn’t a bad idea for a starting point since each story basically needs no extra context.