Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them Review

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It’s time to look at the Harry Potter prequel. While it is a prequel, don’t expect it to connect to the main series at all. There are always 2 kind of prequels. There are the “Episode of Trunks” prequels that heavily relate to the main plot and add more depth to the universe. Then there are the random prequels like Attack on Titan Before The Fall which don’t really add much to the franchise at all except for some padding. This film is the latter and the problem is that it cannot stand on its own at all. Annoying characters mixed in with a random out of nowhere dark subplot and this film is a recipe for disaster.

Newt is one of those guys who likes to defy authority. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really have the power to pull this off so he is apprehended by the magic cops right away. He struggles a bit, but ultimately couldn’t escape. Luckily, they decide to use him to find all of the giant monsters that he let loose. Meanwhile, the magicians also have their hands full trying to stop a kid who has unlimited power. He may prove to be dangerous so they have to contain the threat. So, what’s the focus of the film and why should we care about any of this? Wait til the sequel I suppose.

I can’t stress enough how bad of a character Newt is. He’s extremely annoying and secretive for no reason. He gets triggered rather easily which proves that his comic relief facade isn’t very strong yet. He’s not very skilled as he loses his one and only fight. His attempts at humor are pretty laughable. I’m afraid that the main heroine isn’t much better. She lets Newt get away too easily. While this may not count as a complaint against Tina, her actress also looked shocked during the entire film. It’s as if the character never changed expressions and it was just odd the whole time. That was probably the most interesting thing about Tina. Otherwise she was just around.

The sad thing is that you could say this about the whole cast. The only good character was Graves and a final twist at the end of the film actually hurts his character quite a bit. Why do we need plot twists when you had such a good villain? Aw well, I guess the film couldn’t resist and it ended up hurting the movie. It’s not something that would affect the score at all, it was just unfortunate since he was the best character. One problem that you can probably glean from all of this is that the film just wasn’t exciting in the slightest. With no good characters that you could root for, how can the plot possibly be engaging? It also didn’t even try to be exciting as there is very little action in the whole film. We have a very brief fight scene at the end…that’s it. The rest of the film is just the characters walking, flirting, and talking. It makes for one boring journey.

Still, a boring film can still be decent enough right? Well, this movie decided to throw in a rather dark plot towards the end that had no point in being here. Essentially, the lady in charge of an orphanage was beating up the kids inside. Tina knew about this, but chose not to do something. Perhaps she was not brave enough or there will be a sob story to explain this, but it absolutely did not do her character any favors. If there was any chance of me liking her before that, it was gone at this moment. The lady is destroyed by the end, but the plot just had no point in being here. They could have left her as the conspiracy nut and that would have been good enough. It also didn’t fit with the rest of the movie since it was pretty light themed otherwise.

Another issue here is the ending. In the end, Newt and friends didn’t have enough guts to defy the government. Even though the government was clearly evil and could not be trusted by this point, Newt and friends decided to listen to them. They clearly are not my kind of characters. Did they forget that they were nearly destroyed by the government just for knowing too much? It seems like all of its personnel are just your average “Yes” men who will follow any orders. It’s easy to see why Voldemort took over so quickly.

The characters are just sooooo annoying! One thing that the film did get right was the opening credits and the first 1-2 minutes of the film. The camera work and music made the intro feel like a Marvel movie. The visuals were solid and it got the film off to a good start. It may have crashed and burned after that, but at least it put up a really good effort for the intro. The overall special effects weren’t bad either, it’s just that all of the monster designs were pretty bad. They felt like random animal hybrids that weren’t given a whole lot of thought. I wasn’t expecting anything more though. I didn’t think that this film looked all that interesting even when I saw the first trailer. It just didn’t stand out to me and that’s because there’s not a whole lot to it.

Overall, I can’t say that I recommend this prequel. It’s just not very interesting or exciting. You’ll just notice that it’s dragging on and on even when it’s supposed to be in the “tense” parts. It just never grabs your attention. It doesn’t help that all of the characters are constantly betraying each other. Newt even sells out his friend for some intel even though he claims that he wouldn’t have gone through with the deal. It’s all just very suspect and I’m hoping that the next film is a little more impressive. What it needs to do is actually embrace its magical heritage. Add some actual fights. I mean, what’s the point of having a bunch of sorcerers around if they’re just going to talk through most of their problems? The film is setting up a bunch of plots so hopefully at least one of them will turn out to be a winner. At the very least, hopefully Newt will fix his briefcase. If you’re a big Harry Potter fan then I suppose you’ll need to watch this. Just bring a lot of snacks and a few Harry Potter trivia quizzes with you. They could come in handy.

Overall 4/10

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Attack on Titan Ilse’s Notebook Review

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It’s time for an Attack on Titan prequel OVA. This one adapts a side story from the manga so it’s fairly short. The OVA does manage to pad itself out a little with a brief recap on the state of things though so it’s not extremely short. It’s around the length of the average episode which is a pretty decent length for an OVA. It’s fairly interesting, but I can’t say that it’s actually good as it suffers from the usual Attack on Titan issues.

The main character of this story is Hange (Or Hanji depending on which name you’re more used too) and she really wants to experiment on a Titan. As she has no conscience to weigh her down, she has always been the perfect person to lead the scientist division. She may creep the rest of her comrades out, but that’s just a side effect of being insane. You’re basically rooting for the Titans here since you don’t want them to be enslaved so Hange can stab them forever. Things aren’t moving quickly enough for Hange so she decides to go rogue and head after a Titan. Along the way she learns that there was once a Titan who could talk. What does this mean?

The Notebook/Journal that the heroes find is the main item of importance in this story. It’s another tragic tale, but that’s to be expected here. Ilse was running through the woods when a Titan spotted her. The rest of her comrades had already been taken down for the count so she had no backup. Surprisingly, the Titan didn’t destroy her right away as it prolonged the experience by stretching its face and trying to let her know about the war going on and how the series was all a lie. Ilse didn’t handle this too well and panicked so she was quickly eaten. It’s meant to be pretty important since it shows that Titans have some level of intelligence even if it’s been buried pretty deep. At the same time her death in the end made the whole thing suspect anyway. Maybe she was just delusional. The heroes don’t seem to think much of it either as they just use this as an excuse to go on the hunt once more.

Humor has never been a strong point of the series and that continues here. A running gag is that Hange is super unhinged so she chokes one of her comrades and nearly murders him. She loses her cool constantly and I don’t know how she still has her job. Well, the government is corrupt so I guess that fits. It doesn’t make me like any of her comrades though since they don’t speak up about this and just keep on enduring it. Levi and the others seem to turn a blind eye as well. At least he’s one of the few people along with Erwin who doesn’t fear Hange, but if he’s not going to do anything about it, then it doesn’t really matter all that much.

Attack on Titan never fails to deliver on the technical side though. The soundtrack is pretty good as we got an awesome techno theme at the beginning of the OVA. It played when the series was giving a recap of the situation and it made for some fun visuals as well. If the whole OVA was like that, then I wouldn’t have had any problems. The strategic part of the series is when its typically at its best. The graphics are also pretty sharp as it looks and feels very modern. The character designs are on point and the OVA had fun using Sunset effects for when it was getting late, but not quite night time yet. It all looked good and at least that helps the OVA speed along even if it can’t totally nullify the negatives.

In the end, the OVA was still a little too violent and dark by the end. The novels pointed out that Titans don’t bleed so we technically shouldn’t be getting any blood when they’re slashed. The anime has always chosen to ignore that though and either way we have the Titans eating humans as well so that doesn’t help. The scene of the Titan trying to rearrange his face came across as completely unnecessary and eating Ilse at the end wasn’t a great ending either. Following the novels more closely would absolutely help Titan in all of its future products.

Overall, Ilse’s Notebook is fairly standard Attack on Titan fare. If you like the show then odds are that you’ll like the OVA. Eren and the other main characters may not be in it, but the rest of the OVA feels like it could easily be a normal episode. I still say that the show is too violent and melodramatic the whole time and Hange is a pretty terrible main character so she holds it down. To make it more interesting, I wouldn’t have minded some time travel thrown in so Eren could be around to yell a bit. It’s not exactly the feel good film of the year, but if you really want to make sure that you’re an expert on Attack on Titan lore, then you’ll want to check it out. For the rest of you, just go prepare yourself for Season 2 instead. It is certainly drawing closer and closer with every passing day.

Overall 4/10

Kino’s Journey: Life Goes On Review

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It looks like Kino is back on the job with this prequel OVA. We’re back in the days of her youth before she became devoid of personality but still after the tragedy of the original Kino. At less than 30 minutes long, this OVA is fairly short, but it’s not bad. We get to see more crazy customs and a lot of pondering by the cast. In a way, you could say that Kino’s Journey is like a grim Charlie Brown…just think about it.

So, Kino wants to find the village where the original Kino used to live. After all, she may have taken his name, but she feels like she can’t properly use it until she wraps up these loose ends. Her master allows her to go, but gives Kino a gun just in case. Kino may run into all kinds of dangers and having some form of self defense has never hurt before. What could have happened to change Kino from the happy girl that she used to be into the emotionless person that she would transform into? It is all explained in this special.

We may as well get down to business right off the bat. The series likes to show a lot of odd superstitions and customs from the various places that Kino visits and this one is no exception. The villagers have decided that anyone beyond their village is someone who cannot be bound by their laws. As such, they decide not to do anything while an old lady murders all travelers who come by so that she can avenge her son. Many travelers meet an ill timed fate at her hands until Kino shows up one day and puts an end to it. Kino ultimately puts her gun skills to use and the taking of a life took its toll as she immediately became a different person. I suppose it’s hard not to get jaded after that, but Kino should have suspected something.

I figured that the old lady was approaching nut bar factor 6 once the animation gave her a red tint and she started glaring at Kino. Kino didn’t quite realize this even after she started to tell the lady about how her son was murdered by Kino’s parents. Probably not the best way to go about this although the lady was going to take her down anyway. Remember, never accept a tea from a stranger or it’s probably going to be spiked. I suppose the old lady was almost a decent antagonist, but I’d like to see another gun pro as the main villain at some point. It would give Kino more of a challenge.

I can’t say that I’m crazy about Kino’s animation. It’s not really my style as it goes for a more retro, grainy look. I suppose making it look older can help make the atmosphere a little more mysterious, but I’m sure you could do this with modern animation as well. There’s not much of a soundtrack since this is a rather quiet show, but it was neat to hear the classic sound effects from the show.

While this special was good, there is one area where the franchise could improve a lot and it would help future titles. The main cast needs a serious revamp. As it stands, there aren’t really any likable characters at all. I liked Kino until she reverted to her TV show form in the end, but nobody else stands out. The Motorcycle is a pretty bland character and the master didn’t seem to have a personality. The main villain probably stood out the most and she’s totally insane. Adding in good characters can definitely make a difference and it’s probably what separates this from Twilight Zone as the two have a very similar concept. This show just doesn’t have the cool alien episodes or supernatural adventures and prefers to stay old school. Not a bad decision per say, but it does limit its opportunities.

Overall, Life Goes On is a good way to continue Kino’s Journey. I clearly did enjoy it more than the show as this kind of series is definitely a case by case basis. If the story is good then we’ll have a winner, but if the traditions are too dicey then it won’t have the same effect. This special was interesting enough and the time went by at a good speed. If you enjoy adventures where you get to see different lands and situations then this should be up your ally. It’s a special that easily stands on its own so you don’t need to have seen the show to get what’s happening. It’s not the most exciting thing out there, but it’s good enough to warrant a watch.

Overall 6/10

Attack on Titan Kuklo Unbound Review

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After that last Titan novel, I was beginning to wonder what had happened to the franchise. It’s not exactly known for churning out quality content so was something changing here? Apparently not as this novel goes back to the Attack on Titan that I grew up with. Violent, Edgy, and Unfair. While the story is fairly engaging, the novel gets off to a very bad start and a scene near the middle reminds you that things will never turn out too well for the heroes. The place is just too corrupt.

This story takes place a few years after the last novel. The Titan who broke through the city last time ended up murdering someone, but her kid lived on. People began calling him the Titan’s son so he was sold into slavery and endured a rough life. He eventually escaped thanks to the help of Sharle and now calls himself Kuklo. He wants to join the Survey Corps so that he can murder the Titan who tried to eat him, but many obstacles stand in his way. Does this kid really think he can handle the pressures of the outside world?

Lets get into the basics of why this novel was just no good. First off, the start of the book is just way too dark. Kuklo is trapped in a cage for years and tortured the whole time. By the time Sharle is able to save him, it’s basically too late for his childhood. Attack on Titan does love its edge though and that continues in the next novel that I’ll be reviewing soon. It’s just not a fun way to start a novel and the staff behind Attack on Titan are just too obsessed with giving everyone tragic backstories. You can make a character have an emotional backstory without making it quite that bad.

The main bully through these years was a guy named Xavi. The novel doesn’t handle his plot very well either. For starters, he doesn’t really get any consequences for his actions as he just gets promoted higher and higher through the ranks. When Kuklo finally makes it to the army and finds Xavi, it doesn’t go over so well. Xavi’s flunkies hold Kuklo down while he gets beaten to unconsciousness once again. Keep in mind that these are the heroic soldiers that we’re supposed to be rooting for. Where were Kuklo’s friend and his boss? They were just watching and basically said that Kuklo was asking for it. There were dozens of witnesses, but they all just stood by and let it happen. Again, there’s no consequence for Xavi and Kuklo just has to endure the whole thing. The novel tries to paint the situation in a way where Kuklo was in the wrong there, but I’m not buying it.

This continues as Xavi sneaks into Kuklo’s locker and sabotages his equipment. This leads to Kuklo almost dying during a training exercise. His response to this? “It doesn’t matter” Kuklo was just happy that he lived through it and it helped him improve his balance. That’s okay, but he should have told the commanders about this so they could punish Xavi. Instead, Xavi is free to make another attempt on Kuklo’s life as he takes out a knife and tries to finish him off old school. Kuklo beats him again and decides not to mention it. Ultimately, Xavi somehow turns good and after nearly getting the whole team knocked off by going on a crazy charge against a titan…the others are cool with him. Kuklo’s even going to teach him how to fight.

It was definitely a very unsatisfying resolution to a poorly handled plot line. The less said about it the better. Still, Attack on Titan is a series that thrives on the notion that humans are just as bad as the Titans, if not worse. The manga has a lot of speeches about this were the characters are proud to be evil if it means that they can win. It’s easy to see why there are so many bad apples in the series, they’re encouraged to be like that from all of the speeches and pep talks.

While he may be lacking in common sense, Kuklo is a good main character. He still makes most of the good calls and does his best to help people out when they need it. While his goal for revenge may not be the most heroic out there, he is helping the cause in the end. His physical abilities are pretty impressive and while he is certainly not meta human at all, he’s one of the better fighters in the series by the end. A little training can definitely go a long way.

You already know my thoughts on Xavi so we can skip that. Sharle is a good heroine. While she almost made a pretty big mistake, she logically thought the situation through fairly quick and came to the right conclusion. Her dagger came in handy quite a few times during the novel. Another heroine appears towards the second half as the third main member in the Kuklo squad. She’s pretty tough and makes for a good training rival to Kuklo. While she isn’t as crazy about breaking the rules as he is, she isn’t a super stickler for the rules either. Once the main character gets into danger again, she brings the squad out to help. Cardina is a good ally as well, but one that tends to get on your nerves a lot. Not helping Kuklo against Xavi and the others was pretty bad. It was hard to get over that. Beyond that, he’s a good Yes Man type character as he goes along with whatever Kuklo is doing without too much resistance. He’s a little quicker on the uptake than Kuklo when it comes to government matters so it certainly is handy to have him around.

One thing I still like about these prequels is that the author makes it a point to say that the Titans don’t really bleed. Whenever you slice a limb off, only steam comes out. If the anime had followed this logic, season one could have easily been a 7. The novel is decently long at around 300 pages and that gives it time to include a lot of events. As you may know, the manga version of this is quite long. I’ve been reading it as well and can’t remember almost any events from the book. It’s either an incredibly loose adaption or that’s how much they’ve stretched it out. Either way, reading this book will save you a lot of time over reading the whole manga.

Surprisingly, Angel from the first volume doesn’t show up here. I thought he’d have some kind of big moment, but instead only the rival showed up. The rival looked pretty good as he openly defies authority and fears no one. I can certainly get behind that character and it’ll remind you why the last novel was more engaging. It easily had the superior cast. The two commanders here weren’t great either as they constantly put the heroes at risk for no other reason than to test their resolve. It’s no wonder the Survey Corps were disbanded for so long.

One thing that I have to note is that the Titans shouldn’t be seen as a huge threat anymore after this volume’s climax. Now that the heroes have finally mastered the Vertical Maneuvering Equipment and can slay Titans, that should have completely changed the dynamic of the series. In the main title, the Titans still outnumber them greatly and the heroes never make any strides, but it doesn’t make sense to me. If you’re taking them down so easily, it should be a simple matter to start reclaiming the Earth. That would stop once the Colossal and Armored Titans show up of course, but the normal ones shouldn’t be a threat at all. I dare say that the series could have ended with this novel if not for the super types.

Overall, Attack on Titan is a series that is usually doomed because it loves being grim dark way too much. It goes out of its way to show you how rough life is under these conditions because you have to worry about Titans as well as your fellow humans. It’s hard to root for either side when you know that the majority of the citizens are also pretty bad. While it’s an interesting read, the negatives are certainly large enough where it ends up making the novel bad in the end. I’d highly recommend reading the Before The Fall novel instead. At this rate, that one could end up being the best Attack on Titan novel. It’s just going to be hard for the series to top that one although I’m sure that they’ll try. I’ve still got more novels to go so things could change…possibly. It is cool that I’m finally reading more books though, it feels good!

Overall 3/10

Attack on Titan Before The Fall Review

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Attack on Titan is a series that I definitely am not much of a fan of. I’ve gone on record to remind people that it’s a series which could not live up to the hype and is riddled with flaws. The manga ranks among my least favorite titles and while the anime notched a 5, that is certainly low compared to most of the titles that I watched. Luckily, a franchise can always turn things around or at least get a good product into the mix somewhere. Attack on Titan managed to do that with this novel as it’s actually pretty decent. It’s still dark and violent, but in book format it’s just not quite as bad and books have always had this edge over other forms of media. It’s a fairly interesting tale, even if there isn’t much of an ending since it continues on into the next novel. (Would have been 2, but I got the fancy omnibus at the ready)

This book takes place before Eren’s adventures in the main manga. It’s a prequel that shows us how the humans first learned about the Titan’s weaknesses and it’s far back enough where the status quo may already be in place, but people still talk about the old days. If you want the true backstory, you’ll have to actually go and read the manga. The story follows Angel, an inventor who does his best to make weapons and equipment for the rest of the fighters. He has a friend who is in the corps and another one who is on the wall. The three of them look out for each other and Angel wants to eliminate the Titan threat so they can see the ocean someday. This is Titan though…so expect some major casualties sooner than later.

The main cast is relatively small so lets start with Angel. Angel’s a fairly good main character. He may not be as headstrong as someone like Ichigo, but he has his moments and definitely does get his shots in. He does his best to help out his friends and doesn’t stay paralyzed in fear of the Titans for very long. He becomes a more outspoken and dependable guy as the book goes on and he certainly spared no expense in working to eliminate the titans. It’ll be interesting to see him as a supporting character in the next volume since he had such a big role here, but time does go on and he has to get old eventually. While he may have made a mistake in judging the weak point of the Titans initially, Angel did a good job in noticing the general area at all. He can also be said to be one of the first humans to take down a Titan. He wasn’t literally the first as his friend also took one down and there may have been others in the past, but certainly not many.

Maria is the main heroine of the story and she’s a good character. She stays strong even after the Titans increase the body count. She’s certainly good at surviving and was encouraging for Angel to have around. She may not have been on board with some of his crazier stunts, but she came around. I’m glad that they also didn’t try pushing any kind of rebound romance here as they just stayed as close friends. Xenophon was essentially Angel’s rival. The novel makes sure to keep mentioning how they don’t get along, but I can’t say that I really understand why. They seemed to get along just fine whenever the two of them were on screen and their personalities don’t really clash. It’s hard to see why there would be any bad blood between them at all. I felt like the author maybe didn’t think this part through, but regardless, it’s good that they got along after that. None of them ended up being petty and suddenly turning evil or anything like that.

I also liked the general of the Survey Corps. Jorge is certainly a much better character than Erwin or the old Pixel guy from the main series. Maybe he also made some morally dubious choices at some point or other, but we don’t see any of that here so I like to think that Jorge didn’t cross that line. He certainly did a good job in the hand to hand fights and considering that Angel had a cool new weapon on deck, Jorge did quite fine. He kept his cool under pressure and also came out to help even when he wasn’t allowed too. Wars are won on the battlefield after all and someone had to make a move against the Titans.

One very interesting difference in this novel was that for the most part, Titans didn’t bleed. When they were slashed, smoke would simply come out from the wound healing back together so quickly. I think the only time there was some blood was when they were blowing up a titan to find out if he had any weak points. Titans didn’t feel any pain or seem to have much intelligence at all. It was certainly an interesting look at them, but I still would have felt iffy about the humans doing a lot of experiments on them like in the manga so I’m glad that didn’t happen.

While the novel is technically not all that long, it still seemed longer than the average light novel. Perhaps it was because the text was a little more dense with all of the terminology and plans as opposed to yelling out attack names and just slashing away at the villains. That…or I was just imagining things, some novels can just feel longer than others. I know for a fact that the Naruto novels seemed to be the smallest ones that I read, but that could be because those were related to Naruto so I was able to blast through them because I’m a big fan of the franchise…even if the first novel was a little dicey.

Overall, This novel was surprisingly good. It’s still the normal Attack on Titan fare in many respects, but in book format it just works so much better. After all, I do find the concept of Attack on Titan to be interesting and that’s why the anime actually wasn’t that bad. This book had an engaging plot and the characters were pretty reasonable. We didn’t have a lot of morally dubious characters or iffy moments where you have to remind yourself to root for the humans. There still were opposing factions and a lot of crazy guys running around, but they didn’t invade the main cast so that’s a good thing. I look forward to seeing what the sequel does with this and now that we’ll be catching up to the manga version, it’ll be neat to see how much of it I can recall. The next volume is double sized since it merges 2 and 3 so it may be a bit before that review pops up, but no worries…it’ll definitely be coming! It’s still pretty surreal to be reading about manga and anime characters in novel format, but it’s definitely a good feeling.

Overall 7/10

Fairy Tail Zero Review

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It’s time to look at one of the Fairy Tail spinoffs. It certainly has quite a few, but this is the first one that I have read. It certainly starts them off on a good note as this one is leagues ahead of the main series. I won’t be reviewing that one anytime soon since it shows no signs of ending at the moment, but the excessive fanservice ruined what could have been one of the ultimate manga titles of all time. That’s a story for another day though. This manga plays it straight for the most part and makes for an interesting action title that does a good job of setting the stage for the main title. There are some name drops to help expand the mythos, but I have to say that most of the names went over my head or simply didn’t matter much. The actual story and main characters are the main draw for me as a casual FT reader. Big fans will be able to appreciate this volume even more though.

The story starts off with a little girl by the name of Mavis. FT fans will remember her as the legendary leader who created the Fairy Tail guild. This story is about the birth of Fairy Tail and we learn that Mavis wasn’t always an ultra powerful, super fighter. She never gets to be all that super powerful here either, but it takes time to get to that level. At first, she is an ordinary girl who lives among shifty characters who adopted her for kicks, but don’t do much else. They don’t seem to care for her either and force Mavis to walk around without any sneakers. Mavis ends up getting used to this though and ultimately never wears any footwear again.

They all get burned to a crisp though as the land is destroyed so Mavis escapes along with Zera, a girl around Mavis’ age. Zera was never all that nice, but after this traumatic event, she began to warm up to Mavis. The two of them lived alone on this island for quite a while until some treasure hunters showed up. They came to grab the legendary Jade jewel. Mavis duels one of their members in a strategy game to see who will claim the jewel, but it has been mysteriously removed already. The two groups then decide to join forces to reclaim the jewel and so starts the beginning of their partnership. The owners of the Jade are the notorious Blue Skull wizards so the heroes will have to fight hard to defeat them. After all, they don’t know any real magic yet.

This one shot could have potentially been a little boring if handled wrong. I’m not a huge fan of the jungle setting after all and big cities don’t appear all that much. Luckily, the writing is good and as a result, the one shot plays out like a fun little fantasy adventure. It’s similar to something like Slayers or Orphen. The character interactions are good and the main cast are all pretty likable. You’ll find yourself breezing through the volume even though the length is longer than your average volume. It never drags on and the pacing is nice and quick.

Mavis is the main character and I can safely say that she is the best Fairy Tail Guild Leader. Her match of wits against Yuri was something that you would expect from HXH or another strategy title. I certainly didn’t think it would come from Fairy Tail and most of the current members on the team certainly wouldn’t do too well in this kind of event. The game was about mentioning truths in regard to the person that you are fighting. To make sure that neither participant can lie, a magic crystal is used. (Sadly, this is why the game wouldn’t work too well in real life) You can’t use truths that can be applied to both people (So no “You’re a human” as a truth) and you can’t use truths about clothing or other obvious/minor details that would drag the game out forever. As both participants are ideally strangers to each other, it gets to be very tricky right away.

Mavis decided to up the stakes a little though and boldly claimed that she would win the game on a single turn…and then did so 2 times in a row. It was quite impressive and her wins were both legitimate. No real plot hax here, just good strategy. Mavis doesn’t have any real flaws to speak of and can easily hold her own volume. She’s a good hero who looks out for her friends and is eager to stop the villains. Mavis is certainly worthy of her role as leader.

Zera is Mavis’ best friend and appears as a main supporting character during the volume. She may have been very mean at the beginning of the story, but she was a little kid at the time and certainly couldn’t have been expected to be all that mature. She is fairly anti-social and has a hard time getting used to the others, but she gets used to having friends by the end…or at least makes an effort to get along with them. She can’t fight so she mainly serves as moral support for Mavis. She’s a nice character to have around.
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Yuri is easily the best member of the Treasure Hunters and he is very close to being as cool as Mavis. I like his competitive spirit and he certainly has no shortage of confidence. Yuri is rather greedy and isn’t willing to just let Mavis win for free, but that’s a good thing. He’s in it to win and gives everything his all. That definitely makes him a good rival to have around and it’s be cool to see him in the main series. Unless he is a minor character or got a name change, I can’t remember him ever appearing. He would be super old though so I guess that makes sense.

Warrod is someone who has shown up in the main series, but he’s my least favorite member so that’s too bad. He’s not a bad character in this volume, but he’s just not all that interesting I suppose. He tries to sound wise and he has a decent amount of magical power, but I find him to be over hyped. I don’t know how he got such a high position of honor in the main title. He’s technically heroic and a solid ally though so he’s just not great compared to the others. If you just look at him as a character with no comparisons, then he’s not bad.

Precht is the final member of the Treasure Hunters and he is pretty cool. Of course, he does go on to become one of the big villains in the main series, but here he is a hero for the full volume. He’s the best fighter in the group and he also has a very cool design. He seemed very reliable so it’s a shame that he ultimately decided to join the darkness. This is Fairy Tail though so maybe he will become a good guy at some point in the future once more. Only time will tell I suppose.

Zeref gets a mild appearance here. He’s been hyped in the main series for quite a while and I’m looking forward to seeing him fight someday. After all, if the demons were created to defeat him and the heroes could barely take them down…just how strong is Zeref? His field of death is certainly a great ability since just getting near him can prove to be fatal for most living things. He seems like a fairly nice guy so it’s too bad that the ability eventually led him down a dark path. He did play a pivotal role in helping the heroes even if his screen time was brief.

The villains aren’t bad even if they don’t get a whole lot to do here. They’re here to serve their role as villains, but only the leader really gets a personality/actual design. He’s not a bad villain leader as he is fairly powerful and knows a good amount of magic. He may have underestimated the heroes, but it is easy to see how he rose to power the way that he did. This guy wasn’t half bad and I was satisfied with him as the big antagonist.

This is Fairy Tail though so the author managed to squeeze in a quick hot springs esque scene with Mavis and Zera. It’s only 2-3 pages max and isn’t as bad as the usual stuff though. The 3 flashbacks to it via small panels were super unnecessary, but they were quick panels and could have been worse. It’s not enough to really hurt the score all that much or anything like that, but I can’t say that I was surprised at this moment. It’s a shame since it was literally one quick scene away from being a Fairy Tail series with no fanservice. That would have been monumental. Ah well, it’s a fairly quick blink and you’ll miss it scene and as the characters are fairly young, the actual fanservice is fairly minimal considering the situation. The anime version seemed to nerf the moment as well so that’s good. I don’t know how this volume was stretched out to almost 10 episodes though, I hope that doesn’t hurt the pacing.

The art is solid throughout the manga and the character designs are good. The action scenes are also well drawn and that helps to elevate the series. As seen with the Madoka series, bad art can really hurt a series even if the writing is on point and the plot is interesting. It’s just a super crucial element in any manga and instantly gives Zero an edge. Good art starts a manga off on a high note and then it’s just up to the writing/characters to keep it at that level.

There is also a big twist towards the very end of the manga which is handled well. I certainly enjoyed the twist and while it is fairly sad, it does make sense. It explains away some interactions which would have been fairly odd otherwise. I would have just explained the oddness away due to the trauma or something like that, but this makes even more sense. It’s definitely a sad plot twist, but it’s not over the top or super dramatic like other series would have done. It adds a layer of depth to this one shot.
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Overall, it is a little ironic, but this prequel completely destroys the main series. It is actually a well crafted volume with the writing being sound and the art is consistent. The characters were all fun and engaging which helped make the adventure fun. An adventure is only as good as its characters after all and the strategic elements were also really good. This one shot did a good job of showing off Mavis and her skills as a tactician. She may not specialize in physical fighting or raw power, but you don’t really need that when you have wits right? I almost forgot to mention this, but her magical abilities specialize in illusions. This is a fairly bad power to have for the most part since it is easy to see through after a while, but that’s where the intelligence factor comes into play. In the end I recommend checking out this manga. Don’t read the main series, but read this one shot anyway. It can stand up on its own and you don’t need to appreciate all of the cameos and name drops to really enjoy this adventure. Hopefully the rest of the spinoffs are also able to bring this level of quality with them.

Overall 7/10