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.
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.
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.