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Fairy Tail
by yongzhi93 on July 17th, 2011, 2:34am

Rating - 9.6 / 10.0

User rating of this review - 3.2 out of 5
Story/Plot - 5 out of 5
Characters - 4.5 out of 5
Drawing Style - 4.5 out of 5
Enjoyment - 5 out of 5
Overall - 4.8 out of 5

Click here for series information

Foreword

Let me start by saying this: I think it's pretty disappointing if we give ratings that influence other peoples' beliefs, simply because we're turned off at first sight. I mean, I'm a firm believe of individual choice, but to post a "wall of text" rant just because the characters look like something you've seen is, honestly, one of the worst ways I've seen to review a Manga. I admit that I was initially surprised by how similar the characters looked like OP - in fact, I went to check if the authors were the same (Hiro Mashima and Oda are two different people).

That aside, I tried to read on and enjoy the story - and I did! In fact, this is all the more surprising because I normally don't like mangas that have odd-looking characters - novelty has to be reigned in by, uh, a willingness not to repulse your readers, I think. (I don't like ecchi either, so sue me.)

Finally, if you want to enjoy this manga for it's originality (which is a major sticking point for me), read this review as an Afterword.

Plot/Story

For those who have ignored my advice above, a simple introduction: the world of Fiore has magic that essentially can take any form, though magic-users are constrained to specialties - like "Dragon Slayer Fire" or "Swords" or "Celestial Keys (Summon)". Guilds are organized around professions - but of course, the story is about magic guilds (with magic, I'm actually quite curious as to how the other guilds can stay in business - if you read Economics, in PC, firms should compete at cost price, but that's just me!).

Fairy Tail employs an arc-based storytelling style. Most shounens can be generalized like that, so the real question is the degree to which the arcs are separate, and in FT's case it's pretty clear. One arc does not necessarily lead to the next arc, and in many cases you can't predict what's coming next. That gives every arc a sense of individuality and originality.

There is debate as to which is better - arc-based storytelling of Fairy Tail and One Piece, or a "level-based" storytelling employed by the popular ones like Bleach (we knew he had to fight Aizen) and Naruto (we knew he wanted to be Hokage and had to fight Sasuke someday). I will say right away that I don't consider this debate in my reviewing. Both have their merits, and I'm more interested in seeing how individual mangas turn those merits into strengths, and magic away the weaknesses.

For FT, each arc has its own, distinct story to tell. One involves Lucy's parents and origins, one involves Loke's, one's about taking down a big Boss guild, one's about Natsu's desire to do something S-level... you get the idea. After awhile, I realized that most of those arcs revolved around certain characters and their personal history: Natsu, Gray, Erza, Loke, Laxus, Mistgun and Cana have been explained (not necessarily in that order). Some even deal with two at once: the Edolas arc filled in missing parts in Wendy while explaining how Gerard and Mistgun happen to have the same face, and taking the gang to a different world in the meantime. I like how every arc can replicate the success of its predecessor without giving us a carbon-copy story - evidence of planning in storyboards - and manages to stay consistent with the characters' revealed powers and/or potential. The latter especially is sometimes ignored in Shounen - like how Bleach lets Ichigo magically go beyond every conceivable power and even Yamamoto. FT manages to tell a powerful story, all the more so because of its ability not to fall to the temptation of convenience, and tie up loose ends with a mysterious, hidden Bankai.

Characters

Rarely do we find Shounens that're willing to let their main characters take the backstage, or let others take down the first big boss, or tell stories about everyone else. In short, character evolution. I admire Fairy Tail - as I did Fruits Basket - for its ability to put aside Natsu or Lucy now and then and talk about others - I especially liked the Loki/Leo arc nearly as much as I did Momiji in FB, if you've read it.

I won't dwell too much on the arc-based storytelling. It's noteworthy to point out that you don't really realize how much character-building is done in every arc until it's over and you re-read the story - this, in my book, is powerful evidence of skilful, realistic characterization and not for characterization's sake only. Nothing disgusts me more than manga that tell us outright the central characteristics of its characters and keeps us there forever, and continue declaring it over and over. In particular, I am currently averse to main characters screaming "I want power to protect!" and get some huge power-surge as the defenseless girl is about to be killed. Kudos to FT for purposely going the opposite way in the Fighting Festival arc, when Kana is pissed at Fried after Juvia sacrifices herself, and still loses. Even when FT does it, it's realistic - no one can really blame Mirajane v. Fried for Mira's abilities, when we knew all along that she could do it.

A final note about characterization is the ability of FT to give real personalities to everyone else. Normally, we see some good guys and some bad guys, and naturally the main characters have certain defining characteristics. Normally, they're idiots. The same is true of Natsu in FT, and the rival Gray, and Lucy who's the normal one - there's nothing wrong with convention. Bowing to convention, however, is another story altogether: most mangas end with the trio and some supervillian. Not Fairy Tail. We've seen Mira and Loke and Cana and Wendy and what makes them who they are, and even the villains get their development: my appreciation of Urtear as an anti-hero with a real story has rarely been replicated for any other manga big-boss.

The only reason the characterization doesn't score a perfect 5 is because more could've been done on the originals - the others have been wonderfully developed at the expense of Natsu and Gray, who're now in grave danger of cliche. But that's fine - FT has time to work around that.

Drawing Style

I know every author has their own drawing style, but at the very least, the pages should be clean and easy to follow - that'll be an immediate 3 (I give leeway for the super-emotional scenes where hard-to-follow styles may be there to reflect the complexity of feeling.) Then comes agreeable characters and action-scenes, which get 4. Finally, I take landscape, environment and minute details into account, and that makes it 5.

FT isn't as perfect as what I'd like, but that's fine for a Shounen. It has one of the cleanest of all Manga drawing styles I've seen, and kudos in particular to it's ability to keep Natsu's face looking like Natsu even when he's doing a million fire-flying attacks. The scenes are great, and even Fairy Tail's jobs board is never sloppily done. However, in the effort to keep to time and fighting scene clarity, background is sometimes compromised, which is where it got 0.5 docked, but otherwise it's great.

<img src="http://i18.mangareader.net/fairy-tail/169/fairy-tail-1167521.jpg">

Enjoyment

Enjoyment seems to derive from a combination of everything, so this score of mine really reflects a weighted average of my above three scores. Nevertheless, I'm always willing to give more points when something sticks out, and in FT's case it's the humour. Right from the start we're treated to a clear example of Lucy's ability to make funny comments, and this is carried all the way through alongside Natsu and Gray's eternal rivalries, Erza's huge luggages and the Master's horny behaviour, just to name a few examples.

<img src="http://i35.mangareader.net/fairy-tail/1/fairy-tail-1767009.jpg">
<img src="http://i28.mangareader.net/fairy-tail/75/fairy-tail-161331.jpg">

Overall

I gave FT 10 in my personal score. It's 4.8 here as an average of all scores, and I've explained my scoring for every section. I don't intend to repeat what I've already said, so this section will be explaining "Why 10".

I'm not stingy with my marks, but I'm not generous either. People have an aversion for giving 10 sometimes, and cover it up with something weird like 9.8476, so that they can later point to 10 people with the standard "haha, you're WRONG, nothing is perfect in this world". Well, I think that's a ridiculous way of thinking. Assigning arbitrary numbers to determine value has always been an imperfect - if not impossible - art. So I have no qualms about giving a 10 so long as it has beautiful, climatic moments here and there, and doesn't do something ludicrously stupid - like letting Ichigo acquire some world-destroying power to kill Aizen, or killing Hitsugaya only to tell us it was a clone, for example.

Fairy Tail nicely dances past the pitfalls that're typical of these popular Shounen.The greatest criticism could be that Natsu has been powering up all the way, but it's been gradual so far, and Erza's told us all along that she knew Natsu had more power than her. And at no point in time does Mashima randomly give Lucy a Bankai without reason - she beat the Trinity via Unison with Juvia (already at S-class level) and Bixlow with Loke, and even when I was preparing to be disappointed and downgrade FT during the S-class arc when Lucy and Kana thrashed Fried and Bixlow... Mashima got me again with a realistic explanation that I never predicted.

It's nice if you can tie everything in a story to some beautiful, deep, central theme, but that's just one style of storytelling and has its own constraints. Even if FT doesn't seem to have that, every arc adds believable layers to everyone's personalities, and has it's own strengths and originality. Perhaps the icing that might make me severely tempted to try giving FT a 11 is if in the final arc, it might give us something we missed all along - a Grand Unifying Theory that's been hinted at all along - but right now I think Mashima'll be content with my 10.
 
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Your ranking, your reasons by coquidragon on July 19th, 2014, 12:44pm Rating: 5

Well-explained reasons behind your rankings. Thanks.
 
Completly biased review. by strixflash on September 28th, 2012, 8:05am Rating: 1

Are you serious about your review?! You are one of the few who will call anything masterpiece ,even if its junk.
Do yourself a favour by not wasting your time to read fairy tail. There are thousands of series who have much better plot,characters and art...visit the forum for good reccomandations.
This series is a complete waste of time, unless you enjoy a plotless and senseless story.
 
fairy Tail by Yuki Ice on July 17th, 2012, 11:45am Rating: 5

I love it - my favourite with one piece biggrin
 
mostly accurate by Lorska on March 18th, 2012, 1:01pm Rating: 4

First of all, this wall of text is pretty much, even for a review...
also, I would lessen the ratings a bit:
Story/Plot - 4
it's solid with interesting turns sometimes, but nothing exceptional, still pretty good
Characters - 4.5
characters are introduced step by step, and there is a huge cast, their concepts are nice
Drawing Style - 4
well it wasn't sooo great, still lately it has been pretty nice to read as you can see more (and more pretty) details
Enjoyment - 4.5
it's funny, story is nice, has its emotional moments, I'd recommend it any day, still have read better ones

At least this one stays what it is, it's a manga about friendship. If you like to sympathize with characters and like more emotional shounen instead of only battle orientated stuff, this is nice. And funny smile
 
this manga is lame by Eba Foreva on November 19th, 2011, 10:35pm Rating: 1

nakama-based power-ups all over the place, no originality.
 
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