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Fairy Tail Vol. #34 Manga Review

8 min read

Fairy Tail Volume 34 FullWhile defending the honor of their guild will a Fairy fall?

Creative Staff

Story/Art: Hiro Mashima
Translation/Adaptation: William Flanagan

What They Say
Outraged by the way Yukino has been treated, Natsu goes on the warpath and challenges the master of Saber Tooth to a fight! Back at the tournament, the wizards prepare to face Pandemonium, a castle built out of magic containing one-hundred terrible monsters, the most powerful of which are easily capable of taking down a Wizard Saint. But when Erza, desperate to reclaim Fairy Tail’s honor, wins the right to go first, she declares that she’ll take on all one-hundred at once!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Natsu’s angry assault on Saber Tooth continues as the treatment of their now exiled member Yukino has him ready to rumble with the entire guild on their territory. Initially Saber Tooth’s guild Master is inclined to ignore the insolent whelp but when Natsu blows past one of the guild’s strongest members without blinking the Master chooses to take him on. When Natsu’s first assault is rebuffed the Master feels safe but when Natsu breaks out his ace card even the Master learns a bit of fear of this challenger, though fortunately for him his daughter (and one of the five strongest members of the guild) Minerva appears and deflects the attack as well as diffuses the situation with some ego saving words for her father and the return of a hostage to Natsu to get him to back down. Unhappy with the result but once again in control of himself, Natsu leaves while proclaiming Fairy Tail won’t lose to Saber Tooth.

Of course just because Natsu was able to succeed more than anyone would have anticipated in a surprise assault doesn’t mean that the next day’s games are an automatic win as there are still five other guilds (plus a second Fairy Tail team) to contend with and any one of them can cause problems as none of the present guilds made it into the Games based on luck. The day’s newest competition turns out to be kind of a war of attrition where the participants take turns one at a time having to fight in a building full of 100 monsters of varying strength. The fights are initiated when a contestant chooses how many of the monsters they wish to face at once before passing the surviving number of monsters off to the next combatant in line with the team whose representative beat the most monsters getting first place and points meted out to the second and third place teams as well.

Given Fairy Tail’s been all but shut out of points so far as well as how far they are back in the standings it will take a miracle to help catch up…and miracles are something people can create as Erza is determined to help her guild and in doing so she may remind a population that has had seven years to forget the name of Titania the Fairy Queen just why it is her legend had spread throughout the land in the first place.

Of course too strong a performance will make for a broken game and require a need for a replacement way of assigning ranks to the other competitors and that contest may not be in Cana’s favor when it becomes a test of magical power attacks which is completely not her area of magic -unless of course Mavis is willing to pull out all the stops to win.

And Mavis only wants to win more than anything else at these games.

Things really heat up though in the afternoon’s one on one battles though as Laxus faces off against the mysterious Alexei from Laxus’ father’s guild Raven Tail. As the battle starts the audience is completely shocked as they see Laxus being completely dominated but not all is as it seems as in reality what the audience is seeing is an illusion as Alexei approaches Laxus with an offer- Raven Tail is willing to throw the match if Laxus will just tell them the location of Fairy Tail’s greatest secret. Of course offers like that only work if there is a threat to back them up and in this case Raven Tail is willing to send all five members to beat Laxus into compliance but the man who once was expelled from Fairy Tail wasn’t let back in just because the guild needed more power and even the revelation of Alexei’s true identity isn’t going to cause Laxus to just give up his second chance now and five on one aren’t odds enough to make him consider backing down without a fight.

The main team’s representative’s fight isn’t going to be easy either as Wendy finds herself matched up with someone at least as talented and determined as she is- and who may be even more skilled. There is no way Wendy is willing to let her guild down however and no matter the cost she will bear the unbearable in order to carry her team as far as she can with her small hands. But just as it seems Fairy Tail may have found their stride everything they have accomplished may be in jeopardy if “Mystogan’s” search for the power he senses as Zeref puts his identity’s secret in danger as there are no shortages of people at the games who want Jellal’s head for very good reasons. But it may be someone else who is in the most danger as the next match sees Minerva finally take the field and it seems that Natsu’s rash actions may cause for a world of pain -or maybe even worse-to fall on the member of the main Fairy Tail team in the match as Lucy looks to make up for her previous loss in the games.

As the Grand Magic Games get into full swing Hiro Mashima shows that he had done an absolutely brilliant job in the opening chapters that seemed to lack a bit of a spark of their own of actually planting footholds that the later chapters could use to vault so much higher than one might normally have suspected from the set up and which is now paying off in almost every single page of this volume. Mashima has laid such a treasure trove of ideas to follow up on that it almost felt like it was taking my breath away as I tried to keep up with the bursting speed that action was happening as well as try to read at maximum speed to get to the next amazing event or revelation.

Right from the start with Natsu storming Saber Tooth’s temporary headquarters Mashima shows how he has carefully set up all of his characters in situations that will really let their personalities shine through as Natsu gets to display the kind of feelings of justice that help make him such an endearing character even when surrounded by a pantheon of other characters in the shonen genre that share similar traits. From there though Erza then gets her chance to shine as she goes far and above beyond the call of duty that she needs to do in order to make absolutely sure that Fairy Tail not only is going to get some needed points in the Games but also that some of the people who had been laughing at them earlier are now either going to cheer them or be stunned into silence. And if that weren’t enough Laxus, Wendy and Lucy also get their time in the spotlight to show the lengths they are willing to go to in order to make sure the effort of their friends getting to and in the Games is honored even against seemingly impossible odds.

This all would make for a full book of action and character displays but Mashima isn’t done by half as he uses a minimum of panels in between the action to both provide some needed levity but also help give some of the characters not competing a chance to display their depths from the solidly pulling for her guild Mavis to hints of just what might be going on behind the scenes with Zeref’s presence. And it is this almost minor part in the flurry of events where the volume drives Jellal into a corner as he is desperate for redemption but finds that he may blow up Fairy Tail’s chances in the game as his identity is uncovered. Though he manages to slip out of the current situation a large number of people who want him dead now have reason to both hunt him and distrust Fairy Tail which let him in under cover as they (correctly) don’t buy the story passed off that “Mystogan” is simply the other world’s Jellal (which he is, but that version already returned home).

It isn’t often that a story can have both acts of heroism and standing up for others that seems to unite people behind the main characters and also divide them at the same time based on a judgment made which seemed like the best idea at the time, but Fairy Tail manages to carry this out superbly as the hurt in the eyes of the people who are either friends with members of the guild of Fairys or sympathetic to them now feel betrayed by the presence of Jellal in the guild’s midst. This creates an unbelievably great stage not only for future events but it deepens the emotions of the current ones that really makes the volume stand out and it seems that Mashima has achieved a rank- if he wasn’t there already- of one of the great masters of shonen tales as well as being an author who can draw the attention and respect of people who typically are adverse to many of the regular trappings that tend to come with the genre. Fairy Tail just keeps getting better and better and this current arc has a real chance of being one of the best arcs put out in the English market this year. Recommended

In Summary
After a disastrous first day of the Grand Magic Games for Fairy Tail both its participating teams fought back in the second day to at least have moral victories to lift their spirits as well as get the crowd behind them. Watching the reactions of Saber Tooth to one of their member’s defeat in that process however has Natsu charging straight into the den of the current most powerful team in Fiore to stand up for someone who doesn’t even belong to his guild, though the appearance of a previously unseen powerful member and a hostage have Natsu withdraw before fully expending his rage on the guild’s Master. Meanwhile in the Games themselves various members of the team give everything they’ve got to lift their guild and in the process display the power and heart that made Fairy Tail so famous- and infamous- up to seven years ago. But when an ally’s identity is blown will Fairy Tail find they now have more opponents than just the traitorous Raven Tail which had been hounding them? And will this persistent drive to defend the guild lead members to continue to fight beyond what any ally expects mean that Fairy Tail is going to lose a member in these Games due to a desire not to let everyone else down despite being pushed far beyond their limits?

Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: A-

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: January 7th, 2014
MSRP: $10.99

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