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Fairy Tail Master’s Edition Vol. #02 Manga Review

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Fairy Tail Masters Edition Volume 2 CoverWhen someone hurts those you care about … how far will you go for justice?

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

What They Say:
Natsu and Gray face off against the demons from Gray’s past and a wizard who can control the future! Meanwhile, Fairy Tail’s rival guild, Phantom Lord, has done the unforgivable – smashing the guild hall to the ground! Fairy Tail has never been one for proportional responses, so it’s time for an all-out guild war. But Phantom Lord has a secret weapon nobody expected – a powerful dragon slayer of their own!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers from Fairy Tail volumes 6-10)
After being forcibly escorted back from Galuna Island, Natsu and the gang are in a gloomy mood since Erza turned down the reward due to the fact that the quest was never formally accepted by the guild. The only one happy with the outcome is, of course, Lucy since she was allowed to keep the bonus item from the mission – the Golden Gate Key for the celestial spirit Sagittarius. However, once they arrive back in Magnolia, everyone is looking forward to returning to the guild, until they realize that the Master still has to decide on a punishment for going out on an S-Class mission without permission. As they make their way down the road to the building, instead of the familiar sign declaring Fairy Tail, all they see is a massive pile of rubble, impaled by multiple enormous iron spikes. Horrified by the sight, they navigate down to the lower floors, relieved to see that it is still intact.

The chaos of the guild is still as rowdy as ever, but even more so due to the destruction of the guild hall. However, once they find Master Makarov, they are surprised that he is not as inflamed as the others; his calm demeanor is understandable once he explains that this was a night attack and luckily no one was hurt, so he tells them to ignore it. Natsu is incensed and quick to jump to the conclusion that they should counterattack, but Mira soon calms his temper when she reminds him that the Magic Council would not allow such tension between guilds. But this passive attitude is soon changed when morning comes and they see results of another intrusion, though this one hits closer to home. Staked to a tree in the middle of Southgate Park, a stunned crowd surrounds the results of this newest raid, and this time even Natsu does not know how to react: the members of team Shadow Gear – Jet, Droy, and Levy have been beaten savagely and left for display, marked with the sign of their attackers – Phantom Lord. But before anyone can take down the bodies, Marakov forces his way through the mob and declares that no one can attack his children and get away with it – this time it is war.

As the members of Phantom Lord drink their afternoon away and joke about how easy it was to demolish the Fairy Tail guild hall, the happy mood is soon interrupted by the splintering sound of their massive front door crashing through the room. The weaklings that they were laughing about have now arrived and are seeking revenge for their fallen comrades. Once Natsu storms through the building, laying waste to any enemy members who were foolish to stand in his way, it is soon clear that these wizards are not the pushovers they were lead to believe. Any doubts of the survivors are soon laid to rest once Makarov marches in and bellows for their leader Jose to show his cowardly face; those who are dumb enough to confront the Master are soon crushed by his size changing magic and run away so that he can make his way to the upper levels of the building, where he thinks Master Jose is hiding. However, within a few minutes, the colossal battle which was echoing above is soon silenced once the aged wizard comes crashing down in a heap, badly beaten and barely clinging to life. With their leader this seriously overpowered, Erza quickly realizes that they have no chance in overcoming these foes and orders a retreat. Natsu and Gray quickly protest but are sternly reminded that they cannot beat Phantom Lord without the Master and so, regretfully, leave the crumbling building. After all, if Jose can so easily defeat Makarov, what chance do they have against the rest of the guild?

In Summary:
This is one of the crazier story arcs since it encloses the first battle between two guilds and also includes Lucy’s background which she never wanted to reveal to her friends. The whole reason she wanted to join Fairy Tail on her own was to forget her history, but this volume reminds us that sometimes you cannot forget your past, no matter how hard you may try. The entirety of Phantom Lord story line was all due to her father’s selfishness and by the end of it, Lucy has become a stronger woman and character. And the artistry of this book makes everything all the more remarkable when you compare the pages to the anime; sometimes colors mask the strength of monotone images and this is especially true with the emotional scenes of this arc. With all of the colors and music from the animation, simplicity is the best to convey the truest feelings, be they a tear soaked face or one with teeth gritted in anger; but of course, you can’t forget the other signature of this series, the incredible battle scenes which are marvelously displayed when spread over numerous pages. To be able to imagine these events without outside interference is for the best since we can see for ourselves what Mashima-sensei originally intended.

However, even with all these magnificent stories, there are still some glaring mistakes in this new format. The most obvious one is the massive size of this release: compared to the standard two hundred pages for a single volume, this gargantuan tome is five times the thickness, double the size of its sister companions and nearly four pounds of magical smashing goodness! While this is not something you would want to drag around for a leisurely day of reading by the pool, it will still suffice for an afternoon of lounging on the couch, basking away in the pleasure of watching the time flash by as you read Natsu smashing his way through countless enemies. And while nothing major is sacrificed in this release since the enlarged format is as crisp and sharp as the normal copy, the other obvious change is the grade of the paper. Gone is the off-gray newspaper stock used in the singular books, it has now been replaced with a semi-gloss coated page which is bleached an alarmingly bright shade of white. Though the characters and actions now stand out more distinctly than in previous editions, some readers will miss the textured feel and smell of the old paper. And lastly, this new paper can be distracting and a strain on the eyes to view the art on these overly white pages, especially over extended sessions of reading. I just wonder why they changed the stock for this new series since it is now similar to the originally published method in Weekly Shōnen Magazine which was also printed on newsprint paper?

Fairy Tail Master’s Edition Volume 2 is a great way to collect Fairy Tail if you want to have all of the books in one convenient volume. All of the original inserts like information snippets and fan art were also transferred from the smaller format with no loss in clarity or sharpness. But the big loss in this new format is the ability to have a handful of explosive goodness without having to strain yourself from excessive lifting. Sometimes having everything in one place isn’t such a good thing.

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

Age Rating: Teen
Released By: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: April 26th, 2016
MSRP: $39.99

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