Fairy Tail is more of a fantasy series, focusing on wizards. It began as a manga by Hiro Mashima in 2006. The anime first ran in 2009 and continued for 175 episodes until 2013, as well as a six-part OVA (Original Video Animation) between 2011-13, and one film, Phoenix Priestess, in 2012. A new series has also just begun this month, being streamed currently on the website Crunchyroll. It is one of the most popular series at the moment, falling into the category of “shonen” style battle-like series, similar to One Piece (No. 6) and Bleach (No. 15), but is more like the former due to its use of comedy.
The “Fairy Tail” in the title is guild of wizards, based in the city of Magnolia, located in the Fiore Kingdom of the Earth-land peninsula. Fairy Tail has wizards of almost every kind and ability. It is famous for having some of the strongest wizards in the land, and certainly the most destructive, often causing huge amounts of accidental collateral damage.
The story starts with 17-year-old Lucy Heartfilia running away from home and joining the guild. She is a “Celestial Wizard”, whose powers come from using magical keys relating to the constellations. These keys summon celestial beings of varying abilities, powers and behaviour. For example, the being known as Aquarius can control water, but is also very grumpy. Another, Taurus, is an incredibly strong bull and rather pervy.
Lucy joins the guild after meeting one of Fairy Tail’s most famous wizards: Natsu Dragneel the “Salamander”. He uses “Dragon Slayer” magic that allows him to control and consume fire. He was taught and raised by an actual dragon, Igneel, who suddenly disappeared seven years ago and Natsu has been searching for him ever since. While he is a good wizard, he does have his weaknesses: namely terrible motion sickness on any form of transportation. Natsu is always accompanied by his best friend, a winged cat called Happy.
Later Lucy, Natsu and Happy form a team with two other Fairy Tail wizards. One is Gray Fullbuster, master of “Ice Maker” magic. Perhaps not surprisingly fiery Natsu and icy Gray are constantly fighting with each other. Gray also has the very odd habit of constantly stripping down to his boxer shorts within a moment’s notice. The other team member is the fearsome “Titania” Erza Scarlet, probably the most powerful woman in the guild. Erza wears armour, carries swords, and uses “Re-equip” magic to switch between different suits and weapons, each with a magical ability suiting the situation.
The series follows various storylines, normally quite long ones, in which the Fairy Tail guild often have to battle against evil wizards and illegal “Dark Guilds” who plan to use magic for diabolical ends. Often it is the central quintet that finds itself in the heat of the action There are other side stories too, such as Natsu’s quest to find Igneel.
The anime has become rapidly popular. The comedy is a big element and the characters add to this. You have Natsu and Gray’s constant conflicts, as well as Lucy’s increasing range of comic celestial beings. Not only that you also have a huge range of secondary characters with their odd quirks. The format allows creator Mashima to easily add new comedic characters. For example, other wizards in the Fairy Tail guild include Cana, who uses Tarot cards for her magic and can drink alcohol by the barrelful; Elfman, who can transform his body into that of a monster and is constantly going on about manliness; and later on there is Juvia, a water wizard who eventually becomes romantically obsessed with Gray.
The tales in Fairy Tail are entertaining as well, and range from destroying weapons of magical mass destruction to travelling to parallel worlds. At times there are shorter “filler” stories which vary in quality, but the central plots, the action and humour results in many a wizard wheeze.
Fairy Tail collections are released by Manga Entertainment on Blu-Ray and DVD, the next being the seventh collection on 28th April. The film version, “Phoenix Priestess”, is currently scheduled for 28th July. The more recent second series is being streamed on Crunchyroll.