Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fairy Tail, Volume 9 by Hiro Mashima

The battle with the Shadow Guild, Phantom, is over, and Phantom has been totally defeated. Both guildhouses are in ruins, and all that is left with the rebuilding. As they are lying in the ruins of the Shadow Guild, Natsu and Gajeel talk, and both discover that the dragons who taught them their dragon hunting profession disappeared on the same day- year 777, Month 7, day 7, which was seven years ago. Strange, that confluence of sevens, but Gajeel angrily pushes away Natsu's offer of friendship and a sharing of information.

Lucy, meanwhile, is very upset. She's afraid that the Shadow Guild attacking Fairy Tail will cause her friends at Fairy Tail to reject her. But the Guildmaster says she is Fairy Tail now, and they protect their own. It doesn't matter to any of them why Phantom attacked. They are her friends and remain so. Lucy is moved to tears. And work on rebuilding the guild begins, only to be interrupted by the troops of the council, who interrogate everyone to find out what went on.

Loke, the wizard who is in love with Lucy, finds her keys and attempts to return them, while Gray is "romanced" by Juvia, with less than notable success. Meanwhile, Lucy writes a letter to her mother and remembers how mean and hurtful her father was when she was a child. Too busy working on her birthday, even to spend time with or be nice to her. Gray, Natsu, and Ezra go to Lucy's home to find her gone. In attempting to find her, they uncover dozens of letters to her mother, all unsent, which they read, and a note saying that she had gone home.

They follow her, and Lucy has indeed gone home. Her father asks to see her, and the family servants, all of whom missed her, are glad to see her and insist she get dressed up to see her father. She tells him she is sorry she left without telling him, and he acts very cutting towards her, telling her he was about to use his money and contacts to crush the Fairy Tail Guild. He's arranged a marriage for her, and she will marry the man and bear him a son, who will inherit the Heartfilia estate.

Lucy tells him he's misread the situation. She came back to tell him she was going. She cannot stay with him because of the way he treats her. She needs to be with people who are friends and support her. And Fairy Tail has become her second family, who she prefers to him. Shredding her dress as she speaks, she leaves the room, and goes to the tomb of her mother, where her friends find her and they have a happy reunion, but are literally GaGa over how rich her family is and the size of her estate.

At the trial of Fairy Tail, the guild is completely absolved of guilt for what happened, but one of the Council tells Makarov. the Guild Master, that he is too old for these things and should retire. Back at the Guild, even though it isn't completely rebuilt yet, the wizards begin taking on jobs again, and Laxus, one of the guild's most powerful wizards, and S-Class, has an argument with Ezra about how they need to kick the "weaklings" out of the guild. To Ezra, his words are anathema- Fairy Tail Wizards stand together no matter what.

Laxus goes off, saying that when he is in charge, he'll change things. Lucy thinks he's simply being an asshole, but she discovers that Laxus is Makarov's grandson and probably next in line for guildmaster. Lucy is shocked. Meanwhile, Ezra proposes that she, Natsu, Lucy and Gray form a team and work together on jobs. Everyone agrees, most enthusiastically, but the jobs they take on don't go so well- Natsu and Gray do so much damage, that most of the take for the jobs goes to repair and reparations, leaving Lucy, who doesn't get money from her family, mostly broke.

Mirajane, who acts as a bartender says she'll pick a job that will make them money, guaranteed, and sends them on a job to help a struggling theatre attract more customers. But will their changes end up destroying the theatre?

Then, after a job cleaning out some bandits, Lucy and the others stay over in a small town, where they happen to run into Loke. Lucy wants to thank Loke for returning her keys, but he runs from her like she was going to set him on fire. Lucy wonders what she has done to make him afraid of her, but comes to no conclusions. That night, as Gray and Natsu get into a pillow fight, she takes a walk, and after dealing with some local trash who see her as a good-time girl, she runs into Loke again. They go to a bar, and he grabs her when she is about to walk out and hugs her, telling her he's about to die.

Then, he claims it was just a pickup line, which makes Lucy angry, and she walks off. But later, she becomes worried, thinking that maybe he really is dying. She brings in one of her celestial information sources, who tells her that Loke was once linked to another celestial wizard named Karen. And Karen is the one who set Lucy on her path to becoming a celestial Wizard. But can Lucy discover Loke's real name and why he is going to die? And then, can she do something about it? Even though Loke isn't really a close friend, can Lucy find out why he is going to die and save him?

A more mixed book, but one I really enjoyed. My personal favorite story was the last one, with Loke, which has been hinted at for a while now. We get to see the contrast between Lucy and a really nasty and perhaps evil Celestial wizard. Oh, not outright actively evil, but definitely evil in an "Not caring for anyone but herself" kind of way, and the way she used her Celestial spirits was awful. It's kind of nice that she's no longer around.

But I liked all the stories in this book, because they are short and sweet, a break from the longer stories in the past and the ones that will inevitably follow. Most of them are sweet and funny, and the last story is a mystery and more bittersweet. Lucy has absorbed the lessons that Fairy Tail teaches, and her defense of those she considers her friends shows why they and her Celestial spirits continue to follow her. The last story evokes, well, almost tears, it is so well done.

I think I have enjoyed this Volume of Fairy Tail the best, and it shows off Lucy's growth as a character, and shows why I continue to read this series. Yes, it's humor, but it's more than just humor, and that it can do both well is rare in a humor series. I would Highly recommend this series, and this volume especially.

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