Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Fairy Tail: 100 Years Quest
Now that both Zeref and Acnologia are defeated, it's time for the wizards of Fairy Tail to get back to doing their everyday things – and in the case of Team Natsu, that's trying their hand at the S-Class 100 Years Quest! Natsu, Lucy, Gray, Erza, Happy, Carla, and Wendy set out for the continent of Guiltina, where magic and guilds began, in order to fulfill a quest set by the very first wizards' guild ever. But the quest has some surprises and caveats that they never expected, and things are almost certainly nothing like they first seem to be in this next chapter of Fairy Tail's adventures.
When Hiro Mashima finished the main Fairy Tail series, he said he had no interest in writing a sequel. Perhaps unfortunately for him, those plans went awry, and the result is Fairy Tail: 100 Years Quest, a direct sequel to Fairy Tail written by Mashima but drawn by Atsuo Ueda. The story picks up directly after the events of the final volume of the original series, so this isn't a good place to jump into the franchise, but for fans, it's looking like a decent continuation of the adventures of our favorite wizards.
The story opens with Team Natsu (Natsu, Lucy, Gray, Erza, Wendy, and the two cats) setting foot on the continent of Guiltina, a heretofore unexplored landmass in terms of where the cast has been. Guiltina is important to the story's world not just because it's the setting for the S-Class Quest the team has embarked upon, but also because it's on this continent that the very first wizards' guild originated, setting up the template by which all other guilds would operate. It's also important because it's just enough farther away from the other two that it's been left out of a lot of the events of the main series – the Dragon King Festival didn't affect Guiltina's dragons, Alvarez never tried to invade…it's basically been living its own history and evolving differently than the other two continents. This means that while it shares a decent amount of familiar elements, it's also different enough that our wizards are thrown off balance, because the details basically don't add up the way they're used to. That's almost more dangerous than if things were completely different, because it can lull them into a false sense of, if not security precisely, than at least the idea that they know what's what.
Most strikingly for Natsu (and everyone who's come through the whole dragon debacle) is the fact that the dragons of Guiltina weren't affected by the madness and war that brought down Igneel and the others. In fact, the 100 Years Quest is to defeat five dragons who are still roaming around. The implication is that they've been around long enough that they're perhaps starting to lose it and become dangerous, something that Natsu doesn't really seem to buy from the start, although he's willing to give it at least a little credence because of Acnologia. But for most of the team, the very mention of dragons is enough to give them pause and think that maybe something else is going on behind the scenes. (Gray seems the most open to this idea, which does make sense given his at time adversarial relationship with Natsu.)
The quest narrative is just one of the two parallel storylines being set up in this volume, and both are very much in the introductory stage. The second has to do with Touka, a new member of Fairy Tail. Almost immediately readers will notice that she's got her new guild mark in the exact same place Lucy does, which is not an insignificant detail – when asked why she's joined, Touka claims that it's because she's in love with Natsu. (Basically everyone tells her that this is a lost cause.) But Gajeel and Juvia are immediately suspicious – Juvia because people quickly start telling her that Touka is basically Juvia 2.0, and Gajeel for reasons he can't quite pin down. Much to Levy's dismay, the two (and Panther Lily) begin investigating Touka, trying to figure out what makes them so uneasy, and readers can quickly see that they're probably right, even before we start seeing Jellal asking around about her and telling people the equivalent of “she's armed and dangerous, do not approach.” Not only is Touka's guild mark a potential marker, but she's also rented the room directly across from Lucy's and is making a habit of wandering around places Natsu's likely to go. Essentially it looks like she's trying her hardest to usurp Lucy's place in Natsu's life (perhaps misunderstanding that theirs isn't necessarily a romantic partnership), and that could become dangerous very quickly.
In terms of picking up where the main series left off, there's a mix of things ignored and others downplayed. It does look like Levy's words to Gajeel about being pregnant are true, but Lucy's literary honors appear to have been forgotten, and there's no sign of reborn Mavis and Zeref. Any progress between Juvia and Gray has been left by the wayside, and both Gajeel and Mirajane look like they may have backslid a little in terms of their character maturity, Mirajane more than Gajeel. None of this is particularly bad, but it is a little jarring at times; even though I'm not a fan of the Juvia/Gray romance, it definitely feels a bit off for him to have just left her after his words in the previous series.
The art not being by Hiro Mashima is a major consideration as well, and fortunately Atsuo Ueda does a very credible job of copying his style. There are a few panels where you would swear that Mashima himself had drawn them, but for the most part the differences are fairly negligible – women's faces are a little rounder and bodies a bit more typical of fanservice art (particularly if we get a crotch shot, which feels more frequent), and the eyes look sharper in general, but generally speaking you have to be looking for those differences specifically. Things aren't quite as dynamic as when Mashima draws, but on the whole, this still definitely looks like Fairy Tail, which is important.
The 100 Years Quest is just getting started, both in terms of being a new series and in plot, but it feels like it has potential. It isn't as immediately exciting as the main series, but it still seems to be off to a good start if you're not done reading about Lucy, Natsu, and the others just yet.
Overall : B
Story : B-
Art : B
+ Promising start to two storylines, new continent to explore mixes up the story's mythology.
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