Fairy Tail 2 by Hiro Mashima: B

From the back cover:
Beautiful celestial wizard Lucy has teamed up with the crazy fire wizard Natsu and his bizarre flying cat, Happy. Their job: to steal a book from the notorious Duke Everlue. But the eccentric Everlue has killed wizards before, and Lucy’s team is walking right into his death trap!

I was getting serious GetBackers vibes from the first mission in this volume. Natsu, Lucy, and Happy are hired by a client who will pay them two million “jewels” to retrieve a book from the library of some crazy, lecherous old guy. They fight some bodyguards with specialized combat abilities, and Lucy goes around in skimpy outfits, though not quite as skimpy as the stuff Hevn wears. (Side note: I haven’t read any GetBackers for two whole years now. Must remedy. It’s not the best thing ever, but I would still like to finish it.)

A new powerful female character is introduced in the second mission and I thought I’d like her, since she seemed keen to instill some discipline in her fellow wizards, but she turned out to be as illogical as the rest in her own way. The second story also introduces the threat of dark guilds, those who’ve broken rules (such as accepting assassination requests) and have been ousted from the league of official wizard guilds, which is pretty nifty. Some of these villains have some neat magic abilities, too; I particularly like the guy who manipulates shadows.

The art continues to be great. Not only does Mashima excel at depicting cities, but there’s never any question of where a scene is occurring, and sometimes you even know what room is next door, what’s down the street, etc. Some maps are helpfully provided, as well.

I liked this volume a little more than the first one, but I’m still not entirely sold on following it long term. Mashima employs gag humor that I don’t really care for (someone turning up naked for one panel just so someone else can joke about it), but at the same time there are amusing bits that I like, such as when Happy (the cat) picks up a skull in a storage room and randomly wears it as a helmet for a few pages. The magic system, not only the abilities but the organization, is also original and interesting. If only the characters weren’t so irksome!

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