Fairy Tail 7 by Hiro Mashima: B+

From the back cover:
Fairy Tail’s rival guild, Phantom Lord, has taken the competition to dangerous levels by smashing the Fairy Tail building and nearly killing three wizards. What is Fairy Tail’s response? A full-frontal assault on Phantom Lord! But this clash is all part of the Phantom Lord’s evil plot to capture a coveted prize.

Volume seven of Fairy Tail is a lot of fun. The battle between Fairy Tail and Phantom Lord continues on, and not only are some nifty villains introduced on the Phantom Lord side, we also learn more about some members of Fairy Tail who’ve remained in the background thus far. True, a couple of the chapters could be summarized as “Mirajane and Elfman have angst,” but it’s about time some of these folks got some attention.

Showcasing the new faces on both sides means Mashima gets to show off his talent for devising interesting new magical abilities. The most devastating new power to be introduced in this volume is called “drain,” wielded by a wind magic user, which essentially blows a person’s powers right out of them. Elfman turns out to have a pretty cool ability too, and now that he’s overcome his angst enough to use it, I wonder whether he’ll figure more prominently in the story from now on.

Lastly, I must commend Mashima for not taking this in the exact direction I was expecting. I was dreading another entry into the “our heroine is kidnapped by the enemy and our heroes bravely battle to retrieve her” school of shounen plotting, but Lucy surprised me by escaping her confinement pretty quickly. Everyone does still battle because they refuse to hand her over, but at least she wasn’t wholly passive about it.

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