Hiro Mashima has cemented himself as one of the top names of the modern manga era. Whilst he found early success with Rave Master, it was his subsequent series Fairy Tail that made him a star. Lasting 63 volumes, the subject of numerous spinoffs and a long running anime adaptation – Fairy Tail is rightfully seen as one of the best recent entries in the shonen manga genre. As one would expect, there has been quite a bit of anticipation for his next series following Fairy Tail’s conclusion. And this month, we get the first print volume of Mashima’s latest work – Edens Zero. This is his first venture into the sci-fi genre, although fans of his previous work will quickly notice some familiar features.
At Granbell Kingdom, an abandoned amusement park, Shiki has lived his entire life among machines. But one day, Rebecca and her cat companion Happy appear at the park’s front gates. Little do these newcomers know that this is the first human contact Granbell has had in a hundred years! As Shiki stumbles his way into making new friends, his former neighbours stir at an opportunity for a robo-rebellion… And when his old homeland becomes too dangerous, Shiki must join Rebecca and Happy on their spaceship and escape into the boundless cosmos.
Mashima fans are quickly going to feel at home in this new series. Whilst a slight departure from the fantasy themes he has mainly worked with, Fairy Tail fans will quickly notice some familiar faces such as the blue cat accompanying Rebecca (who also happens to be called Happy) and the small snowman fairy Plue. The two main characters may also slightly remind readers of Natsu and Lucy, but that is more down to Mashima’s distinctive style which proves to be a perfect fit for this style of story. The mechanical beings that populate Granbell Kingdom are a good example of this as the quirks of his usual design techniques are present, but the departure from the more fantasy-based fare allows for some fresh elements too. For someone who has spent as long working in the fantasy genre as long as he has, Mashima is surprisingly adept at drawing robots and successfully integrates them into his art style.
Whilst it’s early days as far as the characters go, the main characters are endearing and fit well into Mashima’s epic/comedic approach to storytelling. Rebecca’s motivation in particular of becoming a viral online sensation makes for some great moments and Shiki has all the makings of a good shonen hero. The robotic residents of Granbell Kingdom also keep things packed in the humour department.
Fans of Fairy Tail will easily segue into this series and anyone looking for a strong shonen manga are sure to be satisfied by the latest tale from one of the manga industry’s biggest modern success stories.
Edens Zero is out now from Kodansha
(9781632367563, p/b, £9.99)
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