Synopsis: Lucy marvels at how huge the headquarters is, before entering with Natsu and Happy. Inside, a large crowd of people are eating, and Mirajane (the female mage from Lucy's magazine) is acting as waitress. A man with a pompadour calls her over and blows a heart-shaped smoke ring for her, and asks if she'll go on a date with him. Exasperated, Mirajane does a hand motion, and transforms into the image of the man's wife, asking about her, and the man backs off.
Natsu announces his arrival angrily, and rushes in to kick a guy who says he's read all about the Harujion incident, because he's the guy who gave him the bad info about Salamander. As the two fight and everyone else cheers them on or joins in, Lucy marvels at actually being in Fairy Tail now. A shirtless man with a necklace and the Fairy Tail mark on his chest appears next to Lucy and demands that Natsu settle their fight from before. From a nearby table, a woman asks if he, calling him 'Gray', has really been walking around like that - pointing out that he's only wearing boxers - and catches him off guard. She then remarks that she doesn't like undignified guys, before lifting an entire barrel of something to her mouth to drink from it.
An extremely large man appears behind Lucy next, decrying the 'yapping' going on inside, and tries to convince them to settle their problems with fists instead of words. Natsu and Gray, who decided to fight Natsu in the buff after all, both send him flying away with punches. Another man that Lucy identifies as Loki appears, and she remembers him being ranked the 'Mage you want as your boyfriend' in Weekly Sorcerer, an image that's soon shattered by seeing him with two girls hanging off of him as he jokingly says that he should join the fight.
Lucy sinks to the floor in depression that nobody here is normal, when Mirajane comes over to talk to her. Lucy freaks about really meeting her, but then asks why she's not stopping the fight. Mirajane says not to worry, because it happens all the time. Even after taking a rouge bottle to the head, Mirajane says that it's more fun this way, even as she bleeds. Lucy continues to freak out as Gray lands beside her, and stands up only to find that Natsu has stolen his boxers, and he freaks out about it while facing Lucy, who demands he turn the other way. Gray asks if he can borrow her underwear, and she punches him in the face saying no. Before she knows what's happening, Loki reappears and picks her up in his arms, asking what modeling agency she belongs to. The large man from before re-states that men should fight with fists, only to get socked by Natsu again. The woman with the barrel from before is annoyed that she can't drink in peace, and says it's time to end this, pulling out some kind of card and channeling magic into it. The others begin to do the same, as Gray makes some kind of hand motion; the large man's shirt sleeve rips as what appear to be rocks grow onto his arm; Loki fiddles with a ring on his finger; and Natsu burns with fire on his fists. Mirajane at last agrees that things are getting out of hand, as the fight is stopped by an extremely huge man who appears to have horns. After one shout from him, everyone backs off - though many of them grumble - and Mirajane comments that 'Master' was here after all. Natsu proclaims that since everyone else backed off first, he wins, only to get stepped on by the giant, who finally notices Lucy. He grimaces, freaking her out, before shrinking down into a little old man with a jester's hat, and introduces himself as Makarov, the Master of Fairy Tail.
Makarov jumps up onto a banister, and chews everyone out for the reports he's been getting from the council, which manages the guilds. Gray apparently took down a smuggling operation, but walked around town naked afterwards only to end up stealing someone's drying underwear from a clothesline. The large man, now revealed to be named Elfman, assaulted a VIP he was supposed to be escorting, and tries to explain it by saying 'He said "men are all about education," so...'. The drinking woman from before, Kana Alberona, has been drinking lots of barrels of alcohol only to charge it to the council. Loki flirted with council elder Reiji's granddaughter, and a talent agency is also charging them for damage compensation. When he finally comes to Natsu's report, Makarov hangs his head - he's destroyed 7 houses taking down the Devon thief family, levelled a historical clock tower in Tully Village, burned down a church in Freesia, damaged parts of Lupinus Castle, caused the Nazuna Ravine Observatory to collapse and cease operations - not to mention destroying half of Harujion's port. At this point Lucy realizes that most of the damage articles in her magazine were about Natsu.
Makarov then reads off a list of names of other people in the guild without mentioning their 'crime', and says that the council members are angry at him all the time. However, holding on to the papers, he causes them to burst into flames, telling them to forget about the council members. Tossing the flaming papers away - which Natsu jumps in to eat - he explains that the power to overcome reasoning comes from reasoning, and magic is not a miracle. He explains his beliefs on how magic becomes stronger, and says that if they're always worried about watchful eyes from above, they'll never improve, so not to fear the council. He and the rest of the room shout that they'll do whatever they think is right, because that's the way of Fairy Tail mages. Everyone then laughs and smiles uproariously, and the fights are brought to an end.
Later that night, Natsu is eating a variety of fire-related food, while the man who gave him the bad info remarks that he was known as Salamander in yet another town, though it is fitting of his powers. Lucy receives the mark of Fairy Tail on her hand from Mirajane, officially joining the guild, and goes to show it off to Natsu who mistakenly calls her Luigi. Other guys comment about how cute Lucy is and wonder if she'd join their team, as Natsu stands to leave for work as he's broke. He goes to the board to choose a job worth a lot of jewels, but at the bar a young boy named Romeo is asking Makarov if his dad is back yet. Makarov tells the boy he's annoying and shouldn't worry because his father is a mage, but Romeo says his dad was supposed to be back in three days and it's been a whole week now. As the boy continues to plead for a search, Natsu thinks to himself that Macau's (the boy's dad) job is at Mount Hakobe. Makarov angrily insists that every Fairy Tail mage can take care of themselves, and tells the boy to go home. Romeo punches him in the face, and leaves.
Lucy remarks how strict it is in here, but Mirajane says that Master is worried about it too. Natsu makes a crack in the request board and shoves the job he was about to take back in, and leaves without a word as Lucy and Makarov watch. Another person says that Natsu's going to do something bad, and others speculate that he's going to help Macau. Makarov says that nobody can decide for him what he's doing, so they should leave him alone. Lucy asks why Natsu is acting this way, and Mirajane says it reminds him of what happened to him as a child. Natsu was raised by the dragon Igneel, and learned everything he knows - including magic - from him. One day however, the dragon disappeared, never to be seen again, and Natsu is still looking for him today. As we are shown Natsu walking to the crying Romeo and patting his head before heading out, Mirajane says that all mages in Fairy Tail carry 'something', be it wounds, pain, or suffering, including her. She dismisses Lucy's questioning look however, without an answer.
The scene changes, and Lucy has apparently gone along with Natsu and Happy, who are riding a cart to get to their destination. Happy asks why she's there, and she says she wants to help out Fairy Tail, though Happy thinks she just wants to bolster her own reputation. Natsu is sickly from the transportation again, and Lucy pities him for it. She says she needs to find a place to stay after all of this, and Happy offers for her to stay with them, but she doesn't take it well. The cart stops as they run into a blizzard and are unable to go any further. Lucy remarks that even if they're in the mountains, it's summertime, so it shouldn't be snowing like this. She's freezing, but Natsu seems unaffected by the cold. The cart driver heads back to town, leaving the three on their own. Lucy steals a blanket from Natsu, and then uses one of her keys to summon a large grandfather clock man named Horologium. She crawls inside the case to stay warm, and the clock helps her converse with Natsu, asking what the job Macau came for was anyway. Natsu is surprised she came without knowing - Macau came to subdue the monster 'Balkan'.
Lucy stays behind in Horologium as Natsu moves forward into the blizzard, shouting out for Macau. Suddenly, a large horned ape-like creature jumps down to attack, and Happy says it's Balkan. Natsu attacks Balkan but misses, and it darts over to Lucy, commenting about a human woman, and picks up Horologium and carries them both off. Natsu remarks that Balkan can talk as he gets fired up, and Lucy calls out to be rescued via Horologium.
Thoughts: Mashima doesn't show any signs of slowing down the pace (or rather, the length) of these early chapters just yet, with this one coming in at a whopping 49 pages instead of the usual Jump lengths of about 19-23 or so. This time it's a little rougher than before though, but I'll get into that briefly.
We're introduced to a lot of new characters from the Fairy Tail guild in this chapter, and they're all pretty great in their own ways, though I obviously have my favorites based on first impressions. Gray and his knack for continually losing his clothes definitely got some laughs out of me, and I had an exasperated sigh – but one done while smiling – at Elfman's going on about how men fight with their fists, even...while that's what's already happening without him saying so.
Mirajane seems amusing enough as well, it's hard not to like her after she takes the bottle to the head and just keeps on with what she's saying. On the flip side, Kana seems like a tough girl in a completely different way, and could apparently keep up with One Piece's Zoro in a drinking contest.
That pretty much just leaves Loki and Makarov of our major new cast. Both of them I really don't know what to make of yet either. Loki didn't really get near as many standout moments in this chapter, and all we really got to see was that he's a womanizer who's popular with the ladies despite that. Makarov seems to be this really loose mixture of 'strict' and 'free-spirited', so I can't really peg down what his deal is yet. I'm sure one doesn't become the 'Master' of a guild without being an extremely powerful magician however, so I think he'll prove to be a major source of badassery in the future.
We almost get to see some new magic going on with each of these new characters too, but only the most vague hints about it. Kana seems to be pulling out some kind of card, but I could have sworn she was the character I'd seen using various kinds of armors in different screenshots...so maybe the card summons the armor much like Lucy's Keys summon things? I can't even begin to guess what Gray or Loki are doing based on what we see – though if Loki's going to live up to his namesake, he's going to be a pretty mischievous guy – but Elfman seems like he's able to coat his body in stone if I had to guess. I'm really curious to see all of these characters in action later.
Oh, and I guess it bears mentioning that Makarov's 'specialty' seems to be growing into a giant, whereas Mirajane's is transformation, but I'm betting that's not all either can do.
Makarov's disregard for the Council – who I'm pretty sure has to be those guys from the last chapter – is interesting, and I can definitely see how that's going to turn into a problem later too probably. Not anytime soon probably though.
I have to say that I'm a little disappointed by how easily Lucy joins the guild, especially after how hard it was supposed to be to do, according to her just last chapter anyway. I'm sure Happy could have told them about what she could do, and she could have shown them too, but...we don't really get any major hints of that. It just seems like she's accepted without any questions.
Natsu's back-story begins to be fleshed out a little more in this chapter, which is nice. It's definitely a different origin story than the usual 'idiotic hero' leads get, but he's not exactly one of those characters either. I'm having a hard time pinning down just how stupid or not Natsu is really. He has a lot of tendencies and moments that seem to fit right in with the idiot savant heroes, but...he doesn't really seem to be a Goku or a Luffy. He may not even be quite like Naruto. This all leads to him having more room to grow as a character and not resemble any of them at all though, so it's a good thing.
I think this chapter really should have ended with Natsu's leaving to comfort Romeo and leaving rather than continuing on with the first part of the mountain material. That really feels like the next part of the story rather than finishing up what we had in this chapter, so it makes this one feel even more prolonged than the first chapter did, even though it's shorter in comparison.
I did like Horologium though, and I'm thinking that each of Lucy's summons are going to have their own personalities after all, which I love. I'm thinking there's more to this one than what we've seen so far though, as surely his ability isn't just letting someone hide inside of him and then speaking for them.
Balkan is a weird looking monster for sure, and poor Lucy's stuck with a possibly perverted character twice in a row now. It's hard being a young teen girl in a shonen title.
That wraps up this chapter. Overall I enjoyed it, we're getting some great world-building happening in this one as well, but not so much that it overwhelms us. As for my predictions from last time, I was right about us seeing more members of Fairy Tail, but no indication yet as to whether or not we saw everyone of importance or not. I was dead wrong about us not seeing the leader yet though, as he was pretty prominent throughout the chapter. I was even more wrong about Lucy having to prove herself, unfortunately. I was kind of right about Natsu fighting, but...nothing major like I'd predicted.
Moving forward, most of my predictions now are for things that probably won't be answered for some time, but let's see...I think there's more to Makarov than meets the eye. There's some deeper back-story for Mirajane, perhaps providing an explanation for why she is the way she is. Igneel is either dead or captured. And...someone at Fairy Tail will turn out to be a traitor, either to another guild, or to the Council. As for stuff coming in the next chapter, I'm not predicting anything more than Natsu getting to fight Balkan, and finding out what happened to Macau one way or another.