Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fairy Tail - Chapter 3: The Salmander, The Monkey, & The Bull

Synopsis: After a page brief re-cap of how she got into this situation, Lucy is shown to still be inside of Horologium back in the Balkan's lair, as it hyperly dances around her. It still seems happy to have a woman, when suddenly Horologium disappears saying that time was up, and leaves Lucy alone with the monster.

Before Balkan can do anything to her, Natsu runs in and demands to know where Macau is. Lucy wonders if Macau is even still alive. Balkan convinces Natsu to come look where he's pointing, only to then push him out a hole in the side of his mountain hideout, sending him plummeting down to his death, as Balkan says that he likes women, not a man like Natsu. Lucy freaks out that Natsu must be dead, and turns on Balkan by summoning the most powerful spirit in her service - Taurus, a giant minotaur with an even bigger axe. While he's her most powerful servant however, he's also a pervert who compliments her on her boobs. Balkan says for Taurus not to take his woman, and the minotaur turns on him saying he should say 'my boobs' instead of 'my woman'. He then rushes in to attack Balkan at Lucy's command, when Natsu re-appears at the hole he was pushed out of, and attacks Taurus thinking that it's a second monster now.

Lucy asks Natsu how he even survived the fall, and he says it was thanks to Happy and his wings. Lucy then points out that Natsu seems to have no problem flying with happy, saying that that counts as transportation, but Natsu stubbornly insists that it's not, because Happy is his friend. As Balkan rushes him from behind, Natsu insists that everyone in Fairy Tail are friends, and that's why he's taking Macau home, and attacks Balkan once more. Balkan tries to attack by throwing icicles at Natsu, but Natsu's fire powers make them ineffective. Balkan finds Taurus' axe however, and begins to attack him with that as Lucy desperately tries to wake Taurus up and make him go back so that the axe will disappear too.

Meanwhile, Natsu has caught the axe as it was swung down towards his head, and caused his hands to heat up enough on the blade to make a small piece of the blade melt off into his mouth. He then chews that up and spits it out at Balkan's face before attacking him with the 'Iron Fist of the Salamander', which sends the beast flying away in defeat.

Lucy points out that they were supposed to find out what it did with Macau first, but now that the beast is unconscious, they appear to be out of luck - until Balkan begins to change, turning back into a human - Macau. Happy says that he must have been taken over by some magic that the Balkan had. The hole in the wall that was caused when the Balkan crashed into it is large enough for the smaller Macau to fall through, so Natsu rushes forward to grab Macau's leg while Happy grabs his own, and then Lucy grabs Happy's tail, to stop them from falling. The weight is too much for Lucy however, but thankfully Taurus has awoken and rushes forward to help her pull everyone back up.

Macau's body is revealed to be severely wounded from his own fights with the Balkan earlier, and Happy says that apparently Balkans are monsters who survive by taking over human bodies. Lucy doesn't have anything good enough in her medical kit to fix Macau's wounds, so Natsu uses some of his fire to cauterize the wound while screaming to Macau that he has to hang on for Romeo's sake.

Once Macau regains consciousness, he explains that there had been 20 Balkans, and while he took out 19 of them, the 20th got the better of him and took him over. Lucy is amazed that he took out that many creatures on his own when it was all she could do to help Natsu take down even one, and realizes that she's no match for either of them.

Later, the gang returns to the town with Macau in tow, much to Romeo's delight. Romeo remembers how this all started with some other kids teasing him about how lame it was that his dad was a mage, and he'd begged his father to 'do something great' so that he wouldn't be teased anymore. He apologizes to his father for what he asked, while Macau apologizes for making him worry. He then tells him that the next time those brats tease him, he should ask if their dads can take out 19 monsters by themselves. Romeo happily waves goodbye to Natsu, Lucy, and Happy, and thanks them all. Lucy notes to herself that while Fairy Tail is a crazy guild, it's also a fun and kind one; and that while she's still a rookie, she's going to enjoy being a member of Fairy Tail.

Thoughts: First off, you'll notice that my description of the chapter, though still long, is much more compact than before. This is partially due to the chapter having a lot of battle scenes and getting less pages, but I'm also trying to be as brief as possible now rather than giving you every single detail.

This chapter picked up exactly where the last one left off, and unless I missed something, it's the first mention we've had of Lucy's summons having a 'time limit'. It'd make sense, but I wonder what that's regulated by. Is it a token thing that has to do with them all, or is it dependent on how strong she is? She mentions at the end that she's still a rookie, so once she gets stronger, would she be able to keep them summoned longer I wonder?

The stuff with the Balkan being somewhat pervertedly interested in Lucy amused me, but I wonder where that's really coming from here. Is it part of the Balkan's nature for some reason, it coming from Macau? We didn't really get to see much of what he's like, so maybe he's somewhat perverted and that bled through in his Balkan form? I'll be interested to see more of him, if we do, to figure this out. And if it's not because of Macau himself, I wonder if it's a reference to the old myth that apes would go after women? I'm unsure if Japanese would be aware of this old myth or not though.

I'm still really not sure where to place Natsu on a scale of intelligence. He's able to keep track of what he needs to be doing so long as he doesn't get so into a fight that he forgets everything...but he essentially falls for the 'look over there' trick, and that's the oldest one in the book.

I describe Taurus as a minotaur since that's really what he is, but just for reference's sake, he seems to have humanoid feet (he's wearing boots) rather than hooves, as well as having human hands. His coloring seems to suggest a more traditional black and white cow too, especially with the nose ring and the bell around his neck. And I love that he turns out to be a huge pervert. These spirits having distinct personalities rather than just being things that Lucy summons and they fight her battles for her and do nothing else, is a great decision on Mashima's part.

And yes, I got a big laugh out of the 'my boobs' debacle. It may be sexist, but it's also funny as hell.

Lucy also describes Taurus as her strongest spirit, but he's easily taken out by one kick from Natsu, causing Lucy to call him weak. Just looking at him though, I'm guessing that he actually is pretty tough, and Natsu is just that much tougher - and he does get a pretty cheap shot in.

The Balkan picking up and using Taurus' axe is a great use of what he's got going on in this chapter by Mashima, and was a fun way to mix up what is technically our third go-around with Natsu fighting the thing. As far as Natsu eating part of the axe and then attacking with the chewed up part goes - I loved it. I do have to wonder about his 'Iron Fist of Salamander' attack though. Is that a regular move that he would be able to do anyway, or is it somehow tied to his eating of metal?

The chapter makes it a point to raise the question of whether Macau is even alive or dead, but I had a hunch he was alive all along. We're only three chapters into this thing so far, and the death of a father character (which we know is juxtaposed with Natsu's own back-story), would have been a little morbid for such a goofy story. That said though, I didn't see the fact that he WAS Balkan coming for some reason. Looking back, it seems like the obvious choice, because if this creature only likes human women, why would he be keeping Macau around anywhere at all?

I hope this doesn't come across as me being too cynical or hating the character, but I really liked Lucy's ineffectiveness as a whole in this chapter, along with her realizing that she's nowhere near as good as either Natsu or Macau. I'm still a little irked by how easily she was let into the guild, but now that she clearly knows she's got a long way to go, I'm a little more at ease about where she'll be going as a character. She'll have to become stronger to be a helpful member of the guild.

I didn't guess about the reason Macau had gone into the mountains either. I'd just assumed he took a mission (which I'm assuming he still did) routinely like how Natsu had been about to do before. That makes me wonder what Macau usually does if it's not stuff like this. The kids tease Romeo about mages being a bunch of cowardly drunks - the latter of which I could see as being arguable - but given the jobs they usually take...I dunno. This whole part seems like a cheap way to tag a little more emotion to the ending of this storyline. I'll forgive it simply because of how awesome Macau's line about telling those kids to stuff it is.

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.

My long-term predictions aside, I was dead right about Natsu fighting the Balkan (how could I not be?) and finding out what happened to Macau. I didn't really think too hard on those predictions or I would have come up with some deeper theories on both and been proven wrong no doubt.

I really don't know what I can predict for the next chapter since we're about to move into another storyline probably, so I'll only make one - we'll see another new summon from Lucy. I don't know how many of these keys she has so far, but so far we've gotten one summon a chapter, and I don't see that trend stopping just yet.

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