Saturday, March 2, 2013

Fairy Tail - Chapter 9: Dear Kaby

Synopsis: As the scenery pans over the the defeated Duke and his men, Lucy reiterates that 'Day Break' is a book that the Duke of Evaroo forced Kemu Zaleon to write about himself (the Duke). It has such terrible writing that Lucy couldn't believe that Zaleon could have written it, which is what first made her think there was a secret in the book. Natsu doesn't understand, and they return to Melon with the book, who is surprised to see it.

Melon asks why they've brought it when he wanted it destroyed, and Lucy says it's not hard to do if he really wants to, so he says he'll incinerate it, saying he doesn't even want to look at it. Lucy says she knows why he can't stand the existence of the book, saying it's to protect his father's pride, because he's the son of Kemu Zaleon. Natsu and Happy are shocked, as is Melon, who asks how she knew. She asks if he's ever read this book, and he says no, only having heard about it from his father. He says it'd be a waste of time if he read it, because his father said it was garbage. Natsu is outraged that he'd want to destroy something his father made, but Lucy holds him back.

Melon explains about how ashamed his father was to write the book. 31 years before, his father returned home after having gone missing for three years. The young Melon was annoyed that his father hadn't contacted them for all that time, and demands to know where he was writing his book at, but his father wouldn't answer. Instead, Zaleon tied a rope around the upper part of his arm, and said he was done being a writer. Grabbing a nearby butcher's knife, he proclaimed that he would never write again, and cut off his own hand. Later at the hospital, Zaleon is happy to see his son by his bedside, but the young Kaby (Melon's first name) calls him an idiot. He had told his father three years before that he'd regret writing such a book, and wants to know why he'd stoop to writing about the Duke. Zaleon says it was for the pay, and Melon is outraged, saying he abandoned his family to write such trash. Zaleon claims they were always on his mind, but Melon won't hear of it, and storms out saying that his father made a good move by deciding to stop writing, as he no longer has any pride left as a writer, nor a father. Shortly after that, Zaleon killed himself.

Melon says that he hated his father even after he passed away for being so weak-willed, but as time went on he began to regret all that he had said, and thought that he had driven his father to suicide with his words. Because of that, he wanted to destroy the only copy of his father's shame so that his father's pride will be regained posthumously. He strikes a match to light the book ablaze, and Lucy yells for him to stop, but suddenly the book begins to brightly glow. The title of 'Day Break' begins to float off of the cover, as does the author's name, as Lucy explains that Kemu Zaleon was always an alias anyway, and now Zaleon's magic has been activated. The letters land back on the cover to read 'Dear Kaby' by 'Zekua Melon'.

Lucy explains that Kaby's father had cast a spell to shuffle the characters in the book, including the contents, which then begin to fly out of the book and swirl around in the air. Natsu and Happy watch playfully, as Lucy explains the real reason that Zekua had stopped writing - it wasn't only because he wrote the worst book in existence, but also because he wrote the best book in existence, as a letter to his son. Kaby Melon realizes that he'd never truly understood his father, who had been thinking of his family the entire time after all. Lucy says that's understandable, because if you understand how a writer's mind works, you lose all pleasure in reading the book.

Kaby thanks them and says he can't destroy the book after all, prompting Natsu and Happy to agree that they don't need the reward then. Kaby and Lucy are both shocked, and Natsu explains that they were tasked with destroying the book, and they haven't achieved that goal, so they need no payment. Melon and his wife still want to pay, as Lucy still wants the money, but Happy says she's being greedy and making everything good she just said go to waste. Natsu stands by his decision, and says they should leave, and that Melon should go back to his own home as well, leaving Lucy standing there just as confused as the Melons.

As they head home, Lucy is outraged that Natsu would turn down two million jewels so easily, but Natsu says that taking money for something they didn't accomplish would only taint Fairy Tail's name. Lucy thinks that's crazy since everything worked out in the end, but sighs and wonders how Melon wasn't actually rich in the first place, being the son of a famous writer. It seems that Melon had borrowed the house from a friend to make himself look rich, but Lucy says he didn't have to do that to get them to take the job - though Happy has his doubts about her honesty there. Lucy then asks Natsu how he noticed about the house, and he explains that the Melons had smelled different from the house, and wonders how Lucy didn't notice. Lucy says that the writer really was a great mage, as Happy says he must have been for magic from thirty years before to still be working. Lucy says that Melon had apparently been in a mage guild in his youth, and he wrote about many of his adventures in the book for his son to read. Lucy says she yearns for him, and Natsu has a sudden realization. He says that the papers she was trying to hide back in her home were actually a story that she's written, and Happy says that must be why she's so familiar with books. Lucy is embarrassed that they've realized, and demands that they don't tell anyone about it because she's not very good at it yet. They console her that nobody would read it anyway, but that doesn't make her any happier, as the group heads back home by foot.

Thoughts: This last chapter closes off this little arc nicely, but it definitely had some surprises left in it that I hadn't expected. I never made the connection that Melon could possibly be the son of the writer, or any of that back-story between the two that ended up getting revealed. I'm really not sure how to feel about it either. We already had a father-son with troublesome things said between them in the previous Balkan storyline. This version is a lot broader of course, but it still feels like a repeated element, especially since both end up not revealing the harsh words said between them until the end of the story.

Still, it was an enjoyable enough resolution, so I'm not really complaining per say. It's just a little bit uncreative to do the same thing yet again in the next arc.

Kaby Melon turned out to be a decent guy after all, just with a rather troubled past, so I'm left wondering why his design is so reminiscent of Hitler. Am I just seeing this myself, or is it actually there? And if so, is it intentional on Mashima's part or not? These are questions I definitely want to have answered.

Oh, and on Melon's first name, in chapter 5 I said it was 'Kirby' instead of 'Kaby' because that's what the text of the version I'm reading said. I'm not sure if he had been using a false first name there, or if the translation had at first decided to make his name a more normal English one, only to later realize that it was an important plot element. I'm inclined to believe the latter, as he didn't have anything to gain by changing his name, especially not without changing both.

It's also worth noting, since I only just noticed it myself, that the book appears to be a Western style book rather than an Eastern one, as in one that you'd read from left-to-right instead of right-to-left like manga and other Japanese books are meant to be read. So despite this being a Japanese story, the world of Fairy Tail is presumably a rather Western-based one.

Zekua Melon took his pride a little too seriously considering he was willing to cut off his own hand. Looking at it another way though, perhaps he realized that unless he took off his writing hand, the temptation would be too strong and he'd eventually shame himself by writing once again, so he took away the source of temptation. In a way, that's extremely brave and admirable. It's not an entirely black-and-white situation.

The main thing I can't understand is why didn't Zekua tell his son or his wife - assuming she was still around, considering we don't even see her once - the truth about where he'd been? I'm guessing that the Duke had forbidden him to tell the truth about his incarceration or he'd still take away the citizenship of his family, but nothing like that is ever said curiously enough.

Kaby's slight change of heart is believable enough, as even at my young age, I can see how true it is that feelings on past events are ever-changing as one grows older.

Natsu definitely takes his own pride as a member of Fairy Tail very seriously too, seeing as he won't accept the reward since they 'technically' didn't achieve their goal. A little foolish I suppose, but his heart's in the right place, and in reality there was never such a massive reward to be received in the first place. Not the two million at any rate, though it's possible the Melons could have actually had the 200,000 I suppose.

I hadn't been expecting the papers Lucy had tried to hide to come back up again at the end of this arc at all, as I'd kind of assumed that part of the first chapter in this arc was more or less a throw-away element in it's setup. It was quite the happy surprise to see it was actually important in the end, especially since it's given me an entirely new respect for Lucy. I do wonder if what she's writing is about her own adventures just like Melon did in his book though, since that would fit with her almost diary-like 'entries' we've seen before.

This entire arc did that really though. I wasn't really sure how I felt about Lucy at first, as she was prone to certain bouts of stupidity, and a cute girl attempting to get by on her looks a lot of the times is hardly anything new in shonen either. As we find out throughout this arc though, she's really got a lot of guts and is actually pretty smart and capable of a level of planning that our other leads certainly aren't. Her earlier stupid moments seem now to have been more of the typical kind of things that happen in these types of stories often, rather than actually being any kind of statement about her as a character.

The fact that she's a reader as well as an aspiring writer makes me like her more too. A cute girl who likes to read and write, and can totally hold her own in a fight? We might have a new candidate for my long line of fictional crushes here.

So this chapter brought the storyline to a close after all, and Melon was a good guy after all. I was sort of half right and half wrong, since I was unsure which of my predicted outcomes was going to happen, but one of them was pretty much entirely right. And in the end we did find out what the 'truth' in the book was, as well as the meaning of it's title - or rather, that it's title was part of the truth too. Overall, this was a pretty good arc that showed what this manga is truly capable of becoming, so I've got big hopes that the next arc will be even bigger and even better.

I don't really know what to predict for the next chapter. I would almost think that it's time for a one-shot stand-alone adventure that can wrap up in one chapter, just to spread things out, but the next chapter's title seems to be 'Armor Mage'. That makes me think that we'll be getting a new character next chapter, either that or seeing what one of the other mages are capable of. Though, that could be a one-shot deal too...okay, either the next chapter launches us into a new arc with a brand new character joining the mix, or Natsu gets into a fight with one of the other mages we saw before, and they have something to do with 'Armor'. If I had to guess, I'd say maybe it's Elfman, since the rocks he seemed to be growing could be seen as an armor. Guess I'll have to keep reading to find out!

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