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I first started watching anime in late 2009. Coincidentally, the Fairy Tail anime started airing in October of 2009. It was one of the first shows I picked up and started watching weekly. I loved every second of it, and I will defend early Fairy Tail to the end of my days. Only later did I learn that this was Hiro Mashima’s second big work, after Rave Master. I’ll admit I’ve never seen Rave Master, but when Fairy Tail ended and Mashima announced a new manga; Eden’s Zero, I couldn’t help but be interested. For all of Fairy Tail’s flaws, there was also something really good there. I truly believe that Mashima is a very talented author, even though the things he uses at crutches are not in my taste. I think he uses fanservice too often, and even though I’m not the main age group he’s writing for, I think he could do with less of it. His comedy can be hit or miss, but his action is always solid. Today I want to look back on 10 volumes of Eden’s Zero. Let’s talk about the good, the bad and the obvious.
Let’s start with the obvious. Eden’s Zero copies a lot from Fairy Tail. I’ve heard that Fairy Tail also copied a lot from Rave Master, so for diehard fans this isn’t the first time. Shiki and Rebecca are almost carbon copies of Natsu and Lucy. Homura looks like an older Wendy and Weisz is basically Gray wearing a T-shirt. But someone pumping out manga, spin-offs and side-stories at the rate Mashima is, can’t really afford designing
new characters every single time. Also, Happy is a robot now, keep up.
The first major improvement that I think Eden’s Zero has when compared to Fairy Tail, is that the long-term story seems to allow for more proper material to fill in the blanks. I like to call this One Piece in space, and I don’t believe that’s an unfair assessment to make. One of my major gripes with Fairy Tail was the massive amounts of power scaling that seemed to make absolutely no sense and flip on a whim, as well as introducing villains super late that should have been obvious from earlier on, yet somehow only appear when they’re relevant. All shonen does this, but I think Fairy Tail was way worse at this. In Eden’s Zero they introduce some villains super early on, and once they’re defeated, and the crew heads to a different part of the galaxy, it makes sense that there’s new villains waiting for them that we haven’t heard of yet. It also takes its time introducing the cast properly and getting you invested in the story. Mashima still knows how to spin an interesting narrative that draws you in.
The bad is important to talk about, because it’s definitely still flawed. One of the early villains is a rich man who’s buying young and pretty women to turn them into naked statues. Not exactly what I’m looking for in a story, a bit too misogynistic for my taste. I have gotten into a habit to accept more issues in anime/manga than I do in other media, but it does bother me, and I’m trying to pick better shows because of it. After that rather short arc ended it hasn’t been as offensive in its material so it’s hereby forgiven. It also, as mentioned in the obvious, reuses character designs from Fairy Tail. That’s a bit of a bummer, because I like some of Mashima’s character designs and would have liked it if he made new ones for Eden’s Zero.
In conclusion, I like Eden’s Zero, but I think part of the reason I’m still buying the volumes is a combination of sunk-cost fallacy combined with a hope that it has room for improvement. If it improves from here on out, it can be a very competent shonen manga. The current market for shonen is in my opinion in a bit of an unbalanced place. Demon slayer and Promised Neverland were both very good, but they also ended. I’m no expert, so take all of that with a grain of salt. Right now the best shonen we have are Jujutsu Kaisen, Black Clover and the king One Piece. I feel like anything besides that isn’t quite hitting the same heights. Maybe if My Hero Academia gets itself together, but I don’t think it will. Perhaps Eden’s Zero can fill this void? What do you think? Do you like Mashima’s work? With an anime on the way (April 11th according to Wikipedia) it might be worth getting acquainted with the work, or perhaps watching the anime blind to base your decision on that. I recommend at least giving it a shot. The first arcs are hit or miss for sure, but sticking with it is probably worth it for most people. I bet it’ll be to some people’s liking!