Edens Zero First Impressions (Volumes 1-5)

Hiro Mashima’s Fairy Tail was the fourth manga I ever read. Although I was still sensitive towards fanservice at the time, and exclaimed “Mashima!” every time something stupid happened, I still loved its pacing and youthful energy to pieces. But in 2017, I- and many others- finished the series disappointed. The plot became so convoluted that it went beyond its own standards of suspended disbelief, and not even the fights were fun anymore. But none of that backlash would stop Mashima from creating a new series, Edens Zero (published in English by Kodansha Comics), not even a year after Fairy Tail‘s ending. Let’s see if it’s any good.

Shiki is an orphan boy who lives with robots in the abandoned theme park, Granbell. When a human girl named Rebecca appears, the robots try to execute her; he saves her and they escape into space.  However, all of this was an act to get Shiki off the planet. This is the start of their epic quest to find Mother, who is basically a genderswap King of All Cosmos from Katamari.

A lot of people complained about Fairy Tail for making a drinking game out of the word “friendship”, and yeah… I’ll admit that it did get redundant. That redundancy still carries over to Edens Zero, now in the form of a meme where Shiki tries to touch everyone he sees like Patrick Star at a jellyfishing convention. I admit, it does get kind of annoying at times.

There’s also a lot of that Mashima “WTF is going on?”. Volume 1 ends with a brief, 20,000 year time skip, then volume 2 starts with a cute space girl telling the reader that time holds no meaning in Edens Zero. Then, our heroes end up on this planet that’s fifty years in the past, while the rest of space is still in the present. Plus, there’s all this intrigue surrounding the Demon King that raised Shiki, and what Mother’s role is in the story. In the afterword, Mashima’s stated that he’s improvising Edens Zero more than Rave, but not as much as Fairy Tail, which puts it right in the middle in terms of story planning. It’s impossible to truly tell what happens at this juncture. Even though it seems that they’re one MacGuffin away from being able to start the final arc (after five volumes), it IS still a battle shounen, and those always find a way to not end, even if it would’ve been within reason to.

Characters are always the bread of battle shounen (with art being the butter), and Edens Zero has some seriously whole grain bread. Shiki is your average, dumb shounen protagonist, but he has the power of gravity on his side. His ability doesn’t just affect mass; he can also change its direction, bringing himself away from opponents, or bringing those opponents closer to his fist.

Rebecca is pretty much Lucy from Fairy Tail, except she’s a space YouTuber- called a B-Cuber- and goes on this whole quest just for more subscribers. Happy makes a return from Fairy Tail, except this time he’s a robot that turns into guns. They also recruit a young professor named Wiesz, with his ability to modify any machinery in a flash, and Pino, a cute loli-robot that can use an EMP to stop machinery in its tracks. A cute Best Girl named Homura tags along; she’s super powerful, but has the hilarious quirk of speaking her thoughts out loud without meaning to. There are also some good antagonists, but most of them, so far, are throwaway villains, with the more interesting looking ones merely being teased (such as the new leader of one of Fairy Tail’s Dark Guilds that’s managed to survive into the space age).

Oh, and if you looked at any artwork for Edens Zero and thought you saw Best Girl Erza Scarlet, you’d be wrong. That’s the space pirate Elsie Crimson. She seems to be just as brawn-over-brain as the beloved Erza, but she hasn’t done much in the story at this time. 

Mashima’s art is as good as ever. He’s always been great at drawing cartoony, expressive characters (especially cute girls), and the sci-fi setting lets him try some crazy new ideas. The action scenes are as flashy as always, even if there isn’t much emotional tension early on. But there is still a lot of that Mashima fanservice, and it’s amped up by the designated sexy, body-tight clothes of the future.

~~~~~

Current Verdict: 8.7/10

Edens Zero is great so far. If this manga doesn’t get axed, and actually ends on a good note, it’ll likely surpass Fairy Tail in every way. I highly recommend it to any battle shounen and Mashima fans!

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