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Manga / Fairy Tail ZERØ

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Everything that is always starts at zero.

A Fairy Tail Spin-Off written and drawn by Hiro Mashima, Fairy Tail ZERØ details the events that lead to the founding of the titular guild a century before the beginning of the main series.

This is the tale of Mavis Vermillion, a girl who lived on a single island for the first thirteen years of her life. She sought to see the world and fulfill her dream of seeing a fairy.

An anime adaptation aired from January to March 2016, set between the Tartaros arc and the Time Skip leading into the Fairy Tail Revival arc. However, it is a filler In Name Only in that it only serves to buy time for the manga to work its way further into the story, as the events of the spin-off are Canon to the main story and lay foundations for events to follow.

Fairy Tail Zerø provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: While the series as a whole expands upon the characters introduced in the Sirius Island arc—particularly Mavis, Zeref, and Precht—the anime greatly expands elements that were only briefly touched upon in the 13-chapter series, if at all:
    • The first episode, in which Mavis really, really wanted to go to school. While it was already apparent that she was self-educated, the manga didn't show just how badly she wanted to study with other children her age. It was to the point of showing that the stables where she lived had a bunch of mathematical equations drawn onto wooden boards, all of which were very advanced for her age.
    • The third episode, with the exploration of the underwater ruins by Mavis to hunt for treasure. It also delves more into showing how Mavis' relationships with both Warrod and Yuri developed.
    • The fourth episode, where its first half moves on to showing how Mavis and Precht's own relationship develops. Overall, it focuses heavily on Precht's personality and interactions pre-Fairy Tail, and before his transformation into Hades.
    • The fifth episode has Precht telling Mavis and Zera stories about their past mission, when hunting for treasure within an abandoned ruin, and wherein Yuri almost got them all killed multiple times.
    • The first half of the sixth episode has Mavis and the others reach Magnolia, and finding a pretty lake area, wherein they each imagine building what will be the Fairy Tail guildhall. Also, just before fighting Blue Skull, they meet a widow and her child from whom they learn of Blue Skull's tyrannical invasion, their repression of dissent, and stranglehold upon the town's economy.
    • The chapter where Zeref teaches the founding members of Fairy Tail their magic is expanded greatly. It shows exactly how Zeref trained them, and adds a lot more interaction between him and every member, especially Mavis. Also, whereas the manga simply showed the end results of their study, the anime gives us a Training Montage focusing upon each character's individual effort and experiences.
  • Adaptational Modesty: The scene where Mavis and Zera bond in a lake together was changed in the anime. The manga has them completely naked, whereas in the fifth episode, they're shown both wearing swimsuits.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Blue Skull is a guild full of Ax-Crazy wizards with no sympathetic qualities whatsoever.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: The citizens of Magnolia celebrate when Macis and her team take down Blue Skull for good.
  • Badass Normal: Precht/Hades. Before he ever learned how to use magic (and he goes on to become a Hero Killer when he does), he was kicking ass using only a chain blade.
  • Call-Forward: It's a prequel, so of course there are many to choose from:
    • Chapter 1 reveals Mavis's birthplace to have been a village on Sirius Island, which would become Fairy Tail's holy ground and the site of her grave.
    • Chapter 4 has Precht use a blade on a chain hidden up his sleeve in combat, and says he "dances with blades." When present on Sirius Island as Hades, his favorite spell to use is a grapple-and-chain made of magic, and he states how he "dances with magic." What seems like a really creative use of magic is shown to actually be drawn from his prior non-magical skills.
    • Chapter 6 depicts the event that gave Precht/Hades his Eyepatch of Power: his eye gets shot out by a magic bullet.
    • Chapter 6 has Geoffrey leading a guild which fights the future founders of Fairy Tail for supremacy over Magnolia, endangers its inhabitants in the process, and is eventually defeated by Fairy Tail's first master-to-be. Geoffrey then ends up proclaiming the founding of Phantom Lord, at the same time that Fairy Tail itself is born as a guild there.
    • Chapter 7 reveals Mavis (and Precht's) first meeting with Zeref, hinting at how their relationships will develop in the future story. Most crucially, Zeref is revealed to have personally taught Mavis a Dangerous Forbidden Technique called "Law", which would later be reforged into Fairy Law and Grimoire Law by Mavis and Precht, respectively.
    • Chapter 12 shows Zera's role and relationship with Mavis to be reminiscent of Cait Shelter's Robaul. Namely, each provides a young female character previously all alone with company, up until they eventually discovered their True Companions.
    • Chapter 13 shows us that Yuri, Warrod, and Precht were originally treasure hunters from Sylph Labyrinth—the very same guild from which three members appear as antagonists to Fairy Tail, during the Sun Village arc.
  • The Cameo: Eclair and Momon, from Fairy Tail the Movie: Phoenix Priestess, appear in Chapter 4.
  • Can't Catch Up: Warrod lapses into this briefly in the anime adaptation when stuck as the last to develop a magic, but after encouragement from Mavis and his comrades, plus hints from Zeref, he discovers his natural skill for Green Magic, setting him on the path to becoming one of the mightiest wizards on his home continent.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Subverted. The nameless mooks of Blue Skull easily curb-stop Mavis and the protagonists, but they noticeably struggle, only winning after their leader exposes Mavis' illusion magic and single-handedly thwarts the others himself.
  • Dead All Along: The real Zera died during the invasion of Sirius Island. The one that's been traveling with Mavis the whole time was only an illusion she saw in her head.
  • Death of a Child: Zera, a young child, was among the casualties of the attack on her guild. Her death is shown onscreen, even if Mavis doesn't realize the truth until later.
  • Defrosting Ice King: The treasure hunters Mavis teams up with begin to change for the better after interacting with her.
  • Dem Bones: The dragon skeleton of Blue Skull is an example of this. Once under the Sirius Orb's influence, it ultimately becomes a Dracolich.
  • Doomed by Canon: Right from the get-go, it's clear that most of the main and supporting cast will either die, get Put on a Bus, or survive anything that comes their way. Examples include: Precht being unable to meet Yuri's descendant Laxus due to Fairy Tail being their actual first meeting; Zera dying in the invasion on Sirius Island; and Red Lizard and Blue Skull disbanding after their guild war.
  • Doomed Hometown: The unnamed town on Sirius Island, where Mavis and Zera lived as kids, was burned to the ground in a turf war between Red Lizard and Blue Skull.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: The fact that Zera was Dead All Along is revealed toward the end, but recontextualizes all of her scenes following the attack on her guild.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Warrod, Yuri, and Precht may be treasure hunters, but even they are disgusted with Blue Skull's harsh treatment towards their own city and the people living under them.
  • Eye Scream: Precht gets his right eye shot out during a brutal battle with Blue Skull, giving him the one-eyed look he will have in Fairy Tail.
  • Fanservice: Furo Scenes-a-plenty here, just like in the main series. There's one with a naked Mavis and Zera in Chapter 5, and later on, in Chapter 7 with Zeref.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Before learning magic, Yuri, Precht, and Warrod formed this combo together. Warrod was a Mighty Glacier who could plow through an armed crowd; Yuri was a Long-Range Fighter who used crystal bombs; and Precht was a Dance Battler who favored chainblades.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Anyone who's familiar with Fairy Tail will know that Mavis will become ageless and be a spirit guide to the titular guild, Red Lizard and Blue Skull will be dissolved, Precht will undergo a Face–Heel Turn and form Grimoire Heart, Warrod will become a member of the Ten Wizard Saints, Yuri will die at some point after his grandson's birth, and Zeref will stay on Sirius Island.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • While the manga keeps the story going quickly enough not to necessarily notice, the anime adaptation's slower pacing makes the Plot Twist at the end somewhat more obvious. For instance, Zera's age is not listed when re-introduced post-timeskip, Yuri apparently doesn't notice Zera despite her constant commenting, close proximity, and conspicuous presence during the Truth Game, plus Yuri's odd reaction after Mavis introduces them to one another personally.
    • Chapters 3 and 7 both end with Yuri and Zeref's respective POV, after first meeting Mavis. Both mention how, in hindsight, their actions led to Mavis suffering a tragic fate in the future storyline.
    • The fifth episode of the anime has Warrod openly criticizing Yuri due to his reckless and greedy personality. That episode focuses on Yuri's tendency to put them in danger, thanks to his overriding desire when on missions, to reach the end goal of finding treasure, above considering what often turn out to be obvious traps, and their consequences. This ends up getting him into deep trouble when he subsequently touches the Sirius Orb.
    • That same episode also sees the group deciding to camp in a forest of inexplicably dead, desiccated trees, with multiple dead animals, hinting at Zeref's presence nearby.
    • Fairy Tail and Phantom Lord are formed in X686, giving us a glimpse into what their rivalry will become in the future.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Despite being a quintet, Mavis, Yuri, Warrod, and Precht/Zera count. Mavis is Sanguine, Yuri is Choleric, Precht is Melancholic, Warrod is Phlegmatic, and Zera is Eclectic.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The story of a little girl and three treasure hunters, who end up founding Fiore's strongest magical guild.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Precht snares an attacker with a chain hidden up his sleeve, and swings the guy around to hit the rest.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: The bartender says he doesn't know anything about Blue Skull, given the abundance of wizard guilds popping up making it hard to keep track of them all. But Precht and Mavis never said they were looking for a wizard guild—it could have been an industrial, merchant, or any other—so the fact he knows it's a specifically wizard guild is what ends up getting him caught.
  • Karma Houdini: As was expected considering their future appearance in the franchise, Phantom Lord manages to escape justice for their crimes. At least, for now.
  • Kick the Dog: Zeeself takes back the shoes he bought for Mavis to give to Zera as a gift, only to throw them away when Zera says she doesn't want to catch Mavis' germs.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Mavis's age gets permanently frozen at the end of Zerø.
  • Loophole Abuse: Mavis does this twice in her sentence game with Yuri. The first exploits a hole in the rules where she could interrupt someone while they were speaking, thereby denying an "incorrect" statement at an opportune time. The second has Mavis realize that the rules didn't account for people making statements that cannot be confirmed or denied by the opponent.
  • Lovable Traitor: Yuri has shades of this whilst a Lovable Rogue at first. He makes it clear to Mavis in their first meeting about taking the Sirius Orb for himself, despite her opposition. Finally, his own greed and pride cause him to betray Mavis by taking the Sirius Orb, to catastrophic effect. However, his overall friendliness and courage shown throughout, plus regret for these actions thereafter, ultimately ensure that Yuri remains sympathetic.
  • MacGuffin: The Sirius Orb is what drew Yuri, Precht, and Warrod to Sirius Island, and is (part of) the reason why Mavis and Zera leave to go on a journey together with them.
  • Master of Illusion: Mavis's self-taught, signature magic, and initially, the only one that she could use.
  • Naked First Impression: Mavis meets Zeref this way, when the latter is bathing in a lake.
  • Origin Story: For Mavis, the future Big Good of the series, and the Fairy Tail guild. It could also be considered one for Hades/Precht, the future main antagonist of the Sirius Island arc, and Warrod of the Ten Wizard Saints as well. In a way, it even also applies to Zeref, the Big Bad.
  • Outdoor Bath Peeping: A rare example of the female peeping at the male. Mavis is wandering in a forest and accidentally stumbles on Zeref taking a bath at a lake.
  • Pseudo-Romantic Friendship: Mavis and Zera get this quite a bit:
    • Chapter 5 has Mavis and Zera bathing together in a lake, with Zera eventually throwing herself at Mavis and cuddling her while naked, and saying there are fairies "in their hearts." The anime's corresponding episode, despite Adaptational Modesty, ups the ante with Zera's Slow Motion Hair Flip, a touch of Bishie Sparkle, and apparent Crush Blush reaction from Mavis.
    • Chapter 12 has Mavis, in tears at Zera's death and departure, shouting that she "wants to be with her forever", complete with a montage of all of their moments spent together throughout the series.
  • Redemption Equals Death: The original Zera apologizes to Mavis for bullying her before dying.
  • Saved by Canon:
    • Whatever happens in this series, Mavis, Precht, Warrod, and Zeref will survive to "debut" in Fairy Tail, where all of them, except for Warrod, will eventually perish.
    • Both Sylph Labyrinth and Phantom Lord will also survive, since the guilds appear in Fairy Tail, which takes place nearly a century after the end of this series, and where Phantom Lord will meet its demise.
  • Spoiled Brat: Zera, initially, with added Baby Talk in the Funimation dub.
  • Teen Genius: Mavis, who taught herself illusion magic on her own, solely through reading and self-study as a kid. At the tender of 13, she demonstrates it by coming up with an Indy Ploy every couple of chapters. For example:
    • In Chapters 2 and 3, when first meeting Yuri, she sees through his excuse for coming to Sirius Island (studying its ecosystem) by naming a plant, the type, and its usage that he'd never even heard of. Mavis then goes on to outwit Yuri at his own game through some sneaky Loophole Abuse.note  It reaches all the way up to Refuge in Audacity, after she bests Yuri by "counting how many times he blinked each turn (57), whilst not blinking once herself". Naturally, Yuri, has no clue as to the amount himself, putting him into a lose-lose situation either way.
    • When Mavis and Precht confront a Blue Skull wizard working at a Bad Guy Bar, he springs a hidden magic circle on their positions as a last resort after Precht has just defeated the rest of the mooks. Mavis then crouches down, spots a tiny flaw drawn in a single rune, realizes how it's rendered useless, and hops out.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Mavis does this to Zeref in Chapter 7. This moves him so much that he agrees to help teach the other future members of Fairy Tail each a magic necessary to defeat Blue Skull.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Mavis and her friends learn to increase their magical abilities to combat Blue Skull thanks to Zeref.
  • Training Montage: In the seventh episode, each character is given one to show off their magic.
  • Treasure Hunter: Yuri, Precht, and Warrod, from Sylph Labyrinth, in fact.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Mavis and Zera join the previously all male team of treasure hunters.
  • The Unreveal: Within the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, the exact circumstances of Mavis' "death" are redacted out, leaving only that she was buried on Sirius Island in X686.
  • Wham Episode: Being a prequel, Fairy Tail Zerø drops many key reveals throughout:
    • Chapter 5: The group finally arrives in Magnolia, only to find it under siege by Blue Skull and its skeletal dragon.
    • Chapter 6: Mavis and the group suffer a crushing defeat at the hands of Blue Skull's leader Geoffrey, with the added revelation of how Precht/Hades lost his eye.
    • Chapter 7: Zeref is shown after the flight from Magnolia, first meeting Mavis, who also reveals the name of Zeref's curse to be the Black Magic of Ankhselam. He also personally taught each of Fairy Tail's future founders how to use magic.
    • Chapter 10: Mavis saves Yuri and Magnolia by using the incomplete Fairy Law (originally just "Law"), taught to her by Zeref. This also shows how Precht/Hades came up with Grimoire Law years later.
    • Chapters 11-13: As a consequence of using Law, Mavis's body is unable to physically mature from then on. Yuri, stricken with guilt, swears to protect Mavis to the end, but dies three years after Mavis' "death" and his own son Makarov's birth. Lastly, Zera is revealed to be an illusion of Mavis' creation, formed due to her magic and grief, after she in fact died on Sirius Island seven years prior. Mavis eventually accepts her death and moves on, but not before Zera appears to thank Yuri, Precht, and Warrod for providing Mavis with her True Companions from that point onwards.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Shown at the end of chapter 13.
  • Work Off the Debt: Mavis begins the series forced to work off her parents' debt at Red Lizard.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Averted by Blue Skull, during their reign of terror over Magnolia. In the anime adaptation, Mavis and the others meet a child, Miko, whose father was a victim of this.
  • You Are Not Alone: Mavis comes to appreciate this by the end of Zerø thanks to her bond forged with Yuri, Precht, and Warrod due to Zera's passing.
  • Younger Than They Look: Yuri is a teenager, but Mavis mistakes him as being in his twenties.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Yuri says this near-verbatim, in response to Mavis stating how she will win his Truth Game in just one turn.