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January 27, 2014

Bento Bako Weekly: The Earl and the Fairy volumes 3-4

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Written by: Kristin
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earlandfairy3Title: The Earl and the Fairy
Author: Ayuko (original concept by Mizue Tani)
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volumes 3 and 4 (final), $9.99
Vintage: 2008 by Shueisha, 2012 by Viz Media
Genre: Fantasy

[Previous reviews.]

2012? Yes, 2012. I told you guys I was super far behind on my manga reading. I am slowly whittling away at the pile. Fortunately, none of these are so old that you can’t find them anymore. And in the case of Viz Media titles, you can buy a lot of them digitally (including this one). The previous two volumes covered Edgar Ashenbert’s journey to find the Treasure Sword and lay claim to the title of Blue Knight Earl. The sword was found, Edgar was given the title, and Lydia Carlton returned home at last. Until she was summoned by Edgar to be his personal Fairy Doctor. That lands us in London, with the legend of the malevolent Fogman who pulls children into the thick London fog, where they vanish forever. Which is what has presumably happened to the young Baroness Doris Walpole, and almost happened to Lydia before a fortunate appearance by Raven. When Doris’s former governess appears asking for help, Lydia is offered her first official job as the Earl’s Fairy Doctor. Edgar backs Lydia up, to her great surprise, but suspicions rise when she learns Edgar was with Doris the day she disappeared, and that he has newspaper clippings about a white-slave ring in his room. He also interrupts Lydia’s day off at her father’s home by arriving to inquire about a Fairy Egg. As usual Edgar turns up the charm to keep Lydia from digging too deeply, and during their investigation of the Fairy Eggs, she discovers the presence of a malicious bogey-beast. A bogey-beast that is in league with Doris’s spoiled cousin, Rosalie, who also happens to have a crush on Edgar. Rosalie and her uncle, Graham Purcell, interrupt a bit of bonding time between Edgar and Lydia, where he reveals a story from his past about the loss of a Fairy Egg that held a demon inside. Edgar’s plans are slowly falling into place as he plots his revenge against the man who ruined his life along with so many others. Unfortunately, these plans quite clearly involve using Lydia as bait to lure out the person kidnapping and selling children abroad. The plan backfires somewhat when Lydia goes to return a dropped Fairy Egg to Rosalie, and the girl locks Lydia away in a warehouse so she can have Edgar all to herself.

Fortunately, the warehouse is old, and Lydia is able to break down the door to the room Rosalie locked her in. Then, to her great surprise, she finds that Doris had been sent to a similar fate. When she learned that her uncle was squandering away her fortune, Purcell locked her in the warehouse with plans to sell her overseas. The bogey-beast reappears to spill the beans about the truth of the Fairy Egg and the demon trapped inside. Then, when Lydia attempts to capture him in a bottle, he turns the tables and traps Lydia’s spirit inside the bottle instead, leaving her body unconscious. Which is quite unfortunate when Purcell’s men come to take Lydia and Doris to a ship. Fortunately, Nico isn’t far behind, as he’s been tracking the bogey-beast for some time. Shortly after, Edgar and Raven arrive, rushing to Lydia’s aid after a harsh confrontation with Rosalie offers up some answers. After hearing Edgar’s plans to use her to catch Purcell, a miniature Lydia has a few strong words to say. The most important of which, is that she must be returned to her body quickly or her spirit will fade away. Despite his machinations, Edgar is determined to rescue Lydia. For her part, Lydia has begun to realize the heavy burdens that Edgar tries to bear on his own, and decides she is fine being used if it means Edgar will no longer suffer, and attempts to absolve him so she won’t be yet another scar on his heart. Edgar isn’t content with that, however, and plans to get his revenge without losing Lydia. Purcell must be destroyed in order to punish him, as well as to send a message to Prince that Edgar does not plan to suffer quietly. He makes a deal with Purcell for Lydia’s return, but of course the man doesn’t intend to play fair. Fortunately, neither does Edgar. Of course, he also intends to save only Lydia, and leave Rosalie and Doris to their fates. Lydia won’t hear of it, nor will she allow Edgar to be that cruel. Her next goal is to save Rosalie and Doris, repair the friendship between the girls, and find a way to defeat the Fogman before he is loosed upon London once again. Fortunately she has a secret weapon.

earlandfairy4That wraps up the manga, but there’s more to the story. Including 33 light novels (good luck seeing any of those here) and an anime (also unavailable here). The ending of the manga leaves things open for more, and certainly there’s an overall feeling of large gaps in the story between volumes. Not in a way that disrupts the flow of the manga, but in a way that suggests there are plenty more adventures being denied to the reader. The four volumes are fairly concise, but they’re also a very small window into the world of Edgar and Lydia. Which is a real shame, because the series is delightful, but it’s unlikely any more of it will make the journey across the ocean to our shores. These last two volumes show that Edgar, now having achieved part of his goal, is willing to do whatever it takes to continue on in his quest for vengeance against Prince (the man behind his capture and the deaths of many of his friends). However, they also prove that Lydia is a strong guiding force for him, and he’s willing to let her natural goodness seep into his dark heart. Edgar’s vengeance isn’t only for himself, but for all those who died while he survived. By getting revenge, he hopes to put their souls to rest, and seeks forgiveness for being the one who survived. This burden drives him onward, though Lydia brings a light into his life that slowly begins to change him. It changes Raven, too, who only ever used to care about Ermine and Edgar, but finds himself concerned for Lydia’s well being, as well. Enough that he questions Edgar’s actions to use the girl in his plans. Eventually, Edgar finds himself hoping that Lydia can save him from himself and his past. As she starts to see more and more of Edgar’s true self, she becomes willing to be used as a tool if it means his suffering will end. However, she won’t let him use or abandon others in the same manner, because she doesn’t want him to regret his actions in the future. It’s a nice turn around, since in the first two volumes it seemed that Edgar was only after the Earldom and its privileges solely for himself. There are many he feels he owes a great deal toward for the sacrifices that ensured his own freedom. All the children who died while trying to escape Prince that he was unable to save, but whose deaths also meant he would keep living. The questions is, would they want him to spend this life seeking vengeance, or spend it actually living? Lydia believes the latter, and hopes to lead him down such a path. Edgar is almost willing to let her, because if anyone could, it’s Lydia. My only complaint, besides the fact that there is so much more story to be told, is that while Lydia is drawn very expressively, Edgar’s face is often hidden or drawn blandly. It’s true that he hides his emotions, but he could still stand to be a bit more animated. Sadly, I don’t think we’ll be seeing anymore of the Earl and his Fairy Doctor.




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