So, there I was paroozing the shelves at a local bookstore trying to find my next manga mistake. I had just finished watching the Black Butler anime so I was still riding the excitement of Victorian era stories. That was when my little eye spied The Earl and the Fairy. I saw there were only four volumes, so naturally I had assumed it was a relatively new series. I shoved them all into my baggy and trotted off to the register to check out.
I will be honest, I ended up shelving the series for months, hoping for more volumes to release before diving into it. That torturous anticipation of the next installment kills me, especially with the shōjo genre. However, when nothing followed the fourth book, I looked it up. It was simply a short manga that was based off of a lengthy light novel series. Delighted at not having to wait, I sat down on my cushy-tushy and began my reading adventure. I feel silly for waiting so long as I ended up adoring it very much!
There’s nothing overly complex about The Earl and the Fairy. You have a fairy doctor whose sole occupation is helping fairies, whether it’s with internal fairy conflicts or their conflicts with humans. Then you have a mysterious Earl who seeks her assistance for some tricky nobility contentions. The two formulate a unique friendship, one that is constantly questioned by a sassy, bow-tie wearing, whisky-drinking kitty cat (upon seeing said feline, I was totally sold).
The characters, although quite entertaining, are nothing overly special, but they are a pleasant step away from the quintessential shōjo traits, which make themselves apparent early on. The portrait of young girl (named Lydia) in blossoming adolescence with a cheery perception of a profession of which she has no experience would be the very first thing the reader is presented with. But you’ll note that she’s not a student, she’s not ditzy, and she’s most definitely not a boy-crazy harlot searching for self-worth in the opposite sex. This was a delightful change of pace from the norms of shōjo. Her intellect and kindness make her very easy to become smitten with. Then we have our dashing Earl, who is (expectedly) flirty and charming, yet regardless of his fun personality he comes off as rather enigmatic, and you soon recognize that he’s not your standard prince-type. While the male protagonist is very stereotypical, the two characters have a tasteful chemistry in the way they interact that just feels great to read. My favorite character is the fancy feline friend of our darling fairy doctor (no surprise there, right?). He is an absolutely enchanting little critter. With a snarky tongue, a taste for the finer things in life, sophisticated attire, and cute compassion for his comrade, his presence really rounds off the cast nicely.
My favorite characteristics of The Earl and the Fairy probably began when the references to Celtic lore were introduced. I have always admired fantastical creatures like mermaids and any folklore stories pertaining to them is almost like porn for me. When the plot of this series took us to an island off the shores of Ireland, called Manan, all because of some mer-tails (ha, see what I did there?), the fangirl within me squealed with excitement. The execution of the adventure and the expression of these Irish fables were wonderfully winsome.
The usage of supernatural qualities continues throughout the four volumes, however, the quality of suspense begins to lack momentarily in between the two different story arcs. Because The Earl and the Fairy is so terse, there is limited space for filler material; actually there is none to speak of. While this can be an appealing aspect, it also hurts the writing. The conversion of plot as the story unfolds is left feeling abrupt and rushed. It’s almost tangible as you begin to feel this hastiness at certain key parts of the story. When you finally approach the finale, there is a slight taste of emptiness upon the tongue. Questions loom above your head, dangling from threads of curiosity.
The brusque nature of the plot notwithstanding, The Earl and the Fairy was an enchanting serial to sit through, especially due to the art. The clean and polished nature of the artwork draws your attention to the page, the details fine and shadowed with articulate care. Even if the pages are brimming from corner to corner, your vision never feels overwhelmed. It is comfortable to the point that it compels you to take a moment or two to truly admire the fine lines and thick strokes that illustrates the story. While at first glance it seems standard, the longer you read it, the more you realize how lovely it is.
If you are a fan of fantasy and supernatural traits with an appetite for the shōjo genre, then I recommend this to you. It’s different from your standard high school drama but in all of the best ways. While it’s not the greatest thing out there, it definitely doesn’t disappoint. My rating for The Earl and the Fairy consists of three and a half brownies.