In an unbelievably large step up from his previous work, the horrendous manga "Rave Master", Hiro Mashima throws off the shackles of unoriginality, cliche and inconsistency to focus on what he does best; characters. You can really tell that he was holding back in Rave Master, as each character had some kind of lame trademark that was being so desperately balanced by other parts of their personality that none of them were original or unique and they all came across as pretentious. However, in Fairy Tail, every single character has no balance. They are all extremes. And this works out fantastically. Each character is original and understandable, not to mention unique and likable. The story is nonexistent and that's another reason this is far above Rave Master. Hiro Mashima's story writing abilities are subpar at best, so when he throws off the shackles of a continuing story and just puts a bunch of characters in a certain setting, it really works. Basically, it's a manga sandbox. Throw in a bunch of extreme characters, add a certain premise and do whatever the hell you want. While I'm no fan of the majority of the battles in Rave Master, there were a few that really blew me away. However, in Fairy Tail, each battle is at a competent level and although nothing in the manga is fairly memorable, it's quite entertaining. Even when it starts adding plot and throwing in certain elements, you're really only just reading to watch the extreme characters interact. The story itself - when it starts to develop - is remiscent of some of the good parts in Rave Master, but still feels fairly pretentious. The art is Hiro Mashima art. Better than Rave Master, but nothing magnificent. A fun read.