Vidia and the Fairy Crown
written by Haruhi Kato
Second star to the right and straight on till morning is Never Land, a magical world where children never grow up, mermaids sing their songs in crystal clear waters, and winged people fill the skies. These people, known as Never Fairies and Sparrow Men, reside in Pixie Hollow, the secret heart of Never Land. Governing her people with wise words and a benevolent touch is the beautiful Queen Clarion, wearer of the mystic Fairy Crown.
Vidia and the Fairy Crown begins with a celebration that soon turns sour after it is discovered that the Fairy Crown has gone missing. Vidia, a moody misfit fairy who has little reverent regard for the queen, makes an idle suggestion that she might try to steal the crown right off the queen’s head! Next thing she knows, she is being accused of having in fact been the one to make off with it, and to clear her good name, she decides to find out who is really responsible for the missing piece of royal regalia. Of course, her friend Prilla acts as her loyal investigative sidekick.
The Disney Fairies franchise has been spun off of the world of Peter Pan, but the only instantly recognizable character is Tinker Bell, and in many cases, such as this manga, she plays only a peripheral role. The main character here is Vidia, a complicated, equivocal soul who struggles with a proverbial dark side. Obviously, “dark side” in this case is more along the lines of passing shadow, yet her status as protagonist nevertheless gives Haruhi Kato’s charming tale a touch of unexpected moral complexity that should speak to any child who has not always fit in perfectly with her peers.
Though only a single volume embedded in a long—and prolific—Disney tradition, Vidia and the Fairy Crown is remarkably pleasing on its own terms. You do not need to know anything else about Peter Pan or about the Disney Fairies franchise to thoroughly enjoy this manga, since it is structured like a classic whodunit. Vidia consults with a number of Persons—or Never Fairies—of Interest and follows a string of clues straight to the crown. Will she do the right thing and return it to its rightful caretaker, or will she become in truth the disloyal fairy that everyone already assumes she is? Of course, her decision should surprise no one who knows Disney and its signature brand of children’s media, but her quandary still represents a nice narrative touch…and good food for thought for the smaller set.
Kato’s artwork is pure visual pleasure. She draws in a style that is clean and cute yet not overly saccharine. The details she puts into the character designs are substantial; the relatively large cast of characters all have recognizably different faces and features. The imagination that goes into the backgrounds is equally substantial, not a discordant note struck anywhere, despite the frequent changes of scene. All in all, the work is entirely convincing, both as manga and as Disney cartoons—unabashed perfection for girls who love pretty princesses and flighty fairies. Recommended for readers young and old.