Upon inspecting the chapter cover, we see Zeref and the text, “Everything about myself… I will tell you.” OMG!! This is the chapter that is going to reveal a big secret, is it not?
Indeed, it is! We travel back 400 years ago to where Zeref’s history began, back when he was still a little kid. A backstory chapter, eh? Something in the vein of Fairy Tail Zero and Tale of Fairy Tail: Ice Trail.
Apparently, Zeref was a brilliant child, a genius, at the Mildian Magic Academy. At a young age, he touched on a taboo: magic and its relation to life and death, something along the lines of necromancy. Then, we flash forward to the present and see that Zeref was dreaming about it(?). Then, he looks at the book of E.N.D., then exclaims, “Natsu…” then says that he had a younger brother once, but he died. In that moment, I knew that that younger brother was Natsu. It was not profound in my mind yet, but I knew and just kept it under wraps since I was just beginning to read the chapter.
Then, we flashback again and the young Zeref is now talking about the R-System. And then, we see a teenage Zeref researching on the Eclipse project. At that point, his superior says that he is expelled from the academy… and that his brother is not coming back.
So everything that has happened in Fairy Tail so far has been brought about by Zeref’s inability to accept reality and his desire to bring back his dead brother to life. How many story plots revolved around that concept?
At that moment, because of the shock brought about by this reality, Zeref is overwhelmed by Ankhseram. I am not sure if it is simply a curse, a form of magic, or a god, but this is where Zeref’s ability to rob everything of life begins. With that everyone in the academy is unintentionally killed by Zeref by his curse. He is also found to be immortal due to his curse. Because of the morbid sadness brought about by his Ankhseram magic plus his immortality, he sought out his time in research and created the etherious (made from ether), otherwise known as “Zeref’s demons of Tartaros”, including the book of E.N.D.
Then, we see E.N.D. as a baby inside an incubator-like orb. Aaannd… E.N.D. looks like a baby Natsu Dragneel. Aaannd… E.N.D. is actually the body of Zeref’s younger brother, i.e.: Natsu is the younger brother of Zeref. As expected! When Zeref and Natsu first met during the Tenrou Island arc, why else did Zeref cry? So much for the “big secret” being revealed
Reading the name, Zeref Dragneel, I mean, seeing that Zeref’s surname is Dragneel was surreal and epic at the same time!
What truly shocked me was what was revealed in the next page. You see, I had the speculation that Natsu and Zeref are brothers, and that has just been confirmed. However, Natsu and E.N.D. being one was not something I grasped. I believed that E.N.D. was another Natsu, an etherious version of Natsu, and that the Natsu of Fairy Tail was another entity. I remember that Zeref said before that only Natsu or E.N.D. would be able to get to him (Chapter 373: To let live or to kill, page 9). So, I thought that Natsu and E.N.D. were separate beings. After all, E.N.D. IS Etherious Natsu Dragneel. Then, there was the bit that Igneel could not kill E.N.D., but I just hypothesized that if E.N.D. would be killed, Natsu would also die. The concept is similar to Piccolo from Dragon Ball: Kill the bad Piccolo, the good Piccolo dies. In the same way, kill E.N.D. and the good Natsu dies as well.
But then, we return to the current page in the manga chapter. While looking to the book of E.N.D., Zeref says that “they will talk about the days that Natsu spent with Igneel and about him meeting Mavis”. So, E.N.D. was the Natsu that Igneel raised as his own child? So, the good Natsu Dragneel is actually E.N.D., that they have one body, and that maybe, Natsu is the dormant form of E.N.D.?
It certainly has jumbled my thoughts on Natsu’s identity.
As a bonus to the “big secret” being revealed, we also get to see the human form of Acnologia. If you put it in perspective, the human form of Acnologia is the “dragon slayer” form of Acnologia: a human with powers that can slay a dragon. Apparently, this is the first time that Zeref sees Acnologia’s human form. Interesting…
Chapter Disappointment: None at all. It is a worthy backstory chapter that sets the story direction on where it will go next.
Chapter Approval: All the revelations were great. Some were predictable, one was confusing, and the one where Acnologia’s human form was revealed topped it all for me.
Chapter Witticism: None, but it did not matter; it was worth reading.
Chapter Cliffhanger: I cannot wait for what will happen next! I would like to be clarified on Natsu and E.N.D., most specially. Anyway, next chapter, it looks like we are reuniting in Magnolia!