Back against a wall and motivated by the guilt of his sins, Gray cast his life into one final spell to seal away the darkness plaguing his best friend, his guild and himself. Empowered by his magic, life, and memories, Gray enhances the effects of Iced Shell with Lost Magic. Resolving to be forgotten from everyone dear to him, he channels his spirit into sealing Zeref.
I expected as much that Gray would resort to Iced Shell to seal Zeref and avoid having Natsu negatively affected but I had no idea that Gray had learned how to advance that spell with Lost Magic. During his time undercover within Avatar, he learned the Lost Iced Shell variant of the spell. In addition to utilising the magic and life to seal away the target, Lost Iced Shell adds in the memories of the caster empowering it further. As a consequence the caster dies and is forgotten from everyone who had come to know him/her. The moment Zeref realised what Gray was doing, he attempted to weaken Gray’s resolve through the knowledge of what he was going to lose by casting the spell. Zeref was genuinely afraid yet ultimately was unsuccessful in weakening Gray’s resolve.
What did Zeref reveal to Gray? What is his big secret that he never revealed to any before besides Gray? An ambition that extends beyond defeating Acnologia and seemingly Fiore. One that requires Fairy Heart in order to reach. What will Zeref’s story reveal? And how will the conclusion of this arc create a new path forward for the story to travel towards? Given the focus on Fiore’s landscape map during Zeref’s conversation, I wonder if the story will begin to extend further than Fiore and include events surrounding the neighbouring and/or nearby nations in the future. If Zeref’s ambitions has to do with the Gods, in particular the God that cursed him, I can see why Acnologia doesn’t bother Zeref much and why Fairy Heart is key to him. The Divine nature of Fairy Heart may be similar to the magics of the Gods and as such could be effective against them.
We have been introduced to God’s recently but haven’t had much time dedicated to them as a faction within the story. The presence of God’s has been steadily building up and they seem a too important faction not to delve into and develop. God Slayers exist yet have had very few chances to show off what makes their magic unique from the rest. So far one of the three God Slayers we have been introduced to has died (Zancrow), the second has lost her magic by exhausting it when she forcefully unlocked Third Origin (Sherria) and third has disappeared into the background out of focus (Orga). Given that, it may be an opportune moment to introduce new characters who wield God Slaying Magic if Gods do become a relevant focus of the story.
On another note, with Irene gone, how does Zeref go about extracting Fairy Heart from Mavis? The reason Irene stayed behind earlier was because her Enchantment magic was needed to strip Fairy Heart from Mavis. With Irene unable to fulfil that role now, what does Zeref plan to do? I doubt he can utilise the same magic, so I am very curious to see how he intends to gain the power of Fairy Heart. I suppose most likely he will have a spell capable of stealing Fairy Heart from Mavis but if this does happen, what purpose did Irene serve? If Zeref could have extracted Fairy Heart from Mavis, why didn’t he do that in the first place? Was it because of the residual feelings he still holds for Mavis and his memories with her? And if so, do those feelings still remain?
I really appreciate the focus Mashima-sensei gave to Ur in how her spirit tried to stop Gray from sacrificing himself. Such moments help to remind the readers how strong the bond Gray and Ur have is. Even if it has been a while since she last appeared, he momentary appearances in assisting Gray/Ultear when in trouble go a long way in keeping the presence of Ur alive despite her death. Furthermore, I enjoyed how Mashima-sensei connected Ur’s plea with Natsu’s arrival. It was obvious Gray wouldn’t die but it was a nice touch seeing Natsu save Gray after their recent complication. Natsu’s flood of emotions added to the moment and inspired within Gray the desire to continue living.
Natsu’s baseless confidence is quite something to see. While it should be annoying that he has an answer to everything despite the situation, the way in which he manages to burn away doubt with sheer belief in himself is quite enchanting and uplifting. No matter the situation, if you continually approach it with a forward thinking perspective, you won’t be weighed down by the shackling emotions of failure, fear and doubt. And as such, you won’t feel regret even if you end up falling short, instead you will use the energy saved avoiding negativity to focus towards the goal insight. Natsu operates wholeheartedly like that and this time he has his whole guild with him.
Acnologia, of course he returned, it was inevitable, but a tad later than expected. Did it really take Acnologia this long to return to the battlefield after he was relocated elsewhere when Universe One was cast? He must have been relocated somewhere severely far off to have taken this long to return to the battlefield. Well whatever complications Acnologia ran into or didn’t, he is here now and Erza and Wendy are about to be spectator and participant to his wrath. Jellal definitely is heading towards Erza. Mashima-sensei has been saving Jellal for something special and I believe challenging Acnologia is most likely it. Gildarts (and Cana) will handle August, Natsu will handle Zeref and Jellal will attempt to stop Acnologia only to fall short. Will Irene have a further role to play and what about Erza being part Dragon? Surely this will factor on somewhere.
Will the manga really end once Zeref is dealt with as an antagonist and Acnologia is defeated? Where else will Fairy Tail have to go once those two stories wrap up? Quite possibly when Acnologia’s past is covered in how he descended into becoming the Black Dragon, an extending plot point linking into another story may be revealed. Looking forward to the next chapter.