Ether is more than just a power but the breath of the universe sustaining its functionality. It is an energy that flows through all things and associates with all matter, whether it be tangible, ethereal or formless. It isn’t restricted by state and is in essence an aspect of the universe that exist beyond space and time. Accordingly, not only living beings can access the body of Ether, it is by the nature of the universe, present in everything. The implication of such a perspective means the reactions of Ether can be achieved by both living and inanimate objects. Overdrive is an instance achievable by any matter not just those able to utilise an Ether Gear.
The state of Overdrive is one that is derived when an object, both animate and inanimate, reaches critical point. Overdrive explodes the overflowing energy generating a reaction that catalyst further energy. In all likelihood, under such pressure of Ether, objects are strained in the reaction process. When processed through an animate object, that energy can be directed externally via an Ether Gear or other abilities. This utilization of Ether lessens the strain put on the body containing the energy as a release is achieved. But the impression of Ether on the body still remains which is why when Rebecca tried to traverse time to save Witch, she did it up to the point where her body started to crack. Even for animate object, overuse of Ether regardless of Overdrive being used or not, can lead to a state of destruction.
As for inanimate objects that keep having the Ether built up inside itself, they are likely destroyed in the process without any way to express a release. An explosion of energy within the object seems like the probable outcome. It may not be entirely relevant but “Overdrive” is the name of an explosion that happened in one of Mashima-sensei’s other manga (Rave Master).
Taking that presumption further, if Ether is intertwined with existence, what would stop objects from reaching critical point all the time? I don’t believe human Killer was incorrect in his hypothesis of Ether functionality. With the enhancement of science and technology, the natural processes of Ether and its flow can be manipulated establishing an increased potential for imbalance. And we know this happening due to the actions of characters within the story (looking at you Drakken). Are their universal processes in place to regulate this expansion of Ether? I suspect there are and I believe the form of this regulation are the Chronophage. They travel across the universe and consume the Ether of planets and beings. Not every planet though but specific ones. Could the Chronophage actually be a force of good? Based on the Lucy’s relevance within the Kaede Cosmos Arc, the Chronophage are presumed to be attracted to her, someone who wields a very universal power capable of manipulating it. The implication of this theory means that the Chronophage have a natural system in place to react to the Ether imbalances across the cosmos. The two planets which the Chronophage have visited during the story are Norma and Guilst. Two planets that over an extended period had their natural resonance disrupted significantly. Norma and Guilst were both business hubs for Drakken Joe, an individual that found ways to manipulate the Ether of things. On Norma, Drakken utilized a device that drained Ether/life force from others and likely also the planet considering it too would have had Ether flowing through it. When Drakken moved to Guilst, he transformed the planet from a beautiful tourist planet into the desolate state it existed in when Rebecca was captured. Drakken’s obsession with power led to him coveting more power which paved the path for his actions on Norma and Guilst. When Drakken became aware of Rebecca, he wished to steal her Ether Gear power. If the Ether flowing through Norma and Guilst reached critical point or was beginning to, the Chronophage could have consumed the planets Ether to rebalance the flow. None of the planets were destroyed, they effectively had time consumed from them and now exist in a more harmonious state.
The Chronophage likely target areas in the universe that lose their balance of Ether. And due to planets representing a massive flow of Ether, once their balance is offset and reaches critical, they become targets of the Chronophage. There have been unnamed planets consumed by the Chronophage but we do not know the situations surrounding those planets. They could have been affected by Drakken’s ambition. Or in order to reverse 1,200 years of Guilst’s time, additional Ether was required by the Chronophage which it accumulated from consuming planets along the way to Guilst. So far these are some of the planets/locations revealed in the Cosmos:
- Sakura Cosmos: Granbell, Blue Garden, Norma, Guilst, Iron Hill (monument), Digitalis (virtual planet), Newton, Hook (destroyed), Brown Sea, Sun Jewel, Oedo
- Aoi Cosmos: Red Cave, Foresta, Nero 73, Nero 1 (The Temple), Mud Roll, Nero 66, Sandra
- Kaede Cosmos: Sweeds, Lendard, Dahlia
- Yukino Cosmos: –
- Mildia (the planet of time)
Of the above planets, the ones that had been substantially effected in terms of their Ether were Norma, Guilst and Lendard. And coincidentally or intentionally, a Chronophage has been related to all those planets (one is headed to the space near Lendard). Arguably Nero 66 could fit into that category after the 20,000 antimatter bombs went off but it remains to be seen how the Ether of the planet was affected by the explosion – did it morph into a different of Ether or was the Ether consumed in the process of exploding? There is also an argument to made that a Chronophage could visit that region at a later point when the Ether within that space becomes imbalanced thereby consuming the time and restoring Nero 66 to a former state.
Ether is a very enveloping concept but there does appear to be at the very least, an indirect link to the Chronophage and their operations. Mother as well may represent a certain aspect of the universe. One that most likely can control the Chronophage. Ether flows through planets and the Chronophage have been seen consuming that Ether which takes the form of time. Aside from that, almost nothing else is know about them. Where do they come from? What is their purpose? Why do they consume a planet’s time? When do they decide to operate? How do they relate to the universe as a whole? Is there a relation between Mother and the Chronophage? So many questions surround the Chronophage but what is certain is that the Chronophage are more than a plot device used to manipulate time within the story.