I…really don’t know what to feel about this chapter.
On the one hand, I see Mashima-sensei put some effort into bringing all the elements of his story together. So they aren’t actually as disparate as they have been presented thus far in the series. Connecting Eclipse, the dragons (and slayers), Zeref, Acnologia…it all seems pretty well done from a overarching story perspective.
I wasn’t awed by the amount of effort put into creating the plot, just bemused. I mean, Igneel is friends with Zeref? Them Dragon Slayers are orphan kids from the past, who jumped 400 years into the future because the dragons wanted to hide inside them and absorb the higher concentration of Ethernano in order to defeat Acnologia?
There have been random hints about how dragons and slayers are supposed to be important to the plot somehow. But those hints are few and far between, and I find them more interruptive than tantalising. Then you throw us this elaborate plan by the dragons to defeat Acnologia out of nowhere, and I can only furrow my brow in scepticism. So why couldn’t they have patiently gathered Ethernano over the course of a few hundred years rather than make a jump to 400 years later? Won’t the quantity absorbed be greater over a longer period of time despite the lower concentrations? Also, what if during those 400 years, Acnologia decided to say ‘fuck this world’ and destroy it? Then your plan was all for naught, no? Shouldn’t the dragons stay and observe and make sure nothing fucks up? As Zeref himself said, lots of things changed during those 400 years.
Also, the dragons decide to train dragon slayers to hide in them so they can go into the future? WHY? Why can’t they just go straight into the future, through Eclipse, without the whole ‘hiding in the kids’ thing? Dragons made it through the gate fine during the Eclipse arc. Why did they have to use Dragon Soul Magic, only to have to go into the future to absorb enough Ethernano to break said spell in order to fight Acnologia? And they apparently didn’t even have a plan for what date they’ll stop at. Just randomly jump to some time in the future and hope it’s not bleak and dystopian and cannot be rescued anymore.
Wow, just wow.
I’m also kind of annoyed at how much importance Lucy and Layla (and Celestial Spirit Magic) get. I mean, Mashima-sensei has been desperately trying to push Lucy onto us as a main protagonist, and Layla has been hinted as important now and then.
But Lucy has barely developed as a main character. She’s never felt like anything more than a side character in Team Natsu despite all the screen time devoted to her. I can’t honestly recall many moments in the entire Fairy Tail story so far where she’s played an important contributory role in defeating the enemy. She beat Kain with Natsu and Happy’s help, and…that’s about it? That’s how bad it is.
And Layla’s importance hasn’t been foreshadowed enough, ironically. You need to establish some sort of foundation for revelations like that, otherwise people will just get confused about why these characters suddenly became so critical to the plot (or backstory, as the case is here). So basically, I like the idea of making Lucy and Layla important, but I hate the execution.
Finally, that E.N.D. reveal should never have come from Zeref’s flashback. THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE MOMENT READERS FOUND OUT. I complained about it before when the reveal first appeared, and said that it should have happened during Zeref and Natsu’s battle. And I stand by my words, because ALL the suspense and tension from such a massive reveal has been completely destroyed due to prior knowledge.
Yea, I’m disappointed as hell. Thank goodness for Bleach.