I don’t know if it’s because of the amount of anime I have watched over the past few years, but very little impresses me these day. That’s not to say that every anime I come across is little more than garbage.
However one might say that I rarely flinch at anime that could be described as good, instead always on the look out for something that could be called great.
In other words, every once in a while, I want to be completely blown away, and it is probably because of how rarely I encounter true gems within anime that when I run into a masterpiece like Now and Then, Here and There, it so excessively impresses, to the point of shocking or even startling.
Maybe it’s because of the several months that have passed since I last watched a truly breathtaking anime series that Now and Then, Here and Now feels like one of the best written series I have ever watched.
Shu is a typical Japanese boy with an unbeatable, optimistic and determined attitude. However, after seeing a mysterious girl with strange eyes named Lala-Ru up on a smokestack, he is soon pulled into a strange desert world. soon comes discovering the true terrors of war, the brutality, torture, hunger, thirst, and child exploitation.
Determined to save Lala-Ru as well as his hard earned, and often reluctant, new friends from the insane dictator, Shu mu triumph against the insanity of the tyrannical Hamdo, even while trying to maintain his positive view of life in a difficult world.
I find it difficult to refer to Now and Then as a masterpiece, mostly because it is a relatively simplistic story, compared to those more popular anime such as Death Note and FullMetal Alchemist Brotherhood.
A boy is snatched out of present day earth and thrust into a post apocalyptic future, where a manic tyrant is intent on using his flying fortress to unleash unholy hell upon the remnants of the planet.
A simple sci-fi series, one that plays out rather directly, the story moving from point A to point B as would be expected from a story that follows a young hero suddenly thrown into a dangerous world.
Yet Now and Then is anything but typical, and for two primary reasons:
+The story behind the story- on the surface, Now and Then is an adventure story chronicling Shu’s attempts at returning home, and hence initially presents as a considerably more innocent and lighthearted series.
However a closer look immediately reveals a darker underbelly. At its core Now and Then is a war story, that presents a picture of the uglier sides of conflict, sprinkled with heart ache and chaos.
Rather than a young adventurer afforded the opportunity to explore the new world, Shu is inducted into a military force under the hand of a wicked tyrant; and what follows is less fun and more child torture, more or less obliterating the already blurry line between good and evil.
There was something disturbing about listening to Hamdo, steeped in a disturbed psyche, put his second in command to the task of replenishing the dwindling military he had single handedly crippled.
That disturbance grew as it became clear the means through which the military fortress maintained its military might, essentially raiding villages and relieving them of their strong; even more disturbing to learn that there were less strong able bodied men waiting to go to war and more innocent male children, waiting to be inducted into a military force that meant to lay to waste all they had grown to love.
Even more disturbing to actually watch an army of soldiers descend upon a village and rather violently pillage it of all its children, the boys to be transformed into fighting machines, the girls utilized for the purposes of breeding.
And the chilling elements? The fact that the tyrannical army was little more than a menagerie of scared, confused and largely unwilling boys, themselves once torn out of their homes to fight in a war, a now, mere months to years later, turning their weapons against other innocents, and doing to other boys and girls what was done to them.
-Is Now and Then Dark? Yes, and in the most irritating manner; beyond the typical good Vs. evil, Now and Then creates quite the dilemma. Bad things happen. People die, but it is difficult to determine if justice is ever really done by the time the story wraps up.
Because that requires that those responsible for wreaking havoc, the villains, are punished; yet, in watching some of these events play out, the various characters rise and fall, you would be hard pressed to find a single reason within which to take joy.
Because it is that difficult to actually hate anyone; and I have always vocalized my hate for those myriads of anime and manga always too quick to redeem their villains, many of them usually hell-bent on selling to us some silly sob stories meant to somehow draw sympathy for their antagonists.
Most times, all that such plots elicit from me is irritation, at what seems to me to be an obvious attempt at insulting my intelligence.
Now and Then juggles its villains brilliantly, never interested in developing sappy backstories, but rather simply placing focus upon building strong characters supported by a pithy past, with each action complimented by a very rational understanding of the events that created some of the monsters in the anime.
Even watching some of the massacres playing out on the battlefield, one is forced to question the logic of the vengeance related plots that are perpetrated in some of the story arcs; watching some of these kids, on opposite sides of a divide, make war against each other, there is clearly no right or wrong, no rationale for either party to execute its desires, neither Hamdo’s forces needlessly burning villages to the ground, nor the rebel elements seeking to obliterate (in vengeance) an enemy merely continuing the cycle of hatred and violence perpetrated against.
And maybe that’s what drew me to this anime, the conflicting arguments it raises, almost simultaneously; with the rapidly shifting sides and tides, Now and Then makes for some of the quietest, yet most thrilling episodes I have watched in a while.
+The characters Behind the characters- yes, Now and Then begins as a lighthearted story that grows rather dark. But maybe that isn’t completely true; because, despite initial assumptions, this anime is no wolf’s rain.
Rather than an endless barrage of sadness, Now and Then preaches a message of hope, one that only proves endearing in the face of the amazing cast, a rather small character base that proves to be the most interesting I have encountered in a long while.
I have heard people speak of the inspiring elements of shonen anime and manga; and quite a few will speak of the messages of hope and triumph that shine through some of these stories.
But truth be told, I would choose Shu over Luffy any day of the week as far as lists of greatest anime and manga characters are concerned. I don’t even understand the excitement over listening to Luffy make some awesome speech in the face of overwhelming odds, possibly rising from an awe inspiring defeat.
Because really, as awesome as Luffy’s better moments are, it is difficult to cheer for any specific strength of will he seems to display against indomitable challenges. Even when faced with death and failure, one needs to question if Luffy has ever really felt despair.
I mean, I am sure he has; but is it truly inspiring watching him eventually overcome these hardships? Is it not expected, not because of One Piece being shonen, but because of the nature of Luffy’s life?
If you think about it, Luffy has everything going for him as far as action heroes go; and even in his darkest days, past victories against other seemingly overwhelming odds should give him the confidence he needs to overcome no matter the situations he faces. In fact I would be surprised if he actually failed to find the strength to rise following past victories.
This isn’t an attack against Luffy, merely an example of the typical anime and manga hero. And as epic as they might appear in their own right, I found Shu to stand above most of these characters.
Why? Well, because of how realistic Now and Then was; we are talking about a series devoid of overt supernatural elements (besides Lala-Ru), where heroes do not have the luxury of hidden powers and special skills, where the determination to protect your friends and nakama doesn’t stop them from being murdered right in front of your face.
Where children are children, weak and incapable, where even quickly mastered capabilities do not change the frailty of their little bodies; this is the world that Shu has to deal with, and watching the young boy undergo all manner of violence, witness the evil being perpetrated around, usually helpless to do much about it, yet maintain his positive demeanor, that is something I found intriguing.
It is one thing to spout speeches of hope when you are one unlocked power away from achieving victory. Shu has nothing. His words, his beliefs about pacifism and kindness and hope are tried and tested in the worst conditions.
And when he comes through to the other end, ever so determined to maintain his positive outlook, well, that is a message that doesn’t feel as cheap and forced as most anime tend to feel.
-Not that Shu completely carries the series on his shoulders, but rather his interactions with the various characters and the relationships he builds. More intriguing are the difficulties those persons around him undergo, and who do not have the benefit of a hope crafted by Shu’s peaceful upbringing.
You will love these characters, and hate them, then struggle with the sympathy the show is so brilliant at creating for some of its antagonists, throwing terms like hero and villains aside. Now and Then is populated with survivors; be it pitiful Nabuca, committing atrocities even while constantly muttering those words that Hamdo said to him the first time he was inducted into the army, that he would return home once the war ended, this goal driving him towards darker paths for a dream of future peace.
Or Boo, too young to understand the purpose of war, too ready to forgive and show mercy, ever at the hands of those comrades determined to transform him into a true machine of war, this being his only means of surviving the chaos to come.
And Sara, wisped away from America, like Shu dreaming of home, but staring at a bleak future, purposed for breeding Hamdo’s army. There couldn’t be a better cast of characters to manifest the brutality of war, each concealing several layers of depth.
+VERDICT: You know what, it is important to remember that Now and Then is dark, but not brutal; and that is a surprise, one that only cements the show’s quality in my eyes.
Anyone can create darkness and despair using blood and gore; just watch Afro Samurai or Berserk, and you are bound to flinch at the flying heads and pouring entrails.
I love the subtlety of Now and Then, whose core revolves around hinting at the messages beneath each action, every word of dialogue steeped in depth and revealing volumes about each character and situation.
Truth be told I was surprised about how miniscule the bloody elements were in the anime, most people simply dropping to the floor when shot, presenting little more than a little red dot in manifesting the results of gunfire.
And I like that; I have nothing against gore, but most anime and manga utilize blood for the aim of creating shock; a series that can bring across the darkness of its story without resorting to meaningless violence is a story I can get behind.
Released in 2001 and most definitely presenting a rather dated look, be it the animation or art, Now and Then, Here and There is none the less miles ahead of 99% of all the anime I have watched in the past two years.
That might sound like an exaggeration, but that is how impressed I am with this anime. And I expected to hate it. I can rarely stand to watch anime this old, mostly because I find the dated production values way too distracting, this not even taking into account the use of countless tropes, novel back then but considered clichés today.
Not Now and Then; the last anime I watched and liked, that was this old was Noir-not great but decent.
Now and Then is a must watch, for any anime fan, that is if you are interested in indulging in a simple yet intriguing story with endearing characters and a strangely positive message about the future.
+RATING: 10/10, certainly there were flaws, but most of them so negligible as to have no impact on what is essentially a masterpiece of an anime. Watching Now and Then, Here and There, I can understand what Hayao Miyazaki said recently, about the pithy anime of old, now replaced by what he generally described as meaningless fluff (only true to an extent).
Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku is a 13 episode that ran from October 1999 to January 2000, directed by Hakitaro Daichi (Kamisama Hajimemashita, Fruit Baskets) and written by Hideyuki kurata (HandXRed, Tokyo Ravens, The World God Only Knows, Hellsing OVA, Read or Die, Excel Saga).
HIGHLIGHS: Boo and Sarah, Abelia’s final moment with Hamdo, Shu and Lala-ru’s last sunset.
If we look at the average anime season as a series of its own, then it is usually not a very good season. WHY? Because, like many anime series, it constitutes more filler and less actual substantial entertainment.
Which always leaves me wondering at the rationale that is utilized in the preparation of a given anime season’s roster, whether the various studios don’t simply place special emphasis on six or seven worth while titles, then fill the rest of their roster with padding, to make for a fuller schedule.
That would explain how stuff like Mahou Sensou actually gets made.
Takeshi Nanase is an ordinary high school boy with dark past. Besides certain circumstances impelling him to enter into a fake relationship with his childhood friend Kurumi Isoshima, he lives a normal life.
That is until he comes across a girl named Mui Aiba one random evening, in a uniform he has never seen before, collapsed on the school campus. Mui introduces herself to Takeshi as a magician. She then apologizes for having turned Takeshi into a magician, too, revealing to the perplexed young man the existence of the ruined world, within which magicians exist and great battles are fought for the future.
Magical Warfare isn’t even bad, nothing so terrible as to infuriate me; it has simply been a while since I watched something so cheesy, clichéd and so typical of weepy shonen anime.
No, actually it hasn’t been that long, since it’s only been a month since I tried and failed to watch Chrono Crusade, another ridiculous anime series. More importantly, Magical Warfare isn’t special, not in terms of really bad anime.
Rather it falls into the category of the sorts of anime series I come across and immediately pass over each and every week; except I showed a willingness to push past the first episode of Mahou Sensou rather than simply deposit it onto my ‘might watch in the future, but probably not’ pile.
Admittedly, the title attracted my attention; more importantly, this is magic and it is being used in warfare, that seemed like a simple slam dunk. A foolish assumption on my part, because whoever wrote the story clearly figured the same thing, choosing to create the most generic story to come out of 2014.
Seriously, Mahou Sensou plays out like every magic related story I have ever watched and hated, basically playing around with those elements that most irritate me in such anime.
+Let’s see, first we have the magic. There are few things I hate more in a fantasy series than garbage magical laws; no, not even laws, because I might have stuck with the series if it had attempted to assert some structure to its magic, not having its characters basically spouting gibberish in their apparent attempt at displaying advanced magical forms, then unleashing some really silly looking results.
Certainly watching a little girl open space like a door and wrap it around a foe trying to decay said space in 13 minutes sounds like something I would gravitate towards; except this little girl was earlier introduced as the director of a secret magical school, with my eyes rolling immediately at another one these ‘I might look like a little girl but have actually accumulated centuries of years and equal amounts of magic’ clichés that I am sick of.
And I had already endured what felt like way too many seconds watching an excessively convoluted magical formation play out, again accompanied by lots of nonsensical terms, against a villain whose powers seemed crafted to create an air of dread even while always allowing the hero ample time to counteract his nefarious curses.
As Brian Sanderson once said, if you are going to create fantastical magical powers, you can either structure them intricately or present them as vague wonders, but never attempting to do a little bit of both, basically creating the mess that was Mahou Sensou and its boring battle system.
Too many of these action oriented anime series seem to forget the importance of properly structured powers in any given battle; because a viewer’s understanding of the laws that govern a given anime universe’s supernatural elements will determine how deeply they engage with the battles.
Knowing what bankai was made all the difference in Ichigo’s final battle against Byakuya in Bleach, that our Hero’s eventual access of this power would mean the acceleration of an already epic conflict.
Mahou Sensou injected very little effort into making sense of its magical world, beyond the very basics.
+The various plots of this anime seemed way too contrived for my liking, with each event purposed to achieve a very clear very cliché objective. Great anime attempt to mimic normal life, at the very least its natural flow, treating conflicts and great occurrences as unforeseen but none the less natural events of their universe, to which they react, this resulting in a story, good or bad.
Mahou Sensou is like Tales of the Abyss, basically making no effort to disguise its path; in other words when Aiba runs off, you know it is to put herself in very obvious danger and against her better judgment just so Takeshi can come to the rescue despite his weakness as a novice magician, take a beating for her, prove himself all honorable and immovable, willing to die for a girl he barely knows and basically positioning himself to be romantic material for Aiba.
Really, it all plays out the same way; you need only watch the first few minutes of each episode to figure out how the story will play out, which character will fall just so they get to cry on the shoulder of another, transforming a potential villain into an anti hero; which villain will get the chance to rant about how much suffering they have undergone and why that entitles them the opportunity to lay all to waste…basically this anime does nothing original.
+And the characters? What Characters? These caricatures of every other protagonist and antagonist that has ever appeared on screen?
And do not get me wrong. I tend to complain about characters that weep and whine in a lot of the anime that I review and hate.
By such descriptions I am not suggesting that the idea of characters crying in anime puts me off; I hope most people understand the distinction between whining and crying.
Because, yes, I HATE anime that spend 90% of their time in weepy territory, with cutesy female (and sometimes male) characters on their knees weeping endlessly about their bad lot in life. That irritates me to no end.
SO of course that places Mahou Sensou in a good place to irritate me, every scene with Aiba, Takeshi and all their whining about their families and siblings OBVIOUSLY aimed towards forcing some modicum of sympathy from viewers, but only drawing derision from my impatient sensibilities.
These characters are as terrible as they are bland, the typical ‘hero who places his life on the line for strangers’, ‘strong female lead with difficult life that must be weak so as to be rescued by the male lead’, typical evil villains seeking to bring destruction for a seemingly sympathetic and yet rationally silly reason (though one female character managed to provide a semblance of an intriguing story worth following).
I find it hard to believe that someone actually took the effort to write this story, rather than simply typing a few keywords into a program and having the computer spit out a random script. Because I would believe that.
The inconsistencies alone ravage any logic the anime might have been attempting to construct at the start, especially with regards to how magical abilities are activated and the rules restricting their use in the real world; because by the laws revealed in the first episode, almost every character we meet, including our hero, should either be dead or powerless due to the effects of ‘The Gift’.
+Could this truly be a Madhouse Studio production, one of the best animation studios around? Yes it is, because the animation does indeed avail that gloss and crisp expected from a fairly well financed series.
AND IT IS SO BLAND. There is literally no artistic quality anywhere in Mahou Sensou, with every character a mirror image of that typical anime design, which, I guess, perfectly matches their equally bland and generic characterizations.
The shots, of the landscapes and the magical battles, where deathly boring. On a surprising note the voice actors where great, in fact way too good for this project which, along with the fairly decent music, I found surprising.
+VERDICT: I have watched bad anime, series that simply haven’t worked for me but within which, by placing my mind outside my own personal biases and interests, I have managed to locate slivers of quality from which another individual might have gained some level of entertainment.
I simply cannot imagine who the hell would actually enjoy watching Mahou Sensou. It’s not terrible per say. You simply won’t be watching anything substantial.
I couldn’t even complete the series, got as far as episode 8 and quit; and even then only because I forced myself to push through five episodes in one go. I have a system of watching anime, only ever tackling a maximum of three titles at a go.
Only because I wished to turn my attention to Wizard Barristers and thus chose to push through Magical warfare to basically make space on my roster did I make it so far, eventually coming to the realize how contrived and pretentious the anime truly was.
RATING: 3/10, I thought of throwing a 0/10 at the anime; but again, Mahou Sensou isn’t a terrible, or even bad anime. It is simply bland.
Considering how long it has been running, I am surprised by how quickly this conflict ended. That is not to say that it was bad, merely a surprise that this fight came to an end so quickly, as compared to the pace at which past fights have run
With Gil’s will finally turn against Hendricksen, the final battle against the Holy knight finally comes to a close, with all eyes turning towards Elizabeth’s plight.
If this chapter accomplished one thing, it was to tie several elements from previous chapters together, not only revealing the strange inconsistencies surrounding Meliodas and Gil’s capabilities but making sense of all those boisterous claims from Gil.
All in all, a pretty great chapter, or at the very least entertaining. This is what i am looking for in my weekly Nanatsu no Taizai fix, 19 pages that deliver more that great action, but a story, or elements of a story that show a semblance of progressing the plot.
Which this did; truth be told I never really liked Gil, and found his ‘turn to the dark side’ somewhat odd, either displaying great levels of stupidity(to believe the lies surrounding the sins) or revealing evil and greed.
Maybe we should have seen the signs, the oddities in his actions, a man spouting words of justice siding with an evil entity like Hendricksen. I am enjoying watching the Deadly Sins universe expand, specifically the insights we are receiving into the characters’ history, the world in which they lived and how these individuals, now enemies, once friends, so interacted.
There is still so much about the Hendricksen plot that we do not know. I mean, I am finding it difficult to believe the purpose that Hendricksen has revealed so far. Everything we have heard from him suggests that he is reviving the demon clan just so the knights can stay relevant; and that just doesn’t track.
And how does than link back into Hendrisksen’s murder of Gil’s father, because even the events of that particular story and their relation to Meliodas as a demon, the truth about the Sins’ betrayal…speaking of which do we even know who framed the Sins?
Because Hendricksen didn’t have that kind of pull back then, and Dreyfus clearly has no interest in the demon clan plot. So many mysteries yet to come undone.
I am yet to have my mind blown, and that hasn’t happened in quite a few chapters, yet it isn’t a necessity, so long as the story maintains a consistent level of quality in its story progression.
RATING: 6/10, one might refer to this chapter as mostly mildly entertaining, nothing overtly epic.
From what I have read so far, Meliodas feels almost too nice as far as knights and human beings go, making me wonder just how deep is dark side goes.
HIGHLIGHTS: Gil’s wrath.
WHAT?! A BREAK! COME ON SHINOBU. We finally arrive at this momentous juncture in the story, when Magi finally gets my excitement juices flowing, when I finally begin yearning for the next Magi chapter like I haven’t in a very long time, and the Manga decides to go on a bloody break.
I suppose there are rational reasons behind the decision but, come on, I haven’t been this excited about a Magi chapter in more than 3 months.
Solomon rebounds from his great loss and launches a final assault against King David and his horde, bringing to an end a long and very bloody war.
Complain I might have about this dragging Magi flashback; yet this chapter, juxtaposed against last week’s chapter more than justified the past few weeks of Magi.
And like Nanatsu no Taizai this week, the key lay in the chapter’s focus upon the action elements, even while allowing the story progress. Speaking of action, I cannot get over the artwork in this chapter.
Maybe Shinobu really does deserve a few weeks break, because a considerable portion of this chapter was quite messy; not that I had a problem following events…well, not after several re-reads, some of these panels were seriously messy.
Throwing these criticisms aside though, it has been a while since Magi delivered such meaningful yet compact action scenes, presenting less chaos in the form of giant attacks flying about and more fast paced and fairly simplistic assaults.
And one might point to last week’s chapter to justify the quality of chapter 230, because Magi this week enjoyed a level of urgency, with each page more than conveying that intense fury coursing through Solomon and crew, with his rage more than exploding on paper.
The chapter simply worked in a way it hasn’t worked in forever, relaying the emotion of last week’s loss, the dismay of those species facing death, the madness of David, fused with disturbing calm and, most importantly, the desperation in Solomon to stop his father. No, not desperation, fury.
There was less shonen cliché than I expected at the end as well, the final battle avoiding the speeches you expect from most manga, Solomon merely doing his all to save his friends from the might of his father, David imparting disturbing as well as enlightening wisdom upon his son in the last few moments.
And that made very little sense as well, those last few moments, almost throwing everything that we knew about David out the window and allowing us a moment to reinvent his personality. Was he really the raving lunatic we thought he was or a genius trying to manipulate the flow of destiny?
Could all this have been part of some grand master plan to avoid the chaos to come?
With this chapter, my interest in these events of the past has been renewed, specifically what it might mean for the future and the threat that is King David, whom I am now more than certain might have awakened within either Kouen or Sinbad.
That account of Setta’s end was almost chilling. Again I can’t tell if David was recounting the event just to push Solomon, or that was really a blood thirsty facet we were only starting to see. Truth be told I never thought David operated with the same mindset as the orthodox magicians and always assumed them to be puppets to his will.
Yet following his proclamations in this chapter regarding the purity of the species, I have to wonder if he wasn’t simply the chief orthodox magician.
RATING: I want to say 9/10, but the shoddy art calls for a 7/10. None the less intriguing chapter. Solomon was pretty awesome this week.
HIGHLIGHT: Solomon VS. David; David’s recount of Setta’s last moments.
I really don’t understand Fairy Tail these days. I mean, I understand the kind of manga I am dealing with, but even removing it from more serious categories of manga doesn’t rationalize chapters like this, which seem so wasteful. If Hiro is pushing towards a specific end, I am yet to understand it, that is beyond continuing to ruin what was a really great story.
Face rises across the land. Minerva and Erza’s battle comes to an end as a surprising ally enters the battle field.
Here is the thing; Fairy Tail is a story largely revolved around the idea of Nakama as some sort of empowering element; and that explains why so many of these arcs turn out the way they usually do.
But the Tartaros Arc is turning into a disturbing facsimile of the Daimatou Enbu arc; what turned the Daimatou Enbu saga into something less than impressive was the waste, the way Hiro created interested plots and threw them down the toilet, a stark example being Sting and his sudden decision to give up on an easy win.
At one point I thought that to be the worst thing to ever happen in the entire Fairy Tail, that is until these events in chapter 388, that basically saw Minerva receive the same very typical very cheesy Fairy Tail redemption usually assigned to less interesting villain.
SERIOUSLY? This was what we had been anticipating reading all this time? This is the epic Minerva/Erza showdown Hiro has been teasing since the last arc? Hiro gave us a glimpse of what could be earlier in the year, made threats of something new to come the next time Erza and Minerva clashed, possibly hidden demonic powers that might bring Erza and her Nakagami armor to her knees, possibly bringing about a surprise twist in the final outcome.
THIS IS THE DEMON MINERVA WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR? REALLY? I am…stunned at how these arcs and plots are starting to feel recycled; and I feared this would happen during the Daimatou Enbu, a justified fear after almost every villain in the tournament turned into a Natsu wannabe following the Fairy Tail mantra.
Except Hiro did the unexpected and presented MInerva as a truly immovable villain, one who wouldn’t be shaken by Fairy Tail friendship magic, and who couldn’t stop till she had laid waste to Erza and her crew.
…I just don’t get it. I understand what Fairy Tail is, and this rant isn’t about the series’ repetitive use of Nakama power related solutions such as this. My irritation is aimed towards Hiro’s continuous teasing, basically dangling one potential story only to deliver another less satisfying version.
This came out of nowhere. At no point was it ever hinted that MInerva would be undergoing this very sudden very unwarranted shift in loyalties.
I am so enraged by the events of this chapter that I am forgetting to mention Sting and Rogue, who ended chapter 388 with a bang. That is one surprise that was appreciated, because I am finding myself suddenly very uninterested in reading anything about any member of the Fairy Tail Guild. Except for maybe Gray. And Lucy and Wendy.
RATING: 3/10, one needs to ask. Does Fairy Tail have any actual villains to speak of? One might mention Zero but he was more insane than evil, and Hades made a recent shift from dark to light. Zeref has already proven that he posses some modicum of goodness in him, a light Natsu will no doubt bring out.
That doesn’t leave anyone that I can think of.