Natsu Dragneel and the Dark Mage, Zeref, were intertwined from the beginning of Fairy Tail — even if Natsu did not know it. Their paths always brought them together. They had many similarities and many differences that set them on a course to meet and confront one another.
Both Natsu and Zeref were powerful, impassioned people with lofty goals. The two mirrored each other — they were two sides of the same coin and their shared past went deeper than Natsu or his friends ever could have realized. It should come as no surprise that Natsu and Zeref have many similarities and differences that make them clear foils, but also clearly connected.
10 Same: They Are Both Willing To Go To Great Lengths To Achieve Their Goals
Both Zeref and Natsu are incredibly passionate people — though those passions could not be farther from each other. Zeref worked tirelessly to bring his brother back to life and was willing to commit the ultimate taboos to do so. He lost everything because of it and was cursed in a terrible way.
Meanwhile, Natsu would get into any fight to prove his power. When Acnologia and Zeref came on the scene, he was willing to do whatever it took to stop the dragon and the Dark Mage.
9 Different: Natsu Would Never Try To Wipe Out Humanity
Zeref’s heart was darkened after years of tragedy and not being able to die. He saw so much death and destruction that he was bound to be traumatized to the point of deep internal change. Unfortunately, the change made him an evil mage.
On the other hand, Natsu was the kind of person who would never give up and could never be broken, even after seeing a fair share of his own loss. That is what makes Natsu and Zeref two polar opposites of the same plane of existence — when Zeref would go left, Natsu would go right. When Zeref wanted to end humanity to end pain, Natsu would never condone it.
8 Same: They Both Have A Deep Connection To Dragons
Natsu was a Dragon Slayer who even housed a dragon within him for a while. He was raised by the great fire-dragon, Igneel, who was seen as a leader in the dragon community. Igneel taught Natsu fire magic and how to fight.
Zeref also has a relationship with a great dragon, only it is more of a fateful, hate relationship. That dragon is the terrible Acnologia, the bringer of destruction who was able to kill Igneel. While Natsu loved Igneel and wanted to keep him safe, Zeref wanted to kill Acnologia, even if it meant killing everyone.
7 Different: Natsu Does Not Condone The Deaths Of Innocents
Zeref is willing to kill whoever it takes to get rid of his curse and to stop Acnologia. He would kill anyone and everyone, even if it literally meant everyone. However, Natsu would never accept that as a means to an end. He would never allow innocent people to die for his own goals
Zeref has seen the fleeting nature of human life. However, despite Natsu’s own origins and traumas, he would not allow the extermination of humanity or even a few humans.
6 Same: They Are Connected To The Same Family
The connection between Natsu and Zeref was deep, but it was much deeper than many Fairy Tail fans could have ever expected upon a first watch of the anime or a first read of the manga. It turned out that Natsu and Zeref were actually related — they were brothers. Zeref had lost his family due to dragon attacks, but he was not willing to accept this. Instead, he brought his brother back and that happened to be Natsu.
The new Natsu did not grow up with Zeref and was instead given to Igneel. Natsu was unaware of his ages-old connection to Zeref.
5 Different: Natsu Has A Better Report With Dragons
Zeref hated most dragons. He wanted nothing more than to destroy Acnologia (except maybe to die, himself) and he had issues with the dragons that killed his family. Zeref did not have a great relationship with dragons in general despite his friendship with Igneel who also wanted Acnologia dead.
Natsu, on the other hand, became close with Igneel and his Dragon Slayer friends also became closely intertwined with their dragon caretakers.
4 Same: They Both Have Powerful Magic
Zeref has a slew of powerful moves, including Neo Eclipse. As a Dark Mage, he had access to powers that other mages could have only dreamed of. Arcane and taboo magic that was unknown to most were at his disposal. On the other hand, Natsu’s fire-based magics were always growing in power.
Natsu’s fire magic came from the dragons. So, he had already started with powerful magic. However, the true potential of Dragon Slayer magic was much more than that. Add that to the other things Natsu was capable of thanks to his complicated lineage and Fairy Tail fans are given an incredibly strong protagonist.
3 Different: Zeref Was Willing To Turn To Evil Magics
Zeref used Dark Magic even from a young age which he used to bring Natsu back after his untimely death. Zeref had a complicated relationship with his magical abilities. It brought him so much power and potential — yet it also brought him so much pain. His decision to use taboo magic led to his curse which kept him alive to see soul-crushing events.
While Natsu was willing to do a lot to gain his power, including going through excruciating training and fighting villains who were terrifying and powerful, he was not willing to go to those lengths.
2 Same: They Both Have Friendships That Withstand Time
Zeref had a deep and true friend in Mavis, who was credited with the Fairy Tail Guild’s founding. While their friendship was strained, it was the eventual solution to both of their problems, as their curses were broken thanks to their reconciliation.
Meanwhile, Natsu had a powerful friendship with Lucy Heartfilia and the winged cat, Happy, and they brought Natsu out of plenty of troublesome situations. Lucy and Happy were always there for Natsu, even when he was at his worse, just as Mavis was for Zeref.
1 Different: Zeref Is A Lot Quieter
No one would ever describe Natsu as being calm, cool, and collected. The only ways to describe Natsu are loud, eccentric, and energetic. Natsu was also infamous for having bad ideas and not being afraid to act on them. So, when comparing to Zeref, it is clear to see their temperamental differences.
Zeref has seen so much and lived so long that even if he was not as quiet and wistful in his younger years as he appears to be in his later years, it is hard to see him ever matching Natsu in terms of exuberance.
NEXT: Fairy Tail: 5 Characters That Could Easily Beat Natsu (& 5 That Can’t)