- A unique plot that explores the consequences of a long-lived life
- Interesting and refreshing perspective no an often ignored aspect of a long life
- Great battle scenes
- While there’s a main goal, it feels secondary to the character development and musings
Sousou no Frieren (Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End) Review
Sousou no Frieren, or Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End, is an original and refreshing plot in a sea of anime series with tired and rehashed plots with little variation. This series follows Frieren, the protagonist, on her adventure to rediscover the short journey she once shared with heroes who are now long gone or too old.
This series begins where most series end: with the hero’s party fulfilling its mission of defeating some demon lord. At a town celebrating the beginning of a new era of peace, Frieren spends one last night with her companions before leaving the party to pursue her own goal of collecting rare and unusual spells.
But where this series shines is its focus on the characters and its exploration of how their lives are impacted by the seemingly immortal elven Frieren.
Frieren, an elf who has lived for over a thousand years, experiences time differently from her human (and dwarven) companions. Soon after the series begins, Frieren finds herself returning to town a paltry few decades later only to find that her companions have drastically aged and she has remained the same.
The first screenshot above captures some of the themes of the series: the insignificance of life against the backdrop of the world and the significance of companionship, a lesson the protagonist needs to learn.
Seeing such a drastic change in her companions, she can’t help but wonder about the her existence and perhaps even the purpose of life, if not her own purpose in this world that, from her perspective, changes often while she remains the same.
It’s not power that Frieren seeks. She’s perhaps the most powerful mage alive, unassuming as she is. Nor is it wealth or fame, which she tends to shun. Instead, she seeks to understand magic, and maybe, the strange, evolving world around her.
The death of one of her traveling companions and one of the heroes of the party motivates Frieren to spend some time with the remaining companion. Whether out of guilt or out of a desire to understand life from a human perspective, Frieren stays with him for the rest of his life, and a sense of loyalty compels her to take on a human apprentice.
This young female companion provides the perspective that Frieren needs—her relatively shorter lifespan forces Frieren, a lifelong loner, to reconsider her own behavior and actions. For instance, while Frieren can spend five or so years studying a magical book, those five years may represent a significant portion of her apprentices life. Such considerations are some of the few ways in which even a seemingly immortal elf can gain new perspectives.
Not only does the anime manage to make readers consider a different perspective—see the subtle ways in which the animation in the first screenshot encapsulates the theme—but it also manages to entertain with great action scenes as well.
A lot of anime series tend not to be too philosophical about life for fear of losing their audience, but Sousou no Frieren, or Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End, doesn’t shy away from asking its audience to consider, for a moment, what it means to live a long life. And for that alone, this series is worth a watch for this season.
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