June 19, 2024

Frieren : Beyond Journey's End


Anime, especially Fantasy Anime, has seemingly devolved into a morass of formulaic, trope-ridden cliche' buffets, and isekai stories that are little more than horny-N.E.E.T. affirmation fantasies.  Frieren is one of those shows that really brings this unpleasant fact home as it demonstrates quite convincingly that the vast majority of shows are utter garbage...by comparison. 

This show is thoughtful, exceedingly human, and quite genre-savvy, touching on concepts often talked about in the fantasy genre but seldom explored. 

Frieren is an elven mage, over 1,000 years old, who joined a party of misfit adventurers  on their way to travel to the dark lands and defeat the demon lord....basically the plot of every fantasy anime ever....except that this story begins as they are being welcomed home from their journey and honored for their success in ridding the world of the threat. As the night wears on a meteor shower that only happens about every 50 years occurs and the Emperor of the land they saved takes it as a sign, proclaiming the beginning of a new golden age. Frieren is unimpressed with the view, noting that she knows of a far more spectacular place to view the heavenly spectacle, one that is only a weeks travel away. Himmel, the leader of the victorious party of heroes notes that the meteor shower is a one night affair. Frieren, confused, explains that she was offering to take them all to the far better location when the meteor shower arrives again in 50 years, and seems perplexed at her companions reaction.

50 years later, Frieren the Elf  keeps her promise, setting in motion a journey of understanding  and discovery both for her, her companions and others whose lives she touches over the next few years...

This is a wonderful series that explores the meaning of heroism, virtue as well as both the pain and importance of loss. Elves great lifespans give them a vastly different outlook from the other races, and Frieren's is more different than most as she seems to actually be slightly autistic. She is definitely suffering from PTSD. She has to overcome, or at least account for her neurodivergence, inner demons, and her completely different perspective as she pulls together and mentors a new band of adventurers on a journey of discovery, whimsy, as well as peril, for while the lord of darkness may be gone, the world is not without danger. 

This story is brilliantly paced and has some of the best character development and exposition I've seen in years. It brings laughter, heartbreak, and thrills in equal measure and is one of the most satisfying shows I've seen hands down. In any other show this elf girl would be a Mary Sue as the sheer depth and breadth of the experience mean that she is amazingly OP. Yet Frieren also has much to overcome and the story is as much about those who she mentors and those who mentored her. (This has a surprisingly ensemble cast). There was one point in the show that I dropped it for a bit. In this case it APPEARED that it had gone full Shonen and devolved into a tournament arc. In fact it kind of does. But it does so very well, in a way that both provides exposition and subverts expectations...but not in a Ryan Johnson way, in a very good way. 

This show is excellent, my only complaint is that it ended. The ending is quite open ended and given the existence of vast story material in the manga as well as it's excellent ratings in Japan I'm huffing the hopium that this will not be the end of this wonderful show. 

In the meantime, I would strongly advise anyone who has not seen it to do so. It was fantastic. 

5 bricks out of 5. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 08:27 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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1 I cannot do this show justice with mere words. Watch it.  There are constant callbacks throughout this series, but the show does not rub your nose in them.  Pay attention....

Posted by: ubu at Fri Jun 21 16:21:11 2024 (jH+gB)

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