Frieren – Beyond Journey's End – The anime and manga series

Frieren – Beyond Journey's End – The anime and manga series

“Frieren – Beyond Journey's End” (葬送のフリーレン, Sōsō no Furīren) is a shōnen manga that quickly stood out in the Japanese comics universe thanks to its unique narrative and charming art style. Created by the duo of Kanehito Yamada, as writer, and Tsukasa Abe, as illustrator, this manga began its serialization in Shōgakukan's Weekly Shōnen Sunday magazine in April 2020, immediately arousing the interest of the public and critics.

The story of “Frieren” moves beyond the traditional boundaries of the shōnen genre, exploring profound themes such as the passage of time, mourning and the meaning of friendship and adventure. This unusual approach to the genre captured the attention of a large and diverse audience, leading the manga to reach 2 million copies in circulation by March 2021. Its success didn't stop there, as in 2021 “Frieren” won the prestigious 14th Manga Taishō, further consolidating its position as an important work in the panorama of Japanese comics.

The influence of “Frieren” is not just limited to Japan. In 2021, Edizioni BD announced the publication of the Italian edition of the manga, making it accessible to an even wider audience. In Italy, the manga is published under the J-Pop label starting from October 13, 2021.

The success of “Frieren” also inspired an anime adaptation, made by the renowned studio Madhouse, with broadcast starting on September 29, 2023. This adaptation promises to be a high-quality work, maintaining fidelity to the soul of the manga original.

Frieren - Beyond the journey's end

The genesis of “Frieren” was quite interesting. Kanehito Yamada, previously known for his work “Bocchi Hakase to Robot Shoujo no Zetsubou Teki Utopia,” had not achieved the success he had hoped for with that series. This led to the decision to pair him with an illustrator, Tsukasa Abe, for the creation of “Frieren”. Initially conceived as a gag manga, “Frieren” evolved into something more substantial and emotionally engaging. Editor Katsuma Ogura played a crucial role in this process, encouraging collaboration between Yamada and Abe and recognizing the potential of the work from the first drafts.

The anime adaptation added an extra layer of depth to the story, with characters like Fern displaying different facets depending on their interactions. This complexity in the characters and their relationships adds a level of realism and emotional depth to the work, characteristics that have made “Frieren” such a work appreciated by both audiences and critics.

In summary, “Frieren – Beyond Journey's End” represents an excellent example of how manga can transcend the boundaries of genre and touch deep chords in the hearts of readers. With its mix of compelling storytelling, deep themes, and breathtaking visual art, “Frieren” is destined to remain a landmark in the world of manga and anime for years to come.

Frieren - Beyond the journey's end

Frieren's story – Beyond the journey's end

The story of “Frieren – Beyond Journey's End” follows the adventures of Frieren, an elven sorceress who was once part of a group of heroes who defeated the Demon King and restored harmony to the world after a long quest of ten years. This heroic group included Frieren herself, the human hero Himmel, the dwarf warrior Eisen, and the human priest Heiter. Before parting ways, they had the opportunity to observe the Age Meteors together, a meteor shower that occurs once every fifty years. Frieren promised to see them again and offer them a better view the next time this celestial event occurs. After that, Frieren leaves to travel the world in search of magical knowledge.

Fifty years later, Frieren returns to the capital, but discovers that humanity has changed profoundly, and his former companions have aged significantly. After one last adventure to see the meteor shower together, Himmel dies of old age. During the funeral, Frieren expresses guilt for not trying to get to know his friend better. Subsequently, he decides to visit his other former companions. He accepts the offer to teach and care for Fern, an orphaned girl Heiter adopted. Furthermore, he receives an invitation to travel north, to the resting place of souls, in order to see Himmel again and greet his hero friend properly. To fulfill these demands, Frieren embarks on a journey with Fern as he continues to cultivate his passion for magic and knowledge.

Frieren's elven appearance gives her an extremely long lifespan, causing her to perceive periods of years or decades as ephemeral (this perception of time leads her to view the ten-year adventure with Himmel's group as a fleeting experience). As a result, the story unfolds over an extended time span, with periodic flashbacks accompanying the physical and mental development of the characters, excluding Frieren herself.

Characters

Frieren - Beyond the journey's end

Frieren (フリーレン, Furīren) Voiced by: Atsumi Tanezaki (Japanese ed.), Martina Felli (Italian ed.) Frieren is an extremely long-lived elven sorceress, despite her apparent youth. She has lived for over a thousand years due to the long life of the elves. Her perception of time is very different from that of humans, and she can work for months, if not years, without problems. After the death of Himmel, a member of the group, she Frieren regrets not having known him better during their ten-year adventure. This regret pushes her to embark on a new journey to learn more about humanity. Additionally, she takes on a young human sorceress named Fern as an apprentice at Heiter's suggestion. Frieren has a deep aversion to demons due to an event that occurred over a thousand years ago, when the great wizard Flamme saved her from a demonic attack. This fueled her ambition to eliminate demons and earned her the nickname “Frieren the Grim”. Despite her successes, she has faced defeats and difficulties. Although her elven nature makes her seem insensitive to human emotions, she is actually kind and caring.

Fern - Frieren - Beyond Journey's End

Fern (フェルン, Ferun) Voiced by: Kana Ichinose (Japanese ed.), Agnese Marteddu (Italian ed.) Fern is Frieren's apprentice, an orphan from a southern town. She lost her parents and was on the verge of suicide when she was saved by Heiter. She begins training in magic under Heiter's guidance to become more independent. She later meets Frieren and asks her to teach her magic to become a full-fledged sorceress. After Heiter's death, she becomes a first-class sorceress. She initially treats Stark coldly, but over time she develops a bond with him, even scolding him when she messes up.

Stark - Frieren - Beyond Journey's End

Stark (シュタルク, Shutaruku) Voiced by: Chiaki Kobayashi (Japanese ed.), Tito Marteddu (Italian ed.) Stark is a young human warrior raised by Eisen and joins Frieren's adventure as his replacement. Since Eisen declines the invitation due to his advanced age, Stark becomes the group's main fighter in battles. Despite his shyness, he is a strong warrior and loyal to his comrades. Over the course of the trip, he develops a mutual attraction with Fern.

Sein (ザイン, Zain) Voiced by: Yuichi Nakamura (Japanese ed.), Emanuele Ruzza (Italian ed.) Sein is a monk from the village who joins Frieren's group during their journey. Despite being a talented priest, he has several vices, including a love of alcohol, cigarettes, gambling and older women. He travels with Frieren's group for a while, but eventually leaves to find his best friend who had gone on his adventure.

The Group of Heroes:

  • Description: The Party of Heroes is the group of adventurers that Frieren was part of. They traveled together for ten years until they completed their mission to kill the Demon King and went their separate ways. Although the group disbanded early in the story, they regularly appear in flashbacks.

Heaven:

  • Voiced by: Nobuhiko Okamoto (Japanese); Clifford Chapin (English)
  • Description: Himmel was a human member of the Group of Heroes and was considered the hero of the group. After seeing a meteor shower together, he and Frieren promise to meet again. He dies shortly after their meeting fifty years later, prompting Frieren to embark on a new journey.

Heiter:

  • Voiced by: Hiroki Tōchi (Japanese); Jason Douglas (English)
  • Description: Heiter was a human member of the Party of Heroes and was an alcohol-loving priest. He found, adopted and raised Fern after the group disbanded and dies at the beginning of the story.

Iron:

Eisen - Frieren - Beyond the journey's end
  • Voiced by: Yōji Ueda (Japanese); Christopher Guerrero (English)
  • Description: Eisen was a member of the Party of Heroes and is a dwarf who, although he does not have the longevity of elves, has a significantly longer lifespan than humans. However, despite his prolonged life, he has moved on from his prime years and become elderly. As a result, he declines Frieren's invitation to embark on a new adventure, choosing to spend his remaining days in peace and recommending that Stark accompany her in her place.

Comparison of Frieren with “The Lord of the Rings”

In the panorama of the fantasy genre, it is impossible not to mention the iconic film trilogy of “The Lord of the Rings”. More than a cult classic, this fantasy adventure series stands on its own merits, with an influential plot and inspiring characters. “The Lord of the Rings” set a new standard for fantasy storytelling, and its production set new standards for filmmaking. Rather than revisit this beloved trilogy, fans should try a recently aired anime.

Without a doubt, not all fantasy fans will enjoy fantasy anime. However, the “Frieren: Beyond Journey's End” series remains focused on providing viewers with a complete package of what a fantasy story should be. It also has many similarities to “The Lord of the Rings,” making it the perfect anime for this group in particular. The same merits of superb plot, development, and production can be found in this anime, and its similar attention to its subject matter makes it a top-tier series worth watching.

“The Lord of the Rings” and “Frieren” share similar adventure plots

“Frieren” tries to teach its viewers to take life slowly and enjoy every moment, but the anime premiere tells a different story.

For those who are on the fence about whether to watch “Frieren: Beyond Journey's End,” or simply “Frieren,” the anime welcomes fantasy enthusiasts with a classic fantasy adventure setting. At first glance, the anime is about a diverse group of travelers from various backgrounds, races, and class systems. There are elves, dwarves and humans who play the main heroic roles, and each character race corresponds to a class, which could be wizard, priest or warrior. With a large scope of world-building to follow, the anime takes a slow approach in balancing this world-building with plot, action, drama, and character development.

The title of “Frieren” comes from its protagonist, who is called Frieren. She is an elven sorceress who is gradually revealed to be thousands of years old. The anime begins with the end of Frieren's ten-year adventure with her hero friends, Himmel the human swordsman, Heiter the human priest and Eisen the axe-wielding dwarf. Their initial goal is to defeat the evil demon lord and free their land from darkness, and the first few minutes are canonically after their victory.

Since the first episode of the anime focuses on the story after the heroes' victory, there is more emphasis on the emotional impact of the journey on Frieren. Despite traveling with the group for 10 years, Frieren leaves his friends after the celebrations are over, not understanding the limits of time on human life. He returns decades later when his human friends Himmel and Heiter are old men and, together with Eisen, who is also slightly older, has one last adventure with them. She soon discovers that this adventure is the final farewell to one of them and mourns the loss that was once foreign to her. Frieren then embarks on a new adventure with a new generation that gives her a second chance to form close bonds.

The first episode of “Frieren” opens the viewer to the beauty and dangers of the open world and focuses heavily on drama and emotion. The story thus becomes focused on the bonds of friendship between the adventurers and the tragic and solitary life that is led by the elves, in particular, in this world. While there may be fantasy fans or “Lord of the Rings” fans who are not entertained by the slow pace of Episode 1, they too can expect moments of action scenes that are no less thrilling.

Fans of “The Lord of the Rings” may recognize the numerous plot similarities between the trilogy and this anime. The premise ties together a colorful company of characters along an arduous fantasy adventure. Whether saving the world, exploring the kingdom, or a combination of the two, these adventurers grow and cultivate a special bond that can never be broken, even from beyond the grave.

Like “Frieren,” “The Lord of the Rings” pushes its audience to wait for the action to build in exchange for lore and careful development of many details, especially in character building. The main difference between the plots of these franchises is in the different approaches to adventure storytelling.

While “The Lord of the Rings” remains doggedly focused on its ultimate goal of destroying Sauron and freeing Middle-earth from his rule, for understandable reasons, “Frieren” takes a more relaxed approach to fantasy adventure. Perhaps, if the main plot of the anime was focused on the heroes' mission to defeat the Demon King, the franchises would be identical in focusing on the end goal. However, the twist of “Frieren” is to focus on the consequences of an epic story, a story that has been told many times before.

The same plot elements of growing shared bonds and strength among adventurers and saving humanity from evil are found in both “The Lord of the Rings” and “Frieren.” Ultimately, “Frieren”'s approach is more about the same adventure and not as focused on particular goals. That said, when the action reaches its highest peaks, “Frieren” can keep viewers glued to their seats. The biggest similarity between both franchises, however, is the emotional experience viewers have while watching.

“Frieren: beyond the end of the journey” a fantasy anime, of strong inspiration

“Frieren: Beyond Journey's End” is not just a simple fantasy anime, but a story that exudes power and inspiration, similar to what can be found in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. While the “Lord of the Rings” films capture viewers' attention with the theme of hope, despite the bleak situation the main characters are involved in, “Frieren” is no different in its constant use of hope. While “The Lord of the Rings” deals with the tragedy of war, “Frieren” focuses on the tragedy of mourning.

“Frieren” maintains a consistently optimistic tone and, combined with its “slice of life” nature, tremendously combats the darker tones of the series. It covers up the exacerbating stories of regret, death and mass genocide that lie hidden beneath its sunny exterior. The creators of the series carefully reveal these crushing moments when the time is right. Viewers are rewarded with the constant emphasis on fighting against evil or even simply staying positive in the most unfortunate situations. In this way, like “The Lord of the Rings,” “Frieren” places special emphasis on reminding the viewer to always maintain hope.

Fans of “The Lord of the Rings” or fantasy who are looking for a series that can give them a positive boost will find exactly what they need in “Frieren”. Regarding character development, each character has their own challenges, especially the main character. Sometimes, a character is stuck in their development and struggles to move forward, but over time, they find a way to grow and inspire. In addition to character development, the main heroes of the series encounter enemies and obstacles in their journey that they are forced to face, but despite everything that comes in their way, they move forward.

With so much emotion and drama to inspire and uplift viewers, there is already a lot to gain from watching this anime. For fantasy viewers in particular, “Frieren”'s attention to classic fantasy details is another notable part of the viewing.

“Frieren” carefully uses fantasy elements Behind the emotional plot of the anime is a well-detailed lore and open world. Like “The Lord of the Rings,” the setting and many of the details that establish it are generally similar. The story takes place in a world rather similar to the medieval period, with a great deal of magical wonders throughout nature. Both franchises may not share identical lore, but the fun of fantasy is that there are many different possibilities.

“The Lord of the Rings” made full use of elves, orcs, dwarves, humans, hobbits and dragons, among many other fantasy creatures. “Frieren” also has elves, dwarves, dragons, and humans, but features beings like demons and the famous creatures known as mimetics. “The Lord of the Rings” introduces the viewer to a deep history of war, magic and culture, and “Frieren” offers the same.

Those with a particular interest in elves will enjoy a deep dive into the story of “Frieren” and how it is tied to the complex and tragic lives of elves. In the premise alone, the creators manage to effectively utilize the elven race to create a compelling and refreshing story. Because elves are rarely the main characters in a story, not much is told about the more common elements of their race. Details such as Frieren's initially careless attitude toward her friends or her constant passive regard for time become a reflection of her race as an elf.

Without further spoiling, and to summarize this detail, Frieren's age and race become key aspects of his character development and the way the story is told. The viewer is treated to glimpses into Frieren's past that further aid in world-building, as well as telling his story of heroic adventure with his friends.

As a bonus for fantasy fans who don't delve into deep lore, "Frieren" also has a fascinating magic system that's exciting to look at right now. As a shade of her personality, Frieren is an elven sorceress who loves finding the most unique spells. There are spells like summon flowers, make food sour, and identify camouflages once you find a treasure chest. Through the thousands of years of her life, Frieren has mastered offensive and defensive spells and honed her magic to make her one of the most powerful sorceresses in existence.

While it's fun to watch professional wizards like Frieren or sorcerers like Gandalf, the anime also incorporates how a wizard grows through the journey of the human wizard Fern, who is Frieren's protégé. Their growth as magic users is part of the reason why following their journey is so compelling. In addition to the gripping plot and inspiring growth, this anime also offers viewers incredible production value that animation fans will especially appreciate.

Production

“Frieren: Beyond Journey's End” is not only an anime that stands out in the fantasy genre, but it is a true masterpiece of production. The attention to detail in the quality of the production is one of the aspects that has made the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy a point of reference in the fantasy genre. Clever practical effects, on par with computer graphics, set a new standard for the film industry in the early 2000s. The composed music, makeup and wardrobe all supported the story in masterful ways. Although “Frieren” is not live-action, the first-class level of animation and careful attention to detail in the art style add another bonus to the series.

Animation not only brings the anime source material to life — it adds life to it. The fluidity of the framework is evident in every episode, which remains even more impressive during the fast-paced action scenes that rarely rely on blurring the actions and movements of the fight. During calm scenes, carefully planned moments of body language are expressed, which reinforce character development. Each character has their own way of holding themselves, and every second of this subconscious movement is shown with every frame. While it's clear that this story isn't real, it feels real because of this attention to detail.

While the viewer is captivated by the look and movement of this anime, the atmosphere and tone are given a special boost thanks to the animation's lighting and music. The soft lighting and overall design of the series maintain the positive vibe that the viewer should feel while watching. The music, while not championing iconic melodies, also has an uplifting tone.

While the anime genre still remains quite niche, full of cliches and tropes from the past, there is a gateway anime for everyone. For “Lord of the Rings” fans, that gateway anime is “Frieren: Beyond Journey's End.” Their similar storylines of adventurers bonding and growing on an arduous journey and the uplifting and inspirational moments of both make them a perfect match. The deep fantasy lore and exciting details of both franchises are another reason to watch the anime. “Frieren”'s approach to fantasy storytelling may be slightly different, but at its core, it has elements that make it just as compelling and inspiring as the legendary “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Technical sheet of the anime and manga “Frieren – Beyond the end of the journey”

Sleeve:

  • Title: Frieren – Beyond Journey's End (葬送のフリーレン, Sōsō no Furīren)
  • Gender: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
  • Texts: kanehito yamada
  • Drawings: Tsukasa Abe
  • Publisher: Shogakukan
  • Magazine: Weekly Shōnen Sunday
  • target: Shonen
  • 1st edition: February 28, 2020 – ongoing
  • Periodicity: Weekly
  • Tankōbon: Currently 12 volumes (in progress)
  • Italian publisher: BD - J-Pop editions
  • 1st Italian edition: 13 October 2021 - ongoing
  • Italian periodicity: Monthly
  • Italian volumes: Currently 11 out of 12 volumes (92% complete)
  • Italian texts: Matteo Cremaschi (translation), Mauro Saieva (lettering)

Anime TV Series:

  • Title: Frieren: Beyond Journey's End
  • Gender: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
  • Directed by: Keiichiro Saito
  • Film script: Tomohiro Suzuki
  • Character Design: Reiko Nagasawa
  • Artistic direction: Sawako Takagi
  • Music: Evan Call
  • Animation Studio: Madhouse
  • Network: Nippon TV
  • 1st TV: September 29, 2023 - ongoing
  • Episodes: Currently 19 episodes (in progress)
  • Report: 16:9
  • Duration per episode: 24 minutes
  • 1st Italian TV: November 3, 2023 - ongoing
  • First Italian Streaming: Crunchyroll
  • Episodes in Italian: Currently 15 out of 19 episodes (79% complete)
  • Italian dialogues: Chantal Amadei
  • Italian dubbing studio: CDR
  • Italian Dubbing Directorate: Elisabetta Bianchi

Gianluigi Piludu

Author of articles, illustrator and graphic designer of the website www.cartonionline.com

Leave a comment