You know my biggest gripe about multiple-episode anime premieres? The fact that I get to review fewer episodes weekly. I mean, if any series deserves an episode-by-episode breakdown, it’s Frieren. But alas, sometimes we have to play the cards we’ve been dealt.
As a whole, these first six episodes are all about introducing us to the characters, their goals, and the reasons behind them. The story is centered around the titular Frieren, the elven mage who helped Himmel the Hero defeat the Demon King and save the world. As an immortal being, her sense of time is highly skewed; to her, the ten years she spent with Himmel might as well have been a week in our eyes. Yet, with Himmel’s death of old age, she has an epiphany that changes the course of her life. She had five decades to get to know him better, yet simply didn’t. It’s only now she wishes she had—when it’s too late. Thus begins the story of an immortal woman learning the value of interpersonal connections—no matter how fleeting they may seem in her eyes.
Her first companion is Fern. The first few episodes are all about building the relationship between the two. To Fern, Frieren is both a mother figure—imparting magical knowledge and life lessons—and a daughter figure who needs to be cared for and watched over due to her lack of common sense. While Fern is often frustrated with Frieren’s eccentricities, she loves the elf. She finds great pleasure in the moments when Frieren clumsily tries to surpass her immortal nature and make an emotional connection with those around her. Theirs is a relationship that brings both exasperation and comedy—and is at the very heart of the tale.
Her second companion is Stark, a warrior trained by her and Himmel’s companion, Eisen the dwarf. He’s a man with little self-confidence and great strength. He believes that feeling fear—or “being a coward,” as he sees it—makes him weak. His introduction arc is him learning that being brave isn’t the absence of fear; it’s pushing on despite that fear. His goal is to have a true adventure—one of both danger and joy—and to return to Eisen with the tale before the dwarf himself passes away. And as Eisen’s adventures with Frieren were the height of his centuries-long life, it only makes sense that Stark goes on an adventure with her, even if it will likely take a decade to complete.
All this brings us back to Frieren. Retracing the step of her and Himmel’s adventure, now with Fern and Stark by her side, Frieren slowly realizes that the “mere ten years” she spent with Himmel have affected her far more than she realized—that those ten years changed who she was. Encountering similar situations and acting as she believes Himmel would strengthen her connection to him despite the decades since his death—as does her passing on what she learned during that adventure to Fern and Stark.
Each of these little revelations of hers serves as a way to look into all the small facets of human nature from an outside perspective. This gives the series so far a tremendous emotional weight, and I’m not going to pretend I don’t tear up at least once an episode. All in all, these first six episodes are pretty much everything I wanted and more. Now, with all the setup done and the first collection of one-off adventures out of the way, it’s time to move on to our first major arc of the series and our introduction to the series’ main antagonists.
• If you have any doubt that the death of Himmel is the defining moment of Frieren’s life, look at how the series measures time: in how many years it has been since Himmel’s death.
• It makes me smile that both Heiter and Eisen raise children and not-so-subtly force them into Freiren’s care—not only for the sake of the children but also to prevent their friend from being alone in her eternal life.
• My absolute favorite scene in these early episodes is when Frieren encounters the demonic illusion of Himmel based on her memories. He doesn’t play on her emotions like the Heiter illusion does with Fern—telling her all the sweet words she wants to hear. He simply tells her to kill him. This tells us so much about who he was as a hero. However, I love that it also hints at who he was in relation to Frieren specifically: he would gladly die to protect her, and deep down, Frieren knows this as well.
• Boy, they pulled out all the stops for the series’ first true action scene—i.e., Stark versus the Dragon. It looked great.
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End is currently streaming on