I remember scrolling through Reddit a while back and coming across a fan animation for an ongoing manga called Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End of an elf doing a weird dance.
I thought it was funny so I decided to give the first chapter a read and it immediately sucked me in to the point that I binged the whole thing and have been reading every chapter upon its release.
Written by Kanehito Yamada and illustrated by Tsukasa Abe, Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End has one of the most interesting and emotional openings to a story that I have seen in a long time.
We have all seen the typical fantasy story where the hero overcomes the big, evil dark lord, right?
It is by no means original.
However, what is original is to focus an entire story on what happens after this point in the many years following the dark lord’s defeat.
This is how the first chapter begins, with the hero Himmel and his party of the titular mage Frieren, priest Heiter, and dwarf Eisen, returning from their successful ten year journey to kill the demon king.
After much celebration, the group separate, deciding to meet up again to see a meteor shower that occurs once every 50 years.
Sure enough, 50 years later, Frieren returns to meet up with her party, only to reconnect at the end of Himmel’s life.
In all this time, little has seemed to pass for Frieren as, being an elf, she can live for thousands of years, with the time she spent with the hero party being little more than a blink in her long life.
Yet, despite knowing this, she still finds herself crying at Himmel’s funeral and wondering why she did not take the time to understand him.
As the years pass, Frieren is eventually tasked with taking on the dying Heiter’s student Fern and Eisen’s former student Stark.
Together, the three of them begin their long journey to a place where souls rest so Frieren can see Himmel again.
Make no mistake, Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End is mostly a slife of life story, with the adventure of Frieren, Fern and Stark exploring this fantasy world decades after the demon king’s defeat, while occasionally flashing back to Frieren’s time with the hero party.
All of the character’s, whether from Frieren’s current or past party, are fantastic, with a lot of great, funny and emotional moments.
These emotional moments come specifically during the first few chapters, where Frieren has to experience the deaths of many of her old friends who are dying of old age while she continues to live.
It really makes you think about how Frieren’s current adventure with Fern and Stark could also be so fleeting for her.
All those little slice of life adventures they have could become just another blink in Frieren’s eye and that is a sad thing to consider.
Speaking of slice of life, though, this is not all the manga is because there are actually some plot progressing storylines in Frieren’s current journey as well, like the demon arc, one of the early arcs in the story, which has what is easily one of Frieren’s best moments.
There are great moments spread out like this across the manga actually, although, there are some parts of the slice of life that are less interesting than others and some of the big storylines do seem to overstay their welcome a bit, like the most current one.
And that is pretty much my only problem with Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End.
I find the rest of it to be a great comedic, sometimes emotional story with good action and artwork.
It is a highly interesting take on what happens after the hero’s journey we are all so familiar with comes to an end.