“Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End is off to a bumpy start. It’s hard to get invested in the characters as there are too many time jumps. The fast-paced story always stays on the surface. However, the breathtaking visuals and Evan Call’s musical score still allows you to have a good time.”
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End is Madhouse’s latest anime for the Fall season. It premieres today on Crunchyroll with its first 4 episodes. In Japan, it airs on Nippon TV. This series is based on the manga of the same name by Kanehito Yamada.
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End follows the story of Frieren, an elven mage. The series starts after Frieren and her friends defeated the Demon King and restored peace to the land. She then decides to travel on her own around the world in pursuit of magical knowledge. Years later, she returns to her friends and comes face to face with humanity’s mortality. She agrees to fulfil her old friends’ dying wishes and takes on a new apprentice Fern. From there, Frieren embarks on a quest to learn more about humanity and her old party of heroes.
Honestly, it is an interesting premise but starting a story after the big journey can be problematic. Indeed, you feel lost in the first episode. All the emotional story beats feel hollow because we didn’t live this adventure with these characters. It’s hard to get invested in these characters that you don’t even get to know. The series and the audience are not on the same level of understanding. It can’t work. This continues in the second episode. However, it also introduces Frieren’s new apprentice Fern. So, episode 2 is actually when the story starts.
But then again, the story is off to a bumpy start. The bond between Frieren and Fern is established too quickly. There is no proper build up to them being master and apprentice. The series often uses montage sequences leading to a fast forward in time. You see the two already having formed a bond without having seen it. The story goes at a hundred miles an hour. It doesn’t let its characters breathe. Everything stays on the surface. Thus, you can never truly get invested in what is going on. In addition, the montage sequences and the fast forward in time make the series feel like it is made of scenes stitched to each other without any real meaning. It’s a premiere with four episodes, it should take its time to introduce things. Instead, it tries to do so many things in a short time.
Throughout the first four episodes, there are flashbacks that try to show the bond between Frieren and her old friends. These scenes help understand that they were a united team during their quest. Nonetheless, it doesn’t help the audience connect to the characters.
I am not saying it is a complete disaster yet. Indeed, by the end of the fourth episode, the series seems to have found its footing. There is hope for the following episodes. It could work if they stop with the fast forward in time and actually start to explore the characters.
VISUALS & SOUNDTRACK
If the premiere has failed in terms of storytelling, it is definitely a success visually. The scenery is truly breathtaking. Sometimes, the background feels like a painting. You surely want to stay for the visuals. The villages, cities and fortresses bare inspiration from Western medieval time with a dash of fantasy. The costumes are also beautiful and the women characters are not sexualized. It wins a lot of points there.
Moreover, Evan Call has composed the score. He is a well-known composer in the anime world. He worked on Violet Evergarden and Bubble. For Frieren, he has delivered a fantastic score that is heavily inspired by Western medieval music and fantasy music. Undoubtedly, the visuals and the score are the highlight of this series.
OPENING & END CREDITS
Opening and end credits are an important of anime. So, I’m always eager to discover the credits of new series. Frieren’s opening theme is “The Brave” by YOASOBI. It’s a dynamic song that puts you into the mood to watch the series. The opening credits do a good job at presenting the various characters of this adventure.
Then, the end theme is “Anytime Anywhere” by milet. It’s a melodious and melancholic song that is fitting for the end credits. I had already heard milet’s voice with the theme song she did for The Deer King. She has a voice that you remember and one that just feels right for this type of song that are both melodious and melancholic. These end credits are a stylish representation of the passing of time.
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End is off to a bumpy start. It’s hard to get invested in the characters as there are too many time jumps. The fast-paced story always stays on the surface. However, the breathtaking visuals and Evan Call’s musical score still allows you to have a good time.
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End starts streaming today on Crunchyroll.
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