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Beyond Journey’s End Deserved and Why

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This article contains mild spoilers for the
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End
anime.



Summary

  • Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End
    received high praise and a stellar rating on MyAnimeList, surpassing iconic series like
    Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
    .
  • Despite its success, the anime was snubbed for a Crunchyroll Anime Award nomination, missing recognition it deserves in multiple categories.
  • The series stands out for its slower pace, character-driven plot, unique take on traditional fantasy elements, and masterful cinematography by Madhouse Studios.

When Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End began airing in the Fall season of 2023, the series was met with nothing short of praise. It is one of the few series in recent years to make it to MyAnimeList’s Top Anime list, which ranks anime based on score, not popularity. It’s still at the top of this list as of this writing, continuing to outscore the legendary series Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood with a 9.14 among 184,812 users. With so much success highlighting this anime, it’s a shocking disappointment to see no recognition given by Crunchyroll through their annual Anime Awards.


On January 17, 2024, Crunchyroll announced its nominations on its website, with Frieren not receiving a single nomination. While there might not be a huge outrage surrounding this since more popular anime like Mob Psycho 100 and Jujustu Kaisen earned nominations, it’s a shame that Frieren didn’t receive the same recognition. The anime has enough merits and successes that it deserves nominations in at least a few categories. These praiseworthy details of the series have already been spoken of highly throughout the anime and even the fantasy community. Each of Frieren‘s greatest triumphs should have earned the series a nomination in Crunchyroll’s Anime Awards.


Best Drama – A Slower Pace Builds Up the Strongest Emotions


With how much lore can be packed into a fantasy series, many anime take time to build upon lore until the plot takes off. Frieren has an even slower pace than most series because each scene focuses on relationship dynamics and emotions. Hidden between the lines is the lore, which furthers the plot. The anime’s plot is an emotional reflection of the most well-known fantasy narrative. Anime fans and fantasy fans, in general, have heard the story of the adventuring heroes who risk their lives to defeat an evil overlord and bring peace to their world. Frieren takes this idea and expands upon it in newfound ways. The plot opens up with the last moments shared between the heroes after they have defeated the Demon King.


This first emotional episode introduces the titular Elf mage Frieren and zeroes in on the complex nature of an Elf’s relationship with other races. The idea of the surface-level consequences of an Elf’s long lifespan has been touched upon in fiction. Still, the emotional consequences of this situation have never been so carefully reflected on. Unlike other fantasy stories, Frieren is a thorough character study of an Elf. It focuses more on the internal struggles and growth of its protagonist than on the development of the plot. The core premise of the plot is to explore Frieren’s change in character from someone who isn’t connected to and doesn’t appreciate the people closest to her to someone who is and does. Her journey of growth jumpstarted after she grieved the loss of her close friend and adventuring comrade, Himmel, suddenly realizing that she had taken their friendship and his limited lifespan for granted. Once she vows to learn from her mistakes and become close to others, she embarks on a new journey with the next generation of adventurers.


With the main focus on Frieren’s emotional and mental growth, the anime takes on a slower pace that explores the psychological aspects of her character. In the meantime, other plot threads are playing around her, such as the aftermath of the Demon King’s defeat, the growth of her new protégé, Fern, and the growth of the new friends they meet along the way. These plot threads are carefully added to uphold the motifs of “how times can change” and “not being held back by the past,” to name just two. Over time, there are more action scenes once certain details are established, and therefore, they don’t need a slow pace. Still, they never take away from the emphasis on character development and the character-driven plot.


With a slower pace, Frieren‘s plot and lore are more carefully built up without the audience knowing it. Carried by character dynamics and heavy emotional growth, the need for patience is worth it for the many moments of a breakthrough for each character. In a very non-traditional way, this adventure series is only slightly about the destination but primarily about the moments within the journey. It uses a careful pace to build perfectly fleshed-out characters while still carrying the audience through an engaging story. Along the way, the viewer is emotionally charged in the most uplifting way with how far the main characters go on their adventure.

Best Fantasy – Frieren Made Original Advancements for the Fantasy Genre


Related

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End Puts A Welcome Twist On The Most Generic Villain Concept

Many anime series use similar archetypes for their signature villains, but Frieren goes beyond the norm with its take on one commonly used concept.

At first glance, Frieren has many traditional fundamentals from the fantasy genre that viewers have seen before. The setting is a medieval world filled with a wide variety of species of fantasy monsters, flora and fauna (i.g., dragons and man-eating plants), and races who influence the plot (i.g., humans, Elves, Dwarves, Demons). With the main genres of the series being fantasy and adventure, the plot follows a group of adventurers of varying races with their own classes. These classes are either Warriors, primarily weapons experts, or magic users, known as Mages or Priests. What sets this fantasy series apart is how it uses several fantasy elements to their fullest and in newfound ways.


The series’ focus on Frieren’s long life as an Elf is an original way to create a stirring emotional story, but the creators also use it to add lore and make parallels across time in the universe’s history. Frieren’s flashbacks reveal her life story and the history of her world. Her hometown’s destruction at the hands of a Demon reveals how terrible the Demons have been for centuries. Her relationships with the most powerful sorcerers become key details throughout the plot, especially in the second cour. Even simple details of small towns that have changed for the worse or better add details to build a larger world.


The audience views Demons as major antagonists from past and present events, but the anime has been praised for its refreshing take on the vile enemies. Demons have been used in anime and other mainstream mediums for centuries. Still, outside the horror genre, they are characters treated with the same level of humanity and development as human beings. They are given likable qualities like Ryuk’s love of apples and struggle with boredom in Death Note or justifications for their bad behavior like many of the Demons in Demon Slayer. Frieren approaches the subject of Demons with careful skepticism, not making any declarations about the race until the big reveal in Episode 8. Even after they are revealed to be virtually emotionless and calculating, a fully developed culture of rank and status explains much of their behavior. This, along with their natural need to feed off human bodies, justifies their actions, logically speaking, but doesn’t redeem them or make them likable.


One of the most significant ways Frieren has impressed the fantasy community is its approach to magic. The two leading characters throughout the story, Frieren and Fern, are both Mages and magic is a critical part of the narrative. That being said, in the early part of the story, magic isn’t treated like something to be mastered but rather enjoyed and used to make the world a brighter place. All the magic users in this series know how to fight using magic, and defending oneself against enemies is necessary. Still, there’s also an emphasis on the brighter side of magic. Frieren’s love of unique spells illustrates how magic can be used in various ways, not just for violence, control or status — this idea becomes key later in the series.


In a more serious tone, magic is also treated like science in this fictional world. There are intricacies to each spell, even the most basic defense spell. What’s more impactful about this approach is how magic, like science, can have advancements. New spells can be created to help humanity grow and defend themselves. For example, after the defeat of a Demon General, one of the General’s greatest spells was studied, reversed-engineered, and used to create new spells to fight back against the Demons. This idea is one of the details of the series that had people talking, whether they watched the series or not. It especially gained praise from the Dungeons & Dragons community, which love the idea of magic never being stagnant.

Best Main Character – Frieren Is at the Core of the Series in a Newfound Way

Frieren conjures flowers in Frieren: Beyond Journey's End anime.


Related

How Himmel’s Death Makes Frieren An Even Better Character

Frieren’s greatest tragedy is a lesson that is hard for most to swallow, but necessary all the same!

The perfect protagonist is one who not only leads the plot forward but also stands at the core philosophy and meaning behind the entire series. Frieren does this and more. Her revelation of grief and regret is what kickstarts the emotional journey to explore the new world and connect with a new generation. With the aforementioned motifs of “how times can change” and “not being held back by the past,” Frieren can share her firsthand information on the changes in the world and be an example of moving forward. Through her vast wisdom and experience, she teaches Fern about magic and adventure and supports Stark through his weaknesses of fear. Frieren sparks lessons in everyone around her, and she learns new lessons in return through her relationships.


These themes of growth, friendship and true strength are centralized through Frieren’s character. These themes, in particular, have been illustrated by other great protagonists, such as Naruto‘s titular Naruto Uzumaki and Izuku Midoriya from My Hero Academia. That being said, a newer trend in anime features a new kind of protagonist who doesn’t start their journey at their weakest level, but rather, they are already legends in their universe. Overpowered protagonists are becoming a mainstream part of anime, with Frieren following in tow. She may not be the first overpowered main character, but she is a refreshing and entertaining example of one.


After living for several thousand years, Frieren has enough credibility to be called the strongest Mage in history. Instead of the fame going to her head, she keeps a low profile when traveling through villages and never uses her status as a hero to her advantage. Even before defeating the Demon King, Frieren had a pure love of magic, leading to her vivacious hobby of collecting the oddest spells she could find. There’s something special about an all-powerful being like Frieren, who doesn’t care about acquiring power or control but finds joy in simplicity and beauty. As lackadaisical as she can be, Frieren is wise enough to know when to be serious and what solutions are for the best. In essence, her personality is that of an older woman who is young at heart, and because of her long lifespan, taking it easy is a natural tendency for her, causing frustrations for her friends who don’t have as long to live.


With how fleshed-out Frieren’s character is, she isn’t devoid of flaws. She’s learning to appreciate the people around her and her limited time with them more carefully, but she still can’t help but passively look at time because of her lifespan. Her youthful side is a beautiful sign that she isn’t jaded after witnessing some of the worst atrocities in history, but there are times when a more serious attitude is needed. There’s also her particular relationship with mimics and how she falls for them every time. This is later revealed as a highlight of her optimism and desire for the best opportunities rather than a lack of intelligence. Frieren repeatedly proves she is one of the smartest characters in the series.

Frieren’s character is a refreshingly upbeat part of the series and adds a balance of humor to a story flooded with tragedy. Her love of magic and desire for joy are critical parts of what makes her a hero and how she serves to uphold peace. In her role as protagonist, she is a fundamental part of the narrative.


Best Cinematography – Madhouse Studios Outdoes Itself With a Balance of Movement and Color Tones

Fern floats with a full moon behind her, powering up her staff for a spell against Lugnar, Frieren

Related

10 Best Fights in Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End

Frieren’s anime enhances epic fight scenes, showcasing teamwork, and determination.


Without watching an episode, viewers can see there is profound merit in Frieren‘s visuals. Taking a deeper dive, one can see that the cinematography and the animation make the visuals a success. From storyboarding to the final animation, cinematography creates a plan for everything needed to create the look of an animated project. This includes the movement and angles of every individual visual from the perspective of the viewer’s eyes to individual characters. It also includes the feel and tone of the visuals, which could be light or dark, smooth or gritty.

Madhouse, the animation studio behind Frieren, made brilliant choices with the series’ cinematography. Upheld by impressive animation, the viewer’s emotions are guided by invisible camera work that changes depending on the nature of the scene. In action scenes, the angles and movement are far more dramatic and quick-paced to support the intensity of the fight. In more dramatic scenes, a focus on the character’s emotions and impactful facial features stirs the audience emotionally. Throughout the entire series, however, the visuals remain soft, upholding the anime’s purpose of an uplifting narrative.


There are so many reasons why Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End has been such a talked-about series. The plot is original and carried in experimental but widely successful ways that stir the viewer with emotions that stick with them. The approach to fantasy elements is refreshing and gives new perspectives on the genre. The dramatic plot and fantasy elements are perfectly centralized within the protagonist, Frieren. While the events of the story and the characters are masterful, the visuals also carry the series to even higher heights through well-thought-out cinematography. With how many viewers praised this series for these reasons, it’s a question why Frieren received zero nominations in the Anime Awards. At the very least, a nomination for Best Drama, Best Fantasy, Best Main Character, and Best Cinematography are all deserved by such a highly-rated series.


Frieren: Beyond Journey's End

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End

Release Date
September 29, 2023

Cast
Atsumi Tanezaki , Kana Ichinose

Seasons
1 Season

Creator
Tsukasa Abe, Kanehito Yamada

Production Company
Aniplex, Dentsu, Madhouse, Shogakukan, TOHO animation, Toho



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