Frieren: Beyond Journey's End: The Land Where Souls Dwell
March 17, 2024 7:59 PM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Frieren and Fern take a job cleaning up the shore, taking as payment a grimoire containing the notes of the great mage Flamme - a grimoire that the elf mage is certain is a forgery. But not all of Flamme's notes are fake, and Frieren's dear friend and ally Eisen has a lead on a real tome of the great msge's work...

And so we get a story arc that, while short, winds up setting up a major overarching plot for the series - to reach Aureole, the titular "land where souls dwell" and the resting place of heroes, so that Frieren can set right her regrets and speak with Himmel one last time - just as her wise and snarky master Flamme predicted a millennium ago.

(Yes, millennium. Elves in this series are as ancient as they are rare.)

There's just one small problem - it turns out that Aureole just so happens to be where Ende, the site of the Demon King's castle is. And so the journey becomes as much about reflection as it is about moving forward.
posted by NoxAeternum (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So, it's worth looking at how the series structures its story arcs. Overall, stories in Frieren can be broken down into one of three main categories:

* Standalone stories like this episode's, which take 1-4 manga chapters (or an anime episode or two at most) to resolve,
* Minor arcs, which tend to top out at 10-15 chapters, or 3-4 episodes - we'll be seeing our first one soon enough when we get to Aura the Guillotine, and
* Major arcs covering 20+ chapters - the second half of the anime will cover the first of these, the First Class Mage Examination.

But it's to the series' credit that all of these are important - as we see with this episode, Frieren finding her master's actual notes (which just so happen to be turned right to the section on Aureole) is a very short standalone story that neverless sets up a major plot thread for the series as a whole. This in turn reinforces a major theme of the series - that the small things are just as important as the big ones.

(Have I mentioned how amazing the world building is in this series? Because the above is a demonstration of this.)

Beyond the business with Aureole, we get some good character development as the series shows how to write a legendary character - you humanize them with foibles that show how human they actually are - and we see this with it getting pointed out that she is Not A Morning Elf. Which makes her badassery even more so - there's a scene much later in the series that is described as basically like running into a From Software major boss (and people can swear they saw the boss life bar appear in that scene.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:32 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]

Thanks for posting this, I've been meaning to post them but lax in keeping up! I just finished the Aura arc and while it was extremely cool I'm hoping for an episode or two of more low-key vibes like this one now. Frieren's expressions and whole affect in general while Fern was dragging her around the town were delightful, especially now that we're starting to get a more tangible sense of how powerful Frieren is.
posted by valrus at 6:41 PM on March 18

The nice thing about the show is that these episodes are the default cruising speed of the show. While you do get some well-animated fight scenes and dramatic multi-part episodes sprinkled into this season, it always comes back to Frieren and the gang wandering the countryside and doing side-quests along the way.

Now that I think about it, the show does have a lot of structural similarities with Cowboy Bebop, where most of the season was your bounty of the day type of episodes with the occasional deeper dive into one of the backstories of the crew.
posted by C^3 at 11:41 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]

The nice thing about the show is that these episodes are the default cruising speed of the show.

It also gives the series built in bottle episodes - which means that Madhouse can put the budget where it counts, such as episodes 6, 10, 15, or 26.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:10 AM on March 19

After seeing the later episode, "Frieren the Slayer", my thoughts returned to the amusing business depicted here of Fern struggling to get Frieren out of bed, fed, dressed and out the door. It's funny here, but in light of the later episode, I wonder if Frieren is just tired of life.
posted by SPrintF at 8:32 AM on March 20

It's funny here, but in light of the later episode, I wonder if Frieren is just tired of life.

It's not that she's tired of life, but that an entity that has a lifespan measured in millenia is going to have a very different view of time. This gets discussed in more depth later in the series.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:56 AM on March 20

Finally started watching this series, since it's been tearing up the charts. My impression going in, from a few clips / scenes posted, was that it was a slow and goofy show, like a less horny Konasuba. Totally unprepared for the slow and repeated meditation on death, and by extension, life. Frieren herself reminds me of Violent Evergarden, slowly realizing humanity and her loss. But still its own thing, as part of her detachment clearly stems from her own longevity.

Pretty neat how all the threads in the show have tied together thus far. Her spell collection hobby seems quirky at first, a sort ofatoms for peace civilian application of magic. However, slowly we've been seeing how and why they are meaningful. Obviously the flower spell connected to Himmel but there's more:

- a spell that removes rust from bronze came in handy to polish Himmel's statue
- a sour grape spell mades Eisen's favorite food ("the sourer the better"), which appears briefly shown in the forest montage
- a spell that produces warm tea (for the corrupt priest?)
posted by pwnguin at 7:03 PM on April 21

which means that Madhouse can put the budget where it counts

So far I'm waiting for them to figure out the exact geometry of Freiren's ears, which seem to have different angles depending on portrait vs profile. Seems like a standard problem of anime elves going back to Lodoss but not too many make an elf like that the lead character.
posted by pwnguin at 7:08 PM on April 21

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