Lessons Learned from Watching ‘Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End’

Adapted from the manga series created by Kanehito Yamada and Tsukasa Abe, Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End follows the adventures and new life lessons of an elf mage. She walked away after completing a ten year journey with comrades and forgot to consider humanity’s mortality when a death of a friend catches her off guard. Her newest journey allows her life lessons in what it means to grieve, support the next generation, and work on defining what a legacy is. October of last year brought us the first cour of the anime adaptation that fans of the manga series have been waiting on. 

Truly, this is an editorial that has been in the works for a while. I first pitched this piece to the editors last October just before the anime premiered. As a reader of the manga who devoured each volume that was released, I was sure that I wanted to write about grief and what Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End teaches us about it. Yet, as I kept watching into the second cour, my outline was stagnant without much more additional words. 

My original pitch sat untouched. Now with the final episode finally airing, a revised version of my original pitch revealed itself to me. Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End offers much to ponder about the power of grief, yet it also offers so many more little lessons that amount to so much more about life that I did not feel comfortable glossing over. So, here’s what I’m hoping is a much more fleshed out and meaningfully written piece of not just what stood out to me from watching the anime but also what can be taken away from watching it. Here’s lessons learned from watching Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End!

**Spoilers minor and major down below. If you do not want to be exposed to any spoilers at all, consider watching the anime adaptation and then, returning to read this piece**

As our site E-I-C, Will has written, Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End, is certainly an anime series for the ages, an incredible series. This anime is about…the hero’s journey and in Will’s own words: “(Frienren’s) detachment is what moves this story forward.” Slow-paced yet extremely rewarding, the anime centers on the Elf mage Frieren who, with regrets with how she spent her time after finishing up the initial hero’s journey gains a reason to start journeying again.

Frieren helped save the world with the hero Himmel, the kinda corrupt priest Heiter and the warrior dwarf Eisen after a ten-year journey and failed to realize the mortality of her companions and take stock of what should have been a little more important to her. After Himmel’s death, she is confronted with what ifs and…this is the catalyst for some storytelling that bounces from the present to the past with finesse and power, resulting in a stunning animated series that I knew I would not want to miss. While watching, I caught up on all the lessons big and small throughout the series and wrote on a few of the ones that left the biggest impact on me.

Honoring Those who are Gone

Throughout the series, this theme of honoring those who are gone is touched up in many ways. For some, it is staying alive and not letting someone’s sacrifice of protecting them be in vain, or for others it could be continuing to protect the homeland of someone you loved, even after they were gone. I especially loved an episode where Frieren remembers Himmel’s favorite flowers from his hometown and makes sure, after a short quest, that she and Fern decorate a statue of him in a place where the original hero’s party once traveled, long ago. It ends a quiet episode that sets the tone for the rest of the series: such little tasks we do that perhaps no one else will see still carry weight and still have significance for those gone.

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End deals with a lot: the passage of time, death, and the many ways that the lives of those who are remembered are acknowledged and honored. In an episode at the halfway mark of the series where Frieren meets another old friend again, the flashback of the original party meeting him reveals a grateful Himmel who announces that Eisen, and lastly Frieren, will carry on the memories and stories of him and their efforts to usher in an era of peace. At that time, Frieren does not fully understand the responsibility of his words and just agrees. It is later decade safter Himmel and Heiter’s deaths, that she is starting to grasp the hero’s words and wants to be present and carry out her duty of doing so to the best of her ability.

Leave Comforts to Those Left Behind for When We’re Gone

In episode seven (“Like a Fairytale”) of the anime, Frieren remembers back on a day from her earlier adventuring days where Himmel’s seemingly big ego and vanity are on display. He’s done posing for yet another statue of himself much to Frieren’s lack of understanding and disinterest. He admonishes her, telling the elf that their heroing party really existed, that they were not a fairytale. In a sense, he’s telling her that their party of himself, Eisen, Hieter, and her mattered. These are the days she will soon cherish, even if she doesn’t think so then and there.

In a quieter voice, Himmel tells Frieren another reason for the statues of them all–so she won’t be alone in the future one day. In a proverbial way, she’ll have some reminder of them all, years later when she’s the only remaining member of the party. True to his word there are statues of the party, and especially statues of Himmel through the series in towns and cities spread out through the (newer) party’s journey. These statues also provide some emotional context in episodes throughout the series even to the final episode of the season bringing along Himmel’s influence and the past good deeds and memories that Frieren hears from, surprising even her.

To Make Our Mentors Proud

Frieren isn’t the only mentor in this series, while she is mainly Fern’s first teacher and mentor. Through Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End, different stories of mentors  and teachers arise for different characters. For Fern: Heiter, the priest was her father figure, adopted father of sorts and in many ways her first mentor when he first discovered her as an orphaned child. For Stark, his older brother and Eisen the dwarf served in those roles until time and circumstances led him away. Frieren’s mentor, the great human mage Flamme, whom she outlived is a curious character whose name continues to pop up years later proves to serve fully in this role as well.

In the first half of the series, the audience is treated to glimpses of Frieren’s first meeting the mage who found her, the sole survivor of a demon attack on her village. Taking the elf under her wing, she managed to teach her all about mana, magic, and perhaps most infamously the predictable and dangerous nature of demons. All of this Frieren carries with her in her teaching to Fern and even Stark in the battles that they face. In the second half of the series, Flamme, a wartime mage, wanted to one day see magic more easily accessible, practiced, and used by users of all kinds. Frieren retaining her master’s teachings and also saw to a future where Fern and so many others younger than her could use magic to defend the land is an incredible moment audiences will recognize near the very end of the series.


To Become the Best Versions of Ourselves

In episode twelve (“A Real Hero”) of the anime, Stark, the reluctant warrior of the group, gives backstory on his birthday. He was born into a warrior village and considers himself a failure who ran away from everything–his home and later, legendary warrior Eisen’s tutelage as well. Joining Frieren and Fern allows him to start gaining the direction he needed and also the courage to weld his ax for good. Along with seeing action in battle, he starts demystifying the over-romanticizing of the hero and the hero way of all the stories he once heard. Ultimately, this aids in helping him become a better warrior and have a better sense of the world.

I especially count this episode as one of my favorites as it not only gives us Stark’s origin story but also displays a better snapshot of his character development in the first half of the series. As a reminder that he, like Fern, are young adults, (it is revealed that it is his eighteenth birthday), it is also a reminder for the audience that life can mold us to be many things, many versions of ourselves–but it is our decision to be better ones. Choice is never an illusion, here. These lessons shape him for the better as in the second half of the series, he undergoes more training, gets recognized for his efforts, and continues to see more of the world and the magic that aids him, Fern, and Frieren on their journey. Stark surely has what it takes to be not just a hero, but a good one as evident with just how loved he becomes in nearly every town or city they visit from all the friendly and happy villagers and people who speak to him and see him off.


Seeing the Potential in Others, In the Same Way Others Saw it in You

In episode thirteen (“Aversion to One’s Own Kind”) of the anime, the group meet a man named Sein, a gifted priest in a small village. Viewers find out that he regrets not joining his best friend who wanted to go adventuring with him when they first reached adulthood. Ten years had passed when Frieren and her mentees stumbled upon him still in the same village. As the group continues to counter his declining requests to join their party, the elf is reminded of her own disinterest in being asked to join Himmel’s party long ago. Sein counters with that he’s too old and too much time had passed and this parallels with the past Frieren’s dismissive attitude.

Frieren, too, had excuses of too much time passing since she had last been ready to go on a journey. The original hero party initially approached her, and she told them too much time had passed since she had last battled demons. Both elf and priest were called to be part of something bigger than themselves and lend their talents to others on journeys: whether it be for a short time or ten years. Seeing Sein confronted with his fears and indecision and finally choosing to move forward is a pivotal moment for his character, and the viewers, on not choosing inaction but the what ifs by one’s own hand. Later in the series, a childhood memory from Sein reveals more on the importance of good names, er, good nicknames for adventurers and heroes which was illuminated by other heroes, dead and alive, which adds to rich storytelling of leaving to do and become bigger with people you’ve come to hold dear.

Help to Train Up the Next Generation 

There are plenty of interesting characters throughout the series, and my favorite character outside of Frieren is Fern. Fern is the orphaned child found by the aging ‘corrupt’ priest Heiter. Fern not only learned the basics of magic and spell casting in her youth from Frieren but eventually left home with the elf mage when the priest finally passed. In this newer era after the original hero party, Fern is the elf mage’s companion who has been with her the longest–the two really seem to act like mother and daughter in a sense with Fern hilariously being more mature and taking care of the much older elf.

Their relationship is the one I appreciate perhaps most in the series. In funnier moments, Fern rises ahead of schedule and makes sure the older mage finally gets out of bed and ready for the day, like a mother waking her child for school. In more serious moments, they have each others’ backs out in combat, deflecting other spells and other products of harm. I feel that this bind between them is referenced again and again throughout the series, and it is illustrated really beautifully in the last glimpse of the second arc’s opening animation sequence with both Fern and Frieren’s mage staffs laying on a bed with pieces of cloth, touching by the staff adornments.


As for talent for magic, Fern stands out as an extraordinary mage with everything that her master, student of the great Flamme, who was the first student of an even greater mage that is later revealed in the second half of the series. Even before the Mage Exam Arc, young Fern who is just barely easing out of her teenage years is a force to be reckoned with, surprising demons, humans, and other mages alike. When the mage exam starts, she blindsides other mage exam applicants with her simple approach to combat magic, learning of odd spells and her observational skills do not fail her as she passes test phase after test phase. She’s described by her peers as a mage with the combat skills and presence of a much older mage and takes them down with ease. When the mages band together to find a solution to overcome the opponent in the second trail of the mage exams, it is Fern’s astute contribution that become the key to making the plan work, assisting her master Frieren.

To Get Used to Being Roasted by Those Younger Than You

Frieren journeys with others, those younger than her who make fun of her from time to time. There are various episodes where the elf is being childish and needs looking after and mothering from Fern, who is her student, for example. She is often sullen, sulking or hating being called old, old hag, and more. In the episode where Sein finally (but temporarily) joins their party after much persuasion, manga readers were eager to see the infamous “Frieren blows a kiss” scene animated. It was for good reason too as it is hilarious and includes the first time she tried such a “seduction” technique, and the audience also gets to see the reactions of Himmel and the others. 

Perhaps the best running joke in the series is that Frieren just can’t help herself around treasure chests! This means as wise as she is, she will be prey to mimics because of her desire to find ancient grimoires. This is seen in the original hero party days and later in the series after the death of Himmel. A later example happens during the mage exam, and it is a fine example of just how finely cut the humor is in this series–the comedic timing, the music stopping, and the two deadpan looking characters looking down at her in amazement is just S- tier humor–and Frieren at her best and silliest in this video clip below.

To Make the World a Better (or Worse) Place

Flashbacks to Frieren’s past reveal her master praising her to another, predicting that she would be a mage in the era of peace. Flamme was sure that her student would help defeat the great Demon King. This, of course, was a momentous moment in history as the elf traveled and prepared for a whole decade with the original hero party to accomplish. And the lands were certainly better for it and yet, life went on. Heroes eventually passed away to old age, villages crumbled away as some remained. Statues of heroes sat, wizened by time with some being forgotten. 

Monsters flourished, and the remnants of the great Demon King’s army persisted and regrouped to become terrors. We find many examples of Frieren passing by and coming back to familiar places like villages and towns from the earlier days that survived thanks to the efforts of Himmel and party. There’s even an elderly man who remembered her when they first met when he was a child. The rare times Frieren meets someone who knew her in the past are examples to watch as the audience gets glimpses of her past self, the world she used to live in, and how it was changed.

In a later episode when Frieren is traveling through a dungeon, she thinks back on a conversation she and the party had with Himmel when he asks, “Isn’t it best to have fun when helping people?” When the elf questions him further, the hero reveals his approach to exploring dungeons is his approach to life: exploring and enjoying to his heart’s content–all the way to the end. When I think back on the mage’s change–that did not happen overnight–after Himmel’s death to try to make sure she saw and appreciated the little things that made the journey meaningful, I realize how much the hero influenced her and helped change her tune, the second time around.

Work on Defining a Legacy on Your Own Terms

Legacy is a very important theme throughout Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End, coincidentally. 

As more is revealed about the dream of Flamme, Frieren’s master: loving magic so much and working for a future where more have access to it. There is also the real-life realization behind it: a safer world and one of peacetime where Demons won’t rule and terrorize so much. Flamme’s master Serie was disgusted by this dream and initially didn’t think much of it, as an elf with a much longer lifespan. And yet, her first student, a mere human, set down the foundation of this dream and went on to basically become the founder of humanity’s magic. Freiren helped cement her master’s legacy after her death during her time in the original hero party and later throughout her years with Fern and what became her second adventuring party.

During her last meeting with Serie in the past, Frieren tells her master’s master that she looked forward to the age of humans thriving because that meant a time of more magic and more interesting, thriving mages. Instead of feeling threatened or overwhelmed, the younger elf mage is excited, curious as in her nature to see the future of magic and those that handle it. This strikes me as important to note as we’ve seen Frieren always looking for the next leg of her journey, always up for a challenge, and also excited for more the possibility of finding more grimores, magical items and sights. Sure, some part of her life work has been honoring her master and yet another layer is her own: loving magic in her own way and continuing to see more of it in different ways and forms throughout the years. The mage exams illustrated this too as she was able to live in the moment and enjoy the challenges and team building with other mages and also think back to her memories when she did similar actions.

Episode twenty-seven, “An Era of Humans,” reveals an important truth to not just living with magic but living, period–some part of it should be used to make life better, brighter, and more beautiful than how you left it. Frieren recognizes this truth and that it is important, not imperative in any age, with any mage. This is later supported in the next episode as well as Frieren reminding some jaded individuals that magic can still be fun and worthwhile outside being a tool or a way for survival. In these last two episodes, the personal stories of the mages that ended up passing the mage exams were initially inspired not just by the original hero party but by Frieren herself–they rose up to take up the light, become mages or better mages and what not. The world that she helped bring about included a world where they heard about her and the party she was with and the great changes they were bringing with them.

Frieren successfully lived some part of her already long life doing mundane things, visiting ordinary people in ordinary places far and wide, and impacted more lives than she thought she ever did. Being mentioned, bookmarked, and left in the footnotes of stories passed down and shared is a part of Frieren’s legacy–which would make Himmel, Flamme, Heiter, and those who knew her well enough proud of her. Insignificant tales makes for much grander sequels down the line and that too, is a part of Frieren’s legacy of making the unremarkable, special. As an adaptation, Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End as an anime is “simple but executed to perfection.” There was so much more I took away after watching, so many grains of truth, so many lessons big and small. This series has certainly found a way into my heart as a slow simmering masterclass in not only engaging storytelling but how to hold an audience captive, emotions and all.

Love anime? So do we! See what else we have to offer on the site via anime here!

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End began airing on Crunchyroll in September of 2023 and concluded in March 2024.

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  • Carrie McClain is writer, editor and media scholar. Other times she's known as a Starfleet Communications Officer, Comics Auntie, and Golden Saucer Frequenter. Nowadays you can usually find her avoiding Truck-kun and forgetting her magical girl transformation device. She/Her

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